Amino Pump contains several ingredients, most of which are effective performance enhancers although, due to a lack of transparency, we question the levels of some of the ingredients…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Creatine is the most extensively studied ergogenic aid currently available, and by far one of the most effective at increasing both strength and muscle mass. Creatine’s primary mechanism of action is via the ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy. During high intensity exercise, Creatine is used as an energy source 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, posing a secondary mechanism by which Creatine can potentially enhance performance.
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. Amino Pump contains an undisclosed amount of Creatine, but given an 8.1g proprietary blend, there is plenty of room for an effective (5g) dose.
Aspartic Acid has been touted as a performance enhancer for decades now, with preliminary research (in rats) suggesting that Aspartic Acid may help remove excess Ammonia during exercise, effectively reducing fatigue. Though some efficacy has been demonstrated, the overall results are mixed and not particularly promising.
A 1964 study, published in the “American Journal of Physiology—Legacy Content”, failed to note any significant changes in various performance measures including breathing capacity and metabolic rate in exercising men who received 2 grams of aspartic acid (magnesium and potassium salts) over a 9 week period.
A similar failure occurred in a 1983 study from the “International Journal of Sports Medicine” , this study using 6 gram, acute dosages. However, a 1988 study from “Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport”, found that 10 grams of Aspartic Acid salts effectively increased time to exhaustion (cycling) in male athletes. This study also noted significant decreases in ammonia and lactate, indicating that this was the mechanism of action.
So, while different studies have yielded different results, it does appear that higher doses of Aspartic Acid may convey some anti-fatigue benefits during extended exercise. Although the 8.1g proprietary blend of Amino Pump leaves enough room for a somewhat effective dose of Aspartic Acid, the lack of label transparency makes it tough to gauge the true efficacy.
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”.
The lowest dose of Beta-Alanine which has technically been shown to still raise muscle Carnosine levels is 1.6g. While Cutler Nutrition does not disclose the exact dose of Beta-Alanine present in the Amino Pump formula, there is no indication that there is less than a minimally effective dose.
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. Cutler Nutrition does not disclose the exact dose of Glycerol present in Amino Pump, but given an 8.1 proprietary blend, there is technically room for an effective 1-2g dose.
Leucine is an amino acid belonging to the group known as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), along with Isoleucine and Valine. While BCAAs are most commonly found together, Leucine is the most potent with regards to stimulating muscle protein synthesis, so it is sometimes found alone (as in the Amino Pump formula).
A 2009 study, published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism”, found that Leucine’s stimulation of muscle protein synthesis was augmented by physical exercise, indicating that pre/intra workout Leucine supplementation may have a greater impact than at other times. These results were consistent with those of an earlier (2001) study from the “American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism” in which essential amino acid (include Leucine) ingestion prior to exercise had a greater influence protein synthesis than post-exercise ingestion in healthy human subjects.
Leucine has also been shown, in multiple studies, to preserve muscle mass in individuals with certain diseases characterized by muscular wasting, further establishing Leucine as a potent anti-catabolic agent.
Leucine’s primary mechanism of action is via activation of Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) which is a signaling molecule that signals the body to synthesize protein. To put it simply, Leucine activates mTOR which in turn stimulates protein synthesis. Amino Pump contains an undisclosed amount of Leucine, but we’d estimate no more than 1g or so, given its position in the proprietary blend.
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.
Taurine has demonstrated efficacy at 1-2g prior to exercise, but since Cutler Nutrition does not state how much Taurine there is in the Amino Pump formula, it’s tough to say whether it’s particularly effective.
Agmatine has become one of the most popular pump ingredients for pre/intra-workout supplements, due to preliminary evidence which indicates it can favorably influence Nitric Oxide Synthase (which triggers Nitric Oxide production).
Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate eNOS (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. Whether Amino Pump contains enough Agmatine to convey any meaningful benefit is unclear, since Cutler Nutrition does not list the amount.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Amino Pump has the potential to be a pretty effective non-stimulant pre/intra workout supplement. However, due to the lack of label transparency, it’s unclear whether Cutler Nutrition has included truly effective doses of key ingredients. At just under $1 per serving, Amino Pump is more or less priced average, but given the uncertainty involving the doses of key ingredients, we wouldn’t call it a must-buy.
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