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Mike Chang Afterburn Fuel Review

Afterburn Pre-Workout Fuel

Afterburn Fuel is a pre-workout created and sold by Mike Chang (yes, that guy from all those youtube ads). In terms of ingredients the product is not unlike many other pre-workouts out there. Unfortunately, the ingredients are concealed in a proprietary blend and, given the amount of different ingredeints, its tough to make estimates…

 

Afterburn Fuel is a pre-workout created and sold by Mike Chang (yes, that guy from all those youtube ads). In terms of ingredients the product is not unlike many other pre-workouts out there. Unfortunately, the ingredients are concealed in a proprietary blend and, given the amount of different ingredeints, its tough to make estimates…[Skip to the Bottom Line]

CREATINOL-O-PHOSPHATE:

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 so 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.

Mike Chang makes no claims specifically regarding the use of Creatinol-O-Phosphate so it’s safe to assume he doesn’t know anything more than what science has told us about it already. For now we’d still consider it a speculative addition to the Afterburn Fuel formula, not a “key” ingredient.

ARGININE ALPHA-KETOGLUTARATE (AKG):

Arginine is a non-essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to Nitric Oxide with the AKG (Alpha Ketogluturate) form being touted as being better absorbed.

However a 2012 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that subjects performed worse after receiving 3700mg of Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate prior to resistance training, compared to placebo. Due to the relatively small size of this study, it cannot be considered conclusive, but it certainly does not lend credibility to the notion that Arginine AKG is a superior form of Arginine.

While most studies have failed to prove that Arginine (in any form) supplementation increases exercise performance, a 2011 double-blind placebo controlled study from “Sports Medicine” found that supplementation with 6 grams of L-Arginine increased muscle blood volume post-workout, but did not increase intra-workout strength.

The truth about Arginine is that it just isn’t what supplement companies made it out to be ten years ago. Studies have returned conflicting results, making it clear that Arginine is, at the very least, unreliable, if not ineffective. Unfortunately, Mike Chang may be living in the past with this one.

BETA-ALANINE:

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.

Mike Chang does not disclose the precise amount of Beta-Alanine present in the Afterburn Fuel formula, but we’d estimate somewhere between 1 and 2g.

AGMATINE SULFATE:

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.

Standard doses of Agmatine range from 500 to 1000mg with some pre-workouts containing up to 1500mg. Afterburn Fuel contains an undisclosed amount of Agmatine, though given its position in a 7500mg proprietary blend the 500-1000mg range seems plausible.

CREATINE MAGNESIUM CHELATE:

Creatine Magnesium Chelate is Creatine bonded to Magnesium, and was originally invented because of Magnesium plays a critical role in Creatine metabolism. Although generally touted as superior to Creatine Monohydrate, few studies have been conducted to compare Creatine Magnesium Chelate to other forms of Creatine, and 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.

A 2003 study published in “Metabolism” did note that Creatine Magnesium Chelate may result in less water retention. However, this has only been noted at low doses. Over the course of a Creatine cycle, when total muscle Creatine saturation occurs, the difference would likely become less apparent.

Furthermore, given its position in a 7500mg proprietary blend (after Agmatine we might add), the dose of Creatine Magnesium Chelate in Afterburn Fuel is likely pretty negligible.

CITRULLINE MALATE:

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, and while results with Arginine are mixed, Citrulline has demonstrated clear efficacy as a performance enhancer.

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 2008 study from “The Journal of Strength & Conditioning” found that 8g of Citrulline Malate was able to progressively increase the amount of reps performed later in the workout (by as much as 52%) and significantly reduced muscle soreness.

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.

While Citrulline is certainly an effective ergogenic aid, Afterburn Fuel can’t possibly contain a clinical dose. Judging by the proprietary blend, we’d be surprised if there was more than 500mg.

L-HISTIDINE:

Histidine is required, along with Beta-Alanine, 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 (assuming the right dose) is quite effective at doing so. We assume Mike Chang elected to include Histidine just to be safe, but there is really no reason for it in the context of Afterburn Fuel.

GLYCEROL:

Glycerol is a colorless, odorless, syrup-like substance commonly used in industrial goods and cosmetics, mostly to increase viscosity. Glycerol, as a molecule, has a propensity for cellular water retention, and this property is what makes it of particular interest to bodybuilders and athletes.

A 1996 study, published in the “International Journal of Sports Medicine”, found that Glycerol supplementation prior to exercise increased endurance time in cyclists. These findings were replicated in a 1999 study from the “European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology” in which pre-exercise Glycerol supplementation enhanced time performance (also in cyclists).

However, a 2003 study, published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”, found that, while post-exercise Glycerol supplementation prevented exercise-induced dehydration, this had no impact on performance measures (compared to placebo).

Ultimately, the results of most of the research on Glycerol indicate that it can be an effective pump agent (due to water retention), but may only noticeably enhance performance (endurance not strength) during long-duration exercise where dehydration becomes a contributing factor.

Furthermore, the amount of Glycerol in the 7500mg proprietary blend of Afterburn Fuel is undoubtedly significantly less than what has been used in a clinical setting. Whether or not such a small dose can provide any benefit is unclear.

NORVALINE:

Norvaline 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.

