T Nation

Ephedra....catabolic?

Hello all. I am new to the forums and have been trying to absorb all the great information and posts. I was wondering if taking ephedra products during a mass cycle is counter productive and can cause catabolism? I like to use speed stack or thermo 525 drinks before every workout to energize. Will this hinder LBM gains? Thanks for any info.

It can cause your body to burn more calories which would otherwise go towards muscle growth so you’ll need to eat more to make up for it. Also using stimulants during a mass cycle will lead to more neural fatigue which could cause you to overtrain if you’re not careful. I believe with intelligent use it is effective on a mass cycle as the scientific evidence seems to support it’s ability to support protein synthesis and may allow you to gain weight with a better lean to fat ratio.

To Kelly Baggett-


Gain weight? As a few of us were discussing this in a another thread recently, please post the research articles you are talking about here?


MAINTAIN LBM during dieting, yes, but GAIN? -I’d be very interested in anything you might have to offer in this respect. SRS

loathe to be distrustful, doubtless she does have the studies. However, the entirety of here comment was regarding the use of ECA during a mass phase. The underlying assumption is that the necessary caloric surplus will be present regardless of external variables, e.g. metabolic enhancers. I believe she was attempting to convey the idea that ECA, while traditionally used for cutting, can be used during building in an attempt to minimize fat gain.

SRS: Hopefully Kel won’t mind too much wtih me intervening on his behalf. But, what he was referring to was the fact that taking ephedra on a bulking cycle will allow one to add mass with a ratio of lean to fat that is better if ephedra had not been used. This is due to the increase in protein synthesis and possible nutrient partitioning.

He was not referring to lean mass gains during a hypocaloric diet. Hope that clears things up.

Just to cut this one off at the pass, Kelly’s a guy.

To Timbo et al…Sorry guys, I think I was misunderstood. I WAS talking about the usefulness of ephedrine/an ECA stack on a mass diet (hypercaloric).


If you (or Kelly) can point me to the evidence for better LBM GAINS on a bulking diet using Ephedrine/ECA over control subjects (or indicative of this) I’d like to know about it.

Please read my recent posted musings on the subject, (originally under the heading “TT maybe you can answer this for me” by Groove) Sorry for the length:


*****However, you’ve brought up a great topic of conversation anyway. Ephedrine is definately (via adrenaline and norepinephrine)a potent stimulator of beta 2 receptors, both in fat, and muscle (and other) tissues of the body. Not as potent as say, Clenbuterol, but this is in some ways a good thing, as down-regulation of receptors occurs much quicker with too potent an agonist. i.e. the body’s response to Clenbuterol will be more rapidly attenuated vs Ephedrine, allowing a shorter time effectively “on” with the former.

A simplified description of Ephedrine’s actions appear to be: increased lipolysis in fat cells; increased muscle preservation in muscle cells. An interesting study involved Obese women taking a Caffeine/Ephedrine stack, or placebo for 8 weeks (NON-EXERCISING)(1). The treatment group lost significantly more fat, kept significantly more muscle, and their metabolic rate remained higher than the placebo group, with the same hypocaloric diet given to each.

But can beta 2 agonists actually increase muscle accretion (synthesis)? - TT suggested that the beta 2’s would work in this manner. -This indeed would be great news as far as your “aiding recovery” theory is concerned, Groove. However as far as I can see, the jury is still out. In chickens, this appears to be the case- beta 2 agonists DO stimulate muscle hypertrophy. In fact, many new drugs are being developed for precisely this role in this species. However the results in rats are equivocal, and in humans not enough has been done to comment authoritatively- protein/muscle retention, yes; but actual protein synthesis?.

There have also been hypotheses to the effect that bursts of adrenaline/norepinephrine, as occuring post-high intensity training might actually be a NECESSITY in initiating a muscle hypertrophy stimulus. (The mechanism as yet unknown). If such a mechanism were to be discovered, it would further support your theory for a benefit in recovery Grooveless.

TT also focuses (as is her main interest I think) on the thermogenic and fat loss effects of ephedrine. It would be very interesting to look deeper into hypertrophy possibilities using ephedrine.

Specifically, I am wondering if one were to GREATLY increase calorie/protein intake, then one would counteract the increased metabolism effects of ephedrine- i.e. burning off a lot of the energy you are taking in above maintenance, whilst still allowing increased protein synthesis in muscle to occur?

