Note – This article was written prior to the FDA’s ban on ephedra
I have received several inquiries regarding the use of ephedrine-based supplements to enhance the intensity and weight loss effects of a boxing routine. Many supplements combine ephedrine with caffeine as a means to increase energy. Common examples include Ripped Fuel, Ripped Force, and Xenadrine RFA-1. Recently, several ephedrine products have come under harsh criticism by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Ephedrine is a central nervous system stimulant and decongestant that is effective for relieving bronchial asthma. It is derived from plants of the genus Ephedra. It comes from the Chinese herb Ma Huang. Ephedrine has been used for centuries as both a stimulant and bronchodilator. Recently, ephedrine has been marketed to athletes and those looking to lose weight, based on its ability to trigger energy bursts while causing a reduced appetite.
Unfortunately, since 1993 the FDA states that at least 17 people have died and 800 made ill by dietary supplements containing ephedrine. The FDA recommends a maximum daily ephedrine dose of 24 milligrams. Each supplement should contain no more than 8 milligrams of ephedrine per serving and should not be taken continuously for over a 1-week period. The side effects of ephedrine include elevated blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, dizziness, restlessness, irritability, and headache. Combinations of ephedrine and caffeine cause side effects substantially worse than those from either compound alone. Most energy enhancement products that contain ephedrine also contain caffeine.
Due to the widespread criticism of ephedrine-based supplements, many product manufacturers have created similar products that do not contain ephedrine. An example is the new ephedrine-free Xenadrine EFX. These products claim to provide increased energy without the dangers of ephedrine. These replacement products often increase caffeine to make up for the lack of ephedrine.
Do these products provide any benefits to the aspiring boxer? After all, boxing is perhaps the most physically demanding sport. Conditioning often means the difference between winning and losing. In addition, a boxer must stay within a specific weight range when competing. Are these products beneficial to fighters? I will emphatically answer both of these questions with a very stern NO. These products are NOT beneficial to competitive boxers.
It is worth repeating that boxing is perhaps the most physically demanding sport of all. Physical conditioning almost always plays a factor in the outcome of a bout. When two equally skilled fighters compete, the deciding factor is often conditioning. Unfortunately, there are no magic pills to create a champion. Boxing is a very difficult sport. Those not willing to train hard and make the appropriate sacrifices are quickly weeded out.
There are no shortcuts in this sport. Boxing has very little to do with luck and a whole lot to do with hard work. By relying on a substance to provide energy, you become dependent both physically and mentally. You begin to think that without the product you cannot succeed. This mindset is detrimental to young boxers. Boxing is a mental sport where you must enter the ring with confidence. You must learn to rely and depend on your skills and training, not on a pill or energy drink.
Consider past greats like Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali who came up in an era before these products were available. These extraordinary athletes were able to perform at levels previously unknown without the use of "energy" supplements. These great boxers are real life examples that hard work is all that is required to achieve optimum physical and mental condition.
Furthermore, both the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association ban the use of ephedrine-based products. The Professional Boxing Control Regulations of 1996 also lists ephedrine as a banned substance. For this reason, you will not be able to compete with these products at Olympic or professional competitions. Get used to relying on your hard work. The dependencies that you will develop for energy supplements will become difficult to overcome.
I can tell you from experience that these products do not provide any worthwhile advantages. As a youngster, I tried products such as Ripped Fuel without results. Boxing is performed at an anaerobic pace where combinations are fired in rapid succession. These products cause your heart to beat too fast.
I strongly recommend avoiding these products when boxing. There is no substitute for hard work and proper nutrition. Eat smart and train hard and you will be ready to perform.
About the Author - Ross Enamait is an innovative athlete and trainer, whose training style is among the most intense that you will find. Ross is committed to excellence and advancements in high performance conditioning and functional strength development. He has a sincere interest in helping today's athlete in their quest for greatness.
Ross has authored several comprehensive training manuals, designed for athletes participating in combat sports such as boxing, wrestling, and MMA.