We’ve all experienced it – the next magical ingredient that is being added to every fat burner on the market. These fat burners seem to change ingredients more often than I change my lifting program. The rationale behind this comes from the fact that most of the ingredients simply don’t work and only become popular from either being recommended by a famous celebrity/doctor, or a single study saying the supplement burns fat in rats when a test was carried out in a lab. And once the ingredient has more efficacious studies done (particularly on human subjects), all the effects somehow disappear. Of course there are some exceptions to the rule, one in particular named Yohimbine, which has somehow gone under the radar for some time now and is still unknown to most.
The story of Yohimbine starts the same as many other newly discovered fat burning ingredients. Sourced from an African evergreen tree, Yohimbe is the bark of the tree, while Yohimbine is the main compound in Yohimbe. Since the 1960’s studies about Yohimbine have been conducted with the goal of hopefully increasing testosterone. With minimal testosterone benefits, but enough to market it, Yohimbine was sold as a way to cure erectile dysfunction (and still is). It wasn’t until recently when the fat burning benefits of this supplement were noticed.
How Does Yohimbine Work?
Unlike other fat burners that claim to “target stubborn fat”, such as the lower ab region on men and the thighs on women, Yohimbine has actually been proven to help this issue. A simplified version of how this happens starts in the fat cells. All fat cells in your body have two types of receptors known as:
When chemicals are released during expenditure and bind to alpha-receptors the fat cell doesn’t mobilize very easily, meaning little to no fatty acid gets released to be burned off. Conversely, when chemicals bind to beta-receptors, the fat in the cell can be easily mobilized and eventually burned off through exercise. The “stubborn fat” areas of the body have a higher amount of alpha-receptors, explaining why burning off the fat from these areas is more difficult.
This is where Yohimbine comes in. This little chemical can bind to alpha-receptors much easier than beta-receptors. Effectively making it easier to mobilize the alpha-receptor-heavy fat cells to be burned off. If all that was confusing, don’t worry I had to go over it a few times before I understood it fully. All it basically means is that Yohimbine can help you lose stubborn fat noticeably well compared to not using it at all. A good way to think about it is that Yohimbine doesn’t help you burn fat directly, it just makes stubborn fat easier to burn off.
How To Use Yohimbine Effectively
This is where things get tricky, like any other fat burning product that does work in the slightest, you can’t expect Yohimbine to magically burn fat without you working hard for it. I shouldn’t have to emphasize that you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat. No matter how much fat burning supplements you take, you will not lose weight if you are eating more calories than you burn, end of discussion. The other important point to make here is that you should exercise frequently, in the form of cardiovascular workouts to ensure you stay in a calorie deficit; as well as weight training to preserve your muscle while losing fat, because nobody wants to look undefined once they lose the fat on top of their muscles.
Once all those factors are in control and you hit a fat loss plateau, you can think about supplementing with a fat burner. Unlike most fat burners, Yohimbine will only work in the right conditions. The most important factor is being in a fasted state, as the presence of insulin will almost entirely negate the fat burning effects. What this means for you is that Yohimbine is best utilized during morning cardio before any food has entered your body. It is important to exercise instead of doing something like simply intermittent fasting, for the fat burning effects will be much more pronounced, as the fatty acids in the body needs to be burned off, otherwise they will go right back to where they came from; into fat storage.
With the added benefit of being a stimulant, Yohimbine is a good pick-me-up similar to caffeine (in fact taking them together works quite well). The dosing for Yohimbine is also quite important as overdosing can cause unwanted side effects. The clinically effective dose sits at about 0.1 mg per pound of bodyweight (or 0.2 mg per kg of bodyweight). Meaning a 200 pound man should take around 20 mgs to get the best effects, while a 100 pound woman only needs half that. But working up to this dose is recommended as some individuals are very sensitive to stimulants. Some side effects include:
I recommend starting with half a dose to see how your body reacts to it, and slowly increase the amount until either you start to experience negative side effects or you reach the clinically effective dose.
One last point I will talk about is muscle retention. Anybody who has dieted down while trying to keep their muscle/strength knows the pain of getting weaker as well as losing a good amount of muscle. The most catabolic state for your body to burn off muscle is unfortunately during a fasted state in the morning. But luckily proper supplementation can minimize this very well. Most use BCAA’s (or branch chain amino acids) to prevent muscle breakdown during fasted cardio which works quite well, but not while combining it with Yohimbine. For you see, while BCAA’s prevent catabolism, they also spike your insulin very rapidly. And as we talked about Yohimbine can be rendered almost useless in the presence of insulin in the blood.
The solution to this issue comes in the form of HMB (or β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate), which is a metabolite of leucine, the main ingredient in BCAA’s. The important difference between HMB and leucine is also what makes it so synergistic with Yohimbine. This compound doesn’t spike insulin and is extremely anti-catabolic. Put simply if you use an effective dose of HMB (around 3-5 grams) with an effective dose of Yohimbine, you will become a fat burning machine during fasted cardio! The HMB will make sure your body preserves your hard earned muscle, and the Yohimbine will help you burn fat in your stubborn areas all at the same time.
Take Home Message
Pretty excited about Yohimbine? I would be too. Not many supplements are backed by science in their effectiveness, and even less so for fat burners. Don’t get me wrong Yohimbine is a very good tool for helping you burn off that extra pound or two of fat, but it’s no miracle supplement. The most important part of fat burning is attention to detail in your training, nutrition and recovery. Without all of these things being as close to perfect as you can physically make them, supplements will be nothing more than a waste of your money.
It’s only when you’ve hit a plateau with all the above mentioned aspects of your routine in sync that a fat burner can be used to kick start the fat loss in those difficult to mobilize fat stores. As we come to the end of this article I wish you well in your fat loss journey and ultimately it doesn’t matter if your goals are to one day step on stage or just feel confident going to the beach, you can achieve it!