Quick Start Guide To Taking EC Stacks
What is an EC stack?
An EC stack is a combination of ephedrine and caffeine taken to accelerate fat loss. Ephedrine is the active ingredient in the ephedra plant.
What does an EC stack do to help with weight loss?
The EC stack increases metabolic rate which means you burn more calories both at rest and while exercising. Additionally, it helps preserve lean body mass, which means your weight loss will be primarily fat loss. The EC Stack also decreases appetite, making it easier to stick to your diet.
What is the difference between an EC Stack and an ECA Stack?
An ECA stack also includes aspirin. Aspirin in large doses is unsafe, so it is not recommended as an addition to the EC stack.
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What are the risks to taking an EC Stack
- Ephedrine can increase your blood pressure significantly. If you already have prehypertension or hypertension, this will increase your risk for stroke and heart attack.
- Ephedrine can lower blood potassium levels putting you at risk for heart palpitations if your potassium intake is low.
- Ephedrine can enhance psychiatric issues such as depression and anxiety.
- Ephedrine increases your body temperature and can put you at greater risk of heat stroke.
- Ephedrine AND caffeine are vasoconstrictors. Because of this they increase risk in those who are already at risk for stroke and heart attack.
How to reduce your chance of an adverse event
- Always start slowly. If it is your first time taking it, take a half dose, and do not take it before exercise.
- Do not take it sporadically. The effects on blood pressure actually decrease as the time you have been on it increases. It remains effective for fat loss even with chronic use and without cycling. Cycling it, or going off for a period of time, has the main benefit of causing the appetite suppression to return.
- Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant.
- Do not use if you are hypersensitive to stimulants
- Do not assume that because you can tolerate large amounts of caffeine, that you can start on high doses of the EC stack.
- Don't take it with other stimulants or fat burners, or with your preworkout product. Creatine is okay.
- Don't take it if you are going to be in high heat and/or humidity, especially if you are playing sports. If you live in a subtropical climate like Florida, you may want to take something else instead. Since it raises your core temperature, you are at greater risk for heat stroke.
- Don't do HIIT while taking it. Skip the ephedrine if you want to do HIIT.
- I recommend consulting with your doctor regarding taking EC. A good doctor will monitor your blood pressure regularly, and check other health metrics, instead of just scolding you.
- Get adequate potassium intake. Ephedrine depletes potassium. Get at least twice as much potassium as sodium in your diet. Do not try to use potassium supplements as an overdose of potassium is fatal. For more info on potassium read Potassium - whfoods.com
Do not use if you have been diagnosed with any of the following
- high blood pressure, hypertension or prehypertension
- diabetes or prediabetes
- anxiety disorders, especially if you are on an SSRI, SNRI or MAOI
- any cardiovascular disease, angina, coronary heart disease, coronary artery disease
- heart palpitations or heart defects, tachyarrhythmias
- kidney problems, impaired adrenal function, hypoxia, hypercapnia, acidosis
- closed angle glaucoma, phaeochromocytoma, asymmetric septal hypertrophy (idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis), or ventricular fibrillation.
Stop taking it immediately if
- you see a spike in blood pressure which puts you in the hypertension range - check blood pressure regularly
- you experience chest pain, heart palpitations, irregular heart beat, skipped heart beats, high blood pressure, panic, dizziness, agitation, or any other symptoms that concern you.
How EC works, and studies done on the EC Stack
How does EC help you lose fat?
If you want to understand how EC helps you lose fat, read this
Pharmacological Approaches to Fat Loss – Targeting Beta-Adrenergic Receptors - Brian Haycock
What studies were done on EC stacks?
Astrup et al (1992) did a placebo controlled, double blind study on 180 obese patients over 24 weeks. They gave them either placebo, 20mg ephedrine, 200 mg caffeine, or 20mg ephedrine WITH 200 mg caffeine. 141 patients completed the trial. Only the EC stack group showed significantly greater fat loss over placebo. Side effects of tremor, insomia, dizziness AND rises in blood pressure dissappeared by 8 weeks.
Jesper et al (2008) used a case-crossover study to analyse risk of cardiovascular events from taking clinically prescribed ephedrine and caffeine combinations. They did NOT find a connection between taking EC stacks and increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. They surmise that this is because the clinically prescribed EC combinations involve carefully metted doses and use ephedrine instead of ephedra.
Why did studies show it could be used safely when there were so many adverse events in the public?
Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of ephedrine and caffeine for fat loss, as well as its safety in healthy obese and overweight individuals. The main differences between the participants in these studies and the individuals who experienced adverse avents are:
- Study participants must be in good health. There are various conditions that make it much too risky to take EC stacks.
- Study participants have to follow the dosing schedule prescribed by the study design. Ie. They could not overdose on it.
- Study participants were monitored by doctors regularly.
- Study participants were taking ephedrine with caffeine, or ephedrine with caffeine and aspirin. They were not taking ephedra (which may not be properly standardized), or supplements with a long list of ingredients.
- The effect and safety of an ephedrine/caffeine compound compared to ephedrine, caffeine and placebo in obese subjects on an energy restricted diet. A double blind trial. Astrup et al. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders:Journal of the international association for the study of obesity. [1992, 16(4):269-77]
- Use of a Prescribed Ephedrine/Caffeine Combination and the Risk of Serious Cardiovascular Events: A Registry-based Case-Crossover Study . Jesper et al. Am. J. Epidemiol. (2008) 168 (8): 966-973.