Juggernaut HP Is Infinite Labs’ pre-workout which contains a pretty standard combination of ingredients, the only stimulant being Caffeine…[Skip to Bottom Line]
Beta-Alanine is a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine (formed by combining Histidine and Beta-Alanine). Carnosine acts a lactic acid buffer, effectively delaying fatigue in the working muscle. Beta Alanine takes time to accumulate, but if taken over a sustained period of time (2+ weeks), can be an extremely effective ergogenic aid with a strong safety profile.
One study in particular that 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 (because they had 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.
Juggernaut HP contains an undisclosed amount of Beta-Alanine, but given that it is listed first in a 4803mg blend, it is possible the formula contains at least the lower end of the effective range.
Agmatine remains very under-researched, despite possessing a variety of health/performance implications. 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.
It’s important to understand that there are several 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, as mentioned above, Agmatine remains under-researched because it is a relatively new entrant in the supplement industry. Currently, most of the research has been done in vitro, with absolutely no studies regarding the potential physical performance benefits of Agmatine in humans. Because of the lack of human studies, no optimal dose has been established for Agmatine, though average doses in pre-workout formulas are 500-1000mg.
Malic Acid is a naturally occurring compound, found in particularly high levels in green apples and responsible for the tart taste. Malic Acid plays an important role in the Krebs Cycle (also known as the Citric Acid Cycle), the process by which the body generates energy from the macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) we consume. It is commonly alleged that Malic Acid supplementation may improve physical performance, as evidenced in a 2007 study in which mice that were treated with Malic Acid demonstrated improved stamina (swimming). However, no human studies have been conducted to further test these findings.
Norvaline is a close chemical relative of the popular amino acid Valine, though its effects are different. Norvaline has been shown to inhibit Arginase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of Arginine both in vitro and in vivo (rats). The result would theoretically be an increase in Arginine, which would result in more Nitric Oxide. However, Norvaline has never been studied in humans as it relates to performance enhancement, so for now we are left with only a theoretical mechanism of action.
As mentioned in the Beta-Alanine section, Histidine is required to form Carnosine, and since it is an essential amino acid, it must be acquired through diet (or supplemented). However, while Histidine deficiency can certainly lead to Carnosine deficiency, supplemental doses of Histidine have proved ineffective at boosting muscle Carnosine above baseline, whereas Beta-Alanine is quite effective. So, although the addition of Histidine certainly doesn’t hurt, there no evidence to suggest it conveys any performance benefit beyond that of Beta-Alanine alone.
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. During high intensity exercise, Creatine is used for energy which tends to spare the glycogen that would normally be used. Since lactic acid is a by-product created when glucose is burned for energy, Creatine may also indirectly reduce lactic acid build-up which poses a secondary mechanism by which Creatine can potentially enhance performance.
It is generally recommended to consume 5 grams per day but lower doses (3 grams) can still be effective if consumed over a longer period of time. 2 grams daily has been demonstrated to maintain Creatine levels (but not increase them) in athletes. Creatine comes in various forms, the most common of which is Creatine Monohydrate, which is formed by dehydrating a solution of Creatine, where a single water molecule remains bound to the Creatine powder. However, Juggernaut HP also contains a few other forms of Creatine (Creatine Pyruvate, Di-Creatine Malate, and Creatine Magnesium Chelate). While there are certainly theories regarding why certain forms of Creatine may be “better” than standard Creatine Monohydrate, no study has ever proven this to be true.
CREATINE MAGNESIUM CHELATE:
Creatine Magnesium Chelate is Creatine bonded to Magnesium, and was originally invented because of Magnesium’s crucial role in Creatine metabolism. Few studies have been conducted to compare Creatine Magnesium Chelate to other forms of Creatine, but the research that has been conducted indicates it is roughly as effective as Creatine Monohydrate, but not more. A 2004 study, published in “The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research”, found that 2.5mg of Creatine Magnesium Chelate was equivalent to the same dose of Creatine Monohydrate with regards to increasing 1 rep max in trained men. Although Creatine Magnesium Chelate appears no more effective than Monohydrate in terms of physical performance enhancement, a 2003 study published in “Metabolism” did note that Creatine Magnesium Chelate may result in less water retention. However, more studies are needed for a more direct comparison.
Contrary to popular belief, Taurine is not a stimulant but rather an an amino acid with anti-oxidant properties. In a 2011 study, Taurine was shown to significantly decrease oxidative stress in skeletal muscle following exercise. Prior to that, a 2004 study showed that Taurine may decrease exercise induced DNA damage, as well as “enhance the capacity of exercise due to its cellular protective properties”. A recent 2013 study noted a 1.7% improvement in 3k-time trial of runners after supplementing with Taurine, but noted that more research would be required to determine the exact mechanism of action.
It’s unfortunate that Taurine has developed a sort of stigma because of its inclusion in energy drinks. While Taurine does not provide “energy” in the way that caffeine does, several studies have shown its effectiveness as an antioxidant with workout-enhancing properties, and while the exact mechanism of action remains unknown, it appears likely that Taurine may improve exercise performance by reducing some of the cellular oxidative damage that generally leads to fatigue. The usual dose of Taurine used for performance enhancement is about 1 gram, though the exact dose of Taurine present in the Juggernaut HP formula is likely far less.
Caffeine is a well-established ergogenic aid/cognitive enhancer and is the most commonly consumed psychoactive stimulant in the world. Caffeine causes the release of Catecholamines, resulting in increased alertness, focus, and perceived energy. These neurotransmitters tend to be pro-lipolytic, so it is commonly assumed that caffeine is a fat-burner. While the mechanisms of caffeine are certainly pro-fat-burner, the effects tend to fade with prolonged use, rendering caffeine ineffective as a long-term weight loss solution. However, it is a highly effective ergogenic aid and will certainly enhance performance when taken pre-workout. Juggernaut HP contains 150mg of Caffeine per serving, which may provide non-caffeine tolerant individuals with a noticeable increase in perceived energy, though this increase is not likely to be intense or overwhelming.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to the neurotransmitters Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Epinephrine, the three of which are collectively referred to as ‘catecholamines’. A 1981 study found that subjects who consumed 100mg/kg of Tyrosine experienced a significant increase in urinary catecholamine levels, yet supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce the performance enhancing effects commonly associated with increased release of catecholamines. This is because Tyrosine does not instantly get converted into noradrenaline, dopamine, or adrenaline. It forms a pool, and when there is a deficit of catecholamines, the pool is drawn from to create more. In other words, Tyrosine may restore levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline when necessary, but does not increase them beyond normal levels. So rather than directly improving physical performance, Tyrosine has demonstrated the ability to improve aspects of cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor (sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, and possibly exercise).
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Juggernaut HP contains the usual array of pre-workout ingredients (Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Tyrosine, Caffeine, etc.). However, given that the entire proprietary blend is about 4800mg, certain ingredients (namely Creatine, Taurine, and Tyrosine) may be under-dosed. That being said, at about 50 cents per serving, taking two servings at a time is not out of the question and would provide effective doses of most key ingredients. So, those looking for a simple, safe, relatively effective pre-workout with no stimulants other than Caffeine may want to give Juggernaut HP a shot.
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