Thermogenics are like fat burners or diet pills with an emphasis on burning more energy to create heat.
The result is increased fat shedding and weight loss.
Increasing the thermogenesis of the body is a difficult process, because overshooting can be downright dangerous–that’s what got ephedra pulled from the market in the early 2000s.
However, the current crop of thermogenics on the market boasts many effective products for assisting with boosting metabolism and shedding extra weight.
Our research team has come up with rankings of the best thermogenic supplements you can get right now.
LeanBean is one of the trendiest thermogenics on the market today, and for good reason.
This premium product has success that comes from a formula specifically engineered for women, making it a morning ritual with professional bodybuilders and Instagram models.
LeanBean has a formula designed to control diet (suppressant) while accelerating metabolism as well. The result is faster weight loss allowing for increased fat burning all over the body. No harmful additives. All natural.
How it works
Each serving of Leanbean is stuffed with garcinia cambogia, green tea, green coffee, turmeric, cayenne pepper, konjac, and chromium.
The result: Better energy and strength as well as a lower body fat percentage.
Our verdict: The premium (and most effective) thermogenic for women we’ve seen.
PhenQ has only recently hit the supplement scene. But as it turns out, this five-in-one weight loss pill has helped over 190,000 customers.
Their secret is a formula called a-Lacys-Reset, and a host of other natural ingredients: Piperine, Capsicum, Caffein, Niacin, Chromium Picolinate, Nopal, and L-Carnitine Furmarate.
Not only is PhenQ designed to help burn stored fat — it’s also formulated to suppress appetite, block fat production, improve mood and boost energy levels. It provides the power of several different weight-loss pills all in one product.
Burn-XT is a great supplement if you want to stay minimal and keep the ingredients list short. Its active ingredients number only five total: acetyl-L-carnitine, green tea extract, caffeine, capsaicin, and black pepper extract, which boosts the absorption and the bioavailability of the previous four ingredients.
The nice thing about Burn-XT is that all of these active ingredients have strong evidence behind their efficacy as thermogenic supplements, so this is a great choice for a first line of defense against low metabolism.
4. Evlution Trans4orm
Evlution has two high quality weight loss supplements, Trans4orm and Leanmode. Trans4orm is the better choice when your goal is specifically thermogenesis.
Its ingredients put together the synergistic combination of EGCG from green tea extract with caffeine derived from coffee beans alongside other standard-bearers of weight loss like forskolin and huperzine A.
Combine this with B vitamins and amino acids and you’ve got a winning combination.
5. Old School Labs Vintage Burn
If you want a laundry list of every fat burning supplement that works, Vintage Burn has got you covered. It’s got all the best ingredients, and no filler.
Green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, raspberry ketones, caffeine, bacopa, forskolin, and garcinia cambogia all make the cut. When it comes to classics, Vintage Burn can’t be beat.
6. Cellucor SuperHD
The defining features of Cellucor HD are its heavy dose of B vitamins and its inclusion of some rare and obscure herbal extracts alongside classic combos like caffeine and green tea extract.
As with the other thermogenic supplements that take a gamble on lesser-known herbal extracts, you are betting your money and your success on whether the nutritionists and food scientists who designed the supplement are on to something.
With ingredients like blue whiting protein hydrolysate and toothed clubmoss extract, with little or no research backing them, you are hoping for a diamond in the rough–but given Cellucor SuperHD’s reviews, it just might work.
7. Genius Burn
Genius Burn goes for an unconventional and cutting-edge blend of many of the newest thermogenic herbal extracts. It doesn’t play the same game as other supplements; it’s caffeine-free and incorporates ingredients you won’t find anywhere else, like paradoxine seed extract, theacrine, and ashwagandha extract.
The most recognizable ingredient is capsaicin, which is known to have very solid thermogenic properties, but the rest are on the cutting edge of weight loss research.
8. Team Six Star6urn PM
One big drawback about most thermogenics is that, because they are stimulant-based, you can’t take them in the late afternoon or the evening because they’ll keep you up at night.
Team Six designed Star6urn PM specifically to counter that problem; it’s a supplement designed to burn fat at night while you sleep.
It’s got several common thermogenic supplements, like green tea extract and acetyl-L-carnitine, but because it’s designed to be stimulant-free, it can’t take advantage of the green tea / caffeine synergy. Still, it might be good as a secondary thermogenic to assist another supplement that you take during the day.
