As addressed by Phil Kaplan on 9/20/2001

Note: This was written in 2001, before the FDA took action to prevent ephedrine from being sold in dietary supplements. There is still a great deal of mystique and controversy regarding ephedrine-based fat burners, so allow this to serve as one fitness expert's pre-ban view. Since the ephedrine issue, Xenadrine, as many similar products, was released in an "ephedra-free" version.

Last night I saw the Xenadrine TV commercial.  First it claims that Xenadrine was proven to speed weight loss 38 times that which you can achieve with diet and exercise alone.  Hmm.  Thatís amazing.  38 times!  As the commercial continues, it introduces us to a woman who tells of her results in only 12 weeks!  I decided to do some math.  Since the American Medical Association recommends, for those seeking weight loss, a sensible1-2 pounds of weight loss per week through diet and exercise, and the American Dietetic Association agrees, I believe itís fair to assume that people are losing 2 pounds per week through diet and exercise alone.  Math time.  Letís see, if someone uses Xenadrine, rather than 2 pounds per week, theyíll multiply weight loss by 38, that means you can lose 76 pounds per week.  In 12 weeks, you can shed 912 pounds!

Xenadrine happens to be an efficacious product. Itís not the product thatís at fault.  Itís the marketing for it.  I have used thermogenics with athletes and people who already understand the importance of supportive nutrition and eating to facilitate enhanced liberation and burning of stored bodyfat.  It's just not as simple as taking a pill.  In the Fat Burning phase of my 17-Week Body Transformation Program, I teach people to make nutritional modifications that allow the body to better access fat stores for fuel.  For three consecutive days, by minimizing intake of starches and increasing protein consumption, glycogen (stored muscle fuel) stores are depleted and fat utilization is increased.  A thermogenic product, usually a combination of caffeine and ephedrine, can help to increase body temperature, bringing about increased caloric burn, and can kick up fat release slightly.  The catch is, you have to eat!  Getting the high protein meals into your body on those three days has a thermic effect which is amplified by the thermogenic.  Without the effect from food, and of course the greater fat utilization through intense exercise sessions, the thermogenic is going to be ineffective.  Xenadrine is one of the most potent thermogenics on the market.  So again, it's not the product that's at fault, but the marketing of it.

If someone takes Xenadrine, or any thermogenic, they can expect their appetite to be reduced.  Stop eating and you're going to lose weight, but that's not healthful nor is it long term.  When I work with athletes using thermogenics, they are told not to trust their appetite during the days of usage, but rather to "eat by the clock," predetermined meal sizes.  Starvation in any form will inevitably result in a metabolic slowdown.  The ads lead people to believe that "the pill" has a dramatic effect.  Yes, the ads do mention diet and exercise, but when consumers hear "38 times the weight loss" they naturally assume that the diet and exercise are secondary.  It's also important to note that caffeine and ephedrine have a diuretic effect, so if you're judging your progress by your pounds (a huge mistake), you can easily be fooled by water loss into thinking "it works!"

Thermogenics can be dangerous, especially if taken in large dosages or if ingested by anyone with blood pressure, thyroid, circulatory, or prostate issues.  If ever I include a thermogenic as part of a fat loss program, it is after careful screening to be certain risk factors aren't present.  It's also important to note that I limit use to three times per week, no more than 25 mg of ephedrine in a 4-hour period, and no more than 50 mg of ephedrine in a day.  I also limit use to four consecutive weeks and highly encourage an 8-12 week minimum of non-use before considering resuming thermogenic supplementation.  Ephedrine and caffeine are addictive, and that's why the marketing of these products pays off in such huge financial dividends for the product sellers.  Extended use can also cause the adrenal system to back off, leaving users weak and tired without their "fix."  By controlling use, limiting dosages, screening potential users, and laying out definitive guidelines, I have never had a single negative incident with any of my customers or clients.  With that said, I've met vast numbers of people who attempted random supplementation without guidance and wound up with undesired side effects.  There have been a significant number of deaths from random use of these products.

The challenge for the consumer lies in separating hype from truth.  Since a product that causes water loss, appetite suppression, and the illusion of energy is so easy to hype, truth rarely finds its way to the weight loss wanting consumer tempted by these offerings.

I've actually opted to sell thermogenics at the On-Line Superstore at times.  Why?  A number of reasons.  Firstly, as I mentioned, they can play a role in speeding fat release with educated use.  Secondly, since people are buying these formulas under the guise of "miracle fat loss," I realize I'm protecting people by providing them a careful dose of reality prior to their purchase.  Any time I opted to carry thermogenics, I did so with a complete explanation of risk and guidelines.  My trainers will tell you that I discourage them from selling thermogenics.  In fact, most people who call my offices asking for Xenadrine or a similar product wind up with a book, tape, or program.  I found it important, at times, to include "fat burners" in my inventory since so many people seeking "Fat Loss" think a supplement is the answer.  When a customer contacts us in search of a "fat burner," my staff is well trained to identify the reality.  They are actually in search of fat reduction, and the solution lies in the Synergy between supportive eating and exercise.  Supplements do not get people fit.  They can only play a role.  While many supplements are oversold by non-threatening, the thermogenic formulas do come with potential for harm.

So 38 times the fat loss?  Just another creative twisted interpretation of information to pump up product sales.  Please, don't be fooled.

Related Pages:

Fat Burners

Metabolism Boosters



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