Volt is a pre-workout by Neon Sport (a Woodbolt International brand) which contains the usual array of ergogenics (Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, Agmatine, etc.) as well as a few stimulants…FIND IT HERE
Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to the amino acid carnosine. Carnosine is effective at reducing muscular fatigue by acting as a lactic acid buffer, preventing build up in muscle tissue during exercise. One study in particular that measured the carnosine levels of sprinters found that “people who’s muscle carnosine was high could exhibit high power during the latter half of the 30-s maximal cycle ergometer sprinting”. Various studies have shown that daily supplementation with beta-alanine effectively increases muscle carnosine levels. Most of these studies have used doses between 3-6 grams. While the exact amount remains undisclosed, we estimate Volt contains around 1 grams of Beta-Alanine.
Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). Citrulline has recently gained recognition in the supplement community for its ability to increase plasma (blood) arginine levels better than supplemental l-arginine itself. A 2009 study, published in the Journal of Free Radical Research, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Mallate given to male cyclists before a race, increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.
How can Citrulline be more effective at increasing Arginine than Arginine itself? The problem with supplemental Arginine is that it is metabolized in the intestines and liver into other substances such as Ornithine and Urea. The intestines and liver contain relatively high levels of Arginase, the enzyme that converts Arginine to Ornithine and Urea. As a result, very little goes on to be involved with the synthesis of nitric oxide. Citrulline, on the other hand, is able to bypass the liver and is metabolized into Arginine elsewhere, where not as much Arginase is present.
Thus, more of the Arginine is able to convert into NO. A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males. A 2011 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that supplemental Citrulline increased muscular contraction efficiency (that is less ATP was required for the same power), in-line with the findings of the above-mentioned human study. Given that one serving of Volt contains 2.3 grams of Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, and Agmatine combined, multiple servings would have to be consumed to achieve the maximum benefit.
Very little is known about Agmatine, although it possesses a variety of implications. The proposed benefits include: Increased growth hormone production, anti-oxidant properties, increased Nitric Oxide (NO), and fat loss, though none of these claims have been completely substantiated. Recently, Agmatine has become quite pervasive in pre-workout supplements because of its alleged ability to inhibit Nitric Oxide Synthase (an enzyme that breaks down excess NO). However, lack of sufficient evidence makes us skeptical of this claim.
In fact, Agmatine has been shown to do the opposite. A 2000 study, published in the “Journal of Brain Research”, found that Agmatine actually suppressed NO production in microglia (glial cells in the brain which mainly protect neurons). It should be noted that NO can be harmful to neurons, and the conclusion of the study was that Agmatine may support cognitive function. Furthermore, it is possible that Agmatine suppresses NO in microglia but not elsewhere. However, these findings certainly do not lend credibility to the notion that it increases NO.
Further research should shed some light on the proposed benefits of Agmatine, but for now there is just not enough evidence for us to get behind it as a vasodilator (though cognitive benefits seem more likely).
Caffeine is the most obvious addition to any pre-workout because it acts as a central nervous stimulant (CNS). Caffeine enhances alertness, improves coordination, and increases focus in most individuals, all things which generally lead to a better workout. Average doses of caffeine range from 70-200 mg, with some preworkout formulas containing around 400 mg. Since caffeine is listed first in the 206mg energy blend, we can be sure there is not more than around 200 mg, but most likely there is much less. We estimate Volt contains 100-140 mg of caffeine. This is enough to produce noticeable (but not overwhelming) effects in most individuals, which leaves the option of taking two doses for those who are less sensitive to stimulants.
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen, meaning it may help the body adapt to stressful situations. RR has been shown to improve stamina and fight mental fatigue in various studies. However, the exact mechanism of action is still unknown. We’re not crazy about herbal extracts because there is often a lot of pseudo-scientific claims attached to them, but we can’t deny that some herbal extracts are effective. After all, most pharmaceuticals are originally derived from some sort of plant. While more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism of action, Rhodolia Rosea has proved to be quite effective at countering exercise induced fatigue, making its inclusion in the Volt formula justified in the eyes of science.
As predicted in our analysis of The Curse, more supplement companies have started to adopt olive leaf extract as an ingredient in pre-workout supplements. Olive leaf extract contains Oleuropein Aglycone, a phenol which possesses antioxidant and antiinflamatory properties. In additions to these properties, it has been demonstrated to increase noradrenaline and adrenaline secretion in rats. While more studies are needed to demonstrate this same effect in humans, the preliminary evidence indicates it may very well have a role in enhancing exercise performance.
