Pump Igniter is a pre-workout by Top Secret Nutrition, makers of Ab Igniter, which contains variety of standard pre-workout ingredients as well as some that are not-so standard…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that serves as a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine, which acts as a lactic acid buffer, effectively reducing muscular fatigue. Like Creatine, Beta Alanine takes time to accumulate, but if taken over a sustained period of time, can also be an extremely effective performance enhancing supplement with a strong safety profile.
One study that measured the Carnosine levels of sprinters found that individuals with high muscular Carnosine levels exhibited higher power output in the latter half of a 30m sprint. Various studies have shown that Beta Alanine supplementation increases muscular Carnosine, which improves physical performance.
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. Pump Igniter contains an undisclosed amount of Beta-Alanine, but given that the total Proprietary Blend is about 3500mg, it is certainly possible that it contains an effective dose (over 1.6g).
Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). Citrulline has recently gained recognition in the supplement community for its ability to increase plasma (blood) Arginine levels better than supplemental Arginine itself.
A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of Free Radical Research”, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Mallate given to male cyclists before a race increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.
You may be wondering: How can Citrulline be more effective at increasing Arginine than 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. 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 convert into NO.
A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males.
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.
While Citrulline has demonstrated significant ergogenic effects in animals and humans (in multiple studies), most pre-workout supplements use between 1-2g of Citrulline, the true efficacy of which is still unknown. Pump Igniter contains an undisclosed amount of Citrulline, though given that the Proprietary Blend is about 3500mg in total, the amount of Citrulline is likely no more than 1000mg.
BEET ROOT EXTRACT:
The active compound found in Beet Root Extract is Nitrate, which converts to Nitric Oxide in the body, a thus is said to convey performance benefits. A 2012 study, published in “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”, found that increased dietary nitrate intake (in the form of Nitrate-rich whole Beetroot) improved running performance in healthy adults. A 2013 study, published in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology”, found that Nitrate supplementation (from beetroot juice) effectively elevated plasma Nitrate levels which translated to improved performance during high-intensity exercise in athletes. A 2013 Meta-Analysis, which looked specifically at 17 separate studies using doses of 300-600mg Nitrate from various sources, concluded that supplementation is associated with a moderate improvement in time to exhaustion at a given work load. It’s tough to say how much Nitrate is present in the formula for two reasons: One, it’s in the form of Beet Root Extract which is not standardized to an exact dose. Furthermore, the amount of Beet Root Extract is concealed within the context of the Proprietary blend. So, while “High Nitrate” Beet Root Extract supplementation may certainly improve exercise performance, there is no way to determine the efficacy of the dose present in the Pump Igniter formula.
Higenamine, commonly reffered to as norcoclaurine, is the active compound found in Nelumbo Nucifera and has gained some traction in the supplement industry as a stimulant fat-burner because of the chemical similarities it shares with ephedrine (now banned). Like Ephedrine, Higenamine acts as Beta(2)adrenergic agonist, meaning it stimulates the beta(2) adrenergic receptors which induce lipolysis (fat breakdown). In addition to its fat-burning potential, Higenamine has also been demonstrated in vitro to increase acetylcholine levels, though these findings have not yet been replicated in humans. Overall, there is certainly preliminary support for Higenamine as a fat-burner and potential ergogenic aid, but because no human studies exist there is no recommended effective dose. Given that Higenamine is a stimulant, those sensitive to stimulants may react poorly.
Astravar is a combination of Panax Ginseng and Astragalus, both of which are marketed with a wide variety of claims attached to them. A 2012 study, published in “Vascular Pharmacology”, found that injections of Panax Ginseng extracts resulted in vasodilation in hypertensive rats, though given that the delivery method was via injection (not to mention in rats), the implications for humans remain unclear. Top Secret states that the inclusion of Astravar is primarily based on research that suggests that Astravar can drastically improve the absorption of other ingredients, but we cannot find the research they are referring to.
Rutaecarpine is one of the active compounds found in Evodia rutaecarpa along with Evodiamine (another ingredient found in fat-burning supplements). A 1999 study, published in “Cardiovascular Drug Reviews”, found that Rutaecarpine acted as an effective vasodilator in rats and may increase nitric oxide. Two separate studies, one in 2005 and one in 2011, found that Rutaecarpine supplementation in rats effectively reduced the effects of caffeine when taken at doses of 20mg/kg or 80mg/kg. While human studies are lacking, these studies indicate that there is a significant antagonistic interaction between Rutaecarpine and caffeine, so we’re not exactly sure why Top Secret would choose to include both in the same blend. While we don’t know the exact dose of Rutaecarpine, given its position in the proprietary blend, there is likely not enough to cause significant degradation of the 300mg of caffeine present in the formula, but there is likely not enough to cause significant vasodilation either.
BioPerine is a trademarked name for black pepper extract. In several studies, black pepper extract, when combined with other supplements, has increased the absorption of those supplements (as measured by plasma levels). The active ingredient responsible for this increased bioavilability is known as peperine. While we can’t say with any certainty that peperine enhances the bioavailablity of ALL other compounds, it does have a well-established track record when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (including BCAAs).
Choline, once inside the body, is converted into the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is associated with many functions including (but not limited to) memory, attention, and muscle control. It is the neurotransmitter most closely associated with the “mind-muscle connection” (although this may be something of an over-simplification), and therefore of much interest to athletes and bodybuilders alike. While certain forms of choline may be associated with increased muscular power output (namely Alpha GPC), Choline Bitartrate is generally considered the least bioavailable choline source, though oral doses of 1000-2000mg have still been shown to increase serum choline levels significantly.
