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Cellucor C4 Mass Review

C4 Mass is Cellucor’s most recent addition to the G4 Series which essentially combines familiar elements of the brands flagship pre-workout, C4, with mass-gaining ingredients like Creatine and Simple Carbs…

Cellucor C4 Mass

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SIMPLE CARBS

Polydextrose, Sucrose, Dextrose, and Fructose are all simple sugars which can quickly be utilized by the body for energy.  Most pre-workouts these days contain little to no sugar because sugar ads 4 calories per gram.  However, in the context of C4 Mass, sugar makes sense.

Not only can sugar be quickly converted into energy, but it can also enhance the absorption of Creatine, thereby contributing to lean mass gains.

CREATINE

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. Its primary mechanism of action is its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy, thereby directly increasing strength and power output.

Additionally, 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.

C4 Mass contains an undisclosed amount of Creatine Monohydrate, but based on the weight of the proprietary blend, there is certainly no indication that Cellucor has under-dosed this ingredient.

BETA-ALANINE

Beta-Alanine is the rate limiting amino acid in the synthesis of the dipeptide, Carnosine, which acts as a lactic acid buffer in muscle tissue.  Reducing the build-up of lactic acid can directly enhance muscular endurance, and this has been demonstrated throughout multiple studies in both athletes and non-athletes alike.

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 outputin 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.

Like the original C4 Extreme, C4 Mass contains 1.6g of Beta-Alanine.  This dose is technically within the clinical range, but double-dosing will provide more notable benefit.

CREATINE NITRATE & HCL

The benefits of Creatine Nitrate can be broken down into the benefits of Creatine and the benefits of Nitrate.  Despite claims that Creatine Nitrate is superior in terms of absorption, there is no actual evidence that it’s better than other forms of Creatine such as Monohydrate (discussed above).

The benefits of Nitrate are further explained in this article.  C4 Mass contains 1g of Creatine Nitrate, though its unclear how much of that is Creatine and how much is Nitrate.

ARGININE AKG

Arginine is a non-essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to Nitric Oxide which generally enhances physical performance, specifically endurance.

Although high doses (6g at least) of Arginine have been shown to increase circulating Nitric Oxide levels and muscle blood volume post-workout, it has failed to increase intra-workout strength in more than one study.

A 2012 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found no performance enhancement benefits with 3700mg of Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate prior to resistance training. In fact, in this particular study, subjects who received the AAKG actually performed slightly worse than the placebo group.

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 as effective as L-Arginine, let alone superior.

C4 Mass contains 1g of Arginine AKG.  It appears Cellucor just doesn’t want to let this ingredient go, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting there are MUCH better ingredients which can increase Nitric Oxide.

N-ACETYL-L-TYROSINE

Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid (the body can produce it from Phenylalanine) which serves a precursor to Dopamine (by first being converted into L-Dopa) and Noradrenaline.

Because of this relationship, Tyrosine is alleged to increase levels of these neurotransmitters, which would theoretically lead to performance enhancement. However, research has demonstrated thatTyrosine cannot outright raise Dopamine or Noradrenaline levels upon ingestion, though it can help maintain optimal levels when depletion might otherwise occur.

Upon ingestion, Tyrosine forms substrate pool, which can then be drawn from when an acute stressor (exercise, cold exposure, etc.) causes a temporary depletion of Dopamine/Noradrenaline. For this reason, Tyrosine can be useful for maintaining cognitive function during stressful activity.

Cellucor does not disclose the total amount of N-Acetyl Tyrosine present in C4 Mass but, based on the weight of the proprietary blend, we’d estimate around 150mg.

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.

Additionally, Caffeine can enhance calcium-ion release in muscle tissue, which directly increases muscle contraction force. Rather than discuss dozens of studies, we’ll leave it at this: Caffeine is an extremely effective ergogenic aid, though tolerance build-up is certainly an issue to keep in mind.

C4 Mass contains 150mg of Caffeine per serving, slightly more than the original C4 Extreme, which contains 135mg.

MUCUNA PRURIENS

Mucuna Pruriens contains L-Dopa, a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter Dopamine.  Although Mucuna Pruriens (assuming the right dose) may effective increase Dopamine levels in the brain, it remains unclear how this might impact exercise performance.  Certainly there are mechanisms by which Mucuna Pruriens could favorably impact exercise performance but without any studies on the topic, it’s tough to say for sure.

Mucuna Pruriens is another ingredient that Cellucor seems reluctant to phase out, despite a lack of evidence for its efficacy as a performance enhancement ingredient.

THEACRINE

Theacrine is an alkaloid found almost exclusively in Camellia Assamica, also known as Kucha tea. In terms of its chemical structure, Theacrine (1,3,7,9-tetramethyluric acid) is very similar to Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine), so its physiological effects are alleged to be similar as well.

We discuss the research behind Theacrine in this article but, to make a long story short, it appears to increase perceived energy levels in humans.  Thus, it does make sense in the C4 Mass formula where it may enhance the energy aspect.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The “mass” component of C4 Mass comes from the simple sugars and Creatine blend, which may certainly increase muscle mass if consumed on a consistent basis for several weeks.  We wouldn’t recommend it to anyone trying to lose weight (obviously) or anyone looking for some insane stimulant rush.  However, for the average individual, C4 Mass may increase energy/alertness during workouts and ultimately contribute to building muscle.

Still don’t know which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements list for some recommendations.

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