VANADYL SULFATE (VANADIUM):

Vanadium is a chemical element which has been referred to as the “iron of the sea”, because it plays a similar role in sea creatures as iron plays in humans. For decades, bodybuilders have taken vanadium (in forms such as vanadyl sulfate) for its alleged glucose regulating effects. Preliminary research has shown that vanadium may very well act as an insulin mimetic (really it prolongs the signaling of insulin), by suppressing the action protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP), which signals the degradation of insulin. Though much of the studies conducted were done with rats, the evidence certainly suggests that vanadium may be useful for those looking to control blood glucose. As far as a direct effect on blood-flow, there is no reliable evidence.

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE:

Carnitine has been the subject of numerous studies regarding its potential as both a performance enhancer and recovery agent.

A 2002 study, published in the “American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism”, found that 2 grams of L-Carnitine (as L-Tartrate) significantly reduced markers of exercise induced stress following squats in healthy adult males.

A 2007 study, published in the “Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research”, found that 1 and 2 grams of supplemental L-Carnitine (as L-Tartrate) effectively reduced markers of muscular damage following exercise in healthy humans. While the previously mentioned studies were unable to identify an exact mechanism of action, a 2008 study noted enhanced muscle oxygenation, citing this as a possible mechanism of action.

Carnitine, as either Acetyl-L-Carnitine or Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (GPLC) has been shown to increase Nitric Oxide and plasma Nitrate levels at 1-3 grams, but whether the dose present in Afterburn Fuel falls within that range is unclear (seems unlikely).

L-TYROSINE:

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.

Although Tyrosine can certainly support cognitive function in the context of a pre-workout supplement, very few contain clinical doses of 2g+. Unfortunately, Afterburn Fuel undoubtedly contains far less than that.

CAFFEINE ANHYDROUS:

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. A vast multitude of studies have concluded that Caffeine consumption prior to exercise can favorably impact performance and enhance muscle contractibility.

As with the rest of the ingredients in Afterburn Fuel, Mike Chang does not disclose the amount of Caffeine and theres really no way to tell how much they’ve packed in there.

N-METHYL-TYRAMINE:

Tyramine is a derivative of the amino acid Tyrosine, and has the ability to increase the level of the catecholamine neurotransmitters Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Dopamine. Tyramine is thought to act as a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI), meaning it blocks the enzyme (Monoamine Oxidase) responsible for oxidizing the above mentioned neurotransmitters. The result is an elevation in levels of these neurotransmitters which generally results in increased focus, mood, and perceived energy. For this reason, it is recommended that people currently taking prescription MAOIs be careful not to consume too much dietary (or supplemental) Tyramine.

In the context of Afterburn Fuel, N-Methyl Tyramine serves as a means of amplifying/extending the effects of Caffeine.

CDP-CHOLINE:

CDP Choline (Citicoline) is a highly bioavailable source of Choline (second only to Alpha GPC) which has been shown to raise Acetylcholine levels in living models. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter commonly attributed with controlling the mind-muscle-connection, and although this may be somewhat of an over-simplification, increased levels of Acetylcholine generally lead to increased performance and muscle contractibility.

Since studies directly testing the effects of Citicoline on exercise performance are scarce, an optimal dose has yet to be established. Common doses for the purpose of raising Acetylcholine levels fall in the range of 250-1000mg, but Afterburn Fuel probably contains less.

PIKAMILON:

Pikamilon (alternatively spelled ‘Picamilon’) is formed by combining Niacin (vitamin B3) and GABA (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in mammals). Pikamilon 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. However, Picamilon does not produce the sedative like effects of other GABA pro-drugs and instead is commonly used as a nootropic (cognitive enhancer) because it has also been demonstrated to increase cerebral blood flow 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 a non-sedative anxiolytic, human studies remain scarce. Mike Chang does not disclose the amount of Pikamilon in Afterburn Fuel.

VINPOCETINE:

Vinpocetine is a compound generally extracted from Periwinkle which has been shown to increase blood flow.

Vinpocetine’s potential for vasodilation has been known for quite some time, with a 1980 study from the “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology” noting a roughly 7% increase in cerebral blood flow following infusions of Vinpocetine in healthy human subjects.

A 1985 study, published in the “European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology”, replicated these findings and noted a reduction in reaction time (increased reaction speed) in healthy human subjects taking 40mg Vinpocetine daily. More recent studies support these findings but have combined Vinpocetine with other nutrients, so the results are were not as conclusive.

Clinical doses of Vinpocetine range from 20-40mg, but Afterburn Fuel likely contains nowhere near that range. Vinpocetine has a very distinct and bitter aftertaste which is quite detectable at doses of 5mg or more. In other words, if Afterburn Fuel contained a truly effective dose of Vinpocetine, it would taste terrible.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Afterburn Fuel contains nothing out of the ordinary in terms of ingredients, with several pump-based ingredients (Citrulline, Agmatine, Norvaline, etc.) as well as Caffeine and Tyramine for enhanced focus. However, several of these ingredients are clearly under-dosed on a per serving basis which drastically limits the overall potential of Afterburn Fuel. At about $65 for only 20 servings, Afterburn Fuel may be the most over-priced pre-workout we have ever come across. Roughly the same formula could be reconstructed for somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 for 20 servings, and it’s for that reason above all others that we have to recommend passing on Afterburn Fuel.

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