Legend is Cutler Nutrition’s (a BPI Brand) pre-workout which is mostly fueled by stimulants, although it does contain some ergogenics such as Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and Creatine…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Creatine is the most extensively studied ergogenic aid currently available, and by far one of the most effective at increasing both strength and muscle mass. Creatine’s primary mechanism of action is its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy. 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.
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. No other form of Creatine has demonstrated any clear superiority over Creatine Monohydrate, so we generally recommend sticking with this particular form. The optimal dose of Creatine Monohydrate, excluding loading phase, is about 5g per day. Given a 3.75mg proprietary blend, Legend cannot possibly contain an optimal dose in one serving, though two servings may yield an effective dose.
Trimethylglycine, also known as Betaine, is the amino acid Glycine with the addition of three methyl groups attached. It is alleged to increase power output and strength by increasing cellular swelling, a phenomenon well established with Creatine supplementation, which can drastically reduce the damaging effect of outside stimuli (such as exercise) on the working muscle. So far, Betaine has been investigated in several human studies, and has had some pretty encouraging results in most.
A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that 2.5g Betaine (split into two 1.25mg doses) over the course of 15 days increased muscle endurance during squats and appeared to improve the quality of each rep (likely because they were easier).
A 2010 study, again from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that the same supplementation protocol (2.5g daily in two equal doses) effectively increased isometric bench press and squat force as well as bench throw and vertical jump power.
A 2011 study, published in “The Journal of Strength & Condition Research” noted improvements in number of bench press repetitions and total volume load with same 2.5g dosing protocol for 14 days. However, another 2011 study from the same journal noted no such improvements in power output or number of reps performed, though there were subjective reports of fatigue reduction.
A 2012 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” noted improvements in cycling sprint power after just one week of supplementation at the standard 2.5g dose.
Most recently, a 2013 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” noted increases in arm size, bench press work capacity, overall body composition, and a trend toward increased power (but not strength). This was the first study to specifically measure the effects of Betaine supplementation on body composition, so further study is needed to corroborate these findings.
2.5g daily is the dose used in the majority of the above-mentioned studies, but one serving of Legend falls short of that dose. Cutler Nutrition does not disclose the exact dose.
Despite its inclusion in energy drinks, Taurine is not a stimulant and does not increase perceived energy or focus. Rather, it is an amino acid with antioxidant properties with implications for exercise recovery as well as slight performance enhancement.
In a 2011 study from “Cell Biochemistry and Function” Taurine was shown to significantly reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress in skeletal muscle. These findings were consistent with those of an earlier (2004) study, published in “Amino Acids” which 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, also from “Amino Acids” noted a 1.7% improvement in 3k-time trial of runners after supplementing with Taurine, and these findings were further corroborated in a later 2013 study from “Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism “ in which Taurine supplementation was able to increase strength as well as decrease oxidative muscle damage.
As with the rest of the ingredients, it’s tough to estimate how much Taurine Cutler Nutrition has included in the Legend formula, but It’s safe to say one serving does not contain a clinical dose.
Caffeine is a well-established ergogenic aid, oral consumption of which triggers the release of Catecholamines (Noradrenaline, Dopamine, Adrenaline, etc.), generally inducing a state of increased alertness, focus, and perceived energy. Many studies have concluded that pre-workout Caffeine consumption can enhance exercise capacity and muscle contractibility, in many cases quite significantly.
It should be kept in mind that habitual Caffeine consumption often results in tolerance, reducing the stimulant effects. We generally recommend that individuals seeking the full benefit of pre-workout Caffeine consumption try to limit their Caffeine intake at other times of the day. Unfortunately, Cutler Nutrition does not disclose the exact dose of Caffeine present in the Legend formula, or even provide any clues as to how much there may be. Given that Cutler advises users not to exceed one scoop, its likely that the amount of Caffeine is toward the higher end of the normal range (200-400mg), which drastically limits the potential of the other ingredients (which would normally require multiple doses).
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. Though it takes time to accumulate in muscle tissue, Beta-Alanine supplementation, for at least two weeks, is highly effective at increasing muscular Carnosine concentration.
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. The doses used in this study, 1.6 and 3.2g, are the most common doses seen in supplements.
A 2008 study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, noted improvements in power in resistance trained males using 4.8g daily for 30 days. This same 4.8 gram dose was also shown to increase muscular endurance in sprinters in a 2007 study from the “Journal of Applied Physiology”.
When it comes to how much Beta-Alanine is present in the Legend formula, there is one major red flag. Beta-Alanine is listed after Caffeine on the supplement facts panel, meaning there is less Beta-Alanine than Caffeine, or possibly the same amount. Either way, this is indisputable evidence that Cutler Nutrition has dropped the ball and severely under-dosed Beta-Alanine in the Legend formula.
