Effects of p-Synephrine and Caffeine Ingestion on Substrate Oxidation during Exercise

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018 Sep;50(9):1899-1906. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001653.


Purpose: Caffeine and p-synephrine are substances usually included in commercially available products for weight loss because of their purported thermogenic effects. However, scientific information is lacking about the effects of combining these substances on substrate oxidation during exercise. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the isolated and combined effects of p-synephrine and caffeine on fat oxidation rate during exercise.

Methods: In a double-blind randomized experiment, 13 healthy subjects participated in four experimental trials after the ingestion of a capsule containing a placebo, 3 mg·kg of caffeine, 3 mg·kg of p-synephrine, or the combination of these doses of caffeine and p-synephrine. Energy expenditure and substrate oxidation rates were measured by indirect calorimetry during a cycle ergometer ramp test from 30% to 90% of V˙O2max.

Results: In comparison with the placebo, the ingestion of caffeine, p-synephrine, or p-synephrine + caffeine did not alter total energy expenditure or heart rate during the whole exercise test. However, the ingestion of caffeine (0.44 ± 0.15 g·min, P = 0.03), p-synephrine (0.43 ± 0.19 g·min, P < 0.01), and p-synephrine + caffeine (0.45 ± 0.15 g·min, P = 0.02) increased the maximal rate of fat oxidation during exercise when compared with the placebo (0.30 ± 0.12 g·min). The exercise intensity that elicited maximal fat oxidation was similar in all trials (~46.2% ± 10.2% of V˙O2max).

Conclusion: Caffeine, p-synephrine, and p-synephrine + caffeine increased the maximal rate of fat oxidation during exercise compared with a placebo, without modifying energy expenditure or heart rate. However, the coingestion of p-synephrine and caffeine did not present an additive effect to further increase fat oxidation during exercise.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Synephrine / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Caffeine
  • Synephrine