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Is Yohimbe Good For Fat Loss? (From A Dietian)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 30, 2022

As interested as my clients are in gaining muscle mass, they are equally curious about the best ways to lose fat.

Yohimbe is gaining traction in my circle of clients and in the gym as a preferred supplement for fat burning.

I was intrigued by its growing reputation and decided to take a closer look, so I spoke with our dietitian, chatted with my fellow gym-goers, and read countless online reviews and studies to understand this herb’s effectiveness and safety.

So does stubborn fat have a chance against Yohimbe?

Let’s see.

Quick Summary

  • Yohimbe is an Alpha-2 receptor antagonist, preventing the slow down of fat burning.
  • Yohimbine hydrochloride is a prescription drug available in the U.S., which is different than Yohimbe dietary supplements.
  • Yohimbe is restricted or banned in many countries for labeling issues and potentially severe side effects.

What Is Yohimbe?

Close up of tree bark

Yohimbe is a naturally occurring alkaloid, mostly known as a fat-burning compound, found in the bark of an African evergreen tree, native to central and western Africa.

There is a critical distinction between Yohimbe as a natural supplement and the chemical yohimbine.

Though yohimbine is also found in the bark of the Yohimbe tree, it is concentrated and standardized.

Yohimbine HCL, a prescription under the names Aprodyne and Yocon, is used primarily to treat erectile function [1].

It is unknown if the yohimbine in natural Yohimbe has the same effects as Yohimbe HCL because it is not concentrated and standardized; how much of the chemical is actually in yohimbine supplements is unknown.

How Does It Work?

Yohimbe works by potentially increasing blood flow and produces fat-burning effects by blocking alpha receptors in the fat cells [2].

When the body’s catecholamines (adrenaline, dopamine, etc.), produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress, bind to the beta receptors, the fat cells mobilize, and fat burning occurs.

Unlike the beta receptors, when they bind to alpha-2 receptors in the fat cells, the cells don’t mobilize, inhibiting fat burning.

Because of its role as an alpha-2 antagonist, by blocking alpha-2 receptors, Yohimbe may create a better environment for burning and losing fat.

Stubborn fat areas, like the lower abs, upper arms, waist, and thighs, can have a higher concentration of alpha receptors, making fat burning difficult, so blocking them, as Yohimbe may, can make fat loss easier.

Yohimbe may increase blood flow, another factor in fat loss. It can aid the body in burning more calories when active and at rest [3].

A well-known study of soccer athletes shows Yohimbe's marginal success in decreasing body fat percentage in the Yohimbe group versus the placebo group [4].

Another study shows yohimbine increased energy expenditure and weight loss in twenty obese female outpatients [5].

How to Use Yohimbe for Optimal Fat Loss

A fit man running on a treadmill

Before you use yohimbine supplementation as a fat burner, it is vital to talk to your doctor to discuss any risks and interactions with other medications or supplements you are taking.

Because natural Yohimbe is not concentrated or standardized, the clinically effective dose is unknown, making its use as a supplement advisable only under medical guidance.

There are a few things to consider when looking at Yohimbe to burn stubborn fat and promote weight loss.

Many user testimonials suggested taking Yohimbe on an empty stomach as they learned food counteracts any fat burner benefits.

Another common trend in Yohimbe supplementation is to cycle. Many chose to cycle for two weeks and then take at least an equal amount of time off before starting again.

Many believe taking a break from yohimbine supplementation allows your body to reap the most fat-burning benefits.

The advice I give all my clients with any supplementation is to start with a minimal dose to assess any adverse reactions.

In my research, I found the standard dosage of Yohimbe is 0.2mg/kg of body weight. Some users used more, but remember, with that comes an increased risk of adverse effects.

Other Benefits

Besides its fat loss benefits, Yohimbe is promoted as having a beneficial impact on high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, and workout performance, but the science is limited [6].

Are There Any Side Effects?

A lean man out of breath sitting on the ground

When taking Yohimbe, there are risks of harmful side effects, including high blood pressure, anxiety, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), headaches, stomach issues, and skin flushing [7].

More severe side effects reported using Yohimbe include chest pain, kidney failure, heart attack, and seizures [8].

The increased risk of using Yohimbe supplementation comes from the fact that there is no standard dose.

The amount of the active ingredient across various brands of supplements ranged from none detected to significantly more than what the label stated [9].

“The problem with yohimbine is that you can’t regulate the amount in a dosage. It all depends on what part of the tree it comes from, how it’s cultivated, how it’s exported, and so on. The amount of extract you get will vary.” -Patrick M. Fratellone, M.D.

Interactions

Many drug interactions are possible, so you should avoid Yohimbe if you take a blood thinner like Coumadin, medications to treat diabetes, or have heart, liver, or kidney problems.

If you suffer from anxiety or other mental disorders, you may have increased sensitivity to Yohimbe, which may cause nervousness, anxiety, palpitations, restlessness, and hot and cold flashes [10].

Yohimbe can interact negatively with foods that contain tyramine, like aged cheeses, cured meats, liver, beer, and red wine. [11].

FAQs

Why Is Yohimbe Banned?

Yohimbe is banned in many countries because of inaccurate or incomplete supplement labeling and potentially serious adverse side effects.

How Quickly Does Yohimbe Work?

Yohimbe works relatively quickly for fat loss, with users noticing the effects in approximately three weeks.

Does Yohimbe Cause Water Retention?

Yes, Yohimbe can cause water retention.

Takeaway on Yohimbe for Fat Loss

Based on all of my research, I am not entirely inclined to recommend Yohimbe to my clients looking to burn stubborn fat and lose weight.

My lack of confidence stems from an absence of standardization, inconsistent scientific evidence supporting fat loss claims, and the risk of severe side effects.

Instead, I prefer to guide my clients toward supplementing a healthy diet and proper training with a safe and effective natural fat burner for women and men.

There is no miracle supplement, but in my experience so far, clients have had very good results with some of these fat burners, which is why I feel confident recommending them.


References:

  1. https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_yohimbine_aphrodyne_yocon/drugs-condition.htm
  2. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/beast51.htm
  3. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-759/yohimbe
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17214405/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1955308/
  6. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/yohimbe
  7. https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/in-the-journals-yohimbe-supplements-found-to-be-dangerously-strong
  8. https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-yohimbe
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26391406/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6742977/
  11. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/20230-yohimbine-tablets

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