9. Animal Cuts Thermogenic
Animal Cuts is tremendously popular, but you can do better when it comes to thermogenics. The ingredients list is so long that it makes you wonder what the overall design philosophy of the supplement is all about.
Another problem is that the caffeine content looks pretty high, but it’s hard to tell exactly how much there is in it. There’s 750 mg of a “stimulant complex,” of which caffeine is the first ingredient, but whether this is 100 or 300 mg of caffeine (or more) is impossible to say.
10. Modern Man
Modern Man is a thermogenic supplement that does double duty as a testosterone booster. If you are in your 40s or beyond and you think that your excess body fat might be partially attributable to low testosterone, Modern Man could help burn fat and boost testosterone.
Best thermogenic overall: LeanBean
LeanBean uses an industry-leading blend of the most effective natural weight loss compounds that work together to increase your body’s metabolism, generating a potent thermogenic effect. These ingredients also help tamp down on hunger and increase fat oxidation, making it our top overall thermogenic supplement.
Best thermogenic for women: LeanBean
LeanBean uses all-natural compounds to increase your body’s caloric burn rate, helping to shed fat more efficiently. The excellent balance of natural weight loss compounds and the moderate caffeine content make it great for women.
Best thermogenic for men: Instant Knockout
Made to harness the power of testosterone to burn fat and increase metabolism, Instant Knockout is the perfect pick for men looking to accelerate their metabolic energy expenditure.
Best thermogenic for athletes: PhenQ
Athletes can benefit from the advanced metabolism boosters found in PhenQ, like alpha-Lacy, nopal, and chromium picolinate. These compounds are designed to amplify the natural thermogenic effect of a tough workout or training session.
Best thermogenic for rapid weight loss: Burn-XT
For dropping pounds quickly, you want a thermogenic that focuses on the most powerful ingredients. Burn-XT is up to the task—Burn-XT combines acetyl-L-carnitine, green tea extract, cayenne pepper, and caffeine with black pepper extract for maximum bioavailability and maximum weight loss.
Best thermogenic for cutting: PhenQ
PhenQ works to activate multiple different metabolic pathways at once, assisting with the often-difficult task of cutting fat while retaining muscle mass. For bodybuilders and athletes cutting weight, PhenQ is well-suited as a supplement to dieting and training protocols targeting fat loss and muscle mass retention.
Who should buy a thermogenic?
Thermogenics are one major category of weight loss supplements. A thermogenic isn’t just one compound; it’s a category of many different types of supplements (some natural and some synthetic) that increase your body’s baseline metabolic rate and shift its energy expenditure more towards fat oxidation.
Thermogenics are popular among three broad categories of people. The first and most obvious category is people who are trying to lose weight. The effects of a thermogenic can make a diet and exercise program more effective.
Secondly, thermogenics are also useful if you’ve already lost a desired amount of weight and are looking to maintain your weight loss, for similar reasons. Lastly, bodybuilders and athletes often look to thermogenics to cut off fat when they are transitioning from bulking up to cutting off excess body fat.
If you fall into any of these three categories, a thermogenic could be a good choice. Some of the most effective weight loss pills are based around powerful thermogenic compounds, and many of the best overall supplements for weight loss exert their benefits primarily through thermogenesis.
While a thermogenic alone isn’t enough to achieve significant weight loss, it can definitely help, especially when combined with a good weight loss program.
How we ranked
There’s a huge range of thermogenic products on the market that promise improvements in weight loss. To formulate our rankings, we first turned to the scientific research.
Few, if any, combinations of thermogenic ingredients have been tested together, so we evaluated products on the individual potency of their ingredients.
We sought out products that used well-supported ingredients in their formulation, such as green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, cayenne pepper, and forskolin. We retained products that contained several of these proven ingredients for weight loss.
If a product didn’t contain at least a few compounds that have been tested and proven in some scientific and clinical research, it was eliminated from consideration. We also eliminated products that contained ingredients with high rates of negative side effects and adverse events (though it’s never possible to prevent all adverse events).
Caffeine posed a bit of a dilemma—while there’s no doubt that caffeine is an effective thermogenic, some unscrupulous supplement manufacturers load up their products with a lot of caffeine and not much else, relying on the buzz from caffeine to generate increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation.
