Getting rid of excess fat will always be hard work that involves putting in dozens of hours in the gym coupled with the discipline of sticking to a healthy diet. There are no magic pills for weight loss – but weight loss supplements are your next best bet. The average fat burner contains one or more plant extracts with a reputation for weight loss. Could yohimbine be one of these plant-derived compounds that are a plus for your weight loss efforts? We are about to figure that out.
What is Yohimbine?
Yohimbine gets its name from the yohimbe tree from whose bark it’s extracted. In the world of health supplements, yohimbine is most widely used as a herbal treatment for erectile dysfunction and has a long history of use as an aphrodisiac in West Africa. It may be sold as a supplement on its own or as part of a multi-ingredient supplement.
Its use in testosterone boosters, products that are popular among bodybuilders, is at least partly the reason for the belief that it could aid fat loss. It’s still very rare to find yohimbine as a fat burner ingredient but it’s happening.
The Science on Yohimbine’s Weight Loss Capabilities
Studies that Show it Works
I’ll start off with a 2006 study that set out to determine the effect of yohimbine on exercise performance and body composition among 20 fit male soccer players. Randomly divided into placebo and yohimbine groups, the yohimbine group took 20 mg of yohimbine each day for 21 days. Researchers found no notable differences on exercise performance, muscle mass and body mass. However, the yohimbine group had a reduction in fat mass as well as a drop in percentage of body fat.
I’d consider this study as pretty good considering researchers did not primarily set out to check yohimbine’s fat loss props. It makes for a compelling case especially because it involved people who were already quite fit.
But there is proof that yohimbine might be just as good for overweight persons. Check out this 1991 study that examined yohimbine’s efficacy as a treatment for obesity. 20 female participants diagnosed with obesity and on a low energy diet were randomly placed on either a placebo or 20 mg yohimbine per day for 21 days. Weight loss was significantly accelerated for the group on yohimbine supplementation.
Studies that Show Maybe not so Much
The studies for yohimbine are convincing. But they are contradicted by some research that came to a different conclusion. One took place in 1986 and was pretty similar to the 1991 one I covered in the previous section except for a difference in yohimbine dosage and the length of the study period.
In this case, 18 obese persons on a low calorie diet were randomly placed on a placebo or 18 mg of yohimbine per day for 8 weeks. At the end of the period, there was no difference in weight between the two groups.
Seems like a straightforward conclusion. But given this is the oldest study we touch on and the context of what later studies found, I would wonder if perhaps at some point the impact of yohimbine on weight loss flat lines and is caught up by the losses driven by a low calorie diet.
The nil effect of yohimbe was the conclusion in another 1991 study where 33 men were placed on a placebo or 43 mg of yohimbine for six months. It found no differences in body weight, body fat and body mass index.
Two things stand out in this second study – the high dose of yohimbine and again the length of the study. It would have been useful if some participants were placed on the more commonly studied dose of 15-20 mg per day to see if lower doses affect weight loss.
Side Effects and Dosage Recommendations
Yohimbine use carries the risk of moderate to severe side effects including anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, high blood pressure, palpitations, seizures and heart attacks. As an alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist, yohimbine is sometimes used as a mild street-level hallucinogen. Its use is therefore highly discouraged if you are on antidepressant medications. In fact, yohimbine is banned, restricted or tightly controlled in several jurisdictions including Canada, the European Union and the United States.
Given this background, the lower your dosage of yohimbine, the better. Testosterone boosters containing yohimbine (We have reviewed one here) have as little as 2 mg. Weight loss studies covered have 15 mg to 43 mg of yohimbine. We could classify that as a default safe band.
While there are studies that have found yohimbine ineffective for weight loss, I view the research showing its fat burning efficacy as quite compelling. A key concern is the dangerous side effects. To make sure you are staying within safe bands, I’d recommend you only use yohimbine as a constituent ingredient of a reputable weight loss supplement. You will notice that fat burners that contain yohimbine use it sparingly.