ECA Stack Review, Weight Loss Results & Safety Warning
An ECA stack is commonly used by bodybuilders looking for weight loss, body building, energy promoting, or performance-enhancing products.
Do manufacturers even make ECA stacks anymore, especially since ephedrine (the primary component) was banned by the US in 2004?
What is in ECA Stack? It used to be ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin, hence the acronym, but today, the “E” primarily stands for ephedra, as ephedrine, the primary alkaloid component of ephedra, has been banned in the U.S. The same has followed in countries around the world since 2004.
An ECA stack merely a term that defines the combination or “stacking” of two or more products together. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, ephedrine was one of the most popular ingredients in weight-loss and energy producing products found on store shelves. However, due to safety concerns, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the presence of ephedrine and other alkaloids associated with the ephedra plant.
That led to hundreds of products disappearing off over-the-counter store shelves and left manufacturers scrambling to find substitutes for the ephedrine in their products. The ECA stacks of a decade or two ago are not the same as the ECA stacks promoted and sold today – because of this substitution.
What is an ECA Stack?
A definition of the original ECA stack:
Ephedrine – Ephedrine is one of the major alkaloids found in a number of the ephedra family plant species. These alkaloids contain components that stimulate the central nervous system, and most specifically, the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system in the body controls functions that we can’t: respiration, heart rate, digestion, and so forth.
Ephedrine is defined as a sympathomimetic amine. Because of its mechanism of action, it has the potential to trigger certain responses by alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors in the body. Likely the most basic definition and description of ephedrine is its ability to stimulate production of energy.
This production of energy is perceived by weightlifters, bodybuilders, athletes, and dieters to increase metabolism and weight loss. However, it should be noted by dieters that thermogenesis, or heat production, is a normal process in the body and is created when calories are consumed for certain activities and functions in the body.
Ephedrine also triggers the release of norepinephrine, which can have direct and indirect effects on the alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors. Several types of these receptors, commonly known as sympathetic receptors in medical lingo, are found in blood vessels. These receptors include alpha, beta-1, and beta-2 receptors.
The reason why ephedrine is so popular is because alpha receptors, triggered and influenced by norepinephrine, instruct the body to constrict arteries. This constriction leads to increased blood pressure, pumping more blood through the body at a faster than normal rate. This mechanism of action is perceived to increase metabolism.
For example, the faster the heart rate, the faster the body is burning energy, therefore consuming calories, contributing to enhanced fat burn and resulting weight-loss. It should be noted however, that an accelerated heart rate does not always equate to increased metabolism.
Consumers should also know the difference between thermogenesis (heat production), and lipolysis, or destruction of fat. Thermogenesis is a normal process required by the body for numerous functions. Lipolysis, or destruction of fat, is generally achieved by the body’s utilization of fat for energy. This only occurs when other sources of energy, primarily glucose, have been consumed. Therefore, the longer the activity or intensity of exercise, the greater potential of lipolysis or fat destruction.
In addition to the effect of the alpha receptors on cardiovascular function, beta-1 receptors, found in the cardiac muscle, accelerate heart rate. Like the effect of the alpha receptors, this acceleration of cardiovascular function is perceived to enhance metabolism, thermogenesis, and fat burn.
Finally, norepinephrine and the ephedrine stimulate beta-2 receptors that line the air passageways of the lungs, causing them to dilate. This dilation increases intake of oxygen. The greater the stores of oxygen in the body, the more efficient and “well-fed” the muscles, which can enhance strength, endurance, and efficacy.
Ephedrine in drug form is found in former prescription weight-loss and energy enhancing products, has a short half-life, with effects typically lasting one to three hours for most.
Caffeine – Caffeine is often consumed along with ephedrine or ephedra products today because it enhances the overall efficacy and results. It also stimulates the central nervous system, and for some, the cardiovascular system.
Caffeine as a stimulant is a common beverage for most adults around the world. On average, an 8-ounce serving size of brewed coffee contains anywhere between 95 mg and 165 mg of caffeine. It is generally recommended that an individual not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine a day to avoid potential side effects.
Caffeine has three primary behaviors or mechanisms of action on the body’s central nervous system.  Caffeine can increase energy metabolism of the brain but at the same time triggers a decline in cerebral blood flow.
Caffeine also stimulates the noradrenaline neurons in the brain that can trigger release of dopamine.
The most stimulative effect of caffeine enhances focus. This is the function of a chemical compound known as methylxanthine on specific neurons in the brain, primarily serotonin, which can have an effect on energy or motor activity. This effect has been noted in animals more than in humans.
The sensitivity of a person to the effects of methylxanthine can influence the effects of focus, anxiety, energy, and even fatigue in certain individuals.
Most ECA stack products available today contain moderate to large milligram strengths of caffeine to boost the stimulative effects of the other components found in the product.
