Stimulants are the most common class of performance enhancing supplements in existence. Just think, when is the last time you went to the gym, crammed for an exam, or embarked on a road trip without loading up your body with go-to central nervous system stimulating products?
The practice is so common that in the world of fitness not even protein drinks can compete!
But despite the mass appeal of well-known and socially acceptable stimulants like caffeine and coinciding stimulants found in coffee and tea – there are many more unique stimulants used by the supplement industry.
Those stimulants, specifically taken advantage of by the supplement industry are exactly why you are here. To find out how you can stretch the limits of your mind, engulf fat storages into flames, and write-off fatigue for another lifetime!
But Be Warned: Not all stimulants are safe and forgiving. Even popular stimulants used in legal fat burner and pre workout supplements can have a give and take relationship. After all, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of increasing the stimulation of your central nervous system, this can mean a need to seriously recharge after your stim-stint is up.
Likewise, abuse of stimulants like any other consumable in life can be a threat to one’s health and mortality. So, always play it safe and don’t act a fool just because you are able to get your hands on this stuff.
Pre Workout and Fat Burner Stimulants Comprehensive List
Here we will lay out for you all of the stimulants that we have dealt with while reviewing countless pre workout and fat burner products. You name it, we’ve taken it… And probably in bulk over the last 4 years while hosting this awesome supplement review network.
The order of these ingredients is from most dangerous to the safest!
Dangerous Stimulants In Pre Workouts and Fat Burners
DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, geranium extract, geranamine, Pelargonium graveolens extract) – The Original Super-Stimulant
DMAA was originally synthesized for use as a nasal decongestant product back in 1944. Later, this product was voluntarily taken off the market by its maker around 1988. But, flash forward and around 2005 the bodybuilding world began to obsess over DMAA!
The only problem is, DMAA is not the safest compound (but at the same time iron-clad evidence doesn’t exist).
At around 4-15 mg, DMAA acts as a bronchodilator. In larger doses, DMAA begins to influence blood pressure, heart rate, and mental focus.
But the problems begin to kick in when 80, 90, 100 mgs or more are taken. Reported complications with DMAA include:
- Cerebral Hemorrhages
- Heart Arrhythmia
- And Death
You can read all about why we do not recommend DMAA supplements here in this DMAA overview. Yes, you should read it and base your own opinion off the evidence available, or lack of evidence if you are a die-hard DMAA lover. We welcome all opinions.
DMHA [Octodrine] – Deemed The New DMAA (aka “We’ll get away with this for a little longer after DMAA is banned”)
Yes, DMHA (octodrine) is considered to be the new alternative to DMAA in response to potential DMAA bands. From a molecular standpoint, DMHA and DMAA are extremely similar. Due to this, both emulate similar effects.
Both good effects, as well as bad.
While this product is being sold extensively by under-the-radar supplement brands, there hasn’t been any human consumption research at all. This lack of research, and lack of effort towards research greatly concerns the scientific community who deem DMHA as potentially dangerous. The FDA has not yet banned DMHA, to our knowledge.
DMBA [AMP Citrate] Earlier DMAA alternative that was rapidly banned
DMBA is much like DMAA and DMHA in the potential risks, but much less effective in the actual production of energy. DMBA, also known as AMP Citrate lacks any legitimate clinical evidence to suggest it does anything good for athletes. You can read this warning against the use of DMBA by scientists or the FDA’s warning letter here.
Dendrobium – The Crystal Meth Version…
Dendrobium extract is from orchids, and was made raving popular by DS Craze a few years back. With Dendrobium in their formulas, users were able to achieve massively elevated states of energy and strength.
Unfortunately, it turned out that their Dendrobium wasn’t an extract at all. It was a synthetically adulterated Dendrobium extract that contained methamphetamines.
With that being said, this is no longer a relevant stimulant ingredient, as you are not going to find meth Dendrobium anywhere for sale… Except maybe in New Mexico from Walter White http://www.amc.com/shows/breaking-bad .
Not Always Pleasant But Safe Stimulant
Yohimbe [yohimbine HCL]
Yohimbe extract and its pure active isolate Yohibine originate from the bark of the Yohimbe tree native to Africa. In moderation, yohimbe is an extremely effective fat burner for individuals who exercise while fasted. Point blank, this stuff works when used properly over a decent period of time.
However, the problem kicks in when you up the dosage, or add other stimulants.
Large doses of yohimbe can cause rapid heart rate, anxiety, as well as perfuse sweating. Like, the kind of sweating where you are cold, but dripping sweat as if you just got out of a sauna.
In those situations (too much or with other stimulants), the side effects of yohimbe are not ideal.
However, they can be mitigated by keeping yohimbe dosages under 15 mg, avoiding other stimulants, or using the pure isolated yohimbine HCL which brings less side effects.
Overall, Yohimbe really isn’t dangerous… But it does have its possible side effects. We really wanted to include yohimbe here as a reasonable alternative to DMAA fat burners.
Safe Within Reason Pre Workout and Fat Burner Stimulants
Hordenine is a commonly used accessory stimulant in a number of fat burners and pre workout supplements. While on its own it acts as a stimulant, it is often added because it is found to increase the amount of time that caffeine energizes your body.
Hordenine is commonly added to supplements in small quantities and compliments caffeine and synephrine well.
Synephrine (From the bitter melon plant)
Synephrine is an isolate of bitter melon, and is a highly effective stimulant that stacks well with caffeine. Personally, I love synephrine a lot. When combined with caffeine, it offers a much more enjoyable and longer lasting energy sensation. Likewise, the infamous crash may be reduced.
Here are some recent studies on synephrine supplementation:
Synephrine increases fat oxidation: In this study researchers evaluated the effects of synephrine on patients performing light to moderate exercise. What they found, was that synephrine supplementation increased fat oxidation while reducing carbohydrate oxidation. This suggests to us that synephrine use while training fasted could yield significant fat loss. This study was published in 2016 and you can see it here.
Synephrine and Synephrine with Caffeine Improves resistance exercise performance: Here, researchers evaluated the effects of both synephrine and a synephrine-caffeine mix on volunteers performing resistance training. They found, that both groups improved performance, while the synephrine-caffeine mix group in particular had exceptional improvements to squat power and velocity. This is a 2015 study that you can view right here.
Caffeine (Several Variations with Slightly Different Effects)
When discussing stimulants in pre workouts and fat burners, caffeine is the head-honcho elephant in the room. Virtually every fat burner and pre workout contains caffeine, and sometimes in massive quantities, unless of course it is a stimulant free pre workout or stimulant free fat burner.
There are multiple types of caffeine that get used in supplements. Instead of listing everything here, we recommend you check out our in-depth list of the best caffeine types and sources here.
Concluding PWO and Fat Burner Stimulants – This is a Work in Progress
Above we’ve listed some of the most popular and controversial stimulants in pre workouts and fat burners. We hope that you now better understand the risks of stimulants like DMAA, DMHA, and DMBA; as well as better appreciate caffeine and synephrine.
This article is a work in progress, and we are happy to hear your opinions and suggestions below on information and stimulants to be added to this page.