Although ErgoShred contains some non-stimulant ingredients, we’d still classify it as a stimulant-based fat-burner because that is where most of the potential lies.
L-Carnitine, in various forms, has been touted as a weight loss supplement by dozens of supplement companies over the years. It is well established that carnitine is involved in fatty acid metabolism (burning fat for fuel), but human studies have failed to prove that supplemental carnitine has any effect on weight loss.
There are certain theoretical mechanisms of action by which carnitine supplementation could/should result in weight loss, but there are just isn’t any evidence to back these claims up. Several studies involving rats have come up short, as well as a 2000 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition which found that carnitine supplementation had no weight loss effect in moderately obese women. So, while there is too much doubt surrounding Carnitine as a weight loss supplement to accept these claims, several studies have shown that Carnitine can reduce muscle damage and thus speed up recovery from exercise.
While these results don’t necessarily pertain to what ErgoShred is trying to do, Carnitine may not be completely useless in this formula (although we question the amount present).
Quercetin is a flavonoid which can be found in (and extracted from) a wide variety of plants. The proposed benefits of Quercetin range from anti-inflammatory to possible cancer fighting abilities. Ergogenix claims quercetin “may boost metabolism, help maintain healthy cortisol levels already in normal range, and support stamina”. However, what they fail to mention is that these claims primarily arise from studies done with rats, and as you can very well imagine, what works in rats doesn’t always work in humans.
One in vitro study found that Quercetin induced apoptosis (cell death) in pre-adipocytes (“baby” fat cells). Adipocytes, or “fat cells”, are cells whose primary function is to store fat. The term “pre-adipocyte” refers to a premature, or “baby”, fat cells. A rat study showed that supplementation with Quercetin increased energy expenditure (i.e. calorie burn) to a notable level after 3 weeks, but this effect was not evident after 8 weeks.
The authors of the study attribute this diminished efficacy to certain “adaptive changes” that Quercetin may undergo. A 2009 study concluded that “The quercetin-related effects on performance and mitochondrial biogenesis in untrained humans are modest and far below those reported in mice”. So far, the athletic implications of Quercetin are not widely understood. However, at the very least, Quercetin does possess some anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to increase absorption of additional antioxidant compounds.
Phenylethylamine is a compound which causes an increase in epinephrine and dopamine, though these effects generally degrade quickly with oral consumption. Still, its ability to act as a central nervous system stimulant is what makes it such a popular additive to pre-workouts and weight loss supplement these days.
While studies testing the effects of PEA supplementation on exercise performance are limited, a boost in the two neurotransmitters mentioned above may certainly translate into more energy in the gym, resulting in a more intense workout. As far as direct effects on weight loss, studies are more or less non-existent.
However, given that PEA is a powerful stimulant it may certainly suppress appetite while simultaneously increasing energy expenditure during workouts. On its own, it is hardly a miracle weight loss ingredient, but combined with other stimulants, it may very well contribute to overall weight loss over a sustained period of time.
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, and is a well-established ergogenic aid. Caffeine consumption causes an increase in catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine), which may raise the metabolic rate and induce lipolysis (breakdown of fats). However, the weight loss effects of caffeine tend to fade with prolonged use, so it does not appear as though caffeine is an effective fat-burner in the long term.
While caffeine’s weight loss potential is negligible, it increases focus and perceived energy in most people, which generally leads to more intense workouts (thus burning more fat), and may act as a mild appetite suppressant in some. Caffeine may also contribute to the burning of fat when used in conjunction with other substances (such as EGCG. ErgoShred contains 100 mg of caffeine per serving which, in conjunction with the other stimulants in the formula, is enough to make the average person feel alert and focused (which may result in more intense/longer workouts).
Tyramine is a derivative of the amino acid Tyrosine, and has the ability to increase the level of the catecholamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. Tyramine is thought to act as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), meaning it blocks the enzyme (monoamine oxidase) responsible for oxidizing the neurotransmitters epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine. The result is an elevation in levels of these neurotransmitters, which is the neurotransmitter most responsible for concentration. For this reason, it is recommended that people currently taking prescription MAOIs be careful not to consume too much dietary (or supplemental) tyramine. As far as Tyramine’s effects on weight loss, studies are non-existent, but adrenaline induces lipolysis, and at the very least may result in more energetic and focused workouts.
Capsimax is a patented form of Capsicum, commonly referred to as red pepper extract. The active ingredient, Capsaicin, has demonstrated thermogenic qualities without raising the heart rate of the subjects. Capsaicin has been shown to increase fat oxidation during exercise in mice as well as healthy adult males. These findings make capsaicin of interest to those looking to decrease fat without the use of stimulants.
Zingerone is the compound responsible for giving ginger its pungency. A 2008 rat study found that zingerone appeared to increase norepinephrine induced lipolysis (fat burning). In other words, while zingerone does not produce any lipolytic effect on its own, it may enhance the lipolysis already brought on by an increase in norepinephrine. These effects have not yet been tested in humans though so zingerone should still be considered a speculative ingredient at this point. However, since we have established that there are other ingredients in this formula which may increase norepinephrine, it is possible that zingerone may compliment these effects.
BioPerine is a trademarked name for black pepper extract. In several studies, black pepper extract, when combined with other supplements, has increased the absorption of those supplements (as measured by plasma levels). The active ingredient responsible for this increased bioavilability is known as peperine. While we can’t say with any certainty that peperine enhances the bioavailablity of ALL other compounds, it does have a well-established track record when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (including BCAAs).
THE BOTTOM LINE:
ErgoShred’s weight loss potential comes from the inclusion of several powerful stimulants which may boost energy during exercise, as well as decrease appetite to some degree. The addition of Capsimax may offer some additional non-stimulant based weight loss effects, but we question the efficacy of a few of the other ingredients (quercetin, zingerone, and carnitine) in regards to their potential for weight-loss. That being said, ErgoShred is a relatively low priced product (compared to other similar weight loss supplements), and may result in some excess weight loss for those who also exercise regularly. We would not reccomend this product for anyone who is sensitive to stimulants.
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