Amplify is Supreme Sports Enhancements’ pre-workout supplement which contains just about every standard pre-workout ingredient known to man. Unfortunately, some of these ingredients may be under-dosed on a per serving basis…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
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 highest dose we generally see in pre-workouts is 3.2g, with 4.8g being the absolute max we’ve ever seen. Amplify contains a standard 1.6g dose of Beta-Alanine meaning one serving provides a technically effective dose but higher efficacy can be achieved with two servings.
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 its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy. 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.
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. No other form of Creatine has demonstrated any clear superiority over Creatine Monohydrate, so we generally recommend sticking with this particular form. The optimal dose of Creatine is generally around 5 grams per day, taken consistently (regardless of training days) for several weeks.
Amplify contains 1.5g of Creatine Monohydrate per serving, a relatively ineffective dose unless otherwise combined with an outside source of Creatine. Even at two servings, Amplify may only serve to maintain Creatine stores, but will not increase muscular Creatine concentration to a meaningful or noticeable degree.
Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). As demonstrated in a 2007 study, supplemental Citrulline is significantly more effective at raising plasma Arginine than supplemental Arginine itself, and while results with Arginine are mixed, Citrulline has demonstrated clear efficacy as a performance enhancer.
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 NO because it is being diverted for other purposes. 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 go on to convert into Nitric Oxide.
A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline Malate supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males.
A 2008 study from “The Journal of Strength & Conditioning” found that 8g of Citrulline Malate was able to progressively increase the amount of reps performed later in the workout (by as much as 52%) and significantly reduced muscle soreness.
A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of Free Radical Research”, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Malate given to male cyclists before a race increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.
A 2011 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that supplemental Citrulline increased muscular contraction efficiency (less ATP was required for the same amount of power), in-line with the findings of the above-mentioned human study.
Citrulline is generally considered to be most effective at doses of 6-8g, though it is rare to find that much in pre-workout supplements, with most containing just 1 or 2 grams. Unfortunately, Amplify is no exception. With just 1 gram of Citrulline Malate per serving, it is highly unlikely that much benefit can be obtained through just one, or even two, servings.
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.
A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that 2.5g Betaine (split into two 1.25mg doses) over the course of 15 days increased muscle endurance during squats and appeared to improve the quality of each rep (likely because they were easier).
A 2010 study, again from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that the same supplementation protocol (2.5g daily in two equal doses) effectively increased isometric bench press and squat force as well as bench throw and vertical jump power.
A 2011 study, published in “The Journal of Strength & Condition Research” noted improvements in number of bench press repetitions and total volume load with same 2.5g dosing protocol for 14 days. However, another 2011 study from the same journal noted no such improvements in power output or number of reps performed, though there were subjective reports of fatigue reduction.
A 2012 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” noted improvements in cycling sprint power after just one week of supplementation at the standard 2.5g dose.
Most recently, a 2013 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” noted increases in arm size, bench press work capacity, overall body composition, and a trend toward increased power (but not strength). This was the first study to specifically measure the effects of Betaine supplementation on body composition, so further study is needed to corroborate these findings.
It seems Supreme Sports Enhancements is not very interested in providing clinical doses of certain key ingredients, and in the context of the Amplify formula, Betaine is no exception. Amplify contains just 1 gram of Betaine, far below the 2.5g doses used in the above mentioned studies.
L-ARGININE (AKG + DI-ARGININE MALATE):
Amplify contains two forms of Arginine, Arginine AKG and Di-Arginine Malate. Arginine AKG is simply Arginine combined with Alpha Keto-Gluturate, whereas Di-Arginine Malate is a combination of Arginine and Malic Acid. Both forms are touted to be better absorbed than standard L-Arginine, but there is actually not solid evidence to back this claim. So, in the context of Amplify, Arginine AKG and Di-Arginine Malate are essentially the same as L-Arginine. Unfortunately, research indicates that Arginine is not the performance enhancement supplement is was once, and sometimes still is, touted to be.
Arginine is a non-essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to Nitric Oxide. Supplement manufactures claim that, because Arginine is a precursor to Nitric Oxide, supplemental Arginine may boost Nitric Oxide levels, resulting in vasodilation. However, recent studies have found that Arginine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
A 2012 study, published in “Nutrition and Metabolism”, found that acute (one-time) L-Arginine supplementation with 6 grams did not increase plasma (blood) levels of Nitric Oxide in people with normal Asymmetric Dimethylarginine levels. Asymmetric Dimethylarginine is a compound that is chemically related to Arginine and directly interferes with the production of Nitric Oxide.
A 2011, placebo controlled study, found that subjects performed worse after receiving 3700mg of Arginine AKG prior to resistance training.
While most studies have failed to prove that L-Arginine supplementation increases strength, a 2012 double-blind placebo controlled study, found that supplementation with 6 grams of L-Arginine increased muscle blood volume post-workout, but did not increase intra-workout strength.
