what is your take on xenadrine and other supplements? rather, are they SAFE and effective? do they damage the liver, kidneys, and other bodyparts excessively? are they worth the hazards? please let me know your take on the effectiveness and value on xenadrine and supplements in general aside from the usual multi vitamin/mineral.
I wish that were a really simple question.... First off, the 'other supplements' part is really vague. I think there are some other supplements that have an effect and that some people will want to use and others won't. Mostly I it's worth making some decisions about a supplement program and then forgetting about it, because the concentration on supplements leads to thinking pills and powders do the work... and really, they don't. I think creatine has it's uses, protein powders have their place, varoius things like digestive enzymes (bromelain, papain) some herbs (ginger, e.g., is anti-inflammatory) and maybe MSM or chondroitin/glucosamine can help with some recovery issues... There are some that might be helpful but the jury's out; most promising to my mind is glutamine, but that doesn't mean it justifies the hype it's gotten in some quarters. And there are plenty that might have their application which I'm not thinking of off-hand..... but none that I'm really excited about, either. I'll answer about what *I* take, though, and that's just a multivitamin/multimineral daily, protein powder some days, and ground flax seeds with the protein shake or with something else most every day. That's *all* I use that's not just normal wholesome food. Or sometimes normal junk food, but that's beside the point, LOL.
xenadrine is an herbal E/C/A stack with one difference. It also has citrus aurantium (or synephrine--same thing, not sure how it's listed on the ingredients) added to it. The E/C/A will work, t does have some side effects, and mostly I don't like E/C/A supplements but I understand that some people find them very helpful. The citrus aurantium, or synephrine, itself is one possibility as to why xenadrine is so popular. But it's a scam. This ingredient increases the sensation of heat in your body through vasoconstriction, not through thermogenesis. In other words, it makes you FEEL warmer, but does not burn fat to do it.
The other possibility is that the E/C/a portions, the actual functional part of the supplement, are somehow better standardized than other brands. Of this I have no idea.
Of course the third possiblity is that they just have very good marketing.
This is the basics. I have posted a few times in the past a summary of my understanding of what E/C/A stacks do, how they work and what the possible problems are. I'll dig up that thread and re-post the info.... I don't think I ever archived it here, unfortunately.
I'm much more conservative about my approach to supplementation that some other very knowledgeable forum bros, by the way.
Okay... the old multi-part old post on E/C/A in general, now:
Ephedrine/Caffeine combinations (e.g., 'Ripped Fuel', 'Hydroxycut', 'Xenadrine' etc.)
Ephedrine is the most common fat loss compound sold over the counter, and perhaps the most effective one. It is often sold in its herbal form, known as ephedra or MaHuang. It is sold as an asthma medication (it is a bronchodilator).
Side effects: ephedrine is a stimulant. It has a 'kick' bigger than caffeine, with which it is generally combined for fat loss purposes or for purposes of increasing excitation prior to a workout. It can cause jitters, tremors, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and insomnia. It tends to relax the smooth muscle of the bladder, and in men it causes benign prostate hypertrophy, leading to more frequent and less complete urination and difficulty achieving or maintaining erections. It taxes the adrenal glands and may lead to adrenal depletion if taken for long periods of time (this is the primary mechanism by which it 'works' as well). Adrenal depletion is no fun--leads to exhaustion and immunosuppression.
Worse: ephedrine in combination with caffeine is a powerful stimulant for the central nervous system. It's a baby cousin of amphetamines, and can be dangerous if used to excess or if taken in non-standardized herbal form. If recommended doses are exceeded or anyone has an abnormal stimulant effect, it's time to STOP taking this stuff. Anyone with a pre-existing heart condition or thyroid or heart problem should also avoid it, as should anyone taking a MAO inhibitor.
The 'good stuff': Ephedrine is a non-specific beta-agonist. (A what?)
