ECA stacks, known by some simply as stackers, are a combination of ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin. They are a very powerful supplement that was used commonly in the past for burning body fat by increasing the metabolism.
They were popular among the bodybuilding community and still are, but they are illegal now in the U.S. The dietary supplement ephedra was banned by the FDA after some heart attacks and deaths associated with ephedra use were reported.
Ephedra is a plant based alkaloid chemical derived from the Ephedra Sinica plant. Ephedra is both a stimulant and a thermogenic, meaning it will increase energy and mental alertness and it will stimulate the metabolism and cause the body to burn more calories through heat. Ephedra by itself is already a very powerful fat burner but when stacked with caffeine it’s effects are multiplied. The EC stack is another variation of the ECA stack, but without the aspirin.
Problems with Ephedra
One of the main problems with ephedra is that it may be hard to find a trusted source from which to obtain a pure, high quality product. Since dietary supplements are not regulated, and on top of that, ephedra is illegal, you may wind up with a poor quality supplement. Studies have also found significant discrepancies between the amount listed on the label and the actual amount of active ingredient in the product. So, if you are able to find a source for ephedra, it’s still going to be questionable whether it’s any good.
But What About All Those Sites That Sell Ephedra?
To clarify this a little further, ephedra is actually a genus, in which many species of ephedra plants are included (When we talk about ephedra for supplementing purposes, we’re only referring to one species). The only species that was included in the FDA ban was ephedra sinica because this is the only plant that contains the ephedrine alkaloid. This is the only type of ephedra that is worth anything. Many companies try to sell other products under the ephedra name simply because they are of the ephedra genus. These products do not have the same effect as ephedra sinica, so don’t waste your money on them. The other legal, commonly sold types of ephedra that should be avoided include ephedra viridis, ephedra nevadensis, ephedra gerardiana, ephedra distacha, and ephedra mericana.
Alternatives to ECA Stacks
If you’re looking for a powerful thermogenic, caffeine is a great place to start. Many popular fat burning supplements include caffeine along with other powerful thermogenics such as 1,3 dimethylamylamine. These are a great legal alternative to ephedra. If your looking for something a little milder to boost your metabolism or reduce body fat, B complex vitamins, green tea, and CLA are all very safe and effective alternatives.