You may have seen the ingredient bitter orange, or Citrus Aurantium in the formula of many branded fat burners and pre-workouts. These ingredients are actually the same thing and have been included due to a compound called synephrine, which is almost ubiquitously used as a fat burner within the supplement industry.
You have also most likely heard of a molecule called Ephedrine, a stimulant clouded in a lot of controversy for its potent effects but occasional and somewhat unpleasant side effects.
It can be considered the safe ephedrine. Being cousins, they exhibit many of the same beneficial effects on the body (e.g thermogenic fat burning and CNS stimulation) however, where ephedrine may cause the user’s heart rate to increase undesirably, synephrine does not!
As a result synephrine is widely commercialized whereas ephedrine distribution is largely controlled by most countries (with the exception of Canada, which is odd as they are usually quite restricted).
Both exert effects on the central nervous system, which stimulate it and thus thermogenic fat burning as a beneficial side effect.
Octopamine is actually a metabolite of Synephrine (meaning when it is metabolized – or broken down – octopamine is one of the resultant molecules).
Fun Fact: Octopamine is banned by WADA as a performance enhancing substance BUT synephrine is not!
Synephrine and Fat Loss
There is some really good news off the bat with respect to this ingredient’s fat burning effects. They don’t seem to diminish over time!
The stimulation effect might fade, just like it would with habitual use of caffeine. Fat burning stays though, and for many people that’s the most important factor anyway.
By affecting dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline (epinephrine and norepinephrine respectively), increased metabolism and thus thermogenic fat loss is triggered.
p-Synephrine, a variant, is the most studied and well respected.
Dosage of p-Synephrine
From scientific studies, dosages as small as 10 – 20mg are sufficient to have an effect. This should not be exceeded if you are coupling it with other stimulants.
Note that this recommendation is current at the time of writing this article and we take no responsibility hereafter.
Bitter orange doses are different as they contain a percentage of synephrine by weight.
Dosages of Synephrine in Bitter Orange
Generally speaking bitter orange will contain a standardized amount of synephrine which is often quoted on the formula of a product.
An example would be an extract of Bitter Orange containing 10% Synephrine. You would take 200mg of such an extract to obtain a 20mg dose of the active ingredient.
If you are taking prescription medication, then you should check with the doctor before taking bitter orange as some of its agents may interact with drugs.
Conclusion and Recommendation
For direct fat burning action, there are few ingredients/supplements which have the track record of Synephrine.
It may be dubbed the safe ephedrine but in truth it deserves a break from that association because when taken responsibly synephrine is safe.
A fine example of a supplement containing synephrine is Muscletronic. It contains a host of powerful ingredients included to burn fat, retain muscle definition and improve your mental state all at once!
- Bloomer RJ(1), Fisher-Wellman KH, Hammond KG, Schilling BK, Weber AA, Cole BJ – Dietary supplement increases plasma norepinephrine, lipolysis, and metabolic rate in resistance trained men – J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Jan 28;6:4. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-6-4
- McCarthy CG(1), Farney TM, Canale RE, Alleman RJ Jr, Bloomer RJ – A finished dietary supplement stimulates lipolysis and metabolic rate in young men and women – Nutr Metab Insights. 2011 Dec 6;5:23-31. doi: 10.4137/NMI.S8567. Print 2012