‘Cardio cuts’ is a supplement that aims to improve performance in endurance exercise, using a variety of chemical compounds to improve aerobic capacity, reduce lactic acid build up and, supposedly, burn extra fat. This is an uncommon supplement for the industry, as the vast majority of supplements are dietary supplements aimed at reducing fat, this is a different tact.
The supplement doesn’t seem to isolate a single ingredient as “active” – rather, it relies on the inclusion of a wide variety of popular ingredients such as caffeine anhydrous, raspberry ketones, Beta alanine, CLA, MCTs and L-Carnitine. Some of these ingredients are more scientificially-proven than others. In this article, we will be looking at the performance aspects of the supplement, the fat burning effects and how the two interact.
Caffeine is one of the most heavily researched ingredients in the field of supplements and has been widely reported to have some, though very limited, positive effects on the metabolism . Aside from this, caffeine has been shown to improve maximum power output in certain circumstances , though other studies suggest that the effects are minimal and it actively increases the production of lactic acid  – though this could just be the result of slightly increased performance markers.
Raspberry ketones are an incredibly popular supplement in recent times, though their efficacy has been repeatedly disproved. The only positive effects noted on fat cells are in vitro tests or performed on rats. This would not be a killing blow to the efficacy of raspberry ketones alone, but their effectiveness is only shown in rats at dosages that are far beyond either dietary or supplementary levels : the need for raspberry ketones would be in the grams rather than mg, meaning that the content found in Cardio Cuts would not be an effective aid in fat loss. Raspberry ketones are a fad ingredient and should not be taken seriously.
Of the ingredient listed in Cardio cuts, this is by far the most effective and is the greatest contender for the effects that it reports. Beta-alanine is an altered version of alanine, an amino acid that we consume with some regularity. The consumption of this compound has been shown to improve a variety of performance markers, from muscular endurance to running capacity and reductions in the perception and effect of fatigue . This substantiates some of the claims that cardio cuts make, though it is important to remember that we can purchase pure-form beta alanine for less than $20, so there need to be some other benefits to Cardio Cuts or it is just going to be an expensive source of this otherwise-excellent supplement.
CLA has been the subject of some investigation lately – possibly due to their popularity in the supplement industry – but the effectiveness has yet to be established. There have been a wide variety of studies on the different effects of CLA but they have been overwhelmingly inconsistent, inconclusive or established only the safety of the product. Based on the wide variety of “broscience” on the compound and the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that it is innocuous, it seems like CLA has been added to cardio cuts simply for the buzzword value that it adds. It definitely sounds science-y, but the science shows that it does almost nothing.
Medium-chain triglycerides are a form of saturated fat molecule that are found in high concentration in foodstuffs like coconut oils and dairy fat. They can improve the ability to lose fat, much like Cardio cuts claims, though this is only the case when they replace other forms of dietary fat  – they do not actively burn fat, so consuming Cardio cuts on top of a diet that is in caloric surplus will continue to add fat and will not have a positive effect. To suggest that this ingredient is a fat burner is intellectually dishonest or simply ignorant.
L-carnitine is another popular supplement ingredient and, as with CLA, sounds incredibly scientific. Studies have shown that L-carnitine and ALCAR (a by-product of consuming L-carnitine) can have huge health benefits and improve the capacity of cellular mitochondria to burn fat. However, the problem with this is that L-carnitine will only have this effect in individuals who are already deficient in Carnitines: for those who are at healthy levels of the substance in the body already, there will be no real fat burning effects .
One of the interesting effects of this compound, however, is the ability to improve cognitive function and protect against the effects of aging, degenerative brain diseases and protect CNS function . These are positive effects independently of the ability to burn fat and should weigh in favor of Cardio cuts – especially when it is used in combination with B-Alanine as part of a pre-workout.
Overall, there’s not much point taking cardio cuts for the sake of fat loss. There are definitely some big positives to consuming Beta-alanine for the endurance athlete, and L-carnitine can have some positive effects on the way that the brain and CNS work (especially when we are using caffeine-based pre-workouts) but this does not impact on the fat loss claims. Equally, there is no real evidence that any other ingredient has any affects associated with fat loss. We can say that Cardio cuts works as a supplement for endurance training, but beyond that it’s pretty unimpressive.
