Stackers, also known as the ECA stack, are a drug combination that is used as both a stimulant and a way for people to lose weight. The “ECA” portion stands for ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin, and since the three drugs are taken at once, or “stacked” together, they have earned the nickname of stackers. They apparently decrease the appetite and help keep food cravings under control. With the combination of ephedrine and caffeine, it seems stackers also rev up your energy and metabolism, which may also lead to weight loss.
From my research, it seems like stackers are definitely a “good news/bad news” type of product. The good news? Studies indicate that they might actually work to help you lose weight, which is a relative rarity in the world of diet pills. The bad news?
The main ingredient in stackers, ephedrine, comes with a pretty hefty laundry list of dangers and potential side effects, especially those involving the heart.
First, let’s look at the research. Placebo-based studies have found that ephedrine taken in combination with caffeine can lead to fat loss. Also, plain supplements with just ephedrine and no caffeine have shown the same result. A meta-analysis, which is when researchers look at a bunch of similar studies all at once, concluded that using ephedrine in some combination leads to an average weight loss of about one kilogram more a month than just a placebo. Just as a side note, some ads for stackers claim that they will help with your athletic endurance too, but this has not been proven in medical studies.
Again, this weight loss can definitely come at a price. Ephedrine has been shown to be especially dangerous for people who have pre-existing heart problems and heart disease. But it can also cause heart attacks and other problems in young people who had no previous health conditions.
Most people who use stackers taken them two to three times a day in a ratio of one part ephedrine to 10 parts caffeine and 10 parts aspirin. In order to avoid sleep problems, many people take their stackers before mid to late afternoon. Some people buy them already stacked, so to speak.