DNP (2,4-Dinitrophenol), an industrial chemical with various applications, has gained steady popularity as a fat loss tool. Boasting an astounding 50% increase in metabolic rate, it is able to contribute to reported fat losses of 10-12 pounds in 8 days of use. Classified as an “uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation” medically, it is quite dangerous as there is no negative feedback system that may deal with overdoses. Specifically, there is no upper limit to the increase in body temperature that may be obtained with its use.
Competitive bodybuilders and many others are continually on a quest for leanness. Used by the hardcore since Dan Duchaine’s reporting of it a couple years ago, DNP (2,4-Dinitrophenol) has managed to steadily gain popularity as a powerful tool for weight loss. Interestingly, DNP was first used to ignite TNT in the early 1900’s. In 1931 a study released by Stanford University declared that DNP was able to cause amazing weight loss; subsequently it found its way into many diet potions and medications; regulation was much less strict during this time than the present, and many of these products were available over the counter. Two years later DNP was banned by the FDA as a dieting agent due to its inclusion in many OTC dietary supplements. The FDA was a new organization at this time and acted in a rather brazen manner, with the absence of any set procedures for taking substances off the market. Granted, there was only a 1% incidence of cataracts over a large population (around 100,000); nonetheless it happened (although interestingly, exclusively women). However, there are now ways to counter this which will be covered thoroughly.
The comparisons to the current drugs used for dieting are astounding, at least in terms of thermogenesis. While the ECA stack has been shown to provide approximately a 3% increase in metabolic rate, DNP can deliver a relatively controlled 50% elevation in resting metabolic rate. The thermogenic aspect of clenbuterol, while sometimes overestimated due to the high CNS stimulation that yields a “wired” feeling, can vary according to prior exposure to various amphetamine-like compounds and certainly is not much greater than that of ECA. DNP does not have the anorectic effects of ephedrine or other thermogenic agents; rather, it tends to increase hunger, particularly appetite for carbohydrates. This problem is easily solved with appetite suppressants, and one may even use ECA itself for this purpose while on DNP.
Molecular Basis for Efficacy
DNP accomplishes the astounding boost in metabolic rate via inhibition of the F0F1 ATP synthase molecule, located in the inner wall of each mitochondrion. While the electron transport chain still functions to pump hydrogen ions into the intermembrane space, the coupling of the proton gradient to ATP production is rendered impossible by DNP. As a result, ATP production is dramatically reduced, and the energy is instead thrown off as heat. This results in an astounding production of heat; when using dinitrophenol, the athlete will radiate so much heat that it is uncomfortable to be within any proximity of them. Luckily, this heat does not fully contribute to body temperature increases, and is instead thrown off from the entire body surface, particularly the head. As a result, adequate doses of DNP will usually only elevate body temperature by about 1-1.5ºC. This is a good thing for your central nervous system and other delicate tissues; if the heat produced by ATP contributed in a more direct matter to body temperature, effective doses for fat loss would cause supraphysiological body temperature increases on a level unwitnessed at this time. Nonetheless, overheating is a very real danger; this and other side effects shall now be addressed.
Hearing all of these wonderful things probably has you wondering what the side effects and risks are. They are quite formidable and contribute to making DNP one of the most intolerable (though effective) drugs used in bodybuilding. Starting with the most significant, and descending in importance, are the following risks and side effects of DNP use.
Overheating – There is no upper limit to DNP’s body temperature increase, meaning that one may literally “cook from the inside” if they take too much. Dosage considerations will be given later, but even an overdose of 4-6 times the recommended dosage may be lethal. Much smaller overdoses may result in damage to the brain and/or other body systems.
Carcinogenesis – Phenols in general are reputed to be carcinogenic. Although 2,4-dinitrophenol has never been implicated in a cancer diagnosis, some are nonetheless concerned, and understandably so. In addition to the inherent carcinogenic potential caused by its status as a phenol, production of free radicals and the release of various compounds stored in adipose tissue stores during DNP’s rapid oxidation of fat may also potentially be harmful.
Death – This is self-explanatory and has occurred with several bodybuilders who chose to use this compound.
Discomfort and sweating – This is the single most noticeable effect of DNP use, both by the user and those around him/her. Even in the winter, while indoors at ambient temperatures, one may expect his or her shirt to be completely soaked through with sweat. Those with jobs requiring formal or semi-formal apparel are advised to consider other means of fat loss (or a new job, if preferred). Other obvious considerations lie in the areas of social life, personal appearance, etc. and the user must prioritize.
Insomnia – Second in frequency of reports to sweating and discomfort is insomnia; this may be at least partially attributed to discomfort. Possible means of countering this include such supplements as Valerian root or melatonin. Alternatively, one may deal with this via prescription or OTC sleep medications or GHB-A precursors. However, these may be addictive if used on a regular basis and if their use may be avoided, by all means abstain from using them.
Yellow bodily fluids - Some don’t notice this, but others find that all of their bodily fluids take on a yellowish appearance. Urine is a darker yellow, and even semen and vaginal secretions may be affected. According to current knowledge, this is not known to be harmful in and of itself.
Muscle Soreness – This is yet another thing that may be minimized via cerebral function. Dan Duchaine has recommended using a weight such as to allow no fewer than 15 reps per set of any weight training workout; judging from anecdotal reports and personal experience, this seems to be good advice. Low levels of ATP are a cause of muscle soreness in and of itself; the additional factor of encumbered recovery mechanisms make extreme soreness (and if not careful, catabolism) quite possible.
Allergic Reactions – These are highly individualized but may be summarily discussed. Various reactions are common with DNP use, and approximately 10% of users will be extremely allergic to it. Allergic reactions can include hives, blisters, and/or inexplicable rashes. If you suffer any of these side effects, and they are extremely bothersome, it is the recommendation of the author to cease usage immediately. If so desired, another trial may be made at a later date with a lower dosage, but do not attempt to continue the drug cycle at that point.
Carbohydrate Cravings – To counter this, some methods will be touched on later. As with most diets, willpower is sometimes the single most important factor.