Ripped Fuel

QUESTION: How do you feel about the ephedra-free "Ripped Fuel" capsules? I purchased the weight loss supplement and the next day took 3 capsules (the maximum daily dosage is 4 capsules). I experienced shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and was unable to sleep most of the night. I was told by a friend that the body reacts in this manner only during the first couple of days of taking the the pills.  Afterwards, the body returns to its normal state. Is this information correct? Is this a normal body reaction? Can the supplement still be dangerous despite its ephedra-free claims? Please clarify this bit for me.

ANSWER: Plan and simple, Ripped Fuel is a stimulant and many people will experience the type of reaction you describe.  The reduction of the initial discomfort, over time, is not necessarily a good thing.  It means that your body (and adrenal glandS) may be readjusting, developing a tolerance for the stimulant compounds.

Ripped Fuel's primary ingredient is Guarana which is an herbal source of caffeine.  It also contains St John's Wort.  Interestingly, although St John's Wort is sold as a "relaxation aid," it may act as a stimulant.  Hypericin, the active component of St John's Wort, is theorized to block Monoamine Oxidase, an enzyme that removes serotonin, dopamine, and ephinephrine from the brain.  When you block the enzyme, you may reduce "uptake" of circulating neurotransmitters keeping them active longer (much as Prozac and similar Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors).  While serotonin increases can lead to a sense of calm, epinephrine is a neurotransmitter highly involved in activation of the adrenal glands.  Kick epinephrine up a notch and you may find increased alertness along with a heightened sense of anxiety.

Green tea, synephrine, phenylalanine, and cayenne may all add to the stimulant properties.  I have seen a version that also contains Yohimbe which is another stimulant. 

Any stimulant is potentially dangerous, primarily for use by individuals with contraindications or overuse.  If it "works," it works as an appetite suppressant and I don't see any virtue in using this type of product for a long term metabolic boost.  The short term metabolic boost has nothing to do with greater metabolic efficiency, but rather a drug effect.  I find it better, in the long term, to optimize the production of the endocrine system (via a structured exercise program and supportive eating) rather than synthetically alter it for a short term reduction in fat.

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