We carefully reviewed the caffeine content of all of the products under consideration, and looked at what other effective thermogenic ingredients there were beyond caffeine alone. We dropped anything that was too heavily caffeine-oriented, and also made sure to include potent thermogenics in our rankings that did not contain caffeine.
As always, we also considered the overall purity and supplement design. We had a strong preference for products that used natural ingredients, no artificial colors, and little in the way of binders, fillers, and stabilizers.
After sorting our remaining products by overall quality, we had our final rankings. These are the best options on the market if you are looking for a high quality thermogenic.
When most people talk about weight loss, they talk about calories in and calories out. If you eat less and burn more, you’ll lose weight. That’s axiomatic.
But what is often forgotten in the context of that equation is that calories out doesn’t have to be modulated only by exercise.
Increasing your body’s thermogenesis, or the rate at which it burns calories to generate heat to stay warm, is another way to lose weight.
This is where thermogenic supplements come in. The right thermogenic supplement can increase your body’s “set point,” making it burn more energy at its baseline resting state.
This is akin to turning up the thermometer in your house–the furnace has to burn more fuel to keep the temperature higher.
Thermogenics can change your body’s energetic expenditure set-point. Because thermogenesis most strongly affects your body’s resting set-point, and because you are burning mostly fat when you are at rest, thermogenics have the very useful property of specifically targeting fat for being burned, so people who are trying to lose weight find them incredibly helpful.
The effectiveness of any specific thermogenic supplement is going to come down to the benefits of its constituent ingredients.
Good thermogenic supplements will have several effective ingredients, ideally that work well with each other in a synergistic fashion. A classic example of this kind of synergy is between green tea extract and caffeine. In actual green tea, you have the constituent compounds in the tea leaves (specifically, the epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG) as well as caffeine.
But something curious about green tea is that these two compounds interact with each other to create fat burning effects that are greater than the separate effect of EGCG plus the separate effect of caffeine.
This was demonstrated in a research study described in the International Journal of Obesity (1). In it, researchers examined the separate and combined effects of EGCG and caffeine in lab rats fed a standard diet.
After dissecting the fat cells of the lab rats, the researchers found that the green tea compounds and caffeine both interact with a specific chemical mechanism to synergistically increase the rate of oxidation of fat.
Put more simply, this means that green tea and caffeine work together to help you burn more fat, and this effect is greater than the separate effects of each. For this reason, the ideal thermogenic supplement would combine both of these together.
Another thermogenic that’s become increasingly popular and effective is capsaicin, which is the same compound that gives chile peppers their hot, spicy taste.
A thermogenic with capsaicin can burn fat. Capsaicin appears to “burn” fat cells away, but not in the same way it creates a burning sensation in your mouth and on your skin.
Initial research in rats indicated that capsaicin activated energy-burning pathways inside fat cells; one study, for example, published in 1988 in the Journal of Nutrition Science and Vitaminology, found that rats fed a capsaicin supplement showed increased metabolic activity in their fat cells (2).
Later scientific experiments in humans found similar effects. A study published in the scientific journal Chemical Senses combined the results of several smaller studies and found a small but significant effect across studies for the thermogenic effects of capsaicin.
While these are some of the most popular and well-founded thermogenic supplements, they are by no means the only ones.
A review article by Robert B. Saper and others at Harvard Medical School cites a number of studies that support the use of other supplements as thermogenics, including acetyl-L-carnitine, garcinia cambogia (and its active ingredient, hydroxycitric acid), B vitamins, and conjugated linoleic acid (3).
These are among the most effective ingredients to look out for in a thermogenic supplement.
A thermogenic supplement that includes green coffee bean extract could boost your body’s baseline metabolic rate and increase fat oxidation. Green coffee bean extract has become a popular supplement in its own right, thanks to a slew of research in both animals and humans that suggests that it contains biologically active compounds that increase fat oxidation.
A review study by researchers in the UK analyzed all of the randomized clinical trials that have been conducted in humans on using green coffee bean extract for weight loss (4).
While the research team found that many of the studies included were not of particularly high quality, there was nevertheless evidence that green coffee bean extract could help with weight loss by increasing energy expenditure.
