Ion the most recent pre-workout by Performix which features a variety of pretty common ergogenic aids as well as a few stimulants. However, when it comes to dosing, we have serious concerns…
Beta-Alanine is the rate limiting amino acid in the synthesis of the dipeptide, Carnosine, which acts as a lactic acid buffer in muscle tissue. Reducing the build-up of lactic acid can directly enhance muscular endurance, and this has been demonstrated throughout multiple studies in both athletes and non-athletes alike.
A 2002 study from the “Japanese Journal of Physiology” which measured the Carnosine levels of sprinters found that individuals with higher muscular Carnosine levels exhibited higher power outputin the latter half of a 30m sprint (due to 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.
Performix does not disclose the exact dose of Beta-Alanine in Ion but, given the entire proprietary blend is only 3,714mg, there likely isn’t an effective dose
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.
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 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 2010 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 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.
Most recently, a 2014 study from the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that subjects who received 8g Citrulline prior to resistance training were able to perform more reps later in the workout, thus replicating the results of the prior 2010 study. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study was that the subjects were all advanced weight-lifters, meaning the benefits of Citrulline apply to everyone, not just beginners.
Unofortuantely, the amount of Citrulline present in Ion is pretty negligible compared to what has been used in the above-mentioned studies. Performix does not disclose the exact dose but we’d estimate no more than 1g.
Betaine (also known as Trimethylglycine) is the amino acid Glycine with the addition of three methyl groups attached. It has been studied pretty extensively at this point with regards to exercise and has consistently demonstrated benefit
Feel free to read this article on Betaine, which covers the research regarding its potential as a performance enhancer.
A true clinical dose of Betaine is at least 2500mg and, although Performix doesn’t list the exact dose of Betaine, it’s pretty clear that Ion contains nowhere near this much.
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. Its primary mechanism of action is its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy, thereby directly increasing strength and power output.
Additionally, 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.
Ion contains Creatine HCL which is sometimes alleged to be “better” than Monohydrate. This claim is, however, unsubstantiated given the current research. Creatine HCL is not better, but its also not worse and may be a bit easier on the stomach. The various forms of Creatine are discussed in depth in this article.
Performix does not tell us exactly how much Creatine is present in Ion but, given its position (not first, second, or even third) in the proprietary blend, its clearly under-dosed.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid (the body can produce it from Phenylalanine) which serves a precursor to Dopamine (by first being converted into L-Dopa) and Noradrenaline.
Because of this relationship, Tyrosine is alleged to increase levels of these neurotransmitters, which would theoretically lead to performance enhancement. However, research has demonstrated that Tyrosine cannot outright raise Dopamine or Noradrenaline levels upon ingestion, though it can help maintain optimal levels when depletion might otherwise occur.
Upon ingestion, Tyrosine forms substrate pool, which can then be drawn from when an acute stressor (exercise, cold exposure, etc.) causes a temporary depletion of Dopamine/Noradrenaline. For this reason, Tyrosine can be useful for maintaining cognitive function during stressful activity.
Performix does not disclose the amount of Tyrosine present in Ion, but we’d estimate 100-250mg.
Bioperine is patented form of Black Pepper extract, standardized for Piperine, which has been shown to enhance the absorption of other nutrients when co-ingested. This is due to Piperine’s ability to slow intestinal transit as well as inhibit certain enzymes that would normally break down nutrients too quickly.
In the context of Performix Ion, BioPerine has no direct performance implications. However, it may simply enhance the absorption of other ingredients.
Advantra Z is a patented form of Bitter Orange Extract which is standardized for Synephrine, although Performix doesn’t disclose the amount of Synephrine in Ion. Synephrine acts as a beta-receptor agonist, directly inducing lipolysis and allowing for more fat-burning than would otherwise normally occur.
A 2011 study, published in the “International Journal of Medicinal Sciences”, found that supplementation of 50mg Syneprhine increased the metabolic rate in human subjects without affecting blood pressure or heart rate.
As mentioned above, Performix doesn’t disclose the amount of Synephrine in Ion, so it’s tough to say how effective it really is in this case.
RAUWOLFIA VOMITORIA ROOT EXTRACT (STD. MIN. 90% RAUWOLSCINE)
Rauwolscine (also known