Given the mixed results using various forms of Arginine, it seems unlikely that Arginine Malate would be particularly effective for increasing Nitric Oxide during workouts. Furthermore, the amount of Arginine present in one serving of Amplify (1.5g) is lower low than what has been used in any study.
As mentioned in the Beta-Alanine section, Histidine is required to form Carnosine, and since it is an essential amino acid, it must be acquired through diet (or supplemented). However, while Histidine deficiency can certainly lead to Carnosine deficiency, supplemental doses of Histidine have proved ineffective at boosting muscle Carnosine above baseline, whereas Beta-Alanine (assuming the right dose) is quite effective at doing so. Amplify contains 500mg of Histidine, but even large amount of Histidine won’t effectively increase Carnosine levels in individuals, unless a deficiency exists.
Norvalin is chemically related to the branched chain amino acid Valine, though the potential benefits are much different. In vitro studies and rat studies have demonstrated that Norvaline is able to inhibit Arginase, the enzyme that breaks down Arginine. The (theoretical) result is that more Arginine is able to convert into Nitric Oxide.
However, Norvaline has never been studied in humans as it relates to performance enhancement, so for now we are left with only a theoretical mechanism of action. Given a lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established, but common doses range from 125-250mg. Supreme Sports Enhancements has included 110mg of Norvaline in the Amplify formula, slightly lower than the average range, but possibly still providing some benefit.
GRAPE SEED EXTRACT:
A 2012 study, published in the “British Journal of Nutrition”, found that Grape Seed Extract was able to reduce exercise induced oxidative stress while simultaneously increasing Nitric Oxide levels in rats. These findings were replicated in a 2013 study from “Phytotherapy Research”, also using rats. Despite these promising preliminary findings, there are no human studies to test whether these benefits extend to humans, let alone exercising humans. However, given the popularity of Grape Seed Extract in recent years, such studies are likely underway.
Rutaecarpine is a primary bioactive found in Evodia rutaecarpa. A 1999 study, published in “Cardiovascular Drug Reviews”, found that Rutaecarpine acted as an effective vasodilator in rats and “may increase Nitric Oxide”. Two separate studies, one in 2005 and one in 2011, found that Rutaecarpine supplementation in rats effectively reduced the effects of caffeine when taken at doses of 20mg/kg or 80mg/kg. While human studies are lacking, these studies indicate that there is a significant antagonistic interaction between Rutaecarpine and caffeine, so ideally we only like to see Rutaecarpine in supplements that do not contain Caffeine. That said, at a dose of 25mg, the Rutaecarpine in the Amplify formula is too little to interfere with the effects of Caffeine.
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.
Amplify contains a solid 1000mg dose of Taurine which may provide some slight performance enhancement benefits.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to Dopamine and Norepinephrine (Catecholamines). Because of this relationship, it is commonly alleged (mostly by supplement companies) that Tyrosine can increase levels of these neurotransmitters, which would ultimately convey some performance enhancement benefits. However, supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce any noticeable performance enhancement benefit in multiple studies.
While Tyrosine may not increase workout performance directly, it has been shown to preserve cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor, such as noise, cold exposure, and potentially, exercise. This is because Tyrosine, upon ingestion, forms a pool which is then drawn from to create more Dopamine and Norepinephrine when depletion occurs. To put it simply, Tyrosine will not increase Dopamine and Noradrenaline, but can help ensure optimal levels are maintained during/after exercise.
Amplify contains 600mg of Tyrosine, less than what has demonstrated efficacy in a clinical setting, but possibly marginally effective.
Glucuronolactone has become a popular additive in energy drinks as well as “detox” supplements which claim cellular protective benefits. Despite being included in various energy products, it has not been studied in isolation in regards to any claims made by these companies. For now, we cannot say with any certainty whether Glucuronolactone makes any difference with regards to workout performance.
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. Many studies have concluded that pre-workout Caffeine consumption can enhance exercise capacity and muscle contractibility, in many cases quite significantly.
It should be kept in mind that habitual Caffeine consumption often results in tolerance, reducing the stimulant effects. We generally recommend that individuals seeking the full benefit of pre-workout Caffeine consumption try to limit their Caffeine intake at other times of the day.
Amplify contains 150mg of Caffeine and no other stimulants. In individuals who do not regularly consume Caffeine, this dose may be moderately effective, but probably won’t cut it for the average stim-fan.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Amplify is not a particularly revolutionary or innovation pre-workout, but instead is just a combination of just about every standard ingredient we’ve come to expect in pre-workouts. Unfortunately, the doses of many of these ingredients are quite low relative to what has demonstrated efficacy in studies, so multiple doses may be necessary. Caffeine is the only stimulant present in the blend, and while this isn’t necessarily good or bad (depends on individual preference), users should be aware that Amplify might not cut it for Caffeine-tolerant individuals or those who seek intense stimulant-driven focus, perceived energy, and mood enhancement as part of their pre-workout experience. At about 85 cents per serving, Amplify is more or less appropriately priced, but considering two doses may be necessary for noticeable results, we wouldn’t consider it a bargain.
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