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, and is a well-established ergogenic aid. Caffeine consumption causes an increase in catecholamine neurotransmitters (Adrenaline, Noradrenaline, and Dopamine), which tend to increase focus, concentration, and perceived energy while simultaneously promoting fat oxidation. However, the practical weight loss effects of caffeine tend to fade with prolonged use, so it does not appear as though caffeine is a long-term effective fat burner. While caffeine’s weight loss potential is negligible, it increases focus and perceived energy in most people, which generally leads to more intense/focused workouts (thus burning more fat), and may act as a mild appetite suppressant in some. Pump Igniter contains 300mg of caffeine which is a high enough dose to provide an increase in alertness and perceived energy in most individuals (assuming that individual is not highly tolerant). As mentioned above, Rutaecarpine actually negates the effects of caffeine, though the dose present in the Pump Igniter formula is likely nowhere near high enough to completely negate 300mg of caffeine.
Very little is known about Agmatine, although it possesses a variety of implications. The proposed benefits include: Increased growth hormone production, anti-oxidant properties, increased Nitric Oxide (NO), and fat loss, though none of these claims have been completely substantiated. Recently, Agmatine has become quite pervasive in pre-workout supplements because of its alleged ability to inhibit Nitric Oxide Synthase (an enzyme that breaks down excess NO). However, lack of sufficient evidence makes us skeptical of this claim. In fact, Agmatine has been shown to do the opposite. A 2000 study, published in the “Journal of Brain Research”, found that Agmatine actually suppressed NO production in microglia (glial cells in the brain which mainly protect neurons). It should be noted that NO can be harmful to neurons, and the conclusion of the study was that Agmatine may support cognitive function. Furthermore, it is possible that Agmatine suppresses NO in microglia but not elsewhere. However, these findings certainly do not lend credibility to the notion that it increases NO. Further research should shed some light on the proposed benefits of Agmatine, but for now there is just not enough evidence for us to get behind it as a vasodilator (though cognitive benefits seem more likely).
Chlorophytum borivillianum is is an Indian herb that has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac as well as for erectile dysfunction, though scientifically speaking, clear efficacy has mostly been seen in animals. Though these effects are thought to be Nitrix Oxide related, Top Secret alludes to animal studies which suggest an anabolic effect. Indeed, one 2009 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that 200mg/kg of Chlorophytum borivillianum extract daily for 30 days increased prostate weight in a similar manner as testosterone itself. Additionally, a 2011 study found that a supplemental combination of Chlorophytum borivillianum and Mucuna Pruriens (also present in the Pump Igniter formula) resulted in increased Growth Hormone levels in exercise-trained men, though the results are somewhat unreliable and should be further investigated. Ultimately, there may be some performance benefit associated with Chlorophytum borivillianum supplementation, but the current body of research is too lacking to draw conclusions.
Mucuna Pruriens (also known as Velvet Bean Extract) contain L-Dopa, a precursor to Dopamine. Aside from increasing dopamine, a 2008 study found that “Treatment with M. pruriens regulates steroidogenesis and improves semen quality in infertile men.” In addition to increased levels of dopamine, adernaline, and noradrenaline, the subjects who recieved Mucuna Pruriens also experienced elevated testosterone levels. However, it should emphasized that the subjects who showed increased Testosterone were infertile men, meaning many of them may have initially had low testosterone levels. There is no evidence that Mucuna Pruriens supplementation effectively raises testosterone in individuals with normal testosterone levels. Those suffering from low testosterone levels are much more likely to benefit from supplementation.
Phyllanthus emblica (also known as Indian Gooseberry or Amla) is touted by the herbal medicine community to have a variety of benefits in humans, the most common of which are cognitive enhancement and blood glucose lowering. The cognitive benefits are the result of several antioxidant compounds found in Amla, as well as the possible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme which breaks down acetylcholine. Acetylcholine, as mentioned above, is the neurotransmitter that is largely accredited with controlling the “mind-muscle connection”, and increasing levels in the brain may very well result in enhanced physical performance. However, human studies generally include Amla with other herbs so its true efficacy has yet to be determined. While theres is some preliminary support, we would currently consider Amla a highly speculative ingredient.
Picamilon is formed by combining Niacin (vitamin B3) and GABA (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in mammals). Picamilon is able to effectively cross the blood-brain-barrier where it is converted into GABA. Since GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (as opposed to excitatory) it may produce anxiolytic effects when levels are increased beyond normal. For this reason, Picamilon is touted as an anxiolytic. However, it has also been demonstrated to increase cerebral blood flow in animals, due to its niacin component (niacin is a vasodilator). Despite a fair amount of efficacy demonstrated in animal studies for both cerebral vasodilation and as an anxiolytic, human studies remain scarce. This is likely because there are better (pharmaceutical grade) anxiolytic compounds as well as cerebral vasodilators. As far as a direct effect on exercise capacity, there are no studies but the theoretical mechanisms of action exist.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Pump Igniter contains several key pre-workout ingredients (Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, Nitrates, etc.) as well as Caffeine(300mg) and Higenamine which may provide that pre-workout “boost” that users are often looking for. Unfortunately, due to the use of Proprietary Blends, we can’t be sure just how much of these ingredients (aside from caffeine) are present. That being said, the basic formula is certainly effective, so these additional ingredients can be considered speculative. Ultimately, Pump Igniter doesn’t stand out as particularly unusual, but does offer a relatively well-rounded pre-workout formula. At about 85 cents/serving, Pump Igniter is at the lower end of the average range for pre-workouts with similar ingredient profiles.
Not sure which pre-workout is right for you?
The Pre-Workout category is one of the most saturated and arguably one of the most difficult to navigate. With every product claiming the be the absolute best, selecting the right one can be extremely difficult. Thats why we created this list…Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements
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