The ingredient profile of Fit Trainer is pretty standard, with MHP still stubbornly using proprietary blends to conceal levels of key ingredients (come on guys, its 2015!).
Creatine has the ability to rapidly produce ATP (cellular energy) to support cellular function (as in exercise). It has been studied more extensively than any other performance enhancing supplement, and has consistently been demonstrated to increase power output as well as muscle size, with maximum benefit achieved at around 8 weeks of consistent supplementation. Creatine can also indirectly reduce lactic acid build since it can be used for energy instead of glucose, and lactic acid is a byproduct of glucose utilization (burning).
Generally speaking, effective daily doses of Creatine are around 5 grams daily, though as low as 2-3 grams has been shown to maintain (but not elevate) muscle Creatine levels. Unfortunately, given a proprietary blend of 3800mg, there is no way Fit Trainer contains more than 2-3 grams of Creatine per serving, so multiple doses may be required to achieve an effective dose.
Beta-Alanine is a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine, which functions as a lactic acid buffer, capable of reducing fatigue in the working muscle. Although it takes time to accumulate in muscle tissue, Beta-Alanine supplementation is a highly effective way of increasing muscular Carnosine levels and can take effect in as little as two weeks.
A 2002 study from the “Japanese Journal of Physiology” which measured the Carnosine levels of sprinters found that individuals with higher muscular Carnosine levels exhibited higher power output in the latter half of a 30m sprint (due to less lactic acid build-up). Multiple studies have confirmed that Beta Alanine supplementation increases muscular Carnosine in a dose dependent manner. In particular, a 2012 study published in “Amino Acids” found that subjects who consumed 1.6 or 3.2 grams of Beta Alanine daily experienced significant increases in muscle Carnosine in as little as two weeks, with the higher dose achieving a higher concentration of Carnosine.
Fit Trainer contains an undisclosed amount of Beta-Alanine but given its position ina 3800mg blend (second to Creatine), we estimate anywhere between .8 and 1.6 grams.
N-ACETYL L-CYSTEINE (NAC):
Cysteine is a sulfur containing amino acid that, in addition to building proteins, acts as one of the precursors to Glutathione, the body’s “master” antioxidant.
A 1994 study showed that subjects treated with 150mg/kg of NAC improved exercise performance and increased time to fatigue. However, it’s worth noting that 150/kg translates to a 175 lb. person taking 11 grams, as opposed whatever (much lower) dose is present in the Fit Trainer blend. So, while there may not be enough Cysteine to result in noticeable performance enhancement, at the very least Cysteine may help to reduce oxidative muscle damage.
Recently, Agmatine has become quite pervasive in pre-workout supplements because of its alleged ability to regulate Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS), an enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine, and either elevate or reduce its presence, depending on the type of NOS. NOS is a widely misunderstood enzyme, mostly due to supplement companies not properly explaining its function and how that function relates to physical performance. It is largely thought that NOS is the enzyme that “breaks down” NO, when it is actually the enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine in the first place.
Nitric Oxide generally has a positive connotation in the bodybuilding/athletic community because it is associated with vasodilation, which clearly has performance/health benefits. However, this beneficial effect of NO only pertains to NO in the blood vessels. Elsewhere in the body (like the brain) NO can inflict damage and actually be quite harmful. So ideally, what we really are after is a way to reduce NO in the areas of the body where it can cause harm, while increasing it in blood vessels where it can beneficially influence physical performance.
There are a few types of NOS, all which are required for the production of NO. Inducible NOS (iNOS) and Neuronal NOS (nNOS) are considered harmful because they elevate NO in immune cells (causing inflammation) and the brain (causing neuronal damage), while Endothelial NOS (eNOS) is considered beneficial as this is the kind which increases Nitric Oxide in the blood vessels, resulting in vasodilation.
Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate eNOS (the “good” NOS) while inhibiting the other NOS enzymes (the “bad” NOS). However, because Agmatine is relatively new on the supplement scene, it remains very under-researched. To date, there have been no human studies, let alone studies investigating the potential performance enhancement benefits. Because of this lack of research, there is no “optimal” dose, but common doses range from 500-1000mg. Unfortunately, Fit Trainer contains far less than even the lower end of this range.
GRAPE SEED EXTRACT:
A 2012 study, published in the “British Journal of Nutrition”, found that Grape Seed Extract was able to reduce exercise induced oxidative stress while simultaneously increasing Nitric Oxide levels in rats. These findings were replicated in a 2013 study from “Phytotherapy Research”, also using rats. Despite these promising preliminary findings, there are no human studies to test whether these benefits extend to humans, let alone exercising humans. However, given the popularity of Grape Seed Extract in recent years, such studies are likely underway. An optimal dose has not been established but Fit Trainer likely contains 20-50mg.
