Posts Tagged ‘preworkout’

It is in vogue to simply recommend products to people.  However, this is inherently biased for a number of reasons and to begin with, I’m going to avoid it.  It is also time sensitive and I don’t wish to have this entire concept become outdated in short order.   So for Part 1, I’m going to equip you with the tools to evaluate products yourself.  If you want to try your mettle, you can argue with my product recommendations in Part 2.

There are several ingredients that may appear in pre-workouts you’ll first want to consider that I don’t categorize as “pre-workout ingredients” since they do not need to be dosed pre-workout.   The ones that I expect you to see that I have already covered in my Your Guide to Supplements – Part 2 article are:

Creatine and Beta-Alanine

With no further ado, ingredient recommendations along with dosage suggestions:

Nitrates:  These are surprisingly well-studied and have benefits for just about any kind of athlete.  This is the one ingredient that is actually an exogenous source of nitric oxide.  Yeah, that buzzword from the 1990s…finally, nitrates are the ingredient that deliver it.  Benefits include maximal strength gain, endurance increase, and sometimes intense pumps.  Depending on what kind of workout you follow, you should notice at least one if not all of these effects.  Too high of a dose Word to the wise: you cannot buy something that is simply nitrates.  It is not stable in powder form, so it is typically bonded with an amino acid or creatine.  1 gram of creatine nitrate yields a roughly ideal dose of nitrates (be aware that it does not yield enough creatine, so you will need to purchase extra creatine from somewhere).   There are also a few products that bind it to leucine, beta-alanine and others.  Look for something ending in nitrate.  Finally, don’t buy a product that has a plant extract for nitrates.  The most popular extract is beet root and it takes 100s of grams of beet root to yield an effective nitrate dose.   Nobody can possibly dose it properly in a preworkout powder.

Citrulline Malate (or just L-Citrulline) : Citrulline malate is not abundantly researched in humans but does have one study in particular that showed very nice results and there is enough animal study, common sense, and anecdote to recommend it.  This works through nitric oxide as well, though it is endogenous and therefore has a theoretical limitation compared to nitrates.  Using them both in conjunction seems ideal.  Malic acid (the malate) has its own endurance benefits as well.  The sourcing of this is more straightforward than nitrates, but the ratio of citrulline to malic acid is a worthy question to ask.  What we’re beginning to see is companies selling citrulline malate products that are almost all malate, the cheaper ingredient.  You want a 1:1 ratio preferably.  If you’re looking to buy in bulk, buy from SNS and no one else. Dosing: 2-8 grams of 1:1 citrulline malate

L-Carnitine-L-Tartate (LCLT): This is a form of the famed carnitine that actually works.  L-carnitine in its normal form doesn’t do much of anything, but some of its altered forms like LCLT do in fact do something.  LCLT, when taken pre-workout (preferably hours pre-workout, but normal timing is okay) can increase both intra-workout and post workout recovery.  I don’t think these benefits need any extra explanation, you want those benefits if you can get them. Dosing: 1-2 grams 

Creatinol-O-Phosphate:  First of all, no, this is not a form of creatine.  The naming similarity is just coincidence.  Not all of the methods of action are currently known, but there is good research backing this supplement.  This shares some similarities in effect to nitric oxide supplements like the aforementioned, but has a different method of action.  It increases the amount of ATP (the basic unit of cellular energy) in the muscles which allows for greater strength, greater endurance, and even better intra-workout recovery.  Sounds great, right?  Well, to date there is no pre-workout product that doses it effectively.  Why?  Well, it is fairly expensive.  If you see it near the end of a proprietary blend, you can rest assured it is underdosed and just there to catch your eye.  Moreover, Patrick Arnold has tested almost every mainstream supplier and found that most are selling a bunk product.  If yours reacts with baking soda by fizzing, it is okay.  If not, you have a problem.  The only legitimate brand I know of is SNS at this point.  Dosing: 2-3 grams

Nootropics: Some of these work, but they are incredibly user dependent and there are just too many to name.  Some to look for include: glucuronolactone, DMAE, rhodiola rosea, l-theanine, ginkgo biloba, ALCAR, and countless others.   These are different than stimulants and are usually added to a caffeine-based focus blend to help enhance the effects of caffeine, especially to remove the jittery effect of caffeine and oftentimes to add to a more focused and/or euphoric feeling.   It will likely take some experimenting to figure these out if you want to know which you like and which you don’t.   These can be used in non-stimulant formulas, but the chances of a felt effect are drastically reduced. Dosing varies greatly

Ingredients with less clinical backing, but strong user feedback and may reflect well on the formulator of a product

