Don’t exercise, eat what you want and still lose 30 pounds in 30 hours. Ask me how! Part 1

Posted by Lloyd on October 25, 2011
Under the Microscope

We Americans are fat, overweight, under-lean, adipose challenged and starving amidst gluttony. Forget the notion of cosmetics, aesthetics and cover girl models: OVER FATNESS means UNDER HEALTHINESS.

Most people don’t see FAT like that. Recent government guidelines produced by the National Institutes of Health (using body mass index [BMI] as a measure of obese-ness) show the percentage of plump Americans is bigger than the percentage of calories we Americans as a whole derive from our diets: 55% vs. 35%. Obesity and overfatness strap a time bomb onto one’s health status and disease risk: diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are the primary explosives with a shorter fuse. Add in a big nuisance condition like osteoarthritis and overweight-ness transcends “mirror appeal” and how clothes fit. And obesity is not a function of age. Numerous research reports have been written about the increasing size (and number) of the Net generation: glued to the Internet and computer games, physical games are abandoned. The physically educated generation of the last several generations is being replaced by the physically ignorant. Ignorance is fatness.

One apparent solution many, many Americans have tried (and continue using) is both controversial and effective: combinations of ephedrine (usually derived as an extract from the Ephedra plant) and caffeine (usually derived from the Guarana plant, cola nut [a plant that is NOT a source of cocaine] or, rarely, green tea). Ephedrine (usually labeled as “Ephedrine Sulfate, 25 mg”) is found both on the online pharmacy shelves as an over the counter (OTC; non-prescription) drug, used to relieve the symptoms of asthma. Primatene® tablets is one brand name example and there are many more generic brands available nationwide. The herbal derived products, positioned primarily for weight loss, will generate over $1.2 billion in sales in the U.S. this year.

Japanese scientists first described ephedrine in plants in the late 19th century. As pharmaceutical companies learned how to make their own drugs in factories and not rely on living organisms, ephedrine joined the group of “natural product” drugs that were synthetically manufactured (other examples include digitalis and lovastatin, the active ingredient in the cholesterol lowering drug Mevacor®). From a chemical comparison standpoint, ephedrine is very similar in “shape” to amphetamine (AKA “speed”) and adrenaline, (our bodies’ “legal speed”). Many of us may recognize ephedrine’s sister, pseudoephedrine, the stuff many decongestants are made of and popularized by another OTC drug, Sudafed® (striking similarity of names …).

When humans swallow ephedrine numerous changes take place:
Bronchial airways open up (easier breathing)
Blood vessels constrict (and blood pressure can go up)
Heart rate increases (and can go pitter-patter, but not because of Cupid)
Metabolic rate increases (your body burns more calories, even as you lay in front of the TV)
Appetite decreases

Need I say anything about the origins and locations of caffeine, star player in the morning beverage of champions? Although most of us do NOT know what ephedrine feels like, many more of us know what (too much) caffeine feels like. Many of the actions of ephedrine are mirrored by caffeine, although their magnitude may be lesser. One desirable action of caffeine (for some), short term increases in metabolic rate, has recently been shown to be “turned up” if the caffeine is accompanied by the other “goodies” also found in a specific green tea extract product (Exolise®, made and sold by Arkopharma), compared to an equal dose of pure caffeine alone (1). Because Exolise boosts metabolism does not necessarily mean other green tea extracts do the same, or other natural sources of caffeine (coffee; black or oolong tea). These, too, require clinical studies to “prove it”, despite what advertisements and websites may imply or state. More importantly, Exolise or any other green tea extract has not (yet) been shown to reduce body weight/fat in humans. Increased metabolism doesn’t necessarily result in decreased fatness.

The process by which metabolism is increased, resulting in the burning of “extra” calories ultimately lost as heat to the environment, is called thermogenesis (essentially “the making of new heat”). Ephedrine does this…caffeine does this. When the two are combined, they do it even better.

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