Nano Vapor is one of MuscleTech’s original pre-workouts, although it has undergone a reformulation or two over the years. From an ingredients standpoint, the formula is very complete, but we have concerns over the dosing of certain ingredients…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
At this point, most weight lifters/athletes who take supplements are familiar with this compound. In fact, it may be difficult to even find a pre-workout that is lacking this ingredient in any amount…but why would you want to!? If there is one ingredient with an ever-growing sea of scientific studies to support its effectiveness, its Citrulline.
A 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a single dose of 8 grams of Citrulline Malate resulted in a significant increase in repetitions of flat-bench dumbbell press as well as reduced muscle soreness following the workout. Muscle Tech actually uses this study as proof of the effectiveness of Nano Vapor, but not to fear, this study was not funded or influenced in anyway by the company. Also, this is far from the only study that has shown positive exercise implications for supplementation with Citrulline Malate.
A 2002 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that: “CM ingestion resulted in a significant reduction in the sensation of fatigue, a 34% increase in the rate of oxidative ATP production during exercise, and a 20% increase in the rate of phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, indicating a larger contribution of oxidative ATP synthesis to energy production.”
Yet another study done in 2010, and published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, found that Citrulline can enhance the use of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) during exercise. As you can tell, the list of the benefits of Citrulline goes on and on, and listing every study would be tedious and redundant.
However, it’s important to point out that these three studies were done using 8000mg, 6000mg, and 6000mg respectively. Muscle Techs formula contains 2,667 mg of Citrulline/serving which, despite being more than most pre-workouts we’ve analyzed, still falls short of the dosages used in these studies. In order to hit these numbers, you would have to take 2-3 servings at a time.
Beta Alanine is the precursor to the amino acid Carnosine which is created by the combination of Beta-Alanine and Histidine. Higher Carnosine levels inside the muscle have been linked to better workout performance in various studies. The rate limiting factor in muscle carnosine levels is the amount of Beta Alanine available for synthesis. For this reason, supplementation of Beta Alanine has been shown to increase muscle Carnosine levels significantly, and therefore improve workout performance.
As far as the exact mechanism of action, there are competing theories. Despite the overwhelming amount of studies showing the effectiveness of both Beta Alanine supplementation increasing muscle Carnosine concentration, and muscle Carnosine concentration being positively correlated with workout performance, the exact mechanism of action remains somewhat of a mystery.
The theory with the most scientific support is that higher carnosine levels stop muscle cell pH from dropping by acting as a buffer against hydrogen ions which tend to rise during exercise. Low pH interferes with ATP production and thus, decreases the amount of cellular energy available in the muscle cells. Regardless of the mechanism of action, it is quite clear that Beta Alanine is very beneficial as a performance enhancer. One thing to keep in mind is that most studies demonstrating the effectiveness were/are done using amount between 3000mg-5000mg.
One serving of Nano Vapor contains 1067mg of Beta Alanine. Furthermore, in order to increase muscle concentrations of carnosine, Beta Alanine must be taken consistently for a few weeks, so just one dose will not yield any substantial result.
Beatine Anhydrous, also known as Trimethylglycine, is a compound which was first isolated from beets (hence the name ‘betaine’. A 2010 study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that daily supplementation with 1.25 grams of Betaine positively influenced strength and power. Despite the fact that a few studies now have shown Betaine’s ergogenic properties, this ingredient doesn’t seem to be quite as popular with supplement companies as say, Citrulline or Beta Alanine.
Quercetin is a flavonoid which can be found in (and extracted from) a wide variety of plants. The proposed benefits of Quercetin range from anti-inflammatory to possible cancer fighting abilities. However, Muscle Tech is very clear why they put it in the formula. They claim that quercetin may increase nitric oxide and thus, may have a vasodilator effect. However, what Muscle Tech fails to mention is that these claims primarily arise from studies done with rats, and as you can very well imagine, what works in rats doesn’t always work in humans. A 2009 study concluded that “The quercetin-related effects on performance and mitochondrial biogenesis in untrained humans are modest and far below those reported in mice”. So far, the athletic implications of Quercetin are not widely understood. While there is not enough information to conclude that Quercetin raises nitric oxide levels, there are certainly a number of beneficial reasons to include the ingredient.
