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One Major Side Effect of Taking Fat-Burning Supplements, Says Dietitian

This "shortcut" may not be the healthiest for you. Here's why.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

With summer in full swing, nothing feels more tempting than jumpstarting your weight loss goals and achieving a perfectly flat stomach anyone could get jealous of. While diet and exercise can help shave off stomach flab, taking fat-burning supplements feels like an easy way to reach your goal. But are they even healthy for you to take?

Activated charcoal and probiotics claim to reduce bloating and fight water weight, leading to a slimmer waistline, while enzymes and synbiotics guarantee to burn off fat around your waist. While a ton of these supplements have flooded the market, many of these quick shortcuts to flat bellies hide one common side effect that could get anyone thinking twice before putting these items into their body.

"Among several side effects of fat-burning supplements, the most dangerous one is high blood pressure and heart rate that puts your heart under great stress," says Amber O'Brien, RD from Mango Clinic. "These supplements work after heating up your body, boosting the metabolism and causing the burning of fat at a higher resting rate to promote weight loss. But unfortunately, in doing so, increased heart rate and blood pressure result in poor blood circulation, which can put your life in danger by increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes."

"Fat-burning supplements contain several unregulated ingredients that are fatal for [your] health," says O'Brien. "Moreover, weight loss supplements can interact with other medications therefore it is highly recommended to consult your doctor before choosing any product from the market."

All in all, it's important to note that taking these supplements may help with debloating and weight loss efforts, but they aren't a magical pill—meaning you need to be careful with your dosage.

"In order to avoid potential side effects, it's important to consider all the precautions while taking fat-burning supplements," says O'Brien. "If you have started taking the supplements, do not exceed the recommended dosage mentioned on the label. Besides, do not expect rapid results from these supplements if you are not working on your diet and lifestyle choices."

Can fat-burning supplements even help with weight loss?

While fat-burning supplements have the potential to cause cardiac damage through raised blood pressure, some supplements can still help you on your weight loss journey.

"I would recommend going for natural fat burners that are very less likely to cause side effects," says O'Brien.

Items like green tea extract or ginseng can help speed up your metabolism, resulting in a flatter stomach. You can even turn to hibiscus and berberine to supercharge your fat-burning goals. While these natural items pose less of a danger, they can't beat diet and exercise.

"However, remember that the most effective and healthier way to burn fat is to perform exercises that target fat and avoid foods that are high in calorie count," O'Brien continued. "If you're looking for shortcuts to lose your fat, even supplements can't work effectively if you are not working out and choosing the right diet plan."

When it comes to slimming down, don't rely on any shortcuts. With the help of diet and exercise, you can achieve every body sculpting goal you put your mind to (like following these 20 Healthy Eating Habits to Lose Weight Right Now). If you opt to include some fat-burning supplements in your diet, make sure to keep a keen eye on their side effects and avoid putting your heart at risk for the sake of your stomach.

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich