| Everyone in the gym is probably talking about the ever-famous fat loss stack of Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Aspirin. The only thing is that if you were to ask them a question about it, other than, "Does it work?", they would probably be dumbfounded. Like most supplements these days, those who take them are uneducated about the mechanism of action, possible side-effects, etc. As I tried to do with my article on Creatine, I hope this article clears up any misconceptions about the ECA stack you may have.
Ephedrine and caffeine, when combined, have the ability to reduce your bodyfat and retain your muscle mass while you are dieting. Until ECA came along, this was unheard of. Bodybuilders would have to eat huge quantities of food while bulking up, and then cut down on fat. Over the years, many studies have backed up this claim. ECA is also given credence by many well respected sports-medicine authorities.
Mandy Blank knows how to get ripped. (c) Avidan
The first thing you should know about ECA is how it works. What is the science behind this wonder-drug? Ephedrine and caffeine act in a synergistic manner. They work together. Ephedrine stimulates your nervous system in many ways. The two we are most concerned with are the release of nor-epinephrine, and the stimulation of beta-2-androgenic receptors. Just in case you were wondering, it is banned by many sports governing bodies, including the NCAA and the IOC. Taking these two drugs together actually mimic the effects of amphetamines, which are powerful stimulants. The only real difference is the effects aren't as strong, and there are no side effects of amphetamines associated with EC. Ephedrine is actually sold as "herbal ecstasy." If you are looking to improve your looks, you are more concerned with the ability to increase the body's production of heat, or thermogenesis.
Aspirin was first added to the stack about 11 years ago by two scientists at the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Until this day this addition has been very controversial. It was added to supposedly increase thermogenesis. On paper, it all seems to work out, but this still has suprisingly never been proven to work in scientific studies. Some scientists even caution against adding aspirin to the stack because of serious complications associated with long-term use. Most people are unaware that aspirin is a double-edged sword. Some of its side-effects worth noting include dizziness, dimness of vision, acute reversable hepatotoxicity, thinning of blood, skin rash, gastrointestinal upset, and decreased plasma iron concentration.
So how does caffeine make its way into this stack? Ephedrine increases the release of norepinephrine, and caffeine and aspirin act to keep norepinephrine levels from declining. Other benefits can also be reaped from this stack. Ephedrine and caffeine have great appetite-suppression actions, and can also increase aerobic capacity.
Safety concerns with the ECA stack. Ephedrine should not be used if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, prostate enlargement, depression, thyroid disease or diabetes, or if you are currently taking medication for asthma. Be sure to ask your doctor if the ECA stack is right for you. For most people, moderate use of ephedrine (25-50 mg daily for 6-8 weeks) is considered safe, but smaller people should stick to half of the reccommended value. Do not drink alcohol while taking ephedrine! Ephedrine is a drug, and it's not for everyone. It is definitely not reccommended for use by those under 18. Do not exceed the label reccommendations, as a little goes a long way. Ephedrine has a very small window of safety, and people who take it can develop a tolerance. If this happens, and you decide to up the dose, it cam become toxic and deadly. While some may say that up to 100mg daily is fine, take no more than 50mg daily (unless you enjoy nervousness, irritability, insomnia, tachycardia, increased blood pressure, stomach cramps, peptic ulcers, and prostate irritation). To avoid the side effects (and addiction), cycle ECA. Be careful not to get too much caffeine by accidentally doubling up from other sources, such as coffee, tea, or soda.
To close, ECA effectively supercharges your nervous system, but it can be harmful if not used carefully. Good luck with bodybuilding, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.