Pre Workout 1.0 by Blade Nutrition contains a pretty standard blend of pre-workout ingredients such as Creatine, Beta-Alanine, etc. The only stimulant in the formula is Caffeine which may appeal to those who don’t like a heavy stimulant content in their pre-workouts…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
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.
Pre Workout 1.0 contains 2200mg of Beta-Alanine per serving, a pretty effective dose which will certainly raise muscle Carnosine levels with a few weeks of supplementation.
Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate Endothelial Nitric Oxide (eNOS), sometimes referred to as the “good” NOS, while inhibiting the other NOS enzymes (the “bad” NOS) in vitro, but human studies are non-existent. Despite the inherent pro-eNOS nature of Agmatine, it remains under-researched in humans so an optimal dose has not been established. Common doses range from 500-1000mg, and Blade Nutrition has decided to stick with the high end of this range by including 1000mg in the Pre Workout 1.0 formula.
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.
Pre Workout 1.0 contains 1000mg of Taurine, consistent with the doses used in the above mentioned studies and the dose found in the average pre-workout.
Caffeine is a well-established ergogenic aid, oral consumption of which triggers the release of Catcholamines (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. Pre Workout 1.0 contains 300mg of Caffeine, or more than sufficient dose for most (non-caffeine tolerant) individuals.
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. The most common form of Creatine is Creatine Monohydrate, which is formed by dehydrating a solution of Creatine, where a single water molecule remains bound to the Creatine powder. Pre Workout 1.0 contains 4 types of Creatine: Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Magnapower, Creatine Pyruvate, Di-Creatine Malate. Though Creatine Magnapower (Magnesium Chelate) may have some properties that differentiate it somewhat from Monohydrate, the other forms are pretty much the same in terms of effect and efficacy. No studies have determined that there is a superior form to Monohydrate, in terms of efficacy.
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.
Leucine is an amio acid belonging to the group known as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), along with Isoleucine and Valine. While there is no reliable scientific evidence to indicate one true “optimal ratio”, Leucine tends to be the most abundant because it is the most potent with regards to stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.
This was first demonstrated in a 1999 study from the “Journal of Nutrition”, but has been replicated several times since then. A 2009 study, published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism”, found that Leucine’s stimulation of muscle protein synthesis was augmented by physical exercise, indicating that pre/intra workout Leucine supplementation may have a greater impact than at other times. These results were consistent with those of an earlier (2001) study from the “American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism” in which essential amino acid (include Leucine) ingestion prior to exercise had a greater influence protein synthesis than post-exercise ingestion in healthy human subjects.
Leucine has also been shown, in multiple studies, to preserve muscle mass in individuals with certain diseases characterized by muscular wasting, further establishing Leucine as a potent anti-catabolic agent.
Leucine’s primary mechanism of action is via activation of Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) which is a signaling molecule that signals the body to synthesize protein. To put it simply, Leucine activates mTOR which in turn stimulates protein synthesis. Blade Nutrition does not disclose the amount of BCAAs or the ratio, but we estimate there is atleast a couple grams of combined BCAAs.
While Leucine is the most important with regards to muscle protein synthesis, Isoleucine appears to have unique benefits regarding glucose uptake by muscle cells (while lowering blood glucose). In several rat studies, Isoleucine has effectively lowered blood glucose and increased glucose uptake into muscle cells. While the effect of Isoleucine (in isolation) on muscle glucose uptake has not been studied in humans, BCAAs in general due appear to induce glucose uptake, and based on the rat studies this may be due to Isoleucine more so than the others.
Valine appears to possess the least unique benefit, but there are claims circulating that Valine may reduce mental exercise-induced fatigue by reducing the amount of Tryptophan available for Serotonin synthesis. A 2001 study concluded that Valine lowered the amount of exercise-induced 5-HT (Serotonin) in mouse hippocampuses. During exercise Tryptophan is transported to the brain where it is converted into Serotonin. It is hypothesized that Serotonin is responsible for mental fatigue. It has also been established that BCAA directly compete with tryptophan for the same pathway to the brain, and therefore may reduce the amount of Tryptophan available for Serotonin production. This would explain certain subjective anti-fatigue effects of BCAA supplementation noted in a few studies. However, the claim that Valine is solely responsible for this effect is unsubstantiated by human studies. Given the current literature, it appears more likely that BCAAs in general help to attenuate fatigue.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid (your body can make it) that is involved in a variety of bodily functions, from immune health, to providing a back-up fuel-source for the brain. Because Glutamine is an amino acid, some people assume that it may have a muscle sparing effect, and to be fair, it has demonstrated increased muscle protein synthesis in vitro as well as in the human gut. However, a 2001 study, published in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology”, found that Glutamine supplementation had no significant muscle sparing effect in resistance trained human subjects. A 2006 study from “Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism” which compared a combination of carbs, amino acids, and glutamine to a combination of just carbs and amino acids (not glutamine), found no difference in muscle protein synthesis following exercise.