Okay... back up. Ephedrine causes a release of catecholamines (i.e., adrenaline, which is released from the adrenal glands, and noradrenaline, which is released from nerve endings), that bind on structures in the cell membrane called 'adrenoreceptors'. Alpha-receptors are of two types. The second type (A-2) are found in fat cells, primarily, and inhibit the mobilization of free fatty acids to be used for fuel. This makes them the 'enemy' receptors from a fat-loss point of view. Beta-receptors are of three types. B-1 are found mostly in the heart and increase heart rate a blood pressure when stimulated. B-2 receptors are the money where fat loss is concerned--they are found on fat and muscle cells primarily, and cause the mobilization of free fatty acids for burning. B-3 receptors are also involved in burning calories and found primarily in 'brown fat', which is a type of fat containing relatively more mitochondria and little triglyceride, and burns free fatty acids generating heat. There is some evidence that brown fat grows larger if continually stimulated by ephedrine or cold, thus increasing the amount of calories burned in response to those same stimuli (which is really cool, because that means more of the stuff over time means more calories burned).
Ephedrine is a non-specific beta-agonist. (Sound familiar?) This means it affects all three types of beta-receptors. In theory it can bind directly to beta-receptors increasing release of free fatty acids and thermogenesis (burning fat to produce body heat) but it seems to act primarily indirectly by causing catecholamine release.
Ephedrine seems to work much better for fat loss when combined with caffeine. There is some evidence that adding aspirin to the stack may increase its effectiveness, though it's not clear this actually has any effect in non-obese people. The side effects on the central nervous system generally go away in time (so the nervousness/"speediness" effects are reduced), while the thermogenic effects seem to increase with time. Further, in calorie-restricted diets, ephedrine seems to prevent some of the muscle loss that typically occurs. Finally, most individuals find ephedrine and caffeine combinations to be a potent appetite suppressant, making it easier to restrict calories.
Caffeine: inhibits phosphdieterase (PDE) What?
Okay... back up again. Without going into the actual enzymes... just know that your body will attempt to return itself to its 'normal' state when body heat is generated from the ephedrine intake. An enzyme that regulates fat burning does this. Caffeine indirectly blocks the enzyme that inhibits fat burning, so when added to ephedrine increases the use of free fatty acids for fuel.
Further, caffeine itself increases thermogenesis to some extent, and increases the use of free fatty acids for fuel (provided you burn those fatty acids through some exercise or another).
Aspirin: inhibits the release of prostaglandin. One type of prostaglandin breaks down noradrenaline, which is one of the substances causing thermogenesis and free fatty acid release. Aspirin inhibits the release of this prostaglandin, thus keeping noradrenaline active longer. In theory this should help anyone burn more fat if they're taking ephedrine and caffeine, but in practice it's only been shown to have an effect on obese individuals.
Many commercial combinations contain ephedrine and caffeine in appropriate quantities (herbal forms: ephedra/MaHuang, and guarana or kola nut). Many also contain white willow bark, a 'natural' aspirin. There is some question as to whether the white willow bark is a good substitute for aspirin, but as mentioned, there is some question as to the importance of aspirin in the first place in this combination.
Most research points to the need for: 20 mg of ephedrine, 200 mg of caffeine, and anywhere from 80 to 325 mg of aspirin, typically taken up to three times a day, four to five hours apart, with the last dose at 3 or 4 in the afternoon (to avoid insomnia). Cycling off of the stack periodically seems important for adrenal health as well as prostate health for males, but there's little research on scheduling this.
PERSONAL TAKE ON THIS:
1. Those taking this stuff primarily as a stimulant to get 'up' for workouts are a bit nuts. You need to be able to perform without stimulants. Of course powerlifters who have one or three events a year may have a point in taking it for competitions, but a 5% performance increase for workouts does not seem to justify reliance on a stimulant. That's IMHO.
2. The side effects are a drag, and the increase in metabolism is not so drastic as to make this stuff miraculous for fat loss. If it is the sole reason one is losing fat, then that means the fat will be regained as soon as dosing is stopped. That said, if one plateaus after a few weeks of losing, then maybe it helps as a jump-start, and it does appear to help preserve muscle, as mentioned (I'm guessing through the utilization of fatty acids as fuel in preference to breakdown of protein on calorie restricted diets).
3. There are certain types of diets for which the appetite-suppression qualities of this stuff are helpful, but some people don't get that effect and appetite suppression is not, finally, a solution for the obvious reason that you don't want to stay on this stuff forever.
