Prodigy is pre-workout by PNI and is one of the brand’s most well-known products. In terms of ingredients, it is not unlike many other pre-workouts we’ve seen, but does contain effective ingredients at effective doses…[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. 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”.
Prodigy contains 3.2 grams of Beta-Alanine per serving which is consistent with the above mentioned studies, and is the highest, most effective dose generally found in pre-workouts (although we’ve seen as much as 4.8g).
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 Nitric Oxide (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 commonly 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. NO 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. PNI has decided to use the high end of this range for Prodigy which contains 1000mg per serving.
Despite the name, Creationol-O-Phosphate is not at all related to Creatine. In terms of effects, it is actually more like Beta-Alanine in that it may reduce muscular fatigue during exercise (though through a different mechanism). Creatinol-O-Phosphate is alleged to counter fatigue by increasing cellular glycolysis in the presence of lactic acid. Unfortunately, there are no human studies upon which to draw conclusions. We are left with a few German studies involving rats and the word of various supplement companies who swear this is a revolutionary new ergogenic aid. To be clear, we are not disputing the claims made about Creatinol-O-Phosphate. We’re simply stating that there really isn’t enough evidence to draw conclusions either way. That being said, Prodigy contains 500mg per serving which is what we generally see in Creatinol-O-Phosphate containing pre-workouts.
Glucuronolactone has become a popular additive in energy drinks as well as “detox” supplements which claim cellular protective benefits. Despite being included in various energy products, it has not been studied in isolation in regards to any claims made by these companies. For now, we cannot say with any certainty whether Glucuronolactone makes any difference with regards to workout performance.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to Dopamine and Norepinephrine (Catecholamines). Because of this relationship, it is commonly alleged (mostly by supplement companies) that Tyrosine can increase levels of these neurotransmitters, which would ultimately convey some performance enhancement benefits. However, supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce any noticeable performance enhancement benefit in multiple studies.
While Tyrosine may not increase workout performance directly, it has been shown to preserve cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor, such as noise, cold exposure, and potentially, exercise. This is because Tyrosine, upon ingestion, forms a pool which is then drawn from to create more Dopamine and Norepinephrine when depletion occurs. To put it simply, Tyrosine will not increase Dopamine and Noradrenaline, but can help ensure optimal levels are maintained during/after exercise.
PNI doesn’t disclose the exact dose of Tyrosine found in Prodigy, but based on an 1870mg proprietary blend we can assume anywhere from 400-800mg per serving.
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.
Prodigy contains an undisclosed dose of Caffeine Anhydrous per serving, but we’d estimate it contains anywhere from 100-200mg per serving.
DENDROBIUM (1% ALKALOIDS):
Dendrobium, made popular by its inclusion in DS Craze, has become relatively pervasive in the pre-workout/fat-burner category because of its alleged stimulant properties. The original claim was that Dendrobium contained several Phenylethylamine alkaloids which were responsible for the focus and mood enhancement being reported by many users. However, studies investigating the chemical constituents have failed to isolate Phenylethylamine, and have shown that different species of Dendrobium tend to vary considerably in terms of their alkaloid composition. Ultimately, the jury is still out on Dendrobium, though rat studies have confirmed some cognitive benefit which may underlie some of the subjective reports of mental stimulation and enhanced focus.
Naringin is a polyphenol commonly found in Grapefruits and some other citrus fruits. A 2008 study from “Phytotherapy Research” found that Naringin was able to stimulate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) activity in vitro, a mechanism which can induce fat-loss via the release of Adiponectin (a protein which facilitates the breakdown of fat). These results lend credibility to the already established notion that Naringin is one of the main polyphenols responsible for the weight-loss benefits of Grapefruit, noted in several studies. Since it isn’t a stimulant, Naringin won’t really enhance mental acuity or anything, but the weight-loss implications make it an interesting addition to the Prodigy formula which may actually help burn fat for energy. Unfortunately, since PNI does not disclose the dose its hard to gauge the efficacy in the context of the Prodigy formula.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The major highlights of Prodigy include a highly effective dose of Beta-Alanine, an above average 1000mg dose of Agmatine, and a relatively well-rounded stimulant blend. While there isn’t anything in particular that makes Prodigy particularly innovative or different, it’s not a bad way to go for those seeking a physically effective pre-workout that still provides something of a mental push. At about $1 per serving, Prodigy is pretty appropriately priced considering an estimated reconstruction cost of $1.25-$1.50.
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