Stimulant-Based Fat-Loss: No Free Ride
From 1995 to 2000, I experimented with a fat-loss cocktail that comprised ephedrine hydrochloride, caffeine, and aspirin—the famed and research-proven “ECA” stack. This was the mixture I used three times per day when on the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet to produce veins on my abdomen for the first time in my life, all in less than eight weeks.
Ephedrine hydrochloride: 20 mg
Caffeine: 200 mg
Aspirin: 85 mg
The biochemistry was spot-on, and dozens of studies supported the effects. If E = 1, C = 1, and A = 1, the three combined have a synergistic effect of 1 + 1 + 1 = 6–10. The ephedrine increases cAMP levels, the caffeine slows cAMP breakdown, and the aspirin further helps sustain increased cAMP levels by inhibiting prostagladin production.
Sadly, the ECA stack is not a free ride. In fact, In over-the-counter drugs, ephedrine is generally mixed with guafenesin (an expectorant), as it can otherwise be freebased with basic lab supplies into methamphetamine.
The effects are beautiful and predictable, but there are prices to be paid: side effects. Tolerance to the upper-like effects develops quickly and cessation can cause severe headaches. The withdrawal pains lead to a domino effect of stimulant use. Either people never stop taking ECA or they substitute in equally strong drugs to avoid chronic fatigue. I suspect there is an entire generation of strength and endurance athletes with ECA-induced adrenal fatigue who now depend on stimulants for normal everyday function—some I know opt for 6–10 double espressos per 24 hours. Used in high doses or in high-humidity/ high-heat conditions, ephedrine and ephedra have both been associated with heart attack and death. I suffered so many sinus infections post-ECA that I visited a Stanford-trained specialist who, after reviewing a cranial MRI, asked without a second of hesitation: “Do you drink much caffeine or take other stimulants?” Almost all of my sinal cavities were completely blocked with compressed, dried matter. She was amazed that I was able to get out of bed in the morning. From that point onward, I removed stimulants for brief but increasing periods, as painful as it was, until I had reestablished basic adrenal function.
It was clear that another fat-loss approach was needed, something more sustainable. I wanted to find a nonstimulant stack that used different pathways altogether.
The end result was a stimulant-free supplement I created and call PAGG™ .
I will be writing much more extensively on detailed use of PAGG™ — as well as other options for reducing and eliminating stimulant use — in the coming months.
In the meantime, here are the basic precautions and warnings:
Ensure adequate consumption of B-complex vitamins while using PAGG and consult your doctor before use if you have a medical condition (e.g., hypertension, hypoglycemia, diabetes) or are taking any medications. In particular, blood-thinning medications (e.g., warfarin, aspirin, etc.), thyroid medications, or anti-anxiety drugs like clozapine. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use PAGG. Bloodthinning compounds ain’t for babies.
More to come.
Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.
Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.