How Long to Take Ephedrine Caffeine Stack – Q&A

Question: Hello! I have purchased your RFL handbook about 6 months ago. And have also been taking the ECA stack for about 5 months now. I really just want to know how long is safe to run an ECA stack!?? I have  only taken two doses a day instead of the suggested three. this is what it looks like : 25mg Ephedrine HCI , 200mg Caffeine, 162mg Aspirin once in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Answer: Since I appear to be officially out of ideas for things to write about (cut me some slack, I’ve got 500 posts on the site), I’m doing another Q&A this week.  For those unfamiliar with the acronyms, RFL is my own Rapid Fat Loss Handbook and ECA is a combination of Ephedrine Caffeine and Aspirin.  I don’t recall offhand when it really came into use but it was at least in the 90’s when it was found that the combination of ephedrine and caffeine were thermogenics (meaning that they increase energy expenditure), suppressed appetite, mobilized fat and had many other potential benefits for fat loss on a diet (other thermogenics such as green tea, capsaicin and nicotine were also studied).

Aspirin was sometimes added as well (for once I’ll spare you the mechanisms involved here) but, outside of the obese, didn’t really have any benefit.   It was also never clear if low-dose aspirin (81 mg) would have the same benefit as the full 300 mg used in the studies and honestly, if someone is going to use EC (often just called the stack), I don’t recommend the aspirin.

In any case, back to the question, how long should EC be used?   And the answer sort of depends on your perspective.

One thing worth mentioning is this: EC is unusual (and possibly unique) among fat loss compounds in that chronic use actually makes it work more effectively.  I do mean that this is unusual in that most drugs lose, or at least appear to lose, their effect over time (it’s a little more complicated than this but I’ll save my explanation of this statement for next week or something).  Ephedrine becomes more effective over time (and the idea that it must be cycled to avoid a loss of effect is not only wrong but exactly backwards).  The thing is, nobody is quite sure how this might happen.


Insulin Resistance and Fat Loss

Question: Your books and work are amazing. Unless I misunderstood the point in UD2 Lyle speaks about weight loss and that insulin resistance can be beneficial. Could you explain more to me about your viewpoint on this as I dietician I always consider and read about it being unhelpful. I’m very interested in a new viewpoint.

Answer: While I think I have addressed this on the site previously   but since it’s somewhat counterintuitive and goes against what everyone believes (and is a little bit more complicated than what is written in my books or above), it’s worth going over again.  As usual, I’ll need to provide some background.

How Hormones Work

A hormone is any substance in the body that causes something to happen elsewhere. Technically you can divide up neurotransmitters (which work locally) and hormones (which work elsewhere/all over the body) but this is unnecessary detail.  So a hormone is released from some gland or another (i.e. thyroid from the thyroid gland, insulin from the pancreas), binds to a receptor somewhere and makes stuff happen (a technical term).

The almost universal analogy for how hormones work is the lock and key analogy.  The hormone is the key and its specific receptor is the lock.  So the lock fits into the key and makes stuff happen (still a technical term).  Every hormone has its own specific receptor (just as a key fits into one lock) but there can be something called cross-reactivity where one hormone kind of fits into a different hormone.  Don’t worry about this.

So insulin has an insulin receptor.  When insulin binds to that receptor, stuff happens (see a trend here).  And that insulin receptor is found all over the body, in the brain, in skeletal muscle, in the liver, and in fat cells.  The last three are the key things to worry about here.

Now, a number of factors determine how well a hormone works (i.e. how much stuff happens). The three main ones are the amount of that hormone (more generally means more stuff happens), how sensitive the receptor is (how well it responds to the hormone) and something called affinity.  Don’t worry about this either; I include it for completeness only.


Size of Deficit and Muscle Catabolism – Q&A

The piece I was originally going to run today has to wait a week and instead of pulling something out of the archives, I decided to do a quick Q&A.

Question: Hello Lyle, as you know in Bodybuilding there are two phases to build muscle (off-season) and to strip off excess fat. When you want to get rid of excess fat there are different ways to plan the deficit. You can use a low, medium or high deficit. The question to me is, what is the best way to keep muscle during that period (steroid free). You need to have a deficit and therefore you also will lose muscle. Let’s say, you are at the end of your bulking phase with 20% body fat and start dieting from there until you get to your 10% mark. Is there a difference in terms of muscle loss (catabolism) when you do it slowly with up to 500 kcal deficit or more aggressively with a deficit of 1000 kcal?? Both scenarios end when you hit the 10% mark! Do you have research on that?

Answer: Ok, first let me start with a big assumption in the above which is that you must lose muscle on a diet.  This has been taken as fact for years and I’ll be honest that I used to repeat it many years ago.  But it’s not really true.  A lot of early dieting practices, much of which came out of the drug fuelled 80’s (and which didn’t work for naturals) do allow muscle loss.  But it doesn’t have to happen if you do things right.

Right here means at least three things

  1. Proper weight training for fat loss
  2. Adequate Protein
  3. Refeeds/Diet Breaks

For example, people using my Ultimate Diet 2.0 (which alternates a very large caloric deficit for about 4 days with 3 days high calories) has gotten people very lean while gaining muscle.  My Rapid Fat Loss Handbook creates a very large deficit but since protein intake is high (up to 2 g/lb for leaner individuals) and mandates proper heavy weight training, muscle loss is minimal in most people.


Low Body Fat in Women, Stubborn Low Back Fat, and Skinny Fat Training

I haven’t done a Q&A in a while and the mailbag is getting a bit full.  So in lieu of boring everyone with another 20-part series on some minutial detail of training, here’s a bunch of questions.

Question: Hello. Do you know any females who are successfully and consistently living at at lower body fat 10-12% using a keto/ low carb diet? Thank you!

Answer: First and foremost, 12% is about the lower limit of essential fat in women.  While you will sometimes have women estimated lower than that, this is an artifact of the equations.   A woman at 10% body fat is dead.  Even at 12%, almost all women will show massive hormonal issues, a lack of health and vigor.  This shouldn’t even be a goal for women, it’s unrealistic and physically damaging in the long-run.

About the lowest body fat I’d suggest any woman even attempt to maintain long-term is 15-16% bodyfat.  She will have a cut upper body, 6-pack abs and legs should be fairly lean (depending on her body fat distribution patterns) but, assuming she’s not doing anything completely idiotic with her diet and training, she should be ok.  Some women won’t even be able to maintain that low level without a loss of menstrual cycle, energy and mental problems and will have to skew higher.

And honestly this has nothing to do with dietary choice.  Keto or carb-based, a woman is not going to easily, or more importantly, healthily maintain that low level of body fat year round. Nor should that be a goal.

Question: Hello. I have been bodybuilding for 5 years, I estimate that I am around 12-13% body fat. My main problem in the lower abs and lower back fat that doesn’t seem do go whatever I do. Which book would be beneficial for my case?

Answer: For men with normal “male” (yes, I’m using the whitecisgendered heteronormative term for this, suck on it) body fat patterning, abs and low back are always the last place to go.  A man will have ripped delts and pecs, shredded legs and still be sloppy around the waist.  It’s just part of being a man (for a woman with normal “female” body fat patterns, hips and thighs are the stubborn area).