The Science of Topical Fat Burning Creams

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If you want to know how and why topical fat burning creams help with weight loss and burn stubborn belly fat, then you'll want to read this article.

We all struggle with stubborn fat.

Even the most genetically gifted athletes on the planet have nooks and crannies filled with little pockets of pesky body fat that they’d rather not have. And, no matter how many calories you cut, nor how many hours you devote to performing cardio seems to do much in the way of getting rid of it.

But, recent advancements in the area of fat loss have led to the development of a number of options that help to target stubborn fat and eliminate it from the body once and for all. No, we’re not talking about the latest diet pill or powder featured on those daytime doctor TV shows.

We’re talking about topical fat burning creams that are applied directly to your trouble areas.

Once applied, these transdermal fat burner creams unleash a fury of metabolic activity that accelerates fat loss in the areas that seem the most difficult to burn off. In this article, you’re going to learn the ins and outs of how these creams work.

But first, let’s address the number one question when it comes to topical fat burners, do fat burning creams work?

Are Topical Fat Burners a Scam?

While it seems too good to be true, topical fat burning creams aren’t a scam.

There's a fair amount of research in humans demonstrating that application of these fat loss creams helps decrease body weight, reduce body fat and waist size, and improve the waist-to-hip ratio. <1,2,3,4,5>

One important thing to note is that these transdermal fat burners help reduce the amount of subcutaneous fat (the type of fat stored beneath the skin), NOT the amount of visceral fat (the kind found inside the stomach and lining the organs). <5>

Visceral fat is the more life-threatening type of body fat most often associated with increased rates of inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.

Next, let’s get into how topical fat burners help eliminate unwanted body fat.

How do Topical Fat Burning Creams Work?

Topical fat burners do not magically make fat disappear from your body. They work through a variety of complex mechanisms that enhance your body's ability to access regions of stubborn fat and oxidize "burn" them off for energy.

To upregulate the body's fat burning mechanisms, topical fat burners typically address one or more of the following characteristics of the fat loss process:

  • Increases Critical Enzymes Involved In Fat Burning, Such As Desnutrin
  • Increases Blood Flow to the Area of the Body Where the Cream Is Applied, Promoting the Greater Supply of Fat-releasing Catecholamines like Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine)
  • Encourages Lipolysis (Release Of Stored Fatty Acids)
  • Increases cAMP, Which Leads to an Increased Fat Breakdown
  • Upregulating Uncoupling Protein (UCP-1) Activity to Increase Thermogenesis
  • Discouraging Cells from Storing Fat
  • Modulating Cortisol and Estrogen to Reduce Fat Storage in “Trouble” Areas
  • Decreases Water Retention and Bloating

As you can see, topical fat burners can work through a variety of mechanisms. To better explain these mechanisms let's take a more in-depth look into a few of the "heavy hitters" on this list, beginning with:

Increase Enzymatic Activity

Desnutrin is an enzyme that catalyzes the first step of lipolysis, hydrolyzing triglycerides into diglycerides. From here, another enzyme known as hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) breaks the diglycerides into monoglycerides and then to free fatty acids (FFA) and glycerol. <6>

Studies note that increasing activity of these enzymes can lead to increased lipolysis, fatty acid utilization (i.e., fat burning), and reductions in fat cell size and the amount of stored fatty acids (TAG) within the cell. <11>

Now, desnutrin activity is upregulated during periods of fasting or when nutrient intake is low. Additionally, researchers have developed a novel complex capable of increasing desnutrin activity in Intenslim™ (Patent # FR 2 985 426).

Intenslim™ is a proprietary combination of globularia cordifolia, Zingiber zerumbet Smith extract, and vegetal caffeine noted in trials to increase desnutrin synthesis, boost lipolysis, and reduce adipocyte storage. <12> Additional results observed during treatment with Intenslim™ included reductions in inflammatory markers, such as IL-6, and significant drops in stomach fat volume and thickness. <12>

Increase cAMP

cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) is an important chemical messenger in cells that promote the breakdown of stored fats in adipocytes. <13> It also regulates the body's thermogenic response to food, increases utilization of stored body fat, and boosts basal metabolic rate.

As you can imagine, anything that upregulates cAMP activity would be a goldmine for weight loss supplements. As it turns out, there are quite a few prominent cAMP boosters readily available.

The most common, and well-known one, is caffeine.

