Cytosport Monster Initiate


Initiate is a pre-workout belonging to the Monster series by Cytosport. It contains a blend of pretty average pre-workout ingredients that most users of pre-workouts will be used to seeing…



Taurine is an amino acid which, unlike most, possesses anti-oxidant properties that make it of particular interest as a recovery agent.  In the context of pre-workouts such as Monster Initiate, Taurine is generally intended to enhance exercise performance.

While some research indicates it is mildly effective for this purpose, some studies have failed to show such benefit.

To be clear, Taurine is reliably effective as a recovery agent because it is able to reduce oxidative damage resulting from exercise.  However, as a performance enhancer, it is far from powerful.

Cytosport lits the amount of Taurine in Initiate at 500mg, not exactly a clinical dose.


Leucine is the most potent amino acid when it comes to stimulating muscle protein synthesis.  Although it is often found alongside Isoleucine and Valine in the form of BCAA supplements, it makes sense to consume Leucine alone if muscle protein synthesis is the goal.

In individuals who already consume plenty of protein, Leucine supplementation probably won’t be too beneficial but it can’t hurt either.

Those training in a fasted state should absolutely be supplementing with Leucine.


Glucuronolactone is useless…sorry, but it is.  Absolutely no research has been conducted indicating that it can, in anyway, enhance exercise performance or recovery.  It’s use in Initiate seems like an attempt by Cytosport to attract users of energy drinks since Glucuronolactone is a very popular ingredient in energy drinks.


Citrulline is an amino acid which is heavily involved in the production of Nitric Oxide.  Supplementation with Citrulline Malate (half L-Citrulline, half Malic Acid) has been shown to improve muscular endurance, reduce muscle soreness, and enhance aerobic capacity.

However, almost all studies have used doses of 6-8 of Citrulline Malate.  It’s not clear whether L-Citrulline is as effective as Citrulline Malate because Citrulline Malate also contains Malic Acid.

Cytosport would likely tell you that, because a 6g dose of Citrulline Malate consists of roughly 3g L-Citrulline, that 3g L-Citrulline would provide roughly the same benefit.  Unfortunately, this claim is unsubstantiated at this time.  We usually recommend going with Citrulline Malate, but since that tends to be expensive, many companies just go with L-Citrulline.


Beta-Alanine (Carnosyn is the brand name) is a precursor to Carnosine, higher levels of which are associated with greater muscular endurance.  Over the years, study after study has shown that

There aren’t too many ingredients that have been researched more than Beta-Alanine, aside from maybe Creatine, so it is absolutely a solid addition to the Monster Initiate formula.

Cytosport lists the amount of Beta-Alanine at 2g per serving, technically within the clinical range.

Betaine Anhydrous

Betaine, like Beta-Alanine, has actually been studied pretty extensively with the bulk of the research indicating that it can be effective for increasing strength and power output, possibly also increasing muscle volume (size).

A true clinical dose of Betaine Anhydrous would be 2.5g/day.  Cytosport lists the total amount of Betaine Anhydrous in Monster Initiate at 2g per serving, slightly less than what we would ideally look for in pre-workouts.


Most people are aware that Caffeine increases alertness and focus, but it can also directly improve exercise performance.  With 150mg per serving, Initiate falls into the “low-stim” category of pre-workouts so if you really need an energy boost, you may want to keep it moving.  Many pre-workouts these days contain double that dose, but the ideal dose depends entirely on the individual.  There is no real “clinical range”.

The Bottom Line

Initiate definitely has some things going for it, particularly in the area of muscular endurance, but a few of the ingredients are slightly under-dosed.  With just 150mg of Caffeine per serving, it certainly won’t appeal to the stim-junkies out there, and we’d only really recommend it to individuals who are not very tolerant to Caffeine.

Still don’t know which pre-workout is right for you?  Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements List!


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  3. Norton, Layne E., and Donald K. Layman. “Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise.” The Journal of nutrition 136.2 (2006): 533S-537S.
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  7. Derave, Wim, et al. “Muscle carnosine metabolism and β-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training.” Sports medicine 40.3 (2010): 247-263.
  8. Stout, Jeffrey R., et al. “Effects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 20.4 (2006): 928-931.
  9. Trepanowski, John F., et al. “The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25.12 (2011): 3461-3471.
  10. Costill, D. L., Gl P. Dalsky, and W. J. Fink. “Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance.” Medicine and science in sports 10.3 (1977): 155-158. exists to educate the supplement community and seperate the science from the hype.

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