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Cobra Labs The Ripper Review

Cobra Labs’ second supplement (first being The Curse), The Ripper, is a fat-burner which contains both stimulant (Caffeine and Olive Leaf Extract) and non-stimulant ingredients (Green Coffee Bean, Raspberry Ketone, etc.)…

Cobra Labs The Ripper

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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. 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”.

In addition to improving various aspects of performance, Beta-Alanine has also been shown to increase lean mass and reduce fat mass. A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that 1.5g Beta-Alanine daily for three weeks was able to increase lean mass in resistance trainer males. These results were replicated in a later (2010) study from the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in in women using 6g daily.

While it’s not a fat-burner, per se, Beta-Alanine is actually a pretty effective body re-composition agent, which can increase lean mass, as well as strength and endurance. Cobra Labs does not disclose the exact dose of Beta Alanine present in The Ripper, but given a 3055mg proprietary blend, we’d estimate anywhere from 1.5-2g per serving.

TAURINE

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.

Although the fat-burning potential of Taurine remains relatively under-researched, a 2010 study from the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” found that 1660mg of Taurine was able to increase fat-oxidation during exercise in cyclists.

Taurine by itself is not likely to favorably influence body weight in a particularly significant way, but it does have certain pro-fat loss mechanisms which make it a suitable candidate for a fat-burner. Cobra Labs does not disclose the exact dose of Taurine, but given the weight of the proprietary blend as a whole, we’d estimate anywhere from 800-1300mg.

GUARANA

Guarana is a plant native to the Amazon, the fruit of which contains Caffeine as well as related chemical compounds such as Theobromine and Theophylline (both cardiac stimulants with less of a mental effect). Although Guarana is touted as being a sort of “slow-release” form of caffeine, a study published in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology” found there was no difference in the absorption rates of Caffeine from Guarana as opposed to Caffeine Anhydrous (synthetic) in rats. Human studies have yet to be confirmed, but given these preliminary findings, there is certainly no reason to believe Guarana would absorb any differently in humans.

So, for the purposes of The Ripper, Guarana should really just be viewed as another source of Caffeine, bringing the total Caffeine per serving to above 200, how far above remains unclear.

RASPBERRY KETONE

Despite the popularity of Raspberry Ketone, it has never actually demonstrated any efficacy for weight-loss in actual humans and, even in rat studies, has produced lackluster results using massive concentrations.

A 2010 in vitro study found that treatment with Raspberry Ketone increased fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis in adipocytes (fat cells). However, the amount/concentration of RK used in this study is beyond what could practically be consumed in oral supplement form.

A 2005 study, seeking to determine the weight loss effects of raspberry ketone on rats fed a high fat diet, noted dose dependent anti-obesity effects using doses of .5-4 grams/kg. This would roughly correspond to a 150lb person consuming 34-130 grams daily, a highly impractical dose.

In a 2012 study, similar effects were observed in rats, though this time with a focus on fat accumulation in the liver resulting from a high fat diet. The only human study that exists grouped Raspberry Ketone in with several other popular weight-loss ingredients so the effects cannot be attributed to raspberry ketones alone.

On a molecular level, Raspberry Ketone certainly demonstrates anti-obesity effects, but the doses used to achieve these effects are far more than what the average human could practically consume. There are other substances with much more pronounced fat-burning capabilities than raspberry ketone when compared by weight. Given its position in the blend, The Ripper likely contains a couple hundred mg of Raspberry Ketone, simply not enough to really convey any meaningful benefit. Cobra Labs has most likely included it as a “buzz” ingredient.

CAFFEINE

Caffeine generally serves a key ingredient in stimulant-based fat-burners because of it’s ability to release Catecholamines (Noradrenaline, Dopamine, etc.), which induce lipolysis (fat-breakdown). Although this mechanism can certainly burn fat in the short-term, prolonged Caffeine consumption (by itself) generally results in tolerance build-up so the effects become less potent over time. This was demonstrated in a 1992 study in which 24 weeks of Caffeine intake (200mg/day) failed to induce weight-loss in humans. For this reason, for Caffeine to be an effective fat-loss agent, it must be combined with other stimulants such as Synephrine.

Cobra Labs lists Caffeine Anhydrous at 200mg per serving, but the inclusion of Guarana (at an undisclosed dose) means the total Caffeine content of The Ripper is actually more.

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE

Carnitine is an amino acid that is heavily involved with the metabolism of fat for energy. It is required for the proper transport of fatty acids in the mitochondria, where they are oxidized (burned) for energy through the process known as “beta-oxidation”. Carnitine deficiency has been shown to hinder fat-burning capacity. Because of this integral role in the fat-burning process, Carnitine supplementation is alleged to burn-fat, and while it may certainly help normalize fat-burning capacity, human studies regarding weight loss are mixed.

A 2002 study, published in “Metabolism”, found that Carnitine supplementation (1g/day) increased fatty acid oxidation rates in humans without Carnitine deficiency.

A 2004 study from the same journal found that L-Carnitine supplementation (3g/day) increased fatty acid oxidation in overweight subjects while having no effect on protein synthesis or breakdown.

However, a 2005 study, published in the “International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research”, found that Carnitine supplementation failed to influence weight-loss in rats. The results of this study were in-line with an earlier (2002) study in which L-Carnitine supplementation (4g/day) failed to influence fat mass, body mass, or resting lipid utilization in moderately obese women.

A more recent (2010) study found that Carnitine supplementation did favorably influence fatty acid utilization in rats, though this study did not measure fat mass post-supplementation.

