What Is DNP?
2,4-Dinitrophenol, also called DNP, is a chemical uncoupling agent that inhibits the production of ATP in cells with mitochondria.
Via uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation, DNP raises body temperature in a dose dependent manner.
DNP use is the most frowned upon practice in the bodybuilding world aside from Synthol in my opinion.
Logically, it makes sense why, as it has a very low margin of error, and if you accidentally overdose on it, there really isn't a lot that can help besides attempting to stay hydrated and manually lowering body temperature.
If too much DNP is accidentally ingested, you are pretty much f*cked.
With that being said, let's talk about my experience with it.
My Experience With DNP
I’ve used DNP a handful of times now, and I (like many others) had a lot of preconceived notions about the compound based on what others have said about it online.
Upon a first glance, it sounds incredible and like it is the most unbeatable fat burning compound in existence and you can supposedly eat like crap on it and still get ripped.
First off, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and if you do happen to get ripped from it eating like crap, it’s because your calorie intake remained reasonable still during that time frame.
When I overate on DNP to test this, I still gained fat.
I have tried using a low dose of DNP for a long duration of time (200mg for 4-6+ weeks).
I have tried medium dosing DNP for a moderate duration of time (500mg for around 2-4 weeks).
I have tried high dosing DNP for a very short duration of time (750-1000mg for a few days).
I have tried essentially all of the most popular protocols with DNP.
Cutting From Double Digit Body Fat % To Single Digit Body Fat %
The most notable thing I have found with DNP is that I could only reap the fat burning benefits of it when I was in the double digit body fat % range.
It is notorious for stimulating appetite and I get it VERY BADLY.
When I take more than 200 mg per day I am ravenous all day long.
Not only does stimulating my appetite make dieting torturous, but once I get to single digit levels of body fat %, my calories are so low that having a heightened appetite makes getting leaner for me virtually impossible.
Not only that, but I have noticed that even when I stick to my guns and endure the torture of being starving all day while on DNP in the single digit levels of body fat %, I don’t lose fat that easily, or much at all.
This is where I came to the conclusion that for me personally, the only time DNP use would make sense would be when I'm in the double digit range of body fat % and am trying to cut down to the single digits.
At this point, I would still be eating enough calories and not doing such an insane amount of cardio that a heightened appetite would not be a huge detriment to my progress because it won’t be that difficult to stick to my caloric allotment, and fat will melt off when I'm over 10% body fat while on DNP.
For example, getting from 20% to 10% body fat on DNP for me is exponentially easier than it is for me to get from 10% to 6% body fat on DNP.
I find once I hit 10% there is a big sticking point, and other fat burning compounds start to be more useful at this stage than DNP.
Improving Insulin Sensitivity
One of DNP’s greatest attributes is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity.
I have verified this through fasted blood glucose monitoring.
When someone becomes insulin resistant, their body doesn’t partition nutrients as effectively, and they start storing fat much easier, and it also becomes MUCH harder to put on muscle mass.
DNP is effective at resetting insulin sensitivity, even after long durations of continuous GH use, or a long-term high intake of carbohydrates.
With that being said, insulin resistance can be reversed with far safer alternatives.
Bridging During A Bulk
Aside from getting down to 10% body fat at a very quick rate, the only situation I found use for DNP in was as a bridge during a bulk to get my body fat % back down to a reasonable level quickly.
As you bulk, your calories are constantly going up, and you are becoming more and more desensitized to insulin as your carbohydrate intake goes up, along with your body fat.
Eventually, you will get to a point where your insulin sensitivity or body fat level is preventing you from putting on a favorable amount of muscle:fat anymore.
By the time you’ve been bulking on high carbs and calories for several months, you might only be putting on 0.1-0.2 pounds of muscle for every 1 pound of fat you put on (this isn’t uncommon).
I’ve been there.
This is where I've deployed DNP on a handful of occasions to quickly strip fat off and restore insulin sensitivity.
Typically, once an individual reaches this sticking point in a bulk where no matter what they do, they either can’t gain weight, or if they increase their calories more they just gain substantially more fat than muscle, they will take this as a sign to start a full blown cut phase.
I have used DNP as a bridging agent at this stage in the past with success to offset the need for a full cut altogether.
After eating in a surplus for a while, your metabolism will have sped up to a point where if you dropped into a deficit suddenly, fat would literally drip off you.
Whenever my body was in a scenario like this, adding DNP to the equation just made things progress at a much faster rate and allowed me to drop a massive amount of fat within a few weeks in a calorie deficit, restore insulin sensitivity, and get my body fat back down to a reasonable enough level where I could then jump back into a surplus.
Jumping back into a surplus and getting off the DNP always seemed to result in a favorable anabolic rebound effect where I could then continue to gain muscle with a more favorable ratio of muscle:fat once again.
In theory, by cycling this method each time body fat levels get to an unreasonable level, one could essentially be on a “perma-bulk” where they are constantly gaining muscle at a favorable ratio relative to their gains in body fat.
