The 5 Best Supplements to Get Shredded in 2022

Looking for the best supplements to lose fat and get shredded? You’re in the right place. Many dietary supplements claim to aid with weight loss and burning fat. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, growing every year. Some popular supplements are supported by scientific evidence, but many are not. 

Most supplements intended for fat loss work through these mechanisms:

  • Increase the number of calories you burn.
  • Keep you fuller for longer and decrease your appetite.
  • Accelerate your body’s fat-burning processes.
  • Reduce the amount of fat or carbs you absorb.

All four factors boil down to attaining a negative energy balance.1 You need to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose fat, and a select few supplements offer a helping hand to reach that goal.

Another factor many people forget is maintaining lean muscle mass. Maintaining or increasing your lean body mass is essential for a successful cut. Supplements for muscle building that help you do this during a cut are as important as supplements that “burn fat.”

These are the five nutritional supplements I think are the best to use on a cutting diet to get shredded.

Creatine

Creatine supplements for getting shredded? Doesn’t creatine make you bloated? While creatine is universally accepted as an excellent supplement for building muscle and strength, it can also help you during a cutting diet. Here’s how.

Creatine is the most effective supplement for boosting your exercise performance and gaining lean body mass.2 Creatine has no proven fat-burning properties, but research shows that people using creatine generally lose a little more body fat compared to placebo.3

Remember that losing fat is just one part of a successful cutting diet. The other part is retaining, or even building, muscle. If you lose as much muscle as fat while dieting, you’re not going to look and perform your best. Unless you’re getting stage-ready as a natural bodybuilder, you shouldn’t lose any muscle to speak of at all during a cutting diet.

That’s where creatine can help you.

While creatine itself doesn’t help you burn fat, neither does it prevent fat loss in any way. A creatine supplement while you cut, combined with a high-protein diet and some high-intensity strength training, effectively prevents muscle loss and maximizes fat loss. By maintaining your hard-earned muscle or even aiding in muscle gain, creatine helps you reach your goal of getting both shredded and muscular.

But what about water retention? Don’t worry. Creatine does make you retain water, but the good part is that it’s almost all inside your muscles. Creatine pulls water into your muscles, and nearly all of it ends up in your muscle cells, not under your skin.4 Therefore, it doesn’t make you “puffy.” If anything, creatine makes your muscles look fuller, precisely what you want when you show off the results of your cutting diet.

Five grams of creatine per day fill your muscle with creatine in four months. While not necessary, you can speed up that process by taking 20 grams per day, divided into four 5-gram doses, the first week. Creatine monohydrate is the least expensive and the most effective type of creatine on the market.5 Best of all, there are no known adverse effects associated with creatine supplementation.

Creatine might not be a fat loss supplement in itself, but it sure can help you get that shredded, muscular look.

Read more: Creatine: Effects, Benefits and Safety

Whey Protein Powder

When you’re on a cutting diet, you need more protein than usual to build or maintain muscle. While 1.6–2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day maximize your potential for muscle growth during calorie balance or above, you might need up to 2.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day during a cutting diet.6 7

Getting that much protein through regular foods can be a challenge. If you’re on a fat-loss diet, you might have to cut down on everything but protein-heavy foods to reach that goal. That’s where protein supplements enter the picture, and that’s the reason you find them on this list of the best supplements to get shredded.

Protein supplements are usually very “lean,” meaning they don’t contain much fat or sugars, just pure protein. That way, you get the protein your muscles crave but without any unwanted calories. Protein supplements help whether you’re bulking or cutting. They make it easier to get enough protein during a bulk, even if you’re feeling stuffed from all the food you eat. They allow you to reach your protein intake goals during a cut without getting too many calories from carbs and fat.

Whey protein, in particular, seems to be beneficial during a cut.8 Whey is one of the two milk proteins, the other being casein. You absorb whey rapidly, providing you with all the essential amino acids for muscle protein synthesis. A recent meta-analysis concluded that whey protein maximizes lean body mass or fat-free mass gain when used during a strength-training program.9 If you use creatine simultaneously, you get an even better effect. Maintaining or even gaining muscle during a cut is a sign of a successful diet.

