And Why No Supplement Pill or Drug Will Ever Be The Solution to Permanent Fat Loss. Believe it or not, the former "ephedrine junkie" was me! Remember "Dymetadrine 25," those tiny white 25 mg pills that came out in the early 90's? Well, I used to pop those things like they were candy.
Ultimate Orange, Ripped fuel, Xenadrine, Stacker, ECA stacks, Diet Fuel, Ripped force, Speed Stack, Nitro Force, Adrenalin Stack, Thermadrene, Thermadrol - you name it, I've tried it. In fact, I kept experimenting until I found the ephedrine-caffeine (EC) cocktail that had the most "kick."
A few years ago, I quit cold turkey. After a lot of research, self-experimentation and personal reflection, I made the decision to dump these "fat burning" and "pre workout stimulant" pills down the toilet forever.
I've now decided that I will no longer even recommend these products to my clients. If you've read any of my older articles, it might have sounded like I was very much in favor of the EC stack.
Not anymore. I can no longer recommend these with a clear conscience. Yes, that's right - I CHANGED MY MIND!
I think you'll be enlightened and fascinated by the reasons I quit. Whether you believe me or decide to follow my example is up to you.
REASON #1: A pill will NEVER in a million years be a long-term solution to the overweight problem that plagues our society today.
Suppose the supplement companies come out with a new thermogenic "fat burner" that's twice as potent as the current crop of fat loss aids and has absolutely zero side effects. Or here's one better: Suppose the pharmaceutical companies finally invent a 100% effective, 100% safe, 100% side-effect free drug that really did melt off the fat. (This of course, is impossible, because all drugs have side effects, but just play along with me for a minute and suppose such a drug is really invented).
Millions of people would rush out to buy it and sales would rocket up into the billions!
THE OBESITY PROBLEM WOULD CONTINUE.
Taking a pill - any pill - whether it's an over the counter supplement or the most powerful prescription drug for fat loss, is a mistake because it's confusing causes and effects. Lazy or ignorant people are always looking for answers to their problems ONLY in the realm of effects, while totally ignoring the causes of their problem.
The wise person knows that in a universe that operates by law, every effect can be traced back to its cause. By eradicating the cause, you remove the unwanted effect.
Body fat is an EFFECT and something caused it. The two primary causes of body fat are lack of sufficient exercise and poor nutrition. Any so called solution to the overweight problem that does not address these causes completely, must - BY LAW - be destined to fail in the long run.
Although our hypothetical fat loss drug might remove the fat (the effect) quite effectively in the short run, the fat will always come back with a vengeance because the cause has not been addressed. And supposing the fat does not come back, then "payment" will be extracted by the universe in some other fashion, as so many people have unfortunately discovered through the diseases that s the sedentary and poorly nourished.
Taking pills for fat loss is skirting the real CAUSE of the problem: a lousy, lazy lifestyle.
REASON #2: It's all about the Benjamins, baby (money, that is)
Fortunes are being made from the sales of these "fat-burning" pills. I've seen the sales figures and the numbers are staggering.
Furthermore, these are the greatest products in the world to sell because those that contain stimulants are addictive. They are also re-consumables, so the market is self-perpetuating by its very nature.
Ninety five percent of weight loss efforts fail and it's likely that these statistics will get worse before they get better because of the prevailing mindset of the public. That's an endless stream of customers.
Because most of the companies selling these products are interested in your hard-earned fungolas and not your health or best interests, they will tell you what you WANT to hear, not what you NEED to hear.
You want to hear that you can lose 10 lbs this weekend; 30 lbs in 30 days. You need to hear that you should lose one or two pounds per week.
You want to hear that you can lose fat without dieting. You need to hear that nutrition is at least 50% of the battle and probably more.
You want to hear that you can lose fat without exercise. You need to hear that weight training and cardiovascular exercise are BOTH necessary as a PERMANENT part of your lifestyle.
You want to hear that losing fat and getting in shape is easy with XYZ product. You need to hear that nothing good in life ever comes easy and that everything good has a price attached to it.
It's hard to get unbiased information when so much money is involved. Most people who fervently recommend "fat burning" pills of any kind are profiting from their sale.
You're far better off investing in a gym membership, some good basic home equipment, coaching, personal training, books or educational products that teach you about nutrition and exercise science than you are giving your money to the pharmaceutical or supplement companies.
REASON #3: Ephedrine and ephedra based "fat burning products" are dangerous when abused and may even be dangerous when not abused.
"THE GYM KILLED MY WIFE!"
That was the headline of a full page story in the New York Post a few Years ago.
A 37 year old woman had a hypertensive stroke right on the gym floor of a trendy Manhattan health club after taking a popular "fat burner" made with ephedrine and caffeine. She died in the hospital later that day. The grieving husband sued the club and the product manufacturer.
More recently, Men's Health magazine ran an article titled, "THE SPORTS SUPPLEMENT THAT CAN KILL YOU." Inside the magazine on page 66 is a full page of post-stroke CAT scan photos - with the caption, "This is Todd Weger's brain on ephedra."
