Warning: Ask your doctor before starting any medications, even over-the-counter ones.
If you’ve done much research on losing weight as fast as possible, you’ve likely considered trying weight-loss supplements. Most marketing-rich diet pills on the market contain unclear ingredients, unrealistic claims, and a bear a hefty price tag. As a result, you may have considered trying a long-time favorite, the ECA stack.
Is this the miracle fat-loss solution you’ve been dreaming about? Or is it all bogus – or worse yet, unsafe? Let’s take a slightly deeper look into what exactly the ECA stack is, how it might help burn fat, and if it’s right for you.
What is the ECA Stack?
“ECA” is an acronym for Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Aspirin. These three commercially-available pills are taken at the same time (also known as “stacked”). Typical dosages are in the range of 20mg to 25mg of ephedrine, 200 mg of caffeine, along with a baby aspirin. The goal, in theory, is to raise your metabolism and burn more calories by increasing your TDEE as a result. However, before you slam those pills back, let’s learn a bit more about this stack and possible alternatives.
What is the EC Stack?
Another popular stack is simply called the “EC Stack”. This, as the name implies, is ephedrine and caffeine without the aspirin. Many users continue to experience results without adding the aspirin, and prefer a somewhat safer stack, given the potential adverse health effects aspirin may have on the body.
Ephedrine is a stimulant substance originally extracted from the ephedra plant, an herb traditionally used in Chinese medicine. It has a molecular structure resembling natural adrenaline, as well as some regulated stimulants like amphetamine. Upon ingestion, ephedrine crosses the blood-brain-barrier and acts on many of the same systems in the brain (as well as the body) as adrenaline.
As a stimulant of the natural adrenaline system, ephedrine promotes energy, decreased appetite, and concentration – as well as raising blood pressure along with the body’s natural metabolism. For these reasons, ephedrine has been a popular (though controversial) fat loss supplement for many years.
Caffeine, as you are likely quite familiar with, is found in everyday products such as coffee, tea, and chocolate. Caffeine blocks a natural chemical in our bodies called adenosine, which normally keeps our bodies calm. As a result of this adenosine reduction, caffeine causes increased heart rate, water weight loss, excitability, increased metabolism, and decreased appetite.
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a common pain reliever, blood thinner, and anti-inflammatory drug. Unlike the other two ingredients in the ECA stack, aspirin is not a stimulant. Rather, it is thought to synergistically enhance the thermogenic (fat-burning) effects of caffeine and ephedrine.
Does it work? – Supporting Research
In this study, patients treated with a typical ECA stack lost approximately three times the weight when compared to those given placebo:
In another study, similar weight loss achievements were observed in a six month controlled trial. Mild increases in heart rate, along with blood cholesterol and a group of other mild side effects typically seen with stimulant usage were recorded. The study mentions that there were no significant adverse events.
Note: It’s important to remember that, although the results of these studies seem to indicate the ECA stack is effective and without incident, these studies were performed in controlled medical environments and closely monitored by professionals. They were not meant to serve alone as a green light for the general public to begin ECA supplementation.
Despite the initially positive-sounding studies mentioned above, a meta-analysis of all collected studies and reports (performed in 2003) uncovered some disturbing data.
The analysis covered data from both ephedrine and ephedra products, and found subjects had anywhere from double to triple the chance of experiencing heart palpitations, psychiatric symptoms, autonomic symptoms, and stomach problems – and this study was performed without the additional stress of caffeine and aspirin (which can further complicate all of the above issues, as well).
More recently, additional data has been released from an ephedra manufacturer’s own collected reports. Both negative heart and psychological symptoms among otherwise healthy people were revealed. This was only in a percent of the population, and most subjects went without experiencing symptoms, but there is no way to know if you are one of those susceptible ahead of time.
In the US, manufacturers are banned from marketing ephedrine (or ephedra) as a weight-loss product or supplement – however, it is still available for over-the-counter purchase. In many states, it will not be available on the shelf and you will be required to ask for it from the back of the store. They may be required to check your ID and log your driver’s license number, due to the fact that ephedrine can be used as a precursor substance to manufacture a handful of illegal substances.
Is the ECA Stack a Good Idea?
To summarize – the ECA stack appears to be an effective, clinically-proven approach to losing weight. On the other hand, nothing comes without a price. Consuming ECA to lose weight bears possible health risks, and there is no way to know how these drugs are affecting your body, especially early-on. Make absolutely sure to consult with your doctor before trying any of these substances.
The safest way to lose weight is always through natural methods. If diet and exercise have failed for you in the past, you’re certainly not alone. You will be pleased to hear there are several safe, fast methods to shed pounds without loading your body fully of chemicals. Sadly, most people aren’t fully educated on how to ignite their natural fat furnace without resorting to pills.
Better Alternatives to the ECA Stack
If you’d like to achieve your weight-loss goals quickly and easily, without using dangerous drugs, sign up for my free weight-loss course below. It’s helped people just like you achieve results they’ve never seen before – and did I mention, it’s completely free? Check it out!