Caffeine and other xanthines (such as theophylline) are indirect elevators of cAMP due to their ability to inhibit phosphodiesterase (PDE) in fat cells. <14> This is because PDE breaks down cAMP.

Why is this important?

Increased cAMP levels activate protein kinase A to phosphorylate, subsequently stimulating hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).

As we mentioned up top, HSL hydrolyzes triglycerides into diglycerides, monoglycerides, free fatty acids, and glycerol. As the PDE enzyme decreases cAMP levels, the inhibition of PDE further increases cAMP activity.

When it comes to fat loss, increasing cAMP is a priority as it leads to greater lipolysis and it may also improve thyroid function, which as you're probably aware is a key determinant in maintaining a healthy metabolism. <15>

Increase Blood Flow

Part of what makes “trouble” areas of the body so troublesome is the fact that they tend to not receive as much blood flow as other regions of the body where body fat seems to “fly off.” The reason this lack of blood flow is an issue is that with less blood flow, comes less interaction with fat-burning hormones like noradrenaline.

Noradrenaline can bind to the beta receptors on fat cells, “unlocking” them in a sense, and allowing for stored fatty acids to be released into the bloodstream where they can be “picked up” by other tissues and burned for energy.

Topical creams frequently include ingredients that boost nitric oxide such as L-Citrulline, resulting in increased blood flow to the stubborn fat area, allowing for higher amounts of noradrenaline to interface with fat cells and liberate the stored fatty acids.

But arginine-related compounds aren’t the only means for increasing blood flow to trouble areas. Nicotinate esters, such as methyl nicotinate and benzyl nicotinate, are also valid options.

These esters readily cross the skin, where they act as prodrugs (precursors) and release nicotinic acid following enzymatic hydrolysis. Inside the body, the form vasodilating compounds known as prostaglandins which increase localized blood flow as does the amount of oxygen in the skin.<16,17>

As we mentioned above, increased blood flow is excellent for enhancing the number of catecholamines that can reach pesky fat stores, but the increased oxygen content also helps enhance the vibrancy of skin, giving it a more appealing appearance.

Let’s Talk About Absorption

As is the case with orally ingested dietary supplements, the ingredients in topical fat burners are only as effective as their ability to cross the skin barrier and be absorbed by the body.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and serves as a protective barrier against external hazards. It’s comprised of three layers:

  • Epidermis - The Outermost Layer That Serves as a Moisture Barrier and Provides Skin Tone
  • Dermis - Tough “Middle” Layer Comprised of Sweat Glands, Hair Follicles, and Connective Tissue
  • Hypodermis - Subcutaneous Tissue Consisting of Fat and Connective Tissue

For any topical cream to be of benefit to those of you seeking spot reduction, the ingredients must be able to cross all the way through to the hypodermis. Therefore, the ultimate governor of the success of your chosen topical fat burner is how well the ingredients in it can penetrate the skin.

Fortunately, there are several ingredients shown to successfully navigate the torturous journey across the various layers of skin and exert their fat-burning benefits. This brings us to our next segment:

Topical Fat Burners Up-Close

SteelFit® has devoted extensive resources to crafting an arsenal of potent fat burning creams, each of which is built upon a foundation of research-backed ingredients.

What’s the difference between each one?

Let’s find out:

Abs of Steel®

Abs of Steel® is a potent heat-activated, water-ridding transdermal fat burner built on a trio of well-known weight loss agents including:

  • L-Carnitine
  • Caffeine
  • Coenzyme A

Caffeine is a known metabolism booster and lipolytic agent encouraging fat cells to release stored fatty acids while L-Carnitine and Coenzyme A support the oxidation (“burning”) of fatty acids for energy. <7>

Abs of Steel® combines these three powerful fat burning ingredients into a unique complex known as CoAxel™ (Patent # FR 2 694 195) which has been documented to reduce subcutaneous fat and hypodermis thickness significantly. <8>

The final ingredient in Abs of Steel® is Bupleurum Root, an herb used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine noted for its detoxifying effects. Studies have indicated that compounds present in the root of bupleurum can activate G-proteins in the body <9,10>, which further reduces subcutaneous fat as well as tightens skin.

Buns of Steel®

Buns of Steel® is an advanced heat-activated slimming formula scientifically formulated to reduce cellulite, excess body fat, and stretch marks.

