ECA stacks are the original pre-workout and fat burner supplement. Combining ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin, an ECA stack cycle may help to improve workout performance and weight loss, but given its reputation of health complications, is it smart to buy ECA stacks nowadays?
In the glory days of pre-workout supplements, there was one king: the ECA stack. A potent combination of ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin, the ECA stack was used to improve performance, weight loss, and recovery. After bad publicity involving ECA abuse and the health consequences that followed, ephedra alkaloids were banned and ECA popularity fizzled. In recent years, the veteran supplement has returned, albeit with a formula change.
Let’s take a look at the new formula for ECA, what ECA stack results you can expect, and safer alternatives that provide comparable benefits.
What’s in an ECA Stack?
The original formula of an ECA stack cycle was made up of ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin. You might be old enough to recall the trouble that ephedra-based supplements got into due to complications related to ephedra alkaloids. Many people were getting sick and some died, including a Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.
It was after this high-profile death that the FDA made ephedra alkaloids illegal. Supplement companies had to discontinue all of their ephedra-based products. Years later, manufacturers found a loophole: while ephedra was made illegal, ephedrine was still able to be used so long as it wasn’t commercially advertised (think: magazine ads, TV commercials, radio spots, etc.).
Capitalizing on this loophole, many supplement brands brought back ECA stacks with a vengeance. Now, if you want to buy ECA stacks, it’s as easy as clicking a button from an online retailer. The slightly changed formula contains the following:
Ephedrine: Primarily sourced from China, ephedrine is extracted from the plant called Ephedra sinica. It is used both as a stimulant-based medication and dietary supplement, primarily for weight loss and energy-boosting.
Caffeine: A natural central nervous system stimulant that is commonly found in coffee beans, tea, and other plant-based sources, caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug throughout the world. It’s commonly found in pre-workout, intra-workout, weight loss, and nootropic (brain-boosting) supplements.
Aspirin: The same ingredient that can help with your headaches, aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Some ECA stacks contain white willow bark, which is the natural extract that is used to make commercial aspirin.
While each ingredient has its own potential benefits, when taken together, they complement one another to increase energy and fat burning. More on that below.
Does it Really Work?
You may be wondering whether new ECA stacks are safe, but more importantly, you want to know about ECA stack weight loss results. Do the new ECA stacks work? Are they as strong as the original formula? And do they possess any additional benefits outside of the touted fat burning? Let’s explore the usefulness of each ingredient and how they work together.
Weight Loss: Ephedrine has long been studied for its effectiveness for weight loss and this could be why people are so hesitant to look elsewhere. Studies show that ephedrine does increase the body’s metabolic ability, promoting fat burning. Ephedrine has been suggested as a potential tool for combating obesity since the 80s. It’s fat-burning effects are especially potent when combined with caffeine.
Energy: A review of several studies found that ephedrine does have an impact on your energy levels, but it seems that you need to pair it with caffeine. Luckily, caffeine is the next ingredient.
Weight Loss: Most people attribute increased energy levels and alertness to caffeine, but did you know that it’s also a thermogenic ingredient? Caffeine has been shown in several studies to increase the body’s metabolic response, increasing energy expenditure or calorie burning. As mentioned above, pairing caffeine with ephedrine promotes a stronger fat-burning effect.
Performance: The main reason that people use caffeine is for energy. Think about it: Chances are that you drank a morning cup of coffee, which contains between 75 mg and 150 mg of caffeine. Plenty of studies have shown that caffeine has a direct and positive impact on athletic performance, which is why it’s found in all stimulant-based energy drinks and pre-workout supplements. You also need caffeine to trigger the energy-boosting benefits of ephedrine.
Weight Loss: The same pill that you take for your headache may also be a helpful way to promote weight loss. Studies show that on its own, aspirin can’t do much for fat burning; however, when it’s combined with ephedrine, aspirin can amplify the thermogenic effect of ephedrine. In other words, the two work together to promote a more effective weight loss.
Inflammation: Aspirin is commonly used post-workout as a way to alleviate inflammation. It’s the main ingredient in many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Studies show that aspirin can reduce inflammation and alleviate soreness attributed to delayed-onset muscle soreness. However, aspirin may also irritate the lining of the stomach, increasing the risk of stomach-based complications. Take care when using aspirin. If you have prior stomach issues, we highly recommend talking with your doctor.
How to Use an ECA Stack – Step-by-Step Process
A traditional ECA stack dosage, especially the one based on studies, can be broken down into the following:
Ephedrine: 72mg (24mg per serving – three times throughout the day)
Caffeine: 600 mg (200 mg – three times per day)
Aspirin: 81mg (27 mg – three times per day)
Naturally, no one should ever start by taking this much ECA. It is highly recommended to begin with one serving, gradually working your way up to three servings based on your tolerance and reaction.
It’s recommended to take ECA stacks for no more than eight weeks. An ideal cycle for a beginner would be four weeks on, four weeks off.
What Are the Side Effects?
The most common ECA stack side effects (with the new formula) include nausea, vomiting, increase in blood pressure, heart palpitations, anxiety, nervousness, hyperactivity, and insomnia.
Since the formula has changed and ephedra is no longer being used, no deaths or extreme hospitalizations have been reported, according to one extensive research review.
As mentioned above, if you’re going to use an ECA stack, we highly recommend assessing your tolerance before committing to a full dose. Take half of the dosage (or less) for a few weeks, take note of any physical or mental changes, and adjust your next serving accordingly. If you notice any of the side effects mentioned above, stop taking it immediately.
What Safer Alternatives are Available?
Even though the original ECA stack formula has been changed, the new ephedrine-based ECA still presents a number of medical complications. If you are sensitive to stimulants, have a history of sleeping problems, or you’re currently taking medication, ECA may worsen current symptoms.
When it comes to your weight loss, we highly recommend going the natural route first. Outside of a healthy diet and exercise program, there are plenty of proven weight loss ingredients you can try that don’t come with a laundry list of side effects as is the case with ECA stacks.
Cheyenne Pepper Extract: Found in your favorite peppers, Cheyenne pepper extract has been shown in several studies to promote increased caloric expenditure and support weight loss.
Ginseng: Studies show that the ginseng root, which is extremely popular in Southeast Asia, can increase a metabolic response, resulting in a higher level of calorie burning. It’s also an excellent overall wellness supplement that has no side effects.
Clenbutrol: An effective weight loss supplement that contains all proven ingredients, Clenbutrol is a natural way to support fat burning. It contains a powerhouse of fat burners including Vitamin B3, Garcinia Cambogia, and Bitter Orange Extract.
Weight loss is the most cited fitness goal among gym-goers. Make no mistake about it: the foundation of any successful weight loss is diet and exercise. Supplements can be a helpful tool to encourage more calorie burning and fat loss. While ECA has a history of being an effective weight loss supplement, it also has a dark past of hospitalizations.
We highly recommend sticking with natural supplements when you begin your weight loss journey as they are just as effective and there’s no risk of developing a stimulant dependency.