Are Thermogenic Dietary Supplements Safe & Effective For Resistance Training?
A Review by Alyssa Bialowas
Thermogenic dietary supplements are multi-ingredient sports supplements designed to improve athletic performance, promote fat oxidation, and increase thermogenesis (a metabolic process where your body burns calories to produce heat). Many athletes and active individuals look to dietary supplementation to increase body composition, lose weight, and boost exercise performance, especially during HIIT.
Common ingredients in dietary supplements include caffeine, green tea extract, l-carnitine, and evodiamine, and data has indicated that these ingredients could independently play a role in enhancing energy expenditure, fat loss and exercise adaptions. The question is: Are commercially available thermogenic dietary supplements safe and effective to use within a structured resistance training program?
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There were 20 male participants in this study, all between 18 to 30 years of age, apparently healthy, weight stable, resistance trained and hadn’t consumed ergogenic dietary supplements for the previous 6 months. The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, where participants were assigned to consume a dietary supplement or placebo daily for 6 weeks.
Laboratory assessments were performed at baseline and after 6 weeks of resistance training and dietary supplementation. Both assessments occurred at the same time of day and consisted of identical testing of anthropometric, body composition and hemodynamic variables, a blood draw, and muscular performance testing.
The supplements were found to be safe, with no adverse effects as a result of taking them. Most hemodynamic and safety variables were unchanged with supplementation. There were no benefits found for body composition enhancement or improved adaptations to a resistance training program. Two observed benefits of supplementation were an increase in lower body strength and a reduction in cortisol concentrations compared to placebo.
Minor decreases in protein and albumin were seen with supplementation, but were still within normal ranges. Lean mass, fat mass and body fat percentage did not change in either group, and there were no benefits for testosterone concentrations or upper body strength.
The thermogenic dietary supplement has been deemed safe to consume for a 6-week period in healthy males. Although there was no weight or fat loss found over 6 weeks of supplementation and resistance training, the supplement did serve certain benefits, such as lower body strength after progressive resistance training. However, due to the numerous ingredients in the thermogenic supplement, it’s unclear which ingredients effected these results. Always make sure to listen to your body to find a supplement that works for you.
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Tinsley, G.M., Urbina, S., Mullins, J., Outlaw, J., Hayward, S., Stone, M., Foster, C., Wilborn, C., Taylor, L. (2017). “Influence of A Thermogenic Dietary Supplement on Safety Markers, Body Composition, Energy Expenditure, Muscular Performance and Hormone Concentrations: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trail.” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 459-467.