Thermogenics have fancy and complicated name, but really these supplements just increase your body’s ability to burn energy and create heat (thermo = heat, genic = generating).
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.
It was too good at thermogenesis, and it caused health problems because of that. Concerned about getting the best thermogenic results with the least risk of negative side effects?
Our research team has come up with rankings of the best thermogenic supplements you can get right now.
BurnXT 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 BurnXT 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
BURNZ is an intense stimulant-based thermogenic supplement that uses a strong dose of caffeine (250 mg) and capsaicin to create its thermogenic effects.
It has some ancillary supplements too, like huperzine A and a few amino acids, but the caffeine and capsaicin are where all the action is.
If you are looking for a stimulant-focused thermogenic, this is a great choice, but if you are caffeine-sensitive or want a more balanced blend in your thermogenic, look elsewhere.
5. 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.
6. 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.
This is a double-edged sword; while it does mean there’s a better chance for Genius Burn to succeed when other supplements fail, it also mens that the ingredients don’t have as much evidence for their efficacy.
7. 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.
8. 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.
It’s got plenty of ingredients that work, like coffee bean extract and green tea extract, but also plenty that you probably don’t need.
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.
9. Naturewise Thermo Blend
Naturewise’s Thermo Blend is a relatively simply but somewhat outdated thermogenic supplement.
It has a few unique and less-common supplements, like cocoa extract and rhodiola extract, but people who are concerned about side effects should be aware that synephrine, from bitter orange extract, is present in this supplement, and while it appears to be an effective thermogenic compound, it’s also been connected to adverse side effects.
10. RSP Quadralean
Quadralean is a thermogenic based strongly around stimulant-related fat burning. It has a high dose of caffeine as well as synephrine, and the combined effect of these compounds could have a stimulant effect that’s too powerful.
While some people find a lot of success with this supplement, there are better and more well-formulated thermogenics you can try–even if you are looking for a stimulant-based supplement.
Thermogenic benefits and side effects
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.
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.
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.
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 (4).
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 (5)–, 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 (6).
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.
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, caffeine, capsaicin, acetyl-L-carnitine, conjugated linoleic acid, and garcinia cambogia for your best chance at good results.