Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 9, 2021

There’s a ton of fat loss diets and workout plans on the internet these days - most of which don’t always work.

If you’re trying to lose weight but have been disappointed by a lack of results, you’re probably looking for alternative options.

One method you may want to try is something called an ECA stack.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at this controversial method and analyzing what all the fuss is about.

What Is An ECA Stack Cycle?

medicine kit with different types of pills

An ECA stack is a high-performance supplement largely used for weight loss.

The stack features ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin tablets combined together in different proportions.

When these components are ingested together, they are known to stimulate the loss of excess fat and general weight loss.

The secret to achieving results from an ECA stack comes down to two things: dosage and cycles.

To increase performance and reduce side effects, take a daily dosage of the supplement for a period of 8 to 12 weeks.

This time period is referred to as a cycle.

After the first cycle is taken, the individual is advised to take a break of about 2 to 3 weeks before engaging on a second cycle. Doing so provides the body with adequate rest and minimizes any side effects arising from the use of the stack.

A recommended dosage consists of about 25mg ephedrine, 200mg caffeine, and 80mg aspirin. 

This dosage is taken two or three times every day depending on your body's tolerance level.

If it’s your first time, you’ll want to start with a single intake early in the morning at breakfast. This allows you to examine how your body will react to the ephedrine.

From there, the amount can be slowly increased as your body’s receptors get used to it.

While the stacks are taken in between equal intervals, it is important to note that the last stack of the day should be taken at least 6 hours before going to bed. Doing so allows the drugs to settle in and avoid side effects like insomnia and restlessness at night.

What Does An ECA Stack Do And How Does It Work?

person choosing a pill from a stack

The main purpose of the ECA stack is shedding off weight, toning up the body, and promoting athleticism. It works by combining the effects of ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin.

The effectiveness of an ECA stack is based on the performance of the individual components in the mixture. Let’s take a look at what each of these components are and what they do.

Ephedrine

close up of white medicine pills

The first component is ephedrine which is extracted from the ephedra sinica plant. It is the main element for weight loss and plays a role in boosting energy levels as well.

Ephedrine works by stimulating the nervous system and increasing metabolism. burning fat more quickly due to increased metabolism.

This results in quicker fat loss and provides your body with more energy.

Additionally, it also lowers appetite and minimizes food craving in the middle of the day.

This reduces the number of calories you ingest into your body.

With reduced calories, losing weight is almost guaranteed as the body will focus on breaking down stored fats to meet energy demands.

Caffeine

a bowl full of coffee beans

The second component is caffeine and is readily available in tea, coffee, and even caffeine pills.

Taking caffeine reduces fatigue, increases alertness of the brain, and stimulates the cardiovascular system.

Other benefits of caffeine include raising the body's metabolism rate and increasing body temperature, making caffeine a great fat burner.

Aspirin

The last component is aspirin, which can be obtained as an over the counter prescription drug.

Aspirin’s role in an ECA stack is to maintain the body temperature at a stable level.

Doing so prolongs the stimulation caused by the other components and lengthens its duration for many hours.

It is important to note that aspirin does not play a primary role in fat loss, but instead acts as a supporting drug that increases the performance of the other components.

Additionally, aspirin also reduces inflammation and muscle soreness, making it a great component alongside heavy workouts.

How Effective Is It For Fat Loss?

woman with a flat stomach

An ECA stack is an effective supplement for fat loss with many positive claims by physicians and medical research. Besides being a killer pre workout combination, an ECA stack also accelerates fat loss results by up to 100% [1].

As mentioned previously, the combination of ephedrine and caffeine works together to create many positive effects.

Increasing energy and mental focus while reducing muscle fatigue allows you to go all out during workouts. Instead of drawing from the body’s energy reserves, the body utilizes stored fat and converts it into energy instead. This makes an ECA stack one of the best fat burners out there.

“We conclude, that in analogy with animal studies, the ephedrine/caffeine combination is effective, while caffeine and ephedrine separately are ineffective for the treatment of human obesity.” - Arne Astrup, Medical Researcher

On average, combining an ECA stack with a light workout will help you lose about 2.5 kgs within the first cycle. The degree of effectiveness differs from one person to another - with some individuals losing up to 3 kilos.

These results typically get even better during the second and third ECA cycles. To experience the full effects from an ECA stack, consistency and commitment are key.

What Are The Health Risks of Ephedrine?

man feeling dizzy and sick

As with all rapid weight loss methods, an ECA stack has its pros as well as its cons.