RAUWOLFIA ROOT EXTRACT
Rauwolfia seprentina is an asian plant that contains, among other things, yohimbine. For this reason, it is often compared to Yohimbe, and for the purposes of a preworkout supplement, it is basically the same. Rauwolfia extract is generally standardized for two compounds: Yohimbine and Rauwolscine. While Yohimbine is used in some countries for treatment of erectile dysfunction, it’s inclusion in the Volt formula is mostl likely because of its potential for fat loss as well as stimulation of the Central Nervous System. Oral doses of Yohimbine have been shown to cause elevated levels of the neurotransmitters: epinephrine and norepinephrine and it is believed that its propensity for fat burning is secondary to this effect. These are the neurotransmitters associated with increased alertness, energy, and arousal.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (A.K.A. NADH) is the biologically active form of Niacin (vitamin B-3). Since NadH is involved with energy production as well as neurotransmitter synthesis, it is hypothesized that supplementation with this compound can increase cellular energy, focus, etc. While this theoretical mechanism of action may sound legitimate, there is no evidence to support it. In fact, there is only evidence to the contrary. A 2008 study, published in the “Journal of Sports Sciences”, found that supplementation with NadH had absolutely no effect on physical or mental performance measures.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Volt contains a few pre-workout regulars (Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, Agmatine) as well as an effective stimulant blend. As stated above, multiple doses may have to be consumed but at around 80 cents per serving, that wouldn’t be impractical. Given the approximate levels of the key ingredients, Volt is easily stackable. The same can’t be said about all-in-one type pre-workouts, though that is entirely a matter of personal preference.
Still not sure which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements list!
[expand title=”REFERENCES” tag=”h5″]
- Lee, Elaine C., Carl M. Maresh, William J. Kraemer, Linda M. Yamamoto, Disa L. Hatfield, Brooke L. Bailey, Lawrence E. Armstrong, Jeff S. Volek, Brendon P. McDermott, and Stuart AS Craig. “Ergogenic Effects of Betaine Supplementation on Strength and Power Performance.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7.1 (2010): 27.
- Moinard, C., I. Nicolis, N. Neveux, S. Darquy, S. Bénazeth, and L. Cynober. “Dose-ranging Effects of Citrulline Administration on Plasma Amino Acids and Hormonal Patterns in Healthy Subjects: The Citrudose Pharmacokinetic Study.” British Journal of Nutrition 99.04 (2008).
- Bendahan, D., JP Mattei, B. Ghattas, S. Confort-Gouny, ME Le Guern, and PJ Cozzone. “Citrulline/malate Promotes Aerobic Energy Production in Human Exercising Muscle.”British Journal of Sports Medicine (2002): 282-89.
- Ostojic, Sergej. “Yohimbine: The Effects on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Soccer Players.” Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal 14.4 (2006): 289-99.
- 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): 199-205.
- 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.
- Oi-KANO, Yuriko, Teruo Kawada, Tatsuo Watanabe, Fumihiro Koyama, Kenichi Watanabe, Reijirou Senbongi, and Kazuo Iwai. “Oleuropein, a Phenolic Compound in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Increases Uncoupling Protein 1 Content in Brown Adipose Tissue and Enhances Noradrenaline and Adrenaline Secretions in Rats.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 54.5 (2008): 363-70.
- Darbinyan, V., et al. “< i> Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—A double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty.” Phytomedicine 7.5 (2000): 365-371.
- Brown, Richard P., Patricia L. Gerbarg, and Zakir Ramazanov. “Rhodiola rosea.” A phytomedicinal overview. Herbal Gram 56 (2002): 40-52.
- Shevtsov, V. A., et al. “A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5< i> Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work.” Phytomedicine 10.2 (2003): 95-105. Abe, Kazuho, Yuzuru Abe, and Hiroshi Saito. “Agmatine suppresses nitric oxide production in microglia.” Brain research 872.1 (2000): 141-148.
- Sax, L. “Yohimbine does not affect fat distribution in men.” International journal of obesity 15.9 (1991): 561-565.
- Pittler, Max H., and Edzard Ernst. “Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 79.4 (2004): 529-536.
- McCarty, Mark F. “Pre-exercise administration of yohimbine may enhance the efficacy of exercise training as a fat loss strategy by boosting lipolysis.”Medical hypotheses 58.6 (2002): 491-495. MURBURG, M. MICHELE, et al. “Effects of yohimbine on human sympathetic nervous system function.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 73.4 (1991): 861-865.
- Mero, Antti, et al. “Effects of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride on physical and mental performance.” Journal of sports sciences 26.3 (2008): 311-319.