AgmatineThis is an ingredient that is unresearched in humans for exercise but has some intriguing physiological effects that may extend beyond the scope of exercise.  User reports usually note the pump effect along with some other ergogenic benefits and a few users note better overall well-being or nutrient partitioning.  These claims are hard to verify anecdotally.  It is not a terribly expensive ingredient, however, and may be worth a shot to see how it works for you.  Dosing: 500mg-1 gram

L-Leucine: A quick dosing of leucine preworkout while in a fasted state follows the protocol of the studies that led to mass use of BCAA supplements.   I do not suggest BCAA supplements but if you are fasted (like training first thing in the morning), the correct dose of leucine before you work out can trigger MPS (muscle protein synthesis).  You want that.  Dosing: roughly 4 grams

That’s it for now.  I may expand this list at a later time if research and innovative formulations come about.  If you think I can’t possibly have gotten them all, well, I probably haven’t.  However, there really just aren’t many ingredients that work.  Beware of products with a million ingredients.

EDIT: This story has had further developments, which I have attempted to conclude at this link.

Anyone that is involved in the supplement industry is aware that Driven Sports Craze has been one of the biggest talking points in the supplementation world for a little while now.  Many users reported unparalleled focus, mood boost, etc.  A few users have had negative side effects and another few have just had no effects.  I personally was somewhere between no effect and bad side effects.

The gist of the following lawsuit found first at (not familiar with the website, but I have seen the court documents which tell me this must be a real thing) is mainly alleging that Craze is spiked with amphetamine or perhaps an analogue.  There is no evidence produced but I hope no legal firm would go forward with this unless there was a lab report somewhere.  I do not have info on Aaron Karmann, the plaintiff, but I’m looking to see if he’s affiliated within the industry.  There have been rumors of this nature since the release of Craze, but to some extent that comes with the territory when you have a supplement that works differently/better than predecessors.

Other parts of the lawsuit include complaints that even the listed ingredients are not legal due to red tape within FDA regulations.  I am not sure how valid these claims are and frankly don’t care much unless Dendrobex is what contains this amphetamine analogue.  Driven Sports claims Dendrobex comes from dendrobium, a long used Chinese medicine ingredient.

A couple things of note:

1. PEA, a perfectly useful and legal stimulant that is on Craze’s label, is technically an amphetamine analogue.  I doubt there will be a legal case to be made if it turns out that the plaintiff is simply anti-PEA.

2. There are no tests offered among the legal documents.  It is possible that the plaintiff plans to produce the tests in court, but at this point it would be unfair to simply assume that DS has spiked the product.

3. This is NOT an FDA case.  This is a lawsuit, as in seeking MONEY.  That doesn’t necessarily make it less legitimate, but there is zero involvement from the FDA at this point and it is simply a man suing Driven Sports and will let other California residents that purchased Craze split the compensation should the lawsuit win.

4. The court date is set for September 2012.

UPDATE: I’ve done a little more digging on the plaintiffs.  Look here for details.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – A diet supplement maker is selling a mislabeled amphetamine with claims that it is “safe” and “helps put you in a fantastic mood,” a man claims in a class action in Superior Court.
Lead plaintiff Aaron Karmann sued Driven Sports, claiming its Craze diet supplement contains amphetamine, “a dangerous ingredient which is regulated as a controlled substance and a dangerous stimulant in California and thus cannot be lawfully included in a dietary supplement.
A visit to Driven Sports’ website on Tuesday found this ad: “Imagine having something available that helps you train BEYOND YOUR LIMITS. Imagine endless energy. No weight is too great and no personal record is safe. That something would give you unmatched results, where others have failed. That something is Craze”!, the ultimate in pre-workout power!”
But Karmann says: “Defendant claims that the product is a ‘dietary supplement’ which is legal, safe, and efficacious. In reality, the product is intentionally tainted with amphetamine, the illegal and dangerous controlled substance that is not declared as an ingredient on the product’s label.”
He claims that defendant’s product “is intentionally tainted with amphetamine, the illegal and dangerous controlled substance that is not declared as an ingredient on the product’s label.”
The complaint adds: “Defendant makes representations regarding the efficacy, safety and legality of the product which are false, misleading and deceptive. These include, without limitation, that Craze is ‘safe,’ that it ‘helps put you in a fantastic mood and enhances your focus,’ that it is ‘designed to enhance your workouts and enhance your progress,’ and that it can be used by students for studying.
“Plaintiff and members of the class relied on defendant’s misrepresentations and would not have paid as much, if at all, for the products but for defendant’s misrepresentations. As a result, defendant has wrongfully taken millions of dollars from California consumers. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit to enjoin the ongoing defrauding of thousands of California consumers by defendant, and to recover the money taken by its illegal practices.”
Karmann seeks an injunction, costs, restitution, disgorgement, and punitive damages.
He is represented by Scott Ferrell with the Newport Trial Group, of Newport Beach.