Stimulant chemistry 101

As I sit here waiting for my girlfriend to arrive for our gym date I’m trying to recall all the great blog ideas I had this morning at 3am as I laid in bed, unable to sleep. But alas, all my genius has escaped me.  So instead I’m going to talk about one of my favourite things ever, pre workout. I often get asked about my current “stack”. And I frequently find pre workout gets a bad reputation. I’ve even heard “I feel like it’s not me doing the work”. Sure, most preworkouts have stimulants, but some don’t. And would you tell an adult that they’re not really doing their job cause they have coffee before they write their first email of the day,  a student that they didn’t really earn that A, cause they drank red bull to stay up and study? I’m gonna go ahead and assume no. Any given brand has their own proprietary blend, but most contain your basics. Caffein (typically 200mg per scoop), beta alanine, citruline, creatine, and then a variety of other ingredients, depending on the brand, for focus or adrenal support. For stimulant source, I’m personally a big fan of yohimbine. This ingredient is often found in many American brand, but not in Canadian formulas, due to strict supplement guidelines. How riskée, no? Well get this, yohimbe bark, from which yohimbine is derived, is mostly found in male aphrodisiac preparations as it reportedly increases libido (I believe this is brining back memories of Arnie talking about pumps and cuming), but some supplement manufacturers have claimed that it can aid fat loss as well. So if your keeping up, it’s a stimulant, an aphrodisiac, and a fat burner… How can you go wrong? Medically, yohimbine is a pre-synaptic alpha-2-adrenergic blocking agent, also referred to as an alpha 2-adrenergic antagonist. This means that it increases sympathetic nervous system activity, and can result in increasing the amounts of epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine in the blood stream. In lamens terms, gets you amped.  The main effects epinephrine and norepinephrine have on the body include increasing blood pressure and heart rate, I.e., more intense workouts. Paradoxically, in low dosages yohimbine may help support healthy blood pressure already in normal range. This is thought to occur by causing dilation of blood vessels, thereby reducing vascular resistance. However, like any stimulant, central nervous system stimulation causes anxiety in some people. Aside from is super amazing stimulant properties and general mood elevation, this little beauty is a favourite for cutting as well. And here’s why. Alpha-2 receptors are common in sites of the body that tend to preferentially accumulate fat; for women this would be butt and thighs. There are even creams you can buy with caffeine and yohimbine as main ingredients. The theory being that when exposed to circulating catecholamines, such as norepinephrine and epinephrine, alpha-2 receptor sites inhibit lipolysis (the release of fatty acids), while the beta receptors stimulate lipolysis. So, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glucagon, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and growth hormone stimulate the release of fatty acids from adipose tissue into the blood stream. This is a good thing, and why people often stack stimulants with fasted cardio. Once in the blood stream, fatty acids are usually rapidly oxidized if the fatty acid blood concentration is not elevated from fatty acid input resulting from a meal. When it comes to weight loss, it is the balance between the amount of fatty acids ingested versus their use for energy that determines how much ends up stored as fat. Therefore, by blocking the alpha-2 receptors, in order to free up the catecholamines like norepinephrine, there are more sites available to stimulate beta receptor sites, resulting in a higher rate of lipolysis (more fat burning potential). Isn’t chemistry fun? So there you go kiddies, call me a junkie if you will, and ya, I even get this stuff brought over the border, but I love my stims. Disclaimer, I also use adrenal support, so don’t be hatin’.

Your fitbetch,
JP xoxo