T Nation

Topical Fatburners

Whats up with these topical fat burners everywhere? Do they work at all?

Dan Duchaine said in BodyOpus that they’re a bullshit waste of money. Go on a diet like everyone else.

I did a consumer report regarding these types of products.

The theory behind yohimbine-based topical fat loss products is valid. Diet is obviously important, but these type of products are not designed to replace proper calorie management. Neither diet nor popular thermogenics like ephedrine/caffeine (EC) work well at reducing “problem fat areas.” This is where topical yohimbine products are effective.

For a little background info: the adrenergic system plays a major role in fat loss. There are two types of adrenergic receptors, alpha and beta, as well as subtypes of each and depending on which are activated, lipolysis (breakdown of fat) can be either stimulated or inhibited. The most well-known are the beta receptors. It’s through these receptors that EC exerts its effects. Ephedrine works indirectly by stimulating the release of norepinephrine (NE), the body's primary endogenous thermogenic hormone. However, NE is not selective in its binding. In addition to binding to the beta receptors, it also binds to both alpha receptors. Unfortunately, activation of the alpha 2 receptor inhibits the release of NE. Thus, by binding to this receptor, NE functions as its own negative feedback signal. In other words, it shuts off its own release. Obviously, this is not a good thing for fat loss. This is particularly true at rest, because alpha 2 receptors are activated at lower catecholamine (epinephrine, nonepinephrine, etc.) levels than are the beta receptors. Thus, thermogenesis is basically turned off. It is the differences in regional distribution of alpha 2 and beta receptors that is responsible for the gender differences in bodyfat storage. Basically, females have a large number of alpha 2 receptors and few beta receptors in the hips, thighs, and butt, while men have the same problem in the midsection. With exercise or the use of EC, catecholamine levels can be increased to a point where the alpha 2 induced inhibition of lipolysis is partially overcome. However, even then, the alpha 2 receptors are still acting to reduce lipolysis.

Yohimbine is a selective alpha 2 antagonist and can thus short circuit this feedback loop, maximizing NE levels, thus maximizing fat loss, particularly in these problem areas and even more so if you can achieve high levels of yohimbine and NE in the adipose tissue. Unfortunately, to do so with orals, or any other method that results in high blood levels means that we will also have high levels in the heart and CNS, causing unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Which is why topical fat loss products containing yohimbine Hcl (not yohimbe) may not only work, but other than liposuction, may be the best method available to burn fat off of problem areas.

sure they work, just like rubbing butter on my stomach makes me fatter.