The main problem we have with Cardio Cuts so far is that, while it does some of the things that it claims, it does them because of the content of a single product. The entire value associated with Cardio Cuts is the content of Beta-alanine, which can be consumed by itself and can be purchased at a cost of around $20 for a reasonable quantity. This is a supplement that we’d recommend for almost any endurance athlete, but there seems to be no justifiable reason to choose Cardio Cuts over this.
It is also possible to achieve beneficial levels of Beta-alanine through dietary choices: high quality protein sources (such as chicken, pork tenderloin, beef and fish) will provide mgs, with the necessary clinical dose being 3-6.4mg of beta-alanine. If we consume a sufficient amount of these foods, we can replace the need for supplementation. However, this may not be practical for everyone: plant-based individuals will not be able to consume these foods and the cost of these products may be difficult for those who are on a tight budget.
There are market-alternatives to cardio cuts – if the desired effects are those of beta-alanine and the neuro-protective effect of L-carnitine, there are various sources of each available in a variety of flavours and as both capsules and powders. There are even services available that allow for the combination of various supplements in bespoke quantities for individuals who have very specific athletic needs or similar. At a cost of $70 per month, there seem to be an almost-endless list of other supplements that can be purchased with equal or greater effects for lower costs.
Overall, we can’t say that Cardio Cuts doesn’t work: there are definitely some effects that benefit endurance performance associated with B-alanine content, but these are far from exclusive to this product and can be found both in cheaper supplements and certain whole foods. There are a variety of inert or unnecessary ingredients in this product that are likely only included to improve marketing and hike up prices without any actual improvements in effectiveness. Considering that this product is on the upper-end of the costs of similar supplements, it does not seem to be a wise choice.
Importantly, there is no real fat-burning effect associated with cardio cuts. Rather, fat loss is only ever as a result of the increased work volume that it allows us to perform. This is obviously the biggest advantage of the product and is why we have given it 3/5 – for those involved in endurance sports it makes for an effective pre-workout. However, for those looking for a fat burning dietary aid, this is not where they are likely to find the results they desire. To confuse Cardio Cuts with an effective fat-burner will lead to disappointment: the fat-burning effects can only be claimed to emerge from the caffeine content which seems unimpressive when there are so many other sources of caffeine on the market – both whole-food and supplement.
Supplements like Cardio Cuts do address a serious gap in the market for genuinely effective supplements even among those who are on a well-balanced diet. Attempting to increase the intake of rare nutrients like B-alanine is a great way to approach the market and there is a lot of potential for the improvement of this product. Formulations can be improved to include a greater quantity of active ingredients, rather than filling.
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 Yoshida et al (1994): ‘relationship between basal metabolic rate, thermogenic response to caffeine, and body weight loss following combined low calorie and exercise treatment in obese women’. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders, 18(5), pp.345-350
 Doherty et al (2004): ‘Caffeine lowers perceptual response and increases power output during high-intensity cycling’. Journal of sports sciences, pp.637-643
 Glaister et al (2014): ‘Caffeine supplementation and peak anaerobic power output’. European journal of sport science, 15(5), pp.400-406
 Wang, Meng and Zhang (2011): ‘Raspberry ketone protects rats fed high-fat diets against non-alcoholic steatohepatitis’. Journal of medicinal food, 15(5), pp.495-503
 Hobson et al (2012): ‘Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis’. Amino acids, 43(1), pp.25-37
 Krotkiewski, M (2001): ‘Value of VLCD supplementation with medium chain triglycerides’. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders, 25(9), pp.1393-1400
 Villani et al (2000): ‘L-carnitine supplementation combined with aerobic training does not promote weight loss in moderately obese women’. International journal of sports nutrition and exercise metabolism, 10(2), pp.199-207
John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry! You can contact him via the "About Us" page.
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