Power SF is EPIQ’s stimulant-free pre-workout which contains a variety of pump-inducing ingredients. Unfortunately, we have concerns about the dosing of certain ingredients…FIND IT HERE
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. Power SF, however, contains Creatine HCl, which is formed by combining the Creatine molecule with Hydrochloric Acid (HCl), forming a salt. It is commonly alleged that Creatine HCl is better absorbed than Monohydrate, but such claims have never been substantiated. Upon reaching the stomach, Creatine HCl breaks down to the standard Creatine molecule so its absorption is, for all intents and purposes, the same as Monohydrate.
Power SF contains 3g of Creatine HCl per serving. While 3g is not quite the optimal dose, it is technically effective and may indeed raise muscle Creatine levels to a meaningful and noticeable degree over time.
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. Unfortunately, Power SF contains only 10mg, a completely useless and ineffective dose. We’re actually not quite sure if EPIQ has just made a mistake on the label, or if the brand has just dropped the ball with the dosing.
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.
EPIQ does not disclose the exact dose of Taurine present in the Power SF blend, but given a 1267mg proprietary blend, we’d estimate no more than 500mg or so. As with the Creatine HCl, this dose is not necessarily optimal, but may convey some modest benefit.
Betaine (also known as Trimethylglycine) is the amino acid Glycine with the addition of three methyl groups attached. Betaine is alleged to increase power output and strength by increasing cellular swelling, a phenomenon well established with Creatine supplementation, which can drastically reduce the damaging effect of outside stimuli (such as exercise) on the working muscle. So far, Betaine has been investigated in several human studies, and has had some pretty encouraging results in most.
Multiple studies have confirmed that Betaine, at a dose of roughly 2.5g daily, can increase power, strength, and possibly lean mass. To learn more about the benefits of Betaine check out this article.
EPIQ uses a particular form of Betaine known as Betaine Nitrate for the Power SF formula, which is simply Trimethylglycine fused with Nitrate (Nitric Acid). Betaine Nitrate has never been directly compared to regular Betaine (Anhydrous), but it’s safe to assume that it basically conveys the benefits of both compounds. Unfortunately, Power SF contains a relatively marginal 450mg dose of Betaine Nitrate, so it is unlikely that the effects of the Betaine portion would be particularly noticeable.
Quercetin is a flavonoid which can be found in (and extracted from) a wide variety of plants. A 2009 study from the “American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology” found that Quercetin supplementation significantly increased mitochondrial biogenesis, thus increasing endurance in mice. A 2010 study, published in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism”, found a significant increase in time to fatigue in untrained cyclists who consumed 500mg of Quercetin daily for 7 consecutive days. However, a follow-up 2011 study, failed to replicate these findings with the same dose of Quercetin for the same amount of time in sprinters. These findings were in-line with those of an earlier (2009) failed study, though this one used a smaller dose of 250mg.
Overall, the human studies regarding Quercetins potential as a performance enhancer have produced mixed results, so there is no consensus. That being said, the mechanisms by which it may improve performance exist, so it seems there are certainly performance enhancement implications. EPIQ does not disclose how much Quercetine is in the Power SF formula, but we’d estimate no more than 100mg or so.
Beetroot extract generally contains high levels of Nitrate which is converted to Nitrite and then into Nitric Oxide once inside the body. The cardiovascular benefits of dietary Nitrate have been relatively well-known for some time but recent research indicates Beet Root extract supplementation can reliably improve aspects exercise performance. A 2012 study, published in “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”, found that increased dietary nitrate intake (in the form of Nitrate-rich whole Beetroot) improved running performance in healthy adults. A 2013 study, published in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology”, found that Nitrate supplementation (from beetroot juice) effectively elevated plasma Nitrate levels which translated to improved performance during high-intensity exercise in athletes. A 2013 Meta-Analysis, which looked specifically at 17 separate studies using doses of 300-600mg Nitrate from various sources, concluded that supplementation is associated with a moderate improvement in time to exhaustion at a given work load.
Though the actual amount of Beetroot in Power SF is unclear, it is possible that, combined with the Betaine Nitrate, a moderately effective dose of Nitrate is provided.
GRAPE SEED EXTRACT (RESVERATROL)
Grape Seed Extract contains several polyphenols, but is commonly standardized for Resveratrol. Resveratrol has gained massive popularity in recent years as an anti-aging supplement, though there is really no evidence which indicates it can extend the lifespan of humans. That being said, it is a relatively potent antioxidant which has implications for overall cardiovascular health. A 2012 study, published in “The Journal of Physiology”, concluded that Resveratrol was able to improve exercise performance via augmenting fatty acid oxidation in rats. Due to a lack of human studies, it’s unclear whether Resveratrol can actually convey meaningful performance enhancement benefits.
Agmatine has become quite popular as a pump-inducing agent in pre-workout supplements, mostly because of preliminary research which indicates it can increase Nitric Oxide via influencing the expression of Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS).
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.
Anecdotal reports indicate that 500-1000mg of Agmatine is effective, though Power SF contains far less than this range. Given its position in an already under-dosed proprietary blend, the dose is probably quite negligible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
EPIQ’s attempt at a stimulant-free pre-workout is similar to others we’ve seen in that it contains various pump-based ingredients. Unfortunately, with the exception of Creatine (barely an effective dose) and possibly Nitrates, Power SF is extremely under-dosed. At two servings, users may certainly gain strength and size, but this is primarily due to the Creatine, and the same effect could be achieved for much cheaper.
Still not sure which non-stimulant pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Best Non-Stimulant Pre-Workout Supplements List!
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