Research shows that ephedrine is not safe for people with existing heart conditions, hypertension, or kidney complications. When used alone, Ephedrine has been known to cause the following side effects:

  • Reduced food craving and loss of appetite
  • Erratic change in mood
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia and general restlessness
  • Anxiety and hyperactivity

These side effects are usually mild and more noticeable as a person starts their first cycle.

However, once the body builds up more tolerance, these effects diminish considerably.

Overdosing on ephedrine may lead to increased blood pressure as a result of an increased heart rate. Although there is little evidence regarding fatal deaths, one should still take an ECA stack with caution.

In a worse case scenario, an ECA stack can lead to stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, psychosis, stomach problems, diarrhea, liver damage, and a shorter life span.

Excessive caffeine consumption also poses many health risks as well.

Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and respiration, and other side effects.

Because of these effects, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are warned to stay off ECA stack or any other ephedrine-based medication.

Are There Any Alternatives to ECA?

Despite the side effects being minimal, some people prefer a risk-free approach to weight loss. Here are a few natural alternatives that can be substituted for the components in an ECA stack.

Fish Oil

a bowl full of fish oil

One of the simplest ways of lowering the side effects of ECA is to replace aspirin tablets with fish oil.

Fish oil provides similar effects and also subsides potential unwanted side effects such as headaches and gastrointestinal complications.

Ginseng Root

a fresh cropped ginseng root

Another great alternative, ginseng root is a natural energy booster.

Extracts from the red ginseng roots found in Korea, this ingredient promotes fast energy metabolism and reduces fat accumulation.

It serves as a great supplement alongside proper dieting and can help you shed off a few pounds.

Green Tea Extract

dry green tea leaves and a cup of tea

If you’re opting to skip the ECA stack completely, green tea extract may be a better choice.

It contains a compound called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has a lot of health benefits as well as aids in weight loss.

However, too much intake of EGCG can be harmful, thus one should monitor their dosage of green tea extract to prevent unwanted problems.

Bitter Orange

woman holding a bunch of oranges

Bitter orange is rich in Synephrine - a chemical similar to the one found in Ephedrine.

Taking about 900mg of bitter orange daily will do the trick, but is not as effective compared to an ECA stack.

L-Carnitine Supplement

person with a bunch of medicine pills in hand

Another common fat-burning element is the L-carnitine supplement.

This is an amino acid supplement that helps improve overall metabolism, helping you to shed pounds faster.

Though not very effective, when combined with workout and proper dieting, it does lead to moderate weight loss.

FAQs

What is Another Name for Ephedrine?

Other names for ephedrine include corphedra, akovaz, and EMERPHED (an ephedrine sulfate injection) depending on its manufacturers. It may also be called Ma-huang (ephedra), which is the plant it is extracted from.

Is Ephedrine Safe In Small Doses?

When used in small doses, ephedrine is a safe weight loss supplement. Its effects on the body are minimal and provide amazing fitness results.

You’ll want to take ephedrine in small doses to increase your system’s tolerance. Once your body gets used to it, up your ECA stack dosage for some serious weight loss.

Is It Legal To Grow Ephedra?

The legality around selling and marketing of Ephedra sinica as a weight loss supplement is banned. However, this ban does not extend to growing.

It is perfectly legal to grow Ephedra for domestic use or even for sale as live plants or seeds. Some products containing ephedrine extract still remain legal up to this day.

What Should You Not Take With Ephedrine?

When taking ephedrine, avoid stimulant drugs and adrenaline-like medications like norepinephrine.

Ephedrine readily interacts with these drugs and can cause an increase in heart rate to the extent of invoking a heart attack or high blood pressure. It is also advised to avoid the use of a pre-workout supplement together with ephedrine to avoid overworking your heart.

Should You Consider Taking An ECA Stack?

Using an ECA stack is an effective way to lose weight and quickly burn off fat.

Maintaining a recommended dosage alongside a workout routine allows anyone to achieve an amazing body transformation by their second cycle.

However, it does come with its share of side effects. Our advice is to weigh the pros against the cons, and consider how crucial losing weight is for you.

If you are weary of the side effects of an ECA stack, opt for a lesser but safer option like bitter orange or green tea extract.

Regardless of your choice, remember that there are no shortcuts - you’ll still have to put in the work and maintain a consistent diet and workout routine.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8384187/

HAVE QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

About the author