Neurocore is/was MuscleTech’s attempt to capitalize off the rising demand for “concentrated” pre-workouts. However, by taking a “concentrated” approach, the brand has significantly under-dosed pretty every key ingredient…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that serves as a precursor to the amino acid carnosine. Carnosine balances out muscle pH and can therefore prevent fatigue while exercising due to its acidosis inhibiting effects. One study in particular that measured the carnosine levels of sprinters found that “people who’s muscle carnosine was high could exhibit high power during the latter half of the 30-s maximal cycle ergometer sprinting”. So it seems that increasing carnosine levels may delay muscle fatigue. Various studies have shown that daily supplementation with beta-alanine does increase muscle carnosine levels. Most of these studies have used doses between 3-6 grams. 1 serving size of NeuroCore contains 1067mg of beta alanine.
Creatine assists the body in producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which acts as the primary source of cellular energy. This increases the amount of force your muscles can put forth. Generally, studies that have proved creatine to be an effective workout supplemnent, have used daily doses ranging from 5-20 grams. However, you will have a hard time finding that much Creatine packed into a pre-workout, and it is generally accepted that a dose of 3-5 grams daily for a few weeks will yield results. Considering most preworkouts tend to use about 1000 mg (1 gram) of Creatine/serving, NeuroCore is about average. Those looking to gain all the benefits of a high dose of Creatine may have to supplement with an additional source. It should be noted that NeuroCore contains Creatine HCL which differs from the most common form of creatine you might see, Creatine Monohydrate. Most studies showing positive results of creatine supplementation have used Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine HCL differs from Monohydrate in that it is created by attaching creatine to a hydrochloride group, creating a salt form of creatine which may be better absorbed. However, studies comparing the bioavailability of these two forms of creatine are scarce, and we cannot say with any certainty whether this alleged increase in bioavailability is backed by science.
L-Citrulline is one of the most abundant ingredient found in pre-workouts these days. The benefits of Citrulline mostly pertain to ammonia removal and increasing nitric oxide. Ammonia builds up in exercising muscles eventually causing fatigue, so the removal of it may help ward off muscle fatigue. Citrulline can also be converted into arginine, which may increase nitric oxide. One thing that’s important to note is that most studies that have been done showing a positive correlation between citrulline supplementation and increased strength have used dosages far exceeding the dose that is contained in neurocore of 1000mg. However, if higher doses are found to be noticeably effective, 1000mg may provide some marginal benefit.
Caffeine is the most obvious addition to any pre-workout. Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Enhanced alertness, better coordination, and increased focus are a few of the many benefits that caffeine may have pertaining to exercise. Average doses of caffeine range from 70-200 mg. Neurocore contains 120mg of caffeine which is right where most people would be able to feel the effects, but most likely would not feel overwhelmed.
Theanine is of particular interest and, especially in the context of a pre-workout supplement. Theanine is commonly found in Green Tea and is generally believed to be the agent in the tea that promotes relaxation and counteracts the caffeine that is also present in Green Tea. Various studies have been done testing doses of 50-200mg and have and most have shown promise. One 2007 study noted a stress-countering effect of 200mg of Theanine and this study suggests cortisol blocking properties.
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen, meaning it helps your body adapt to stressful situations. The ingredient has been shown to improve stamina and fight mental fatigue in various studies. However, the exact mechanism of action is still unknown. We’re not crazy about herbal extracts because there is often a lot of pseudo-scientific evidence supporting the claims, but we can’t deny that some herbal extracts are effective. Rhodiola Rosea appears to be one of the exceptions.
Pausinystalia Yohimbe (aka Yohimbe) contains two active ingredients: Yohimbine and Rauwolscine. Yohimbine acts as an alpha-2 receptor antagonist, meaning it inhibits the receptor. Alpha receptors are responsible for blocking lipolysis (fat burning). By blocking the action of this receptor, yohimbine essentially allows the gates open for stored fat to be burned for energy. For this reason, Yohimbine is most likely not very effective in non-exercising people, but will certainly increase fat loss on top of exercise. One study showed that while there were no increases in strength, supplementation “appears to be suitable as a fat loss strategy in elite athletes.” In addition to this property, Yohimbine has also been demonstrated to increase the action of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, resulting in increased mood and concentration. Rauwolscine is what is known as a stereoisomer of yohimbine, meaning it is chemically similar in structure. Because of this similarity, Rauwolscine produces similar effects, although perhaps to a milder degree. It is more common for supplement companies to include both Yohimbine and Rauwolscine together rather than one or the other, because both compounds are found in the plant Yohimbe.
DMAE is becoming a popular supplement specifically as a nootropic. Research has shown that it may be a precursor to acetyl-choline (the neurotransmitter associated with focus, memory, and alertness). However, potential benefits may also include increased exercise capacity. However, there haven’t been enough human studies to be sure. One study done in 1991 showed that a mixture containing DMAE, ginseng, vitamins, and a few minerals “increased the subjects’ work capacity by improving muscular oxygen utilization”. However, the obvious flaw with these findings is that they did not isolate the variable, and therefore can’t say with any certainty which ingredient was truly responsible for the positive results.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
While we definitely appreciate the transparent labeling approach MuscleTech has utilized, in this case, it makes it quite obvious that many of the Neurocore ingredients are under-dosed on a per serving basis. Users will need atleast 2-3 servings to yield effective doses of key ingredients.
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- Ostojic, Sergej. “Yohimbine: The Effects on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Soccer Players.” Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal 14.4 (2006): 289-99.
- Spillane, Mike, Ryan Schoch, Matt Cooke, Travis Harvey, Mike Greenwood, Richard Kreider, and Darryn S. Willoughby. “The Effects of Creatine Ethyl Ester Supplementation Combined with Heavy Resistance Training on Body Composition, Muscle Performance, and Serum and Muscle Creatine Levels.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6.1 (2009): 6.
- Jäger, Ralf, Martin Purpura, Andrew Shao, Toshitada Inoue, and Richard B. Kreider. “Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 May 2013