4. Finally, there are versions of the commercial stacks which include goofy ingredients (citrus aurantium, for example, increases the sensation of body heat by constricting blood vessels, not through any true thermogenesis, thus making people 'feel' something is working when it's not doing anything in any way good).
5. I'd add 500mg or so of L-tyrosine to the stack if I were taking it, because that particular amino acid is a catecholamine precursor (maybe replenishing adrenals) and makes it less 'jittery' and perhaps more effective. That said, supplementing L-tyrosine needs to be time-limited too, because reliance on it can cause some nasty things (like depression) over time once it's discontinued. That, and supplementing individual aminos long-term is often a risky proposition.
Final notes: there are other 'thermogenic' substances on the market, most notably yohimbine, which act through a different mechanism and may or may not work... but that's for another time.
Also, Hydroxycut in particular has -HCA (aka Citrimax, they call it
'hydroxygen'), which is also something I'll leave for another time. Suffice
it to say that IF it helps (questionable) it must be taken 30-45 minutes
before a carb-containing meal. If it's not in your liver by the time you eat,
it's worthless. This makes scheduling with the Ephedra and Caffeine a
little less than optimal. But also, it probably does more as an appetite
suppressant than anything.
I think I'm done.... for now, LOL.
In theory you can lose about 8 lbs in a month if everything is going *perfectly* and if you're damned lucky and have it all be fat; you think xenadrine DOUBLES that? I'm here to tell you, "most" was not fat; this is not to say xenadrine didn't have an effect on fat loss. I said it works and how it works. Also that it would have done just as well without one of its ingredients which causes vasoconstriction, which is not good and unnecessarily introduces a stressor on the body.
Thanks for the info Ali, thats the kind of info people need to make informed decisions.
"on that note: I have two unopened bottles of the stuff if anyones interested in buying (discounted, of course) it off me."
You can return them to GNC for an exchange (even if you didn't get them there because you don't need a receipt for an exchange.)
Tremendous job on your posting. Personally, I agree
with what you suggested about ECA stacks, but more
vigorously. As a health-care worker who uses those
substances on patients daily ( vasoconstrictors such as
epinephrine, synephrine, etc.) I feel that their use
has NO place in an athlete's supplementation. The
effects of increased vascular resistance on cardiac
workload are well known. To couple increased
peripheral vascular resistance with strenuous exercise
is foolish. The individuals who use products such as
these are searching for "easy answers" to an age-old
question: "Can I find an easier way to get in great
shape other than by hard work?" BODY IN A BOTTLE is a
myth. Dependence on stimulants to be athletic is a
self-defeating premise! I guess that my position on
this type of "supplementation" is now quite clear.
P.S. Including aspirin (which functions as an anti-
coagulant) with these vasoconstrictors will endanger
individuals with a predisposition to vascular injury
such as stroke, etc. Use good judgement. How much are
you willing to lose to gain a few percent improvement
in your bodyfat, performance, etc.?
Also, the diuretic effects of these compounds severely
threatens individuals who use creatine. One of the
only documented problems with creatine is the
dehydration and ensuing electrolyte imbalances that
result from lack of water replenishment.
ttt, in deference to Lee's professional opinion. Great post, Lee, from a more experienced perspective.
Anybody else with something to add before this gets archived? I seem to post it about every 5 weeks, so I think it's about time it gets saved permanently.
great freaking info
ttt for my records
Ali, I've been taking ECA, or at least EC for quite a long time now, and I'm a pretty big fan. I, too, have been under the impression that non-stop use might result in adrenal depletion, as that is the common line, and so I've interrupted my use of it periodically. Tell me, though, are there any studies which show that the adrenal stress incurred is really any greater than that caused by any number of more common stressors, such as exercise? Is it possible that the adrenal stress caused by EC is just a blip on the radar?
I don't have references, but seems like it's a lot more than a blip--there are studies I've seen (I can dig around medline, but so can you) which show a pretty significant effect from caffeine alone. I don't know if the ephedrine is particularly worse, but caffeine is in the ECA stack, and that's enough of a reason to take a break periodically.
Hidden amongst all that summary I put up in the first place is the argument that ephedrine only works as an adrenal stimulant, anyway, at least in common ECA quantities. And if that's the case, it's not to say it's worse than caffeine. It's just to say it's like taking MORE.