BUT, Ephedrine appears to be much more effective for FAT burning on a LOW carb diet. This seems to be due to the antagonism between insulin (energy storage) and ephedrine (energy utilisation). Ephedrine appears to be less effective for lipolysis in the presence of high Insulin levels, which inhibit fat burning enzymes.

-Now, does this interaction between insulin and ephedrine also affect protein synthesis in muscle? We could explain the reduction in muscle breakdown on a hypOcaloric diet vs actual muscle synthesis (gain) by the fact that there simply isn’t sufficient energy in that situation to create new muscle tissue. However, on an “average” bulking diet -HIGHER in energy (and carbs), will ephedrine and insulin effects just cancel each other out in regards to muscle protein synthesis?

On the same note, by using the intermittent CARB REFEED, could one get the best of both worlds? -i.e. as long as one remained hypercaloric overall, could one get the muscle synthesis effects of ephedrine, combined with the energy storage (and indirect muscle synthesis effects) of Insulin to combine to good effect? Would this be a way in which some people do actually claim to lose fat and gain LBM simultaneously?


Unfortunately, this protocol would contra-indicate the present thinking on post-workout nutrition- we now all know the massive importance of this post-workout meal (an intentional insulin potentiator) to aid in effective initiation of renewed anabolism.

Another interesting property of Ephedrine to add here is it’s active 1/2 life is only 4 hours (compare to Clenbuterol- around 24 hours). The FAT burning effects of Ephedrine appear to be mediated by several metabolic chain-reactions- as TT mentioned, e.g. Thyroid hormone stimulation. This would mean that the 1/2 life was slightly less relevant to longer term fat-burning action in the body, as other compounds produced take over this role until the next dose is administered. In contrast, the effects on MUSCLE are relatively specific, -noradrenaline acting via the beta 2 receptors on muscle cells. What does this imply? That probably to get the best out of Ephedrine’s MUSCLE activities, one should take it at a minumum every 2-3 hours? …-But wouldn’t this inevitable high dose in the body have further adverse consequences for the bulking bodybuilder with regards to excess stimulation of the metabolism over the course of the day? AAAGGHHH…

Many points of discussion here. I think my bottom line here (if anybody has got this far with me!!) is that I agree with TT in the fact that Ephedrine (ECA stacks) appear to make a lot of sense to aid recovery during the CUTTING phase of a BB cycle, where the body needs all the help it can get to preserve LBM, and thus, indirectly, also recover the body more quickly for the next training day.
However for the dude who’s still on a GROWTH/BULK cycle, there seem to be just too many negatives counteracting the positives of LBM retention. SRS

Refs:

  1. Astrup et al,1992, Metabolism, 41(7):686-688. ****

So, to summarise, I guess my main concerns are the xs stimulation of metabolism that will adversely effect gains (when on a 1ary mass cycle/diet), and the antagonism between insulin and ephedrine.


Timbo, Kelly, (others), any input here?


Regards, SRS

Timbo’s got it right for me. I too was reading that recent thread where Tampa-Terry gave that information. I doubt if there are any studies done on ephedra and muscle gain but I haven’t bothered to check. Of course there are plenty of studies that tend to show the anti-catabolic effects of it when dieting and other studies show that cousins of ephedrine (at least in animals) promote some anabolism. I would just kind’ve assume that the same anti-catabolic effects when dieting would also apply to when bulking as I dont see anti-catabolism as ever being a bad thing. I know Dan Duchaine used to recommend it’s use when bulking because it allowed a better lean/fat gain and when I have experimented with it in that fashion I did also notice the same thing. Perhaps it’s really individual and I dont even know if it’s worth fooling with in that sense due to the extra calories it will make one burn off and the neural stress it can impart.

SRS: No need to apologize, my friend. I should do so myself, as I made the early implication.

You do present some quite interesting and thought-provoking remarks in your most recent post, SRS. I would like to re-read these with a more fresh mindset and then perhaps ask some questions or address some of the issues you present.

For now, though, I feel a bit fried. A few exams before a mid-semester break call attention now.

Kelly and SRS, Thanks! I see now…said the blind man. Science aside…before I understood(very loose statement) the mechanisms involved…I think the ECA boost would cause me to train with higher intensity so that my perception of muscle growth and conservation of LBM may have been there. Gotta love newbie psychology. Looking back…it was probably the increased calories(protein, carbs,fat) and training that caused the positive results. I wonder though…if the ECA stack decreased the amount of gained BF like you mentioned and what the difference would be without the stack? Thanks again for the info.