Headlining the Buns of Steel® collection of ingredients is Intenslim™ -- a breakthrough weight loss ingredient that combats the inflammatory effects of a poor diet while increasing fatty acid release in the body, allowing for greater fat burning. Intenslim™ has also been noted to remove damaged proteins from the skin to reveal younger, healthier-looking skin.

Buns of Steel® not only includes proven ingredients that help blast booty fat but also contains agents that promote younger, tighter-looking skin in Keratoline™ and Regestril™ (Patent # WO 2005/048968).

Keratoline™ is an enzymatic exfoliant that helps remove dead skin cells from the body, promoting cell renewal and revealing the smooth, luscious surface beneath.

Regestril™ is a unique complex of Phaseolus lunatus, extract, rutin and peptides included to help combat inflammatory reactions in the body that lead to the development of stretch marks as well as support regeneration of the extracellular matrix. This helps limit the occurrence of stretch marks on your assets.

The Bottom Line on Topical Fat Burners

Like other weight loss supplements, topical fat burners can enhance and accelerate the effects of a proper fat loss diet plan. When used in conjunction with regular exercise and a healthy diet, topical fat burners can help eliminate stubborn body fat in all the common trouble areas including hips, thighs, abdominals, and buttocks; giving you the stunning, firm physique you’ve always wanted!


  1. Armanini, D., Nacamulli, D., Francini-Pesenti, F., Battagin, G., Ragazzi, E., & Fiore, C. (2005). Glycyrrhetinic acid, the active principle of licorice, can reduce the thickness of subcutaneous thigh fat through topical application. Steroids, 70(8), 538–542.
  2. Caruso, M. K., Pekarovic, S., Raum, W. J., & Greenway, F. (2007). Topical fat reduction from the waist. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, 9(3), 300–303.
  3. Greenway, F. L., Bray, G. A., & Heber, D. (1995). Topical fat reduction. Obesity Research, 3 Suppl 4, 561S–568S.
  4. Roure, R., Oddos, T., Rossi, A., Vial, F., & Bertin, C. (2011). Evaluation of the efficacy of a topical cosmetic slimming product combining tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine, caffeine, carnitine, forskolin and retinol, In vitro, ex vivo and in vivo studies. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 33(6), 519–526.
  5. Byun SY, Kwon SH, Heo SH, Shim JS, Du MH, Na JI. Efficacy of Slimming Cream Containing 3.5% Water-Soluble Caffeine and Xanthenes for the Treatment of Cellulite: Clinical Study and Literature Review. Ann Dermatol. 2015;27(3):243-9.
  6. George Wolf; The Mechanism and Regulation of Fat Mobilization from Adipose Tissue: Desnutrin, a Newly Discovered Lipolytic Enzyme, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 63, Issue 5, 1 May 2005, Pages 166–170,
  7. Holloway, G.P., Luiken, J.J.F.P., Glatz, J.F.C., Spriet, L.L., & Bonen, A. (2008). Contribution of FAT/CD36 to the regulation of skeletal muscle Fatty acid oxidation: an overview. Acta Physiologica, 192, 293-309.
  8. Sederma, CoAXEL Technical Study, 2009.
  9. Shin MH, Choi EK, Kim KS, et al. Hexane Fractions of Bupleurum falcatum L. Stimulates Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Secretion through G β γ -Mediated Pathway. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:982165.
  10. Eisenstein A, Ravid K. G protein-coupled receptors and adipogenesis: a focus on adenosine receptors. J Cell Physiol. 2014;229(4):414-21.
  11. Ahmadian, M., Duncan, R. E., Varady, K. A., Frasson, D., Hellerstein, M. K., Birkenfeld, A. L., … Sul, H. S. (2009). Adipose Overexpression of Desnutrin Promotes Fatty Acid Use and Attenuates Diet-Induced Obesity. Diabetes, 58(4), 855 LP-866.
  13. Henderson S, Magu B, Rasmussen C, et al. Effects of coleus forskohlii supplementation on body composition and hematological profiles in mildly overweight women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005;2(2):54-62. Published 2005 Dec 9. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-2-2-54
  14. Rawlings AV. Cellulite and its treatment. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006;28:175–190.
  15. Tuncel M. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone ReceptorTiroid Stimulan Hormon Reseptörü. Mol Imaging Radionucl Ther. 2017;26(Suppl 1):87-91.

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