In addition, whey protein also suppresses your appetite more than other proteins, like casein and soy protein, making it easier to stay on a strict diet.10

There are several types of whey protein supplements on the market, the two most common being whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Whey concentrate is the least expensive of the three and retains some sugar and fat. It also typically contains more biologically active compounds, many of which have potential health benefits.11 Isolate, on the other hand, is the purest form of whey protein and has a higher protein content than concentrate. Isolate contains at least 90 percent protein.

Given that whey protein isolate has a lower fat and carb content, you might be inclined to think that it’s the best option for cutting purposes. However, a recent meta-analysis found that only whey protein concentrate effectively reduces body fat.12

Overall, whey protein builds muscle, keeps your appetite in check, and might even help you with fat loss. That makes it a prime candidate for this list of the best supplements to get shredded. A protein shake or two of whey protein per day helps you get enough muscle-building protein and is an excellent part of your fat-loss regimen. Twenty to thirty grams per serving maximizes muscle protein synthesis.13 You can use whey protein both as a muscle recovery aid after workouts or at any other time during the day.

Read more: Whey Protein Concentrate vs. Isolate: What’s The Difference?

Caffeine

Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world, and coffee, the most well-recognized source of caffeine, is one of the most widely consumed beverages. Regardless of the source, caffeine can aid you in your struggles to get shredded.

Caffeine increases your energy expenditure and may decrease your energy intake, meaning it makes you eat less.14 Drinking a large cup of coffee every couple of hours makes you burn up to an extra 150 calories per day.15 That might not sound like much. It’s the equivalent of a banana. However, it adds up over time. Everything else being equal, burning 150 extra calories per day would make you lose a kilogram of body fat in less than two months.

Caffeine also increases your fat oxidation, meaning the process of breaking down fatty acids. You can then burn those fatty acids as fuel for your body. Caffeine can increase fat oxidation a lot, up to 29%.16

Several recent meta-analyses support coffee and caffeine for losing weight and body fat.17 18 Even better, if you get your caffeine from coffee, it can be “part of a healthy lifestyle to promote overall health,” according to one of the reviews.

Caffeine is often included in commercial weight-loss supplements and “fat-burners.” As such, it’s one of few ingredients with scientific research backing its effectiveness.19

Overall, caffeine deserves a place on this list of the best cutting supplements to get shredded. It boosts your metabolism and increases fat oxidation, possibly leading to fat loss over time. Also, caffeine allows you to perform better in the gym, which is welcome when you’re on a low-calorie cutting diet.20 21 22

You can get your caffeine boost from a caffeine supplement, but if you get it from coffee, you get several potential health effects at the same time.23 Regardless, it is one of the best pre-workout supplements out there. If you’re looking for a performance boost, 3–6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight an hour before a training session is a standard and effective dose.24

Staying away from caffeine close to bedtime might be a good idea. It can interfere with your sleep, which is very important for fat loss. Research shows that cutting back on sleep also cuts your fat loss almost in half.25 In addition, you’re more likely to overeat if you haven’t slept enough.26 According to several studies, lack of sleep makes people eat almost 400 calories more than usual. Not a recipe for getting shredded. If you could bottle sleep, it would make this list of the best supplements to get shredded.

Read more: Caffeine: Effects, Benefits, and Safety

Green Tea

Green tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant leaves, much like any other tea. The main difference between green and black tea is that the leaves haven’t undergone the same wilting and oxidation process. Although not backed by scientific evidence, green tea has many purported health effects documented in Chinese literature for over 1,000 years.

Another possible effect of green tea is weight and fat loss. Green tea contains a natural phenol called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short. EGCG is the primary component of green tea extract; a supplement often marked for weight loss. EGCG makes your intestines absorb less of the fat and carbs you eat, reducing your calorie intake.27 28

Will you see any weight and fat loss by using green tea extract?

It’s possible. According to a systematic review and a meta-analysis, both published in the last few years, a majority of the research supports green tea extract for weight and fat loss.29 30

A twelve-week study with more than 100 overweight women found that green tea extract led to weight loss and a reduced waist circumference, without any side effects.31 

In summary, research supports green tea extract for losing fat. It won’t do the job for you, but a supplement containing up to 350 mg of EGCG per day might give you a helping hand.