Kelly and SRS, Thanks! I see now…said the blind man. Science aside…before I understood(very loose statement) the mechanisms involved…I think the ECA boost would cause me to train with higher intensity so that my perception of muscle growth and conservation of LBM may have been there. Gotta love newbie psychology. Looking back…it was probably the increased calories(protein, carbs,fat) and training that caused the positive results. I wonder though…if the ECA stack decreased the amount of gained BF like you mentioned and what the difference would be without the stack? Thanks again for the info.

kaos,


As I have been saying above, there really just isn’t enough info/data available to answer your last questions. Most people using ephedra to this point have been concentrating on the fat loss aspects, and so have been on a hypocaloric diet. I would expect, from my reasoning above, that you would indeed gain MORE MUSCLE without the product than with it, but with a relatively greater proportion of fat tissue gain. This is still however hypothetical, and based on my own reasoning as detailed above. Kelly’s thoughts are also I think currently hypothetical, and anecdotal (the Dan Duchaine reasoning) vs objective.


Hey-You could be your own guinea pig! For me, I just don’t think it’s worth it. When I’m on a gaining phase, I don’t like to risk anything I think might slow those gains. I believe with a well-formulated diet and workout strategy alone, you can definately minimise fat gain whilst experiencing satisfactory muscle gains.

Anyway guys (Kelly and Timbo I hope you’re still in on this),

this thread ties in quite nicely with the recent launch of Hot-Rox. It got me thinking about the potential of Sclaremax, another cAMP stimulator, and a key ingredient of Hot-Rox, for aiding hypertrophy. In fact, in 1 of the first paragraphs of TP’s spiel in this issue, he touts:


*it may actually help to preserve or EVEN BUILD muscle mass.

This same statement (or words to the effect) are repeated 2 more times during the course of the article. Even they are not certain.


The hypothesis, I believe, is mainly on the premise (once more, just as with other cAMP stimulators), that the protein degradation process will be slowed, whilst increasing lipolysis.


But actual increased muscle SYNTHESIS? Hmmm. My reasoning would be no, just as with Ephedrine. (At this point, once again I would LOVE someone to come up with some research, TC/TP/BR included, to show the results of cAMP stimulators in a hypercaloric situation). I think we are faced once again with the insulin-lipolysis enzymes antagonism problem. Increase one, and you inhibit the other (and to GAIN muscle we NEED the insulin for nutrient DEPOSITION vs just holding on to what the muscle already has, right?). Couple this with the increased calorie requirements just for basal metabolism, compared to using them for anabolism, whilst on such compounds, and I think you’re just gonna be running in circles.


As far as using the WHOLE Hot-Rox formulation is concerned, I would EXPECT the situation to be doubly problematic. Not only do you have the cAMP stimulation, you also expect a concomitant increase in T3, and overall energy metabolism. Almost every study I have read so far has found that a MEDICALLY hyperthyroid individual is much more prone to muscle catabolism (and this makes sense to me- rev up the body and it’ll need to start breaking itself down).


Please don’t think that I am attacking Hot-Rox here. Precisely the opposite. It looks like a nice bit of science reading over TP’s reasoning. I do not doubt the potential for LBM RETENTION, and the potential for fat loss looks awesome. I am just very skeptical until I can see evidence, of any potential for improved muscle gains in ANY calorie range.


I just wanted to tie this in to the current thread here, as it all seems to follow on.

SRS, you once again present a plethora of beautiful comments, fully illustrated and clearly explained.

At this point, I can’t really add to or answer any of the issue or questions, respectively, that you’ve raised.

I’m going to re-read Timmy P’s Hot-Roxx article, and then I’m going to do a little more research on my own, which likely won’t be commenced until later this week due to an exam.

I really appreciate your in-depth analysis and explicative post, SRS. This really impresses and pleases me. I’d like to try to elaborate and converse with you on this, thus my personal efforts to expand my horizons.

One point that you made mention to that I disagree with is this: would expect, from my reasoning above, that you would indeed gain MORE MUSCLE without the product than with it, but with a relatively greater proportion of fat tissue gain.

On the contrary, I would expect better gains while utilizing ephedrine, in terms of gains of lean to fat.