So, while some of the claims that are often attached to Glutamine aren’t quite based on facts, it has shown a lot of promise when it comes to fighting exercise induced immune system suppression. Our immune systems ultimately benefit from regular exercise, but in the short-term, exercise actually temporarily lowers our immune defenses, thus making us more susceptible to infection during that time-frame. This temporary compromise of the immune system is highly correlated with lower glutamine levels, so glutamine supplementation can potentially reduce exercise-induced damage to immune cells.
A 2007 study, published in “Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism”, found that Glutamine supplementation effectively reduced ammonia in endurance exercise longer than one hour, leading to increased endurance. So, while Glutamine may be of minimal importance to individuals getting a quick 45 minute workout in, it may be quite useful for long-term exercise during which Glutamine depletion would normally occur.
Malic Acid is a naturally occurring compound, found in particularly high levels in green apples. It 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 treated with Malic Acid demonstrated improved stamina (swimming). However, no human studies have been conducted to further test these findings, so there is no “optimal dose”.
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’. Tyrosine supplementation is commonly alleged (by supplement companies) to increase levels of these neurotransmitters. However, studies have failed to show the performance enhancement benefits generally associated with increases in Noradrenaline following Tyrosine supplementation. The real benefit of Tyrosine is its ability to restore levels of Noradrenaline when depletion occurs.
During exercise, the brain secreted Noradrenaline and extended exercise depletes levels, in some cases quite significantly. This explains why we tend to be less “sharp” directly after extended exercise sessions. Upon ingestion, Tyrosine essentially forms a pool, and when Noradrenaline levels get too low, the pool is drawn from to produce more. So, rather than directly improving cognitive ability, Tyrosine helps to maintain it during situations when it would normally decline. Average doses range from 2-5 grams, but we estimate that Pre Workout 1.0 contains somewhere between 500 and 1000mg.
Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). As demonstrated in a 2007 study, supplemental Citrulline is significantly more effective at raising plasma Arginine than supplemental Arginine itself.
The problem with supplemental Arginine is that it is metabolized in the intestines and liver into other substances such as Ornithine and Urea. The intestines and liver contain relatively high levels of Arginase, the enzyme that converts Arginine to Ornithine and Urea. As a result, very little goes on to be involved with the synthesis of NO because it is being diverted for other purposes. Citrulline, on the other hand, is able to bypass the liver and is metabolized into Arginine elsewhere, where not as much Arginase is present. Thus, more of the Arginine is able to go on to convert into Nitric Oxide.
A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline Malate supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males. A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of Free Radical Research”, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Malate given to male cyclists before a race increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.
A 2011 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that supplemental Citrulline increased muscular contraction efficiency (less ATP was required for the same amount of power), in-line with the findings of the above-mentioned human study.
Citrulline is generally considered to be most effective at doses of 6-8g, though it is rare to find that much in pre-workout supplements (it gets kind of expensive). Blade Nutrition does not disclose the amount of Citrulline in Pre Workout 1.0, but given its label positioning, it’s safe to assume that there is far less than 6 grams.
Norvalin is chemically related to the branched chain amino acid Valine, though the potential benefits are much different. In vitro studies and rat studies have demonstrated that Norvaline is able to inhibit Arginase, the enzyme that breaks down Arginine. The (theoretical) result is that more Arginine is able to convert into 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. Given a lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established, but common doses range from 125-250mg. The amount of Norvaline present in one serving of Pre Workout 1.0 may be within this range, but we can’t be certain.
BLACK PEPPER EXTRACT (STD. MIN. 99% PIPERINE)(FRUIT):
Bioperine is a patented form of Black Pepper Extract which is generally standardized for Piperine. Several studies have found that Piperine can enhance the absorption of various nutrients when co-ingested. This enhanced absorption is due to the inhibition of certain enzymes which breakdown most compounds, as well as the slowing of intestinal transit (increasing the amount of time these compounds are exposed to the possibility of uptake). So, while Bioperine certainly doesn’t have any Testosterone boosting implications, it may enhance the efficacy of the formula in general.
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 at doing so. Ultimately, while Histidine isn’t a particularly useful addition to the Pre Workout 1.0 blend, it can’t hurt either.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Pre Workout 1.0 does contain several effective ingredients at pretty effective doses, but based on a 7283mg proprietary blend, some of the other ingredients (such as Citrulline) may be under-dosed. That being said, it is still one of the more effective formulas out there. The only stimulant is Caffeine, but at 300mg per serving, its’ enough to make non-Caffeine tolerant individuals noticeably more alert and focused. At just over $1 per serving, Pre Workout 1.0 is appropriately priced and may be worth a shot for those looking for an all-in-one type pre-workout with solid doses of most (not all) key ingredients.
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