A 2018 study in the journal Phytomedicine looked in more detail about the mechanism of action behind green coffee bean extract by testing its effects in obese women, and studying what metabolic changes took place due to the supplement (5).
The researchers found that the green coffee bean supplement increased fat oxidation, suggesting that the increase in energy expenditure that results from green coffee bean extract is a direct result of burning more fat. In short, green coffee bean extract is a great choice as an ingredient in a combined thermogenic.
Thermogenic supplements are one category of supplement that are difficult to get right. It’s easy to overshoot and overstimulate the body, which can lead to serious and problematic side effects.
One common example is caffeine–as most people know, too much caffeine will make you jittery, nervous, and nauseous.
Medical case reports even cite cases of cardiac arrhythmias due to excessive caffeine consumption (6).
This same analogy holds for other stimulants that promote thermogenesis. Another famous example is the supplement ephedra, which used to be widespread among thermogenic supplements.
After studies found that it was associated with serious side effects–such as a Mayo Clinic Proceeding that detailed almost 1000 adverse effects related to ephedra (7)–, supplements containing ephedra were pulled from the market.
Similar concerns exist today about synephrine, a derivative of bitter orange extract. A report from the Canadian Medical Association cited several cases where suspected cardiac side effects occurred in patients who were taking supplements that contained synephrine (8).
While these numbers aren’t nearly as severe as the numbers that poured in regarding ephedra, if you are concerned about these kinds of effects, you may want to steer clear of synephrine too.
The effective dose of a thermogenic is going to depend on the active ingredients. For the highly effective ingredients we discussed earlier, the most-studied doses are as follows.
Green tea extract is most often studied at doses of 400-600 mg per day, while caffeine tends to work best (meaning highest thermogenesis and lowest risk of adverse effects in the 100-200 mg range.
Capsaicin, given how new the research on it in humans is, has a less well-established ideal dosage range, but it’s been tested at anywhere from 30 to 150 mg per day.
Q: What does thermogenic mean?
A: The literal translation of thermogenic means “heat generation”–thermo- as in thermal, and –genic as in generate. A thermogenic supplement is one that increases your baseline metabolic rate, and hence increases your body’s caloric expenditure.
Often, the way this happens is by increased fat oxidation. When thermogenesis happens through this route, it’s doubly beneficial for weight loss, because you are burning more calories, and those calories are coming directly from fat stored in fat cells which is mobilized and burned for energy.
Q: What do thermogenic pills do?
A: At a basic level, thermogenic pills increase your body’s caloric expenditure by increasing your baseline metabolic rate.
How this happens is a complex function of biochemistry, and varies substantially from supplement to supplement. Despite thermogenesis happening through a variety of mechanisms, the outcome is the same. If your dietary intake and physical activity levels stay the same, and your baseline energy expenditure increases, you’ll lose weight.
Of course, the absolute increase in energy expenditure is rather small, so many people combine thermogenic pills with more traditional weight loss strategies like diet and exercise to increase their rate of weight loss.
Q: What are some thermogenic foods?
A: The best “food” for thermogenic effects is probably coffee and tea, though they may not meet your definition of food.
Foods that are high in protein have a pretty powerful thermogenic effect, like eggs, chicken, and fish. That’s because eating protein causes an increase in energy expenditure in the time after the meal, at least compared to an equivalent amount of carbohydrates or fat.
This is part of the mechanism behind taking protein for weight loss. It seems strange that eating something with calories can lead to weight loss, but research supports this premise. The benefits are slightly stronger for animal protein, because of its more complex amino acid makeup.
Although several protein heavy foods can give you an increase in thermogenesis, the only way to get this without taking in extra calories is with coffee, tea, or a thermogenic supplement.
Q: When should you take thermogenics?
A: The optimal time to take a thermogenic is in the morning, in most cases. Some of the more powerful thermogenic supplements include caffeine, or are based on natural products that have caffeine, like green tea extract and green coffee bean extract.
The caffeine in these products is good for increasing fat oxidation, but it could cause insomnia if you take it at night. Another reason to take a thermogenic in the morning is that many (though certainly not all) thermogenic products have appetite suppressant effects as well.
That means they can help you eat less at meals, as long as the appetite suppressant effect is active during the day. So, even if your thermogenic supplement is caffeine-free, there are still a few potential benefits to taking it in the morning as opposed to the evening.