Even if green tea extract is effective for losing weight and body fat, don’t expect it to help you maintain your new shredded physique. There is no evidence that green tea extracts aids in weight loss maintenance.32

Green tea seems to be safe in moderate amounts, although some have raised concern for liver damage with high amounts.33 350 mg of EGCG per day appears to be safe if taken in the form of a supplement. If you make real green tea and get your EGCG that way, you can safely consume 700 mg of it.34

Capsaicinoids

Capsaicinoids are chemicals naturally found in chili peppers. Chili does not only make for spicy dishes, but it can also help you lose fat. 

Research shows that capsaicinoids work in three ways:

  • Increased calorie expenditure
  • Increased fat oxidation
  • Decreased appetite

Capsaicinoids are thermogenic fat burners, meaning they increase your body temperature and burn calories. Adding a capsaicinoid supplement increases your daily energy expenditure by about 50 calories per day.35 While it would take years to lose a significant amount of body way through capsaicinoids alone, burning 50 calories more while adhering to a low-calorie diet and exercise might aid your fat loss efforts.

Daily consumption of capsaicinoids can also help you get cut by making you eat less. A 2014 meta-analysis found that 2 mg or more of capsaicinoids per day reduces calorie intake.36

Whether or not capsaicinoid leads to long-term weight loss is unclear, but the evidence suggests that they are effective in attaining a negative energy balance. Don’t rely on chili peppers to lose large amounts of weight or prevent obesity, but during a short-term cut, they seem effective in helping you burn a few more calories. Capsaicinoids aren’t a magic bullet of any kind, but when added to a good diet and exercise plan, they can be beneficial.37 38

As a bonus, they possess many properties with a positive effect on your general health.39

Capsaicinoids from chili pepper at a dosage of up to 10 mg per day increase fat mobilization and make you burn more calories.40 The majority of published studies use 2–6 grams of capsaicin per day. Most capsaicin supplements contain cayenne pepper, which is high in capsaicin.

Capsaicinoid supplements have a good safety profile, with the most common adverse effect being a burning sensation in your stomach. That feeling is not dangerous but might feel unpleasant. You can prevent or at least reduce it by taking the supplement along with food.

Summary

There you have it! The best supplements to get shredded and to help you cut.

  • Creatine for maintaining lean mass and performance in the gym.
  • Whey protein builds muscle, increases satiety, and maybe even improves fat loss.
  • Caffeine for enhancing performance and boosting your metabolism and fat oxidation.
  • Green tea extract for improved fat loss.
  • And finally, capsaicinoids increase calorie expenditure, increase fat oxidation, and help you eat less.

Several of these supplements work together for an additive effect. For example, caffeine helps boost the effectiveness of green tea extract. Combining creatine and whey protein is better than using either of them alone.

Of course, no supplement is the magic bullet for fat loss. At best, any supplement intended for fat loss provides a minor benefit. Unfortunately, there are no short-cuts. You can’t replace hard work, a good training plan, and a proper diet if you want to get shredded, but if you’re looking for a helping hand, you can’t go wrong with the five supplements on this list.

Want to learn more about dietary supplements? Which ones are worth your money, and which are questionable or useless? Check our StrengthLog’s Supplement Guide, our free guide where I review 26 of the most popular supplements.