Pausinystalia Yohimbe (aka Yohimbe) contains two active ingredients: Yohimbine and Rauwolscine. Yohimbine acts as an alpha-2 receptor antagonist, meaning it inhibits the receptor. Alpha receptors are responsible for blocking lipolysis (fat burning). By blocking the action of this receptor, yohimbine essentially allows the gates open for stored fat to be burned for energy. For this reason, Yohimbine is most likely not very effective in non-exercising people, but will certainly increase fat loss on top of exercise. One study showed that while there were no increases in strength, supplementation “appears to be suitable as a fat loss strategy in elite athletes.” In addition to this property, Yohimbine has also been demonstrated to increase the action of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, resulting in increased mood and concentration. Rauwolscine is what is known as a stereoisomer of yohimbine, meaning it is chemically similar in structure. Because of this similarity, Rauwolscine produces similar effects, although perhaps to a milder degree. It is more common for supplement companies to include both Yohimbine and Rauwolscine together rather than one or the other, because both compounds are found in the plant Yohimbe.
Not many supplements have received more publicity (and scrutiny) than Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine assists the body in producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which acts as cellular energy. This increases the amount of force your muscles can put forth. However, studies that have demonstrated creatines effectiveness have use anywhere from 5-20 grams daily. We’re always skeptical of creatine as an ingredient in a pre-workout because it is generally in small doses. Nano Vapor contains 1667mg of Creatine Monohydrate per serving. Needless to say, this dose is far below what has generally been accepted as beneficial. However, given that Muscle Tech suggests that customers take 3 scoops of the formula, the dose would acutally be 5 grams (5000 mg), which is certainly scientifically accepted as an effective dose. Even those who use one serving size may experience results (although not as dramatic as at 2 or 3 servings) after prolonged supplementation. Also, it’s worth noting that the average amount of Creatine generally found in pre-workout supplements is around 1000, so even at a single dose, Nano Vapor is considerably above average.
Taurine is an amino acid commonly found the brain and liver. Red Bull popularized Taurine and helped fuel the hype regarding its potential energy enhancing effects. Over the years, the popularity of this ingredient has grown, even though more and more studies have failed to show any effect on energy. However, a 2002 study did show that Taurine’s antioxidant properties may decrease the amount of exercise induced DNA damage in muscle cells. Supplementation has been shown to reduce exercise induced fatigue in rats, while a human study concluded that prolonged exercise did significantly deplete muscle Taurine levels, suggesting that taurine may play an important role in prolonged exercise. Still, more studies would be needed to confirm this. Finally, a recent 2013 study noted a 1.7% improvement in 3k-time trial of runners, but noted that more research would be required to determine any potential mechanism of action. In the end, Taurine is actually a very interested ingredient with a host of possibilities as an antioxidant/exercise enhancer. However, more human studies are needed to replicate some of these findings.
Aspartic Acid has been touted as a performance enhancer for decades, but unfortunately, more and more studies have shown that it is far from a miracle. Preliminary evidence suggested that aspartic acid may increase the rate of ammonia removal from the blood during exercise which may allow athletes to go on for longer. However, the more recent studies have shown minimal results. Safety-wise, there is nothing to suggest that this compound could be harmful in anyway (it is just an amino acid) but the science says it doesn’t do much good either. The fact that Muscle Tech doesn’t even try to defend this ingredient on their website sends up an immediate red flag that it probably isn’t of much significance.
Caffeine is the most obvious addition to any pre-workout because it acts as a central nervous (and metabolic) stimulant. Consumption has been scientifically proven to result in: enhanced alertness, better coordination, increased focus, etc. Average doses of caffeine range from 70-200 mg. Nano Vapor contains 130mg of caffeine per dose which is what we consider to be the sweet spot. At a dosage of 130 mg, most people will not feel overwhelmed or particularly jittery, but will notice an increase in energy levels. However, given that Muscle Tech recommends you take 3 scoops, some users may feel the negative effects of 390mg of caffeine. We suspect that is why they’ve included the next and last ingredient: Theanine.
Theanine is a great additive to any pre-workout because of its ability to counter the negative effects of caffeine. Theanine is commonly found in Green Tea and is generally believed to be the agent in the tea that promotes relaxation and counteracts the caffeine that is also present in Green Tea. Multiple studies have confirmed Theanine’s ability to promote “alert relaxation”. For this reason, it is a perfect complement for high levels of caffeine. Nano Vapor’s formula contains 50mg of Theanine with 130mg of caffeine which is just right for avoiding jitteriness, while still experiencing increased energy. We applaud Muscle Tech for the inclusion of this ingredient, as not many companies include it in their formulas, despite the growing amount of literature showing the positive effects.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Nano Vapor is actually pretty solid in terms of ingredients, but many of these ingredients are under-dosed. If you can afford to take multiple servings then it is actually one of the more effective PWOs out there, but the same formula could be reconstructed for much less. Furthermore, with several brands now offering full clinical doses of the same key ingredients per ONE serving, there is just no reason to over-pay here.
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