Aspirin – Aspirin was often perceived to be contained in an ECA stack to reduce the effect of muscle aches (which is true), but also because it enhances the effect of caffeine and vice versa. However, aspirin is also known as a fever reducer.
It was often combine in ECA stack to counteract that body heat produced by thermogenesis, triggered by the ephedrine. The concept was to attempt to maintain the body’s optimal internal temperature in spite of the increased thermogenesis from combining caffeine and ephedrine, enhancing the lipolysis or fat burning capability of the product.
Using an ECA Stack for Bodybuilding
Today, an ECA stack for bodybuilding does not contain the same ingredients as the original ECA stacks. Most products today, due to legalities, no longer contain ephedrine, nor aspirin. Because aspirin can act as a blood thinner, and some are more sensitive to it and others, the aspirin component in ECA stack for bodybuilding products as well as ECA stack for weight loss products, have commonly been substituted with white willow bark, an herbal product known as a natural analgesic and fever reducer.
Individuals use ECA stack products for a number of purposes including bodybuilding, weight loss, and potential performance enhancement. Today, the “A” in an ECA stack is also known as acetylsalicylic acid – the primary component of white willow bark.
Bodybuilders may be able to create their own version of an ECA stack by purchasing ingredients separately: finding the ephedrine in a number of decongestant, cough and cold medications, and asthma bronchodilators, although in much weaker dosages.
It is perceived that the combination of these ingredients has an accelerated impact on fat burning, which make it beneficial for bodybuilders preparing for competitions.
Caffeine was not only utilized a stimulant, but to reduce the effects of cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cAMP, a process involved in energy production that influences the enzymes that enhance fat breakdown (lipolysis). In cases where the “A” in the ECA stack implies acetylsalicylic acid, it was used to reduce body temperature.
In regard to dosage, recommendations vary depending on which bodybuilding forum board and discussion threads you review.
A common ECA stack, in the past and today, tends to maximize doses of caffeine at 200 mg, ephedrine at 25 mg, and the aspirin component at 300 mg. It is not recommended that this dosage extend beyond six to eight weeks.
ECA Stack for Weight Loss
Because of the effect of the three components combined together, ECA stack fat burner products continue to be popular, even though some of the ingredients have been substituted. ECA fat burner products typically contain some form of ephedra extract.
It was mentioned earlier the ephedrine is an alkaloid that comes from the ephedra plant species. Some species are more potent and contain higher levels of the alkaloids than others. The species of the plant that the extract comes from will have an influence on its efficacy. While the ephedrine and other alkaloids have been removed from products on store shelves around the world, ephedra extract is still considered legal.
A number of ECA stack for weight loss products are available today, and are marketed as excellent fat burners or thermogenic products. Among the most popular ECA stack for weight loss products:
- Green Stinger – contains 27 mg ephedra extract (species not mentioned), white willow bark extract (substituting the aspirin), and a proprietary blend offering a total of 200 mg caffeine.
- ECA Extreme Stack – contains 25 mg ephedra extract, 200 mg caffeine from Kola nut extract, and white willow bark.
- Methyl Ephedra ECA – contains 25 mg ephedra from ephedra extract, and 250 mg caffeine anhydrous (dry, powdered form).
The combinations of the stimulative ingredients found in today’s ECA stack fat burner products and use of such an ECA stack for weight loss can produce some results in those seeking weight loss, but optimal results occur with appropriate diet and adequate levels and intensity of exercise.
Where Can You Buy ECA Stack Products?
Where can you buy ECA stack products? You can look to just about any weight loss or energy producing supplement store (online and off) when it comes to finding and ECA stack for sale today. You can buy ECA stack products prevalently online from ephedra products suppliers, supplement manufacturers, and on auction sites such as eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba.
Product ingredients, prices, and form of the ECA stack fat burner depend on the manufacturer. A number of websites promote a huge variety of products for sale. For example, prices commonly found for an ECA stack for sale range $40 for 60 tablets or capsules, depending.
Among the most popular sellers of ECA tablets, or ECA fat burner products include but are not limited to:
- Ephedra Warehouse
- Ephedra Outlet
Of course, there are plenty more, and simply typing in “ephedra for sale” or “ECA stack for sale” into your favorite browser search bar will produce a number of options.
ECA Stack Results Before and After
When it comes to an ECA stack review or what others have to say about ECA stack before and after results, be aware that product reviews are often paid for by sponsors of the product. In cases where purchase has been verified, also be aware that every individual will react differently to ECA stack products depending on age, body composition, reasons for use, as well as dosage and frequency of dosages.
Manufacturers market their products as being highly potent and extremely effective fat burners based on stimulative ingredients and promise quick weight loss, fast fat reduction, and rapid drop in weight. What do actual reviewers have to say in regard to ECA stack results before and after?
