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Thermogenics is a term used to refer to compounds or organisms that stimulate the production of heat in the biological sense. This term is often used to refer to chemical compounds consumed by body builders and people interested in weight loss who use thermogenesis, the process of internal heat production, as part of their physical regimens. It can also appear in discussions about microorganisms, which generate heat when they break down biological materials. Thermogenics can be seen, for example, in many compost piles.
In thermogenesis, the body burns stored fat for energy and it produces heat as a side effect. Sometimes the heat is deliberately induced, as when people are cold and their metabolisms burn off fat in order to regulate body temperature. Exercise thermogenesis occurs when people exercise and the body's demand for energy leads to consumption of fat cells. Diet induced thermogenesis occurs in reverse: The body makes heat as it stores energy in the form of fat.
In the weight loss and muscle building communities, thermogenic compounds, known as thermogenics, are harnessed to assist with fat loss. These substances accelerate the metabolism, forcing it to burn more energy in the form of stored fat. For people who are trying to lose weight, the fat burning accelerates the rate of weight loss. Muscle builders can use thermogenics to reduce and control fat so that their muscle definition improves.
The compounds that induce thermogenesis tend to be stimulants. Ephedrine and caffeine are two popular thermogenics. When used in moderation and combined with a safe exercise routine, such drugs can be relatively safe. However, people who overdo thermogenics can put themselves at risk of injuries, including cardiovascular problems. Over prolonged use, people can become tolerant to thermogenic compounds and as a result they will reduce success rates with losing fat and keeping it off. This can lead people to increase their intake, a potentially dangerous activity.
Before adding thermogenics to a diet or exercise plan, it is advisable to consult a doctor about which thermogenics would be safe to use and to get dosage recommendations. There may be contraindications or drug interactions that could result in injury. Even substances marketed as “natural” can be harmful for people with certain underlying medical conditions and people taking certain medications. If thermogenics are not advised, a doctor may have recommendations for other steps which people can take to accelerate their metabolisms to manage body fat.