Ephedra and Weight Loss
By Joe Rodriguez
Ephedra has been used in ancient China for thousands of years as a treatment for allergies and asthma, but more recently has been touted as a weight loss product here in North America. From the Ephedra Educational Council web site:
"More than 15 million consumers a year benefit from Ephedra, with only a minute fraction reporting problems to the FDA. Any risk of inappropriate use must be balanced against the health benefits accruing to millions of Americans. The nation's obesity epidemic creates a personal and public imperative for weight control, and 98 million Americans must not be denied an option for improving their health without conclusive scientific evidence."
Many people ask if taking ephedra will help them achieve the weight loss they desire. Ephedra can certainly encourage weight loss when it is taken in conjunction with a proper diet and exercise program aimed at losing pounds. There is absolutely no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Using ephedra on its own is not likely to allow anyone to change their weight significantly. Ephedra does seem to have an appetite suppressing effect, as well as a thermogenic effect. Ephedra stimulates the central nervous system which allows the body to burn more calories by increasing metabolism.
Anyone wishing to lose weight must follow the very basic principle of calories in versus calories out. In order to lose any weight, more calories must be used in a day than are consumed. This will allow for a caloric deficit resulting in the body using its own stored source of fuel as energy. A 3500 caloric deficit will result in one pound of weight loss.
Dieting alone may result in more muscle tissue being lost while the body is relying its own stores of fat and muscle as energy. Using ephedra while losing weight has been reported to aid the body in maintaing lean muscle mass while burning more fat for fuel. Since one pound of muscle burns approximatley 50 calories per day as opposed to 2 calories per day for every pound of fat, it is easy to see that the more muscle that is maintained, the quicker the weight will disappear. This will also decrease the likelihood of regaining the weight at a later time. People say a good way of maintaining lean muscle mass while still burning fat is use the ECA stack method.