Carnitine definitely has the mechanisms by which it could potentially influence fat-burning, but the dose present in The Ripper is so low that it is virtually ineffective. A 106mg “Ripper Shred Matrix” leaves absolutely no room for an effective dose of several of the key ingredients, including Acetyl-L-Carnitine.

GREEN COFFEE EXTRACT

Green Coffee Extract is generally standardized for the active component, Chlorogenic Acid, which has demonstrated to be moderately effective for weight-loss in humans throughout multiple studies.

A 2010 study from “Food and Chemical Toxicology” found multiple anti-obesity effects of Chlorogenic Acid administered to mice including increase beta-oxidations (fat-burning). While this increase in fat-burning may have been partially responsible for the significant weight-loss noted in rodents, Chlorogenic Acid has an alternative mechanism of action that applied for to humans: Inhibition of carbohydrate absorption.

A 2007 study, published in the “Journal of International Medical Research”, found that 12 weeks of Green Coffee (450-500mg Clorogenic Acid) supplementation resulted in a reduction (6.9%) in glucose absorption in healthy volunteers. Researchers also noted average weight loss of 5.4 kg (almost 12 lbs) over the duration of the study in the group receiving the Green Coffee Extract.

A 2006 study, this time using a smaller dose of Green Coffee Extract (yielding 140mg Chlorogenic Acid), found no such weight-loss benefit over a 12 week period. The obvious difference between these two studies is that the dose of the first (positive) study was about 3 times the dose used in the second (negative) study.

A 2012 study found that adults who consumed GCE (containing about 315mg Chlorogenic Acid) daily lost an average of 8kg with the average reduction in body fat being about 4%.

At high enough doses, Green Coffee Extract can be an weight-loss agent, but the dose present in the 106mg “Ripper Shred Matrix” is undeniably way too low. Even at multiple servings, users can’t possible be getting an effective dose of Chlorogenic Acid.

GREEN TEA EXTRACT

Multiple studies have confirmed Green Tea Extract can influence fat-loss to a statistically significant degree. Although this effect was originally thought to be related to caffeine content, more recent research has pointed to a green tea catechin known as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) as the compound primarily responsible for these effects.

A 2009 study, published in “The Journal of Nutrition”, found that subjects consuming 625mg Green Tea Catechins (EGCG) alongside 40mg Caffeine paired with exercise lost an average of 2.2kg (4.8lbs) compared to the subjects in the control group (consuming just Caffeine), who lost an average of 1kg (2.2lbs). These findings were corroborated by a 2009 meta-analysis, published in the “International Journal of Obesity”, which concluded that Green Tea extract tended to cause about 1.2kg (2.6lbs) reduction in bodyweight, and that effects could be amplified with Caffeine in non-caffeine tolerant individuals.

Further research has revealed that EGCG can effectively block Catechol-o-Methyl Transferase (COMT), the enzyme responsible for the degradation of Catcholamines such as Noradrenaline. The result is an indirect increase in Noradrenaline which induces lipolysis. So, while EGCG is not likely to induce noticeable weight-loss alone, when combined with Caffeine or other Noradrenaline-releasing stimulants, it can be quite synergistic. Most of the efficacy has been demonstrated using doses of 400-500mg EGCG daily, and the less caffeine-tolerant the individual, the better.

Like Carnitine and Green Coffee Extract, there simply isn’t enough Green Tea Extract in The Ripper to convey any meaningful benefit, even at multiple doses. It seems Cobra Labs is not concerned with properly dosing these would-be effective ingredients, rendering them ineffective in the context of The Ripper.

CINNAMON EXTRACT

Cinnamon Extract is generally standardized for insulin mimetic-like compounds and to remove the harmful compound, Coumarin. Though referring to Cinnamon extract as an “insulin mimetic” may be an exaggeration, it has demonstrated the ability to lower blood glucose in several human studies, and has potentiated the effects of insulin in vitro. It is unlikely that Cinnamon Extract would significantly contribute to weight-loss in the average human, but for those will high insulin resistance, it may help keep blood-glucose in check.

OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT (40% OLEUROPEIN)

Cobra Labs was one of the first companies to begin using Oleuropein, which was present in The Curse. As predicted, many companies are now using this compound, as more and more evidence suggest Noradrenaline signaling properties.

Olive leaf extract contains two main bioactive compounds: Hydroxytyrosol and Oleuropein, both phenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In additions to these properties, a 2007 study from “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry” demonstrated increase noradrenaline and adrenaline levels in rats following injection of the extract, which was alleged to be primarily due to Oleuropein.

Similar findings were noted in a 2013 study published in “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry” in which rats fed a diet high in Oleuropein experienced significantly increased noradrenaline levels (measured by urine), though it’s worth mentioning that this was not accompanied by the usual decrease in weight. In fact, Oleuropein may actually downregulate beta-adrenergic receptors, as evidenced in a 2012 study from “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”. So, while the weight-loss implications of Oleuropein remain unclear, it may enhance focus/perceived energy.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

The Ripper contains a wide array of potentially effective fat-loss agents but, unfortunately, a few would-be key ingredients (Green Coffee Extract, Green Tea Extract, Carnitine) are severely under-dosed. For this reason, most of the weight-loss potential of The Ripper lies in the combination of Beta-Alanine, Caffeine, and Oleuropein, none of which are likely to have a particularly sizable impact. At about 90 cents per serving, The Ripper isn’t exactly the same bargain that The Curse was known as, and there are certainly fat-burners out there that achieve a greater cost/efficacy balance.

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