Q: Is caffeine a thermogenic?
A: Yes, caffeine is one of the best-studied thermogenic compounds. It increases your metabolic rate and increases your rate of fat oxidation, making it doubly effective for weight loss.
However, despite its thermogenic benefits, it’s not the best thermogenic for everyone. Caffeine has some well-documented side effects like jitters, anxiety, and sleeplessness, which can become a problem with high dosage uses.
There’s also evidence that some caffeine-based thermogenics are actually more effective than caffeine alone. Green tea extract, for example, seems to exert a greater thermogenic effect than you’d expect just given its caffeine content.
The same is true for green coffee bean extract. While caffeine is a good way to increase fat burning, there are also some unscrupulous thermogenic compounds that are nothing more than fancy caffeine pills. We specifically eliminated these low-quality products when formulating our thermogenic rankings.
Q: What is the best thermogenic fat burner?
A: It’s hard to single out one specific ingredient as the most effective thermogenic, but of the many candidates green tea extract might be the most versatile.
It has a pretty good safety profile, and has a robust evidence supporting its benefits for weight loss. It also acts as an appetite suppressant, and moreover, it has many health benefits beyond weight loss thanks to its potent antioxidant effects.
Most thermogenic supplements don’t rely on just one ingredient, though; they use an ensemble of different ingredients in an effort to get better results.
Q: Do fat burning supplements work?
A: Yes, if you choose the right thermogenic, there is a demonstrated increase in fat oxidation as a result of the thermogenic ingredients in the supplement.
However, whether this translates into actual weight loss will also depend on your overall lifestyle.
If all you do is start taking a thermogenic supplement, and don’t change your dietary or exercise habits, you might lose a few pounds per month. If you take a thermogenic supplement, and start a weight loss program that involves exercise and a better quality diet, you can see much more substantial effects.
Q: What are some good natural thermogenics?
A: Among the natural thermogenic ingredients out there, some of the top performers in scientific research include green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, and cayenne pepper.
That’s not to say that other ingredients aren’t worth pursuing; these are just the ones with the longest history of success
Q: What is the best thermogenic for females?
A: Our top recommendation for women also happens to be our top recommendation overall: Leanbean takes the cake thanks to its well-rounded formulation and the fact that it doesn’t go overboard with caffeine.
Women can be particularly sensitive to the negative effects of caffeine, first because their body mass tends to be lower to begin with, and second because of some hormonal interactions that can occur with caffeine.
Leanbean is able to leverage the benefits of caffeine-based ingredients like green tea extract and green coffee bean extract, but it does not include caffeine as a standalone ingredient.
Other products that are low in caffeine are also great choices for women looking for a good thermogenic. You can find similar products in our rankings of fat burners for women.
Q: Are there thermogenic probiotics?
A: Some probiotic bacteria do exert a thermogenic effect by breaking down energy for their own use.
The energy production of probiotic bacteria does not always overlap with calories that your body would have consumed, though; for example, some probiotic bacteria can digest forms of fiber that your body would not be able to use for energy.
Nevertheless, the ability of probiotic bacteria to alter the metabolism of fat in your body is an exciting area of new research. According to one review study published in the journal Nutrition, emerging evidence suggests that certain kinds of bacteria in the gut can decrease obesity by changing how fats are absorbed and processed by your body (9).
Though there is a lot of promise for future research in this area, right now we don’t know enough to definitively say that any particular kind of bacteria can be considered a thermogenic. While probiotics are good for your overall health, and might even be useful for weight loss, the science just is not fully fleshed out yet.
- Appetite suppressant
- Weight loss pills
- Fat burners for men
- Fat burners for women
- Diet pills for women
- Natural weight loss supplements
- Green tea extract
- Linoleic acid
- Garcinia cambogia
Finding a good thermogenic supplement can be tricky, but the right one can increase weight loss by increasing your body’s metabolic set point, without causing adverse health effects.
The best thermogenic supplements contain ingredients that are not only effective on their own, but interact with each other in a positive way to increase the fat burning potential.
Look for key ingredients like green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, caffeine, capsaicin, acetyl-L-carnitine, conjugated linoleic acid, and garcinia cambogia for your best chance at good results.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 thermogenic supplement recommendation, click here.