For the record, I don't think scaring people with emotionally-charged horror stories is the best way to educate, although sometimes it's the only way to make an impact on people who are particularly biased, opinionated or otherwise thick-headed.
So far, the FDA has on record over 80 deaths and 1400 adverse -effect complaints, including strokes, coronaries and seizures. That might sound scary, but compared to the deaths caused by prescription drugs and other over the counter drugs like aspirin, ephedra is actually relatively safe.
The truth is that nearly all the deaths and complications from the use of ephedra are the result of gross abuse of the product or from use by someone with previous health conditions who shouldn't be taking stimulants to begin with. For example, the woman from the New York Post story had chronic hypertension and was on blood pressure medication.
However, it's also a fact that some perfectly healthy people have ended up in the emergency room without explanation or prior warning. At the time of his stroke, Todd Weger was a young, healthy thirty three year old man in his prime. He was an Army ranger who had received the highest possible score of 300 on his Army physical fitness test. It seems that some healthy people tolerate stimulants well, while others do not and apparently there's no way to tell in advance which category you fall into.
If you play the odds, the chances of having no complications are in your favor, provided you're in good health and you don't exceed the maximum recommended dosages. But consider this: Even if the chances of a stroke or cardiovascular incident are one in a million, if you asked Todd Weger after his three surgeries, (the final one to remove a large portion of his frontal brain lobe), he would probably advise you to think twice about those odds.
REASON #4: Stimulant based fat burning products are highly addictive.
Don't let anyone kid you - ephedrine is highly addictive and addiction leads to abuse. This is where the real danger lies - in the abuse, misuse and overuse of these products, especially by young people who think they are invincible.
I have to confession to make: I never really used ephedra products for fat burning. I very quickly discovered that even the raw ephedrine, caffeine, aspirin (ECA) stack was highly overrated for fat loss. Even though studies published in reputable medical journals concluded that ECA was effective, I never believed that the pills helped that much directly with fat loss. What I did feel is that the EC combo helped me get better workouts, and it was the stimulant-enhanced workouts that produced the increased results.
This "rocket-engine" stimulant boost is quite dramatic and extremely addictive. Ephedrine and caffeine together are powerful central nervous system stimulants, giving you a major rush. Millions of people have become hooked on what is essentially a mild form of amphetamine.
And speed is exactly what people are using it for: Students are popping these pills to stay awake and study all night. Partiers are doing the same. So are truck drivers. These products are being abused en masse.
Like any addictive habit, once entrenched, it's difficult to stop. When you first go cold turkey, you crash emotionally and physically and your workouts really suffer. You go through withdrawal. That's why many people often get right back on them. I suppose it's a lot like trying to kick the booze or cigarette habit. You don't need another addiction.
REASON #5: Taking pills is putting your attention on the factors that matter the least and missing what matters the most.
Most people are so influenced by advertising that their attention has been totally diverted from the fundamentals and the importance of discipline and hard work.
What's really sad is when I'm approached by a total beginner who hasn't even started eating right or working out yet and they're totally concerned about what kind of fat burner to take rather than what kind of nutrition or training program they should be on.
When a bodybuilding or fitness star is interviewed, what does the na´ve consumer ask? "What kind of supplements do you take?" Basically, the importance of supplements has been completely blown out of proportion for the almighty dollar and what's really important has been shoved into the back seat.
In goal achievement, there's a principle known as the 80-20 rule, which states that 80% of your results will be produced by 20% of your efforts. In other words, if you have a list of ten things that help you lose body fat, two of them will yield 80% of your results and 8 of them will yield only 20% of your results.
Applying the 80-20 rule means that to achieve the greatest results, you need to concentrate the most energy on the few critical success factors that will yield the greatest return on your energy and effort - and put your energy there FIRST!
In focusing on supplements, you are putting your energy on the 80% of the things that don't matter that much. Worrying about supplements, especially when you haven't even mastered your nutrition and training fundamentals first, is what I call "majoring in the minor things."
Even supplements that are proven and backed by science provide only a very small return. There is no such thing as a "miracle pill." By focusing the majority of your attention on nutrition and training, you'll get the greatest results for the amount of time, energy and money you spend.
REASON #6: "Fat burning" pills (including ephedra and caffeine) aren't effective as the ads say they are.
Don't believe the hype. "Fat burners" do not work the miracles the ads lead you to believe. Even if they did work well, why would you want to give your money to companies that use dishonest and despicable tactics to try and gain you as a customer?
Have you seen the "games" they're playing with these before and after pictures lately? Fatten up a professional bodybuilder. Then pay him to take a fat "before" picture; then diet him down for a competition and take the "after" picture. Or even more shameful; snap a post pregnancy photo of a professional fitness model and call it a before picture? Pathetic.
There's one last thing you might want to know. Not long ago, I competed in my 26th bodybuilding competition. It was the first competition I've ever entered without using any "thermogenic" fat burning products.
I won. My body fat was 4.1%
Trust me when I tell you, you can get as lean as you want to be without taking any supplements or drugs whatsoever. I did it. You can do it too. If you need help on what really matters - nutrition, training and the right mental attitude - that's what I'm here for. Take a look at my fat loss website at www.burnthefat.com for more information.