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MusclePharm Gainz Review

Gainz is a post-workout recovery supplement belonging the Hardcore Series by MusclePharm. In terms of ingredients and dosing, it’s pretty similar to other post-workout recovery supplements out there…

MusclePharm Gainz

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L-LEUCINE

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.

Although the traditional approach with BCAAs is a 2:1:1 ratio, MusclePharm has opted for a 4:1:1 ratio of Leucine to Isoleucine and Valine.

Leucine supplementation (4g/day for 12 weeks) has been shown to increase 5-rep max in previously untrained individuals, as well as preserve muscle mass in individuals with certain diseases characterized by muscular wasting.

Gainz contains the same 4g dose used in the study referenced above.

BCAAS IN GENERAL

The term “Branched Chain Amino Acids” (BCAAs) refers to the amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. While Leucine does appear to be the most critical in regards to muscle protein synthesis, a 2009 study published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” concluded thatBCAAs (2:1:1) have a more pronounced effect on protein synthesis than the same amount of Leucine alone, indicating that consuming all three BCAAs is better than just Leucine.

A 2004 study conducted by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences found that BCAA requirement was significantly increased by exercise and that supplementation had “beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis”.

A 2009 study published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” tested the effects of BCAA supplementation in comparison to whey protein supplementation or simple carbohydrates (from a sports drink) in athletes.

All subjects consumed the same diet and participated in the same physical training regimen. At the end of the 8 week study, the BCAA group significantly outperformed both the whey group and carbohydrate group in terms of lean body mass as well as strength.

As discussed earlier, MusclePharm has clearly placed the emphasis on Leucine which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Overall, the 6g dose of BCAAs present in Gainz is going to be pretty beneficial after a long workout.

GLUTAMINE

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid (your body can make it) that is involved in a variety of bodily functions, from immune health, to providing a back-up fuel-source for the brain. Aside from its general physiological roles, supplemental Glutamine has shown a lot of promise when it comes to fighting exercise induced immune system suppression.

Our immune systems ultimately benefit from regular exercise, but in the short-term, exercise actually temporarily lowers our immune defenses, thus making us more susceptible to infection during that time-frame. This temporary compromise of the immune system has been proven to correlate with lower levels of glutamine.

For this reason, it is suggested that increased uptake of glutamine may help keep the immune system strong post-exercise. In addition, lower glutamine levels have been recorded in over-trained athletes, suggesting that higher levels of glutamine may help to prevent overtraining.

Gainz contains 3g of L-Glutamine, not the highest dose but still potentially effective for combating exercise-induced immune suppression from prolonged exhaustive exercise.

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.

MusclePharm lists the amount of Beta-Alanine in Gainz at 2g per serving, not a particularly high dose but still potentially effective.

CREATINE HCL

Creatine is the most extensively-researched performance enhancing supplement, with literally hundreds of studies backing its use. There has, however, been quite a bit of debate over the best time to consume Creatine. It is most commonly consumed pre-workout, but there is evidence to suggest post is actually better.

A 2013 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” compared the effects of pre-workout Creatine supplementation to post-workout supplementation and found no significant differences between groups, though based on “magnitude inferences”, the researchers concluded that post-workout supplementation may be slightly more favorable.

Gainz contains 2g of Creatine HCl, not a particularly effective dose on its own but when stacked with some other source of Creatine (perhaps Wreckage) it’s enough.

BIOPERINE

Piper nigrum, also known as Black Pepper, contains Piperine. Several studies have found that black pepper extract, when combined with other supplements, has increased the absorption of those supplements (as measured by plasma levels). Piperine’s ability to increase absorption of other compounds is due to the inhibition of certain enzymes which breakdown most compounds, as well as the slowing of intestinal transit (increasing the amount of time these compounds are exposed to the possibility of uptake).

Gainz contains the standard 5mg of BioPerine which may help to enhance the overall effectiveness of the formula to some degree.

THE BOTTOM LINE

MusclePharm has taken a pretty standard approach with the Gainz formula which contains the usual array of post-workout ingredients at moderately effective doses.  It’s not a bad at all, but just lacks any unique characteristic that sets it apart from other (potentially less expensive) post-workout supplements out there.  You won’t see Gainz on our Best Post-Workout Recovery Supplements list.

References

  1. Blomstrand, Eva. “A Role for Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Reducing Central Fatigue.”American Society for Nutrition (n.d.): n. pag.
  2. Shimomura, Yoshiharu, et al. “Nutraceutical effects of branched-chain amino acids on skeletal muscle.” The Journal of nutrition 136.2 (2006): 529S-532S.
  3. Anthony, Tracy G., et al. “Oral administration of leucine stimulates ribosomal protein mRNA translation but not global rates of protein synthesis in the liver of rats.” The Journal of nutrition 131.4 (2001): 1171-1176.
  4. Shimomura, Yoshiharu, et al. “Exercise promotes BCAA catabolism: effects of BCAA supplementation on skeletal muscle during exercise.” The Journal of nutrition 134.6 (2004): 1583S-1587S.
  5. Tipton, Kevin D., et al. “Stimulation of muscle anabolism by resistance exercise and ingestion of leucine plus protein.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 34.2 (2009): 151-161.
  6. Tipton, Kevin D., et al. “Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 292.1 (2007): E71-E76.
  7. Blomstrand, E., P. Hassm�n, B. Ekblom, and E. A. Newsholme. “Administration of Branched-chain Amino Acids during Sustained Exercise ? Effects on Performance and on Plasma Concentration of Some Amino Acids.” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 63.2 (1991): 83-88.
  8. Anthony Anthony, Joshua C., Tracy Gautsch Anthony, and Donald K. Layman. “Leucine supplementation enhances skeletal muscle recovery in rats following exercise.”The Journal of nutrition 129.6 (1999): 1102-1106.
  9. MacLean D.A..Graham,T.E. and B. Saltin. “Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism 267.6 (1994): E1010-E1022.
  10. Stoppani, Jim, et al. “Consuming branched-chain amino acid supplement during a resistance training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6.Suppl 1 (2009): P
  11. Gomez-Merino, D., et al. Evidence that the branched-chain amino acid L-valine prevents exercise-induced release of 5-HT in rat hippocampus. Int J Sports Med. 2001 Jul;22(5):317-22
  12. Casperson, Shanon L., et al. “Leucine supplementation chronically improves muscle protein synthesis in older adults consuming the RDA for protein.”Clinical Nutrition 31.4 (2012): 512-519.
  13. Sale, Craig, Bryan Saunders, and Roger C. Harris. “Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance.” Amino acids 39.2 (2010): 321-33
  14. Stellingwerff, Trent, et al. “Effect of two β-alanine dosing protocols on muscle carnosine synthesis and washout.” Amino Acids 42.6 (2012): 2461-2472.
  15. Hoffman J, et al. Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. (2008)
  16. Wilson, Jacob M., et al. “Beta-alanine supplementation improves aerobic and anaerobic indices of performance.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 32.1 (2010): 71-78
  17. Suzuki, Yasuhiro, Osamu Ito, Naoki Mukai, Hideyuki Takahashi, and Kaoru Takamatsu. “High Level of Skeletal Muscle Carnosine Contributes to the Latter Half of Exercise Performance during 30-s Maximal Cycle Ergometer Sprinting.” The Japanese Journal of Physiology 52.2 (2002): 199-20

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