How Do Thermogenic Fat Burners Work?


Quick Answer

Thermogenic fat burning drugs are thought to work by inducing brown fat to burn off calories in the form of heat. Brown fat has the unique ability to burn calories solely to generate body heat by uncoupling the oxidative phosphorylation pathway, says a review article by A.G. Dulloo published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

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Full Answer

Newborn humans contain substantial deposits of active brown fat, but adults have very little brown fat activity unless exposed to chronic cold. Normally, brown fat is stimulated to produce heat in response to sympathetic nervous system pathways, says Dulloo. The pharmaceutical industry has been searching for a drug that will stimulate thermogenesis as an anti-obesity drug.

An article published in Obesity Reviews reported that the most effective drugs being tested that seem to stimulate thermogenesis have both sympathomimetic stimulatory activity and acetyl-coA carboxylase inhibitory properties. However, none of the compounds tested so far have raised the human metabolic rate by more than 5 percent. The article concludes by stating that it would be necessary to raise the metabolic rate by 10 to 15 percent to have a clinically significant impact on weight management. In the meantime, a wide range of herbal preparations are marketed claiming to have thermogenic fat-burning capability.

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