Further Reading

References

  1. Nutrients 2020, 12(9), 2873; Current Evidence to Propose Different Food Supplements for Weight Loss: A Comprehensive Review.
  2. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition volume 18, Article number: 1 (2021). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance.
  3. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2019 Sep; 4(3): 62. Changes in Fat Mass Following Creatine Supplementation and Resistance Training in Adults ≥50 Years of Age: A Meta-Analysis.
  4. J Athl Train. 2003 Jan-Mar; 38(1): 44–50. Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution.
  5. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition volume 18, Article number: 13 (2021). Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?
  6. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation.
  7. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar;52(6):376-384. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults.
  8. Nutrients 2020, 12(9), 2873; Current Evidence to Propose Different Food Supplements for Weight Loss: A Comprehensive Review.
  9. Sports Medicine volume 46, pages 125–137 (2016). Effects of Whey Protein Alone or as Part of a Multi-ingredient Formulation on Strength, Fat-Free Mass, or Lean Body Mass in Resistance-Trained Individuals: A Meta-analysis.
  10. Br J Nutr. 2003 Feb;89(2):239-48. Casein and whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite.
  11. J Sports Sci Med. 2004 Sep; 3(3): 118–130. Protein – Which is Best?
  12. Nutrients 2019, 11(9), 2047. Comparative Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Concentrated, Hydrolyzed, and Isolated Whey Protein Supplementation on Body Composition of Physical Activity Practitioners.
  13. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 99, Issue 1, January 2014, Pages 86–95. Myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis rates subsequent to a meal in response to increasing doses of whey protein at rest and after resistance exercise.
  14. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2017 Jan 1;28(1):1-10. The effect of caffeine on energy balance.
  15. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 49, Issue 1, January 1989, Pages 44–50. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers.
  16. Am J Physiol. 1995 Oct;269(4 Pt 1):E671-8. Effects of caffeine on energy metabolism, heart rate, and methylxanthine metabolism in lean and obese women.
  17. Nutrients. 2019 Jun; 11(6): 1274. Coffee Intake and Obesity: A Meta-Analysis.
  18. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(16):2688-2696. The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
  19. Obes Rev. 2011 Oct;12(10):841-51. Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism.
  20. Front. Nutr., 26 January 2021. Pre-exercise Caffeine Intake Enhances Bench Press Strength Training Adaptations.
  21. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018; 15: 11. Effects of caffeine intake on muscle strength and power: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  22. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5773; Ergogenic Effects of Acute Caffeine Intake on Muscular Endurance and Muscular Strength in Women: A Meta-Analysis.
  23. American Journal of Nursing: March 2018 – Volume 118 – Issue 3 – p 69-70. Meta-Analysis Shows Coffee Consumption is Generally Safe.
  24. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition volume 18, Article number: 1 (2021). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance.
  25. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Oct 5;153(7):435-41. Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity.
  26. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume 71, pages 614–624 (2017). The effects of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  27. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Volume 18, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 179-183. Green tea as inhibitor of the intestinal absorption of lipids: potential mechanism for its lipid-lowering effect.
  28. LWT – Food Science and Technology, Volume 66, March 2016, Pages 232-238. Effects of tea polyphenols and different teas on pancreatic α-amylase activity in vitro.
  29. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 05 Jun 2017, 34(3):731-737. Effects of green tea and its epigallocatechin (EGCG) content on body weight and fat mass in humans: a systematic review.
  30. Molecules 2018, 23(5), 1176. A Review on the Weight-Loss Effects of Oxidized Tea Polyphenols.
  31. Clin Nutr. 2016 Jun;35(3):592-9. Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
  32. Nutrients 2019, 11(8), 1916; Dietary Strategies for Weight Loss Maintenance.
  33. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. November 20, 2020.
  34. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Volume 95, June 2018, Pages 412-433. The safety of green tea and green tea extract consumption in adults – Results of a systematic review.
  35. Appetite Volume 59, Issue 2, October 2012, Pages 341-348. Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence.
  36. Appetite Volume 73, 1 February 2014, Pages 183-188. Could capsaicinoids help to support weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of energy intake data.
  37. BMC Obesity volume 5, Article number: 22 (2018). Capsaicinoids supplementation decreases percent body fat and fat mass: adjustment using covariates in a post hoc analysis.
  38. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Volume 68, 2017 – Issue 4. Chili pepper as a body weight-loss food.
  39. Analytical Methods in the Determination of Bioactive Compounds and Elements in Food 03 February 2021 pp 193-225. Capsaicinoids – Properties and Mechanisms of Pro-health Action.
  40. Nutrients 2020, 12(9), 2873; Current Evidence to Propose Different Food Supplements for Weight Loss: A Comprehensive Review.
Photo of author

Andreas Abelsson

Andreas has over 30 years of training experience and is a highly appreciated writer and educator on exercise, fitness, and nutrition. Few people stay more up to date and have a better grasp of the field of exercise science than Andreas.