Plumbago zeylanica is an Ayurvedic herb with a somewhat documented history of use as a vitality-booster and possible aphrodisiac. However, in the context of Legend, it’s safe to assume that Cutler Nutrition is primarily concerned with preliminary research which indicates the herb has stimulant properties.
A 2001 study, published in “Phytotherapy Research”, found that Plumbago zeylanica extract has clear Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant action in rats, with the mechanism of action appearing Dopamine-related.
Unfortunately, without human studies, it’s tough to gauge the magnitude of effect (or the safety) of Plumbago zeylanica, though it may certainly contribute to the alertness, focus, and exercise intensity brought on by the other stimulants present in the Legend formula.
CULLEN CORYLIFOLIUM (SEED):
Cullen corylifolium, also known as Psoralea corylifolia, has popped up in a few pre-workout and fat-burning supplements, primarily due to its potential stimulant properties.
A 2008 in vitro study from “Biochemical Pharmacology” found that alkaloids from Psoralea corylifolia showed catecholamine (Dopamine, Nordarenaline, Adrenaline) reuptake inhibition properties. These findings reinforce the hypothesized mechanism of action from an earlier (2007) study from the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” in which injections of Psoralea corylifolia induced locomotion in rats.
Currently, no human studies exists but given that Psoralea corylifolia appears to inhibit Catecholamine reuptake at relatively low doses (in vitro), the stimulant effects may be relevant following oral consumption of the extract. Although Cutler Nutrition doesn’t disclose the exact dose of Psoralea corylifolia in the Pro Stim blend, an optimal dose has not yet been established (due to lack of human research), so it would be impossible to interpret anyway. For reference purposes, BPI Sports also makes use of Psoralea corylifolia in such formulas as 1.M.R. Vortex and Pump HD, and Cutler Nutrition has included it in Pro Stim as well.
PAUSINYSTALIA YOHIMBE (BARK):
Pausinystalia yohimbe is generally standardized for the alkaloid, Yohimbine HCl, which is an alpha(2) receptor antagonist, meaning it inhibits the receptor responsible for blocking lipolysis (breakdown of fat). By blocking the action of this receptor Yohimbine allows for more lipolysis than would otherwise be possible from exercise.
A 2006 study, published in “Research in Sports Medicine”, found that Yohimbine supplementation (20mg/day) induced relatively significant fat loss in athletes (soccer players). These results conflicted somewhat with those of an earlier (1991) study from the “International Journal of Obesity” in which Obese men did not benefit from long-term Yohimbine supplementation. However, the obvious difference between these two studies was that in the failed study the subjects did not exercise.
As previously stated, Yohimbine directly acts on alpha-2 receptor so for it to be truly effective as a weight-loss agent, it must be combined with something that activates the fat-burning process in the first place (i.e. stimulants or exercise). It’s tough to estimate the exact dose of Yohimbine in the Legend formula because Cutler Nutrition not disclose the standardization of this particular Yohimbe Extract.
Yohimbine: An Effective Fat-Burner? Yohimbine is a chemical compound commonly extracted from Pausinystalia yohimbe (Yohimbe for short), an African plant, the bark of which is generally standardized for Yohimbine content and sold as an herbal…[Continue Reading]
GLUTAMINE (AS TRANS-ALANYL-GLUTAMINE):
L-Alanyl L-Glutamine, as the name implies, is a dipeptide made up of Alanine and Glutamine. The theory behind L-Alanyl L-Glutamine is based on the notion that dipeptides are able to share the same transport into the cell, and can therefore be absorbed into the cell more effectively than two separate amino acids, which would require two separate transports. There have not been many studies designed to test this theory directly.
However, a 2012 study showed better absorption of glutamine (determined by plasma glutamine levels) when subjects ingested L-Alanyl L-Glutamine, than when they just ingested L-Glutamine alone. This study was very small (only 8 subjects), so further studies are needed, but the preliminary evidence is certainly in favor of L-Alanyl L-Glutamine as a more bioavailable form of glutamine than L-glutamine alone, and the theory is certainly sound (in terms of logic).
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Lets be real…Jay Cutler isn’t sitting there in a labcoat, mixing and formulating all the Cutler Nutrition products, nor was his physique acheived strictly with the use of supplements like Creatine and Beta-Alanine (if you catch our drift). We’re not saying any celebrity-endorsed product is automatically terrible, just that they shouldn’t automatically be trusted.
Legend contains the usual blend of pre-workout ingredients (Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Taurine, etc.), as well as a few stimulants, some of which are pretty obscure. Unfortunately, most of the key ingredients (excluding stimulants) are under-dosed, and would require multiple servings to be truly effective. However, given the high stimulant content, and the fact that Cutler Nutrition recommends not exceeding one serving, this under-dosing severely hinders the potential efficacy of Legend. At just over $1 per serving, we cannot outright recommend Legend as there are plenty of pre-workouts with pretty much the same profile but much more effective doses (for the same price).
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