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ANS Ritual Review

Ritual is perhaps ANS Performance’s most well-known product and is arguably one of the most well-balanced pre-workouts out there when it comes to mental vs. physical benefits…

ANS Ritual

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BETA-ALANINE

Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that, along with Histidine, serves as a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine. Carnosine acts a lactic acid buffer, effectively delaying fatigue in the working muscle.

Beta Alanine takes time to accumulate, but if taken over a sustained period of time (a few weeks), can 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 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, 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. Ritual contains 1.6 grams of Beta-Alanine per serving, a scientifically validated dose.

CITRULLINE

Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). 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”.

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 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 convert into NO.

A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline Mallate 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. Ritual contains 1.5g of L-Citrulline. Since most of the studies have used Citrulline Malate (which is generally a 1:1 ratio of Citrulline and Malic Acid), 3 grams of L-Citrulline is a technically effective dose. 2 servings of Ritual would be required to achieve this dose.

CREATINE

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. 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. Ritual contains a patented form of Creatine Monohydrate known as CreaPure. At a dose of 1.5 grams per serving, two servings of Ritual yields an effective dose that, if consistently consumed over an extended period of time, can increase power output and muscle volume.

BETAINE

A 2010 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that daily supplementation with 1.25 grams of Betaine positively influenced strength and power in resistance trained males. A later 2011 study, published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”, found that subjects who consumed 2.5 grams of Betaine daily for 14 days were able to achieve more repetitions while bench pressing. The researchers in this study also noted signs of increased muscular oxygen consumption, though that was not necessary the mechanism of action. Finally, a 2013 study, published in “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that 6 weeks of daily Betaine supplementation improved body composition, arm size, bench press work capacity, and power (but not strength). Based on these three studies, Betaine seems like a miracle supplement, but it’s worth noting that it has also failed to produce noticeable changes in more than one study. So, currently there is still cause for scrutiny, though there certainly appears to be some performance related benefits to be gained from Betaine.

AGMATINE SULFATE

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 regulate Nitric Oxide Synthase (an enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine), and either elevate or reduce its presence, depending on the type of NOS.

It’s important to understand that there are several types of NO. Inducible NOS (iNOS) and Neuronal NOS (nNOS) are considered harmful, while Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNOS) is considered favorable as this is an increase in eNOS results in vasodilation. Through its influence on NOS enzymes, Agmatine has been demonstrated to reduce NO in the brain (where it can be harmful) and increase NO in endothelial cells (where it leads to vasodilation). However, human studies regarding Agmatine’s effects on NO in general are non-existent, so while it appears to have some favorable performance implications in vitro, it’s difficult to truly determine its efficacy in humans.

STYPHNOLOBIUM JAPONICUM (QUERCETIN)

Styphnolobium Japonicum is generally standardized for Xanthaurine, also known as Quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid which can be found in (and extracted from) a wide variety of plants. A 2009 study from the “American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology” found that Quercetin supplementation significantly increased mitochondrial biogenesis, thus increasing endurance in mice. A 2010 study, published in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism”, found a significant increase in time to fatigue in untrained cyclists who consumed 500mg of Quercetin daily for 7 consecutive days. However, a follow-up 2011 study, failed to replicate these findings with the same dose of Quercetin for the same amount of time in sprinters. These findings were in-line with those of an earlier (2009) failed study, though this one used a smaller dose of 250mg.

Overall, the human studies regarding Quercetins potential as a performance enhancer have produced mixed results, so there is no consensus. That being said, the mechanisms by which Quercetin may improve performance exist, so it seems there are certainly performance enhancement implications.

N-ACETYL L-TYROSINE

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’. A 1981 study found that subjects who consumed 100mg/kg of Tyrosine experienced a significant increase in urinary catecholamine levels, but supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce the performance enhancing effects commonly associated with increased release of catecholamines. This is because Tyrosine does not instantly get converted into noradrenaline, dopamine, or adrenaline. It forms a pool, and when there is a deficit of catecholamines, the pool is drawn from to create more. So rather than directly improving physical performance, Tyrosine has demonstrated the ability to restore levels of these neurotransmitters to baseline, thereby improving aspects of cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor (sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, and possibly exercise). In other words, Tyrosine may restore levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline when necessary, but does not increase them beyond normal levels.

DENDROBIUM

Dendrobium has become a popular addition to pre-workout/fat-burner supplements in the past few years, especially after DMAA was banned by the U.S. FDA. However, the claims surrounding its use tend to differ between companies. Dendrobium is alleged to contain several alkaloids, including Phenylethylamines, a class of compounds which cause an increase in the catecholamine neurotransmitters and therefore may induce lipolysis to a relatively potent (though short-lived) degree. Unfortunately, until more studies on Dendrobium and its constituents are published, the implications of the ingredient will remain somewhat unclear.

CAFFEINE

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, and is a well-established ergogenic aid. Caffeine consumption causes an increase in Catecholamines (Adrenaline, Noradrenaline, and Dopamine), which tend to increase focus, concentration, and perceived energy while simultaneously promoting fat oxidation. However, the 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 workouts (thus burning more fat), and may act as a mild appetite suppressant in some.

B-PHENYLETHYLAMINE

Phenylethylamines are a class of compound which cause an increase in the catecholamine neurotransmitters (epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine) and as such, is a relatively potent (though short lived) central nervous system stimulant. While studies testing the effects of PEA supplementation on exercise performance are limited, a boost in catecholamines may certainly translate into more energy in the gym, resulting in a more intense workout. As far as direct effects on weight loss, studies are more or less non-existent. However, the general physiological reaction to increases in epinephrine and norepinephrine is activation of the beta-adrenergic receptors which induce lipolysis, so the mechanism by which PEA may induce weight loss is theoretically solid, just not documented. Because the effects are generally short-lived, it is hardly a miracle weight-loss supplement on its own, but combined with other beta-agonists/alpha-antagonists, will likely contribute to the overall effect. Hordenine in particular may potentiate the effects of PEA because, as discussed below, Hordenine functions as a monoamine reuptake inhibitor.

HIGENAMINE

Higenamine, commonly reffered to as norcoclaurine, 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 burning). 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.

HORDENINE

Hordenine (chemical name N, N-dimethyltyramine) is chemically related to the above mentioned Tyramine, and likewise, is used in dietary supplements as a fat-burner as well as for increased energy. Hordenine has been shown in animals to augment adrenaline induced muscle contraction while not directly inducing contractions itself, which indicates it works as a monoamine (Adrenaline) reuptake inhibitor (similar to Tyramine). However, we’d like to be very clear that there is very little research published on the use of Hordenine in humans, especially as it relates to physical performance and exercise.

ASTRAGIN

AstraGin 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. The general claim attached to AstraGin is that it improves absorption of other nutrients, namely those alleged to boost nitric oxide (Citrulline and Arginine).

THE BOTTOM LINE

Ritual is without a doubt one of the more complete pre-workout formulas we have reviewed. It contains all the essentials (Creatine, Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, etc.) as well as very comprehensive stimulant blend (one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen). Ultimately, Ritual is excellent for those looking to receive the physical benefits of such substances as Beta-Alanine, Betaine, etc., but at the same time crave intense mental stimulation, beyond that of Caffeine alone.

Still not sure which pre-workout supplement is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements List!

References

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