This is not a strategy I currently utilize, although I can't deny its efficacy when I think back to when I did use DNP in this fashion (which was years ago).
The reason why I don't use DNP anymore is mostly because it makes me feel horrible, it's not a compound you want to live on, or ideally take at all if you don't need to, and my body fat never gets out of control anymore.
The Best Diet To Use On DNP Is A Ketogenic Diet
While some individuals feel that they absolutely need some carbs in their diet while on DNP to function, I actually found that using a Ketogenic, or very low carb style diet is the most comfortable way to diet on DNP (I've tried high-carb, moderate-carb, low-carb, and Keto).
Not only were insulin spikes essentially non-existent because I was in Ketosis (which helped keep my appetite in check tremendously), but whenever you ingest carbohydrates on DNP it creates a very unpleasant scenario (especially in the summer time) where your body heat is essentially dictated by how many carbohydrates you're ingesting.
The body turns into a furnace of carbohydrates, and the higher one's carb intake is, the higher their body temperature will go.
The higher your body temperature gets, the more you will sweat like a pig and feel like crap, and the more dangerous it becomes as well as it can send you into an overheating spiral, or cause severe/fatal dehydration and electrolyte depletion.
The fat burning capabilities of DNP on a Ketogenic diet with no carbs vs. a carb dense diet are exactly the same.
By taking in carbs all that's occurring is unnecessarily cranking body heat through the roof, causing a crazy amount of sweating, and possibly even putting oneself in a dangerous situation via electrolyte depletion and dehydration.
How I Protected Myself When Running DNP + My DNP Protocol
(This is just what I did, and should by no means be interpreted as something that should be followed or replicated.)
This is exactly what I used with DNP to protect myself as much as possible from potential side effects:
- 250 mg DNP every day for 14-21 days
- 2 cups of V8 vegetable juice per day + 1 banana per day (this is ~2000mg potassium)/Pedialyte is very good too and I sometimes drank that instead
- 2 grams Vitamin C divided into 2 doses
- 1200 IU Vitamin E divided into 3 doses
- 600 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) divided into 3 doses
- 10 mg Claritin in the morning (Antihistamine to mitigate any potential allergic reactions/rash breakouts)
- Multivitamin in the morning
- Gorilla Mind Rush pre-work out (for energy because I drag ass on DNP)
- Lots of water every day
- 45 minutes – 1 hour cardio post-workout. Sometimes I'll take some more Gorilla Mind Rush or 16mg of Ephedrine in the middle of the day if I feel run down or get bad carb cravings.
- Drink plenty of water during cardio sessions and have a solid meal with a cup of V8 post-workout to replenish my body
Why I Used DNP In The Past
I used DNP in the past because I was young, somewhat reckless, experimental, and really was curious to see what it was all about.
I've tried it several times and to be completely honest I wouldn't use it again unless more clinical data came out revealing anti-cancer properties or other longevity benefits.
Let me elaborate on that a bit.
When bodybuilders use DNP, they usually use it to get shredded, which is what I also used it for when I was experimenting with it years ago.
It made me very lethargic, run down, and it would feel nearly impossible to muster the energy to go to the gym without slamming a ton of stimulants.
I was flat all the time, it was extremely difficult to get a good workout in.
In terms of fat loss benefits for somebody who is trying to keep their appetite at bay and relies on getting quality workouts in, I don't think it's a good choice when there are efficacious alternatives that will still burn more than enough fat without crippling your workouts.
It makes suffering 10 times worse when you're dieting and your calorie intake starts getting low.
Other Uses For DNP And The Future of DNP
DNP is a chemical uncoupling agent, which is interesting.
As far as a fat burner, it works, there's no denying that.
But I think it is more effective for those who actually have a lot of fat to lose.
If somebody was going to die of obesity because they literally couldn't exercise and were absurdly overweight, then I believe DNP could then have some sort of potential therapeutic application.
For bodybuilding purposes though, my stance is different.
When you get to the unsustainable single-digit body fat percentage range, you're so hungry all day that anything you add that increases your appetite will just make getting leaner exponentially harder.
DNP makes it way harder to stick to your diet and get your workouts in.
Some of the anti-cancer and longevity properties that chemical uncoupling agents exhibit are something I've had my eye on.
I believe we're going to see more data in the future that actually explores DNP use as a potential therapeutic treatment of sorts for different unrelated conditions that you would otherwise probably not think of.
DNP Review Conclusion
As a fat burning agent, I wouldn't advise using DNP.
Frankly, the likelihood that you are in a situation where there isn't a more efficacious alternative that won't wreck your workouts and make sticking to your diet far more difficult is low.
I still await further data before I make any conclusive statements on DNP's other potential therapeutic applications.
I do believe the future is going to uncover some interesting things about DNP though, and perhaps other analogs with similar attributes.
Chemical uncoupling agents will likely greatly impact the medical community in some context, and their use will probably become more mainstream in the decades to come despite currently being frowned upon by the masses.
It's going to be interesting to see how it unfolds, as there is absolutely some therapeutic promise that can be extrapolated from the available data we currently have on DNP.