PINE BARK CONCENTRATE:
Most of the research regarding Pine Bark Extract’s effect on blood flow has been directed at certain conditions such as hyper-tension and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). However, a 2007 study found that 180mg daily for 2 weeks effectively increased acetylcholine-induced vaso-relaxation in healthy men, indicating that Pine Bark (as Pycnogenol) can increase blood flow regardless of health state. This is good news for bodybuilders and athletes, and while the performance enhancement capabilities of Pine Bark remain under-researched, it may certainly be effective as a “pump” ingredient. Pine Bark can positively influence blood flow with relatively low doses, but given its position in the 185mg proprietary blend, Fit Trainer like contains a pretty negligible dose.
Despite the popularity of Raspberry Ketone, it has never actually demonstrated any efficacy for weight-loss in actual humans and, even in rat studies, has produced lackluster results using massive concentrations.
A 2010 in vitro study found that treatment with Raspberry Ketone increased fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis in adipocytes (fat cells). However, the amount/concentration of RK used in this study is beyond what could practically be consumed in oral supplement form.
A 2005 study, seeking to determine the weight loss effects of raspberry ketone on rats fed a high fat diet, noted dose dependent anti-obesity effects using doses of .5-4 grams/kg. This would roughly correspond to a 150lb person consuming 34-130 grams daily, a highly impractical dose.
In a 2012 study, similar effects were observed in rats, though this time with a focus on fat accumulation in the liver resulting from a high fat diet. The only human study that exists grouped Raspberry Ketone in with several other popular weight-loss ingredients so the effects cannot be attributed to raspberry ketones alone.
On a molecular level, Raspberry Ketone certainly demonstrates anti-obesity effects, but the doses used to achieve these effects are far more than what the average human could practically consume. There are other substances with much more pronounced fat-burning capabilities than raspberry ketone when compared by weight.
PAULLINIA CUPANA EXTRACT:
Guarana is a plant native to the Amazon, the fruit of which contains Caffeine as well as related chemical compounds such as Theobromine and Theophylline (both cardiac stimulants with less of a mental effect). Although Guarana is touted as being a sort of “slow-release” form of caffeine, a study published in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology” found there was no difference in the absorption rates of Caffeine from Guarana as opposed to Caffeine Anhydrous (synthetic) in rats. Human studies have yet to be confirmed, but given these preliminary findings, there is certainly no reason to believe Guarana would absorb any differently in humans.
In the context of Fit Trainer, Guarana is simply another form of Caffeine, so it functions as an energy/focus enhancer.
ILEX PARAGUARIENSIS (YERBA MATE):
Ilex paraguariensis, also known as Yerba Mate, is generally standardized for Caffeine content, but also contains compounds such as Quercetin and Ursolic Acid. A 1999 study from “Phytomedicine” found that 1.5g Yerba Mate had no influence on the metabolic rate of human subjects, but there was a decrease in respiratory quotient which is indicative of using more fatty acids for energy as opposed to glucose. Similar to Guarana, Yerba Mate is just another form of Caffeine so in the Fit Trainer formula it basically serves as a focus/energy enhancer.
GREEN TEA LEAF EXTRACT:
Green Tea Extract is generally standardized for EGCG, a Catechin which functions as a Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor. COMT is an enzyme which degrades Catecholamine neurotransmitters such as Noradrenaline, so by blocking this enzyme, EGCG allows for higher levels of Noradrenaline. This mechanism of action is quite synergistic with Caffeine, so in the context of the Fit Trainer formula, Green Tea Extract may serve to increase focus and perceived energy.
Withania somnifera , also known as Ashwagandha, is an Ayurvedic herb with a well-documented history of use and a variety of implications including: cognitive enhancement, combating anxiety, enhancing vitality, and supporting bone health.
A 2008 study found that Ashwagandha was able to reduce certain measures of stress in heavily stressed humans. These results were replicated in a 2012 from the “Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine” in which Ashwagandha was able to reduce Cortisol by roughly 27% using 300mg of Ashwagandha standardized to 15mg active Withanolides. Fit Trainer contains 125mg of Ashwagandha standardized to 10mg (8%) Withanolides, which may be effective for reducing Cortisol. However, this dose probably won’t achieve the same 27% reduction seen with 15mg Withanolides.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Although Fit Trainer contains several effective performance enhancing ingredients, many of these ingredients are under-dosed. At a price of 75 cents per serving, double-dosing isn’t the most feasible option and there are definitely other pre-workouts in this price range with more effective doses of key ingredients. From a stimulant standpoint, Fit Trainer only contains Caffeine (from Yerba Mate and Guarana), so its safety profile is pretty solid but there are plenty of much more effective formulas that are just as safe, so that’s hardly a selling point.
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