As with any product, ECA results before and after for individuals will differ greatly. So too will ECA stack review comments left by users. Some comments state that a product was extremely effective in helping them drop pounds and achieve their weight goals, while others stated that it helped more in energy production than for weight loss.
The energy production and ECA stack before and after results are prevalently more noticed and commented upon because of the stimulant ingredients of caffeine, ephedra extract components, and other stimulants often combined in these products.
How the product is used (pre-workout as opposed to cycling – two weeks on, one week off, or one on, two weeks off) can also have an influence on how a person reacts to it.
Some users and those who’ve posted reviews on specific products have complained about severe stomach cramps. Dosage can also have an effect. One reviewer stated that after taking the recommended two capsules, he couldn’t complete his work out because his heart was beating too hard and too fast.
Others have commented on the increased feeling of anxiousness and jitteriness.
Another user commented that taking just one 200 mg caffeine tablet and a single 8 mg ephedrine HCl tablet caused overall body flush or heat, and a rise in blood pressure. He also experienced extreme sweating. However, in regard to energy and performance, the user experience good results. This reviewer also stated that it was quite effective as an appetite suppressant, but after the effects wore off, appetite returned, and quite aggressively.
Turning to forum board discussion threads is the most effective way of actually reading comments and reviews (actual users, and not reviews or marketing materials designed as reviews by the manufacturer).
The weight loss aspect is different. Some people use an ECA stack expecting miraculous weight loss, but in reality, a person relying on such products may lose roughly a pound or two more per month than an individual sticking to primarily a balanced a nutritious diet and adequate amounts of exercise.
It is extremely difficult to verify ECA stack results before and after due to, as mentioned, the ingredients found in the product. The levels of caffeine and the type of ephedra extract used has the greatest influence over efficacy. Dosages of other stimulant ingredients and frequency of dosage will also influence results.
Individuals seeking weight loss, energy production, or other benefits of an ECA stack should always be aware of the effects of too much caffeine as well as interactions that the product may have with other prescription strength and over-the-counter drugs before use.
It is recommended that individuals trying to product for the first time start at the lowest possible dosage. If the bottle or product recommends two, take one to start. Avoid the urge to rush into it. Some find the side effects associated with ECA stacks to be tolerable, while others find them disagreeable and unpleasant. Some can be dangerous.
Side Effects Associated with ECA Stack Products
A number of side effects can be associated with any products, and the same applies to ECA stacks. Even though ephedrine is not a common product found in many of today’s ECA stack products, individuals with different sensitivity levels may react to the ephedra extract potency, again depending on the species and the portion of the plant used for that extract.
However, in regard to side effects caused by individual components of an ECA stack, when taken with discretion and common sense, serious side effects are typically avoided. Serious side effects may also be reduced or avoided altogether by cycling the product and not taking for more than two weeks at a time.
The most common side effects associated with ECA stacks include:
- Intense rush of body heat
- Increased sense of anxiety or nervousness
- Racing heart
- Heart palpitations
A number of serious side effects have been associated with use, again depending on milligram strength of the combined ingredients as well as dosage recommendations. The more stimulants included in the product over and above the ephedra extract and the caffeine, the greater the risk of unpleasant side effects and interactions with other prescription strength or over-the-counter products.
Ephedrine, ephedra extract, caffeine, and aspirin or even white willow bark, as common components for an ECA stack, can negatively interact with a number of medications. This is true of medications taken for depression, anxiety, cardiovascular issues, and metabolic disorders.
Individuals under the care of a physician for any health aspect are strongly urged to consult with their physician or pharmacist before taking an ECA stack. Ephedra products, even without the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine alkaloids, can contribute to issues.
One of the interactions of ephedra is with the methylxanthine component of caffeine. This can overstimulate the body, increasing the risk for tachycardia or accelerated heart rate, as well as hypertension or high blood pressure.
Interactions with caffeine can over-stimulate the central nervous system and create a number of issues that affect the brain, the heart, digestion, metabolism, and other body functions and activities.
It is not recommended that individuals taking medications for depression such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) use products that contain any type of ephedra or caffeine, both of which stimulate increased chemical reactions in the brain. In some serious cases, overstimulation can contribute to seizures.
A number of medical studies and clinical trials have been conducted on how a variety of stimulants affect not only the brain and central nervous system, but overall body function. Some of the studies focus on the stimulants and their effects on muscle growth, strength, endurance, energy production, and even weight loss. Very few have seen enough positive results to outweigh the possible risks and side effects of use.
Side effects are not merely linked to those with diagnosed or undiagnosed medical conditions or those who are older. Reports of otherwise healthy, young (20s and 30s) individuals admitted to hospitals with varying adverse reactions are growing more prevalent, due to heavy substitution and high dosage levels of caffeine and other stimulants in ECA stack products today.