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The Effects of an ECA Stack

author image David Benjamin
Based in the Greater New York area, David Benjamin is a veteran of the fitness industry of over 15 years. He is coauthor of "The Business and Practice of Personal Training" and has lectured to countless fitness professionals. Benjamin holds a degree in physical education from the State University of New York, Cortland.
The Effects of an ECA Stack
Is the ECA stack worth a try? Photo Credit Bodybuilder image by Nicky Richter from Fotolia.com

The bodybuilding industry has given rise to numerous drug/supplement combinations intended to burn fat. One of the more powerful combinations is the ECA stack, consisting of ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. If you have been considering trying the ECA stack, you should be aware of its effects, both good and bad. Be advised that the ECA stack is potentially dangerous and should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor.

Increased Metabolism

Ephedrine and caffeine are both powerful central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and work synergistically when taken together. The aspirin is added to prolong their effects. Stimulating the CNS raises your metabolism, causing more calories to be burned during exercise.

Energy and Alertness

Supplementing with the ECA stack may help fight mental fatigue and increase alertness. The energy-boosting effects of caffeine are well known, and ephedrine remains popular with truckers on long hauls for its fatigue fighting effects.

Fat Metabolism

As documented by the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," caffeine consumption increases the oxidation of fat during exercise. Combined with the metabolism-boosting effects of ephedrine, the ECA stack does seem to be a potent fat-burning aid.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, ephedrine, along with its herbal cousin ephedra, is an effective asthma medication, as is caffeine.


While the ECA stack may show promise in a number of areas, there is also cause for concern over its adverse side effects. Over-stimulation of the central nervous system from ephedrine and caffeine usage may result in mood swings, nervousness and interrupted sleep patterns, as pointed out by the Mayo Clinic. In instances of prolonged use, the body will develop a tolerance, leading many users to take higher doses to maintain the effects. Ephedrine toxicity has been linked to several deaths, including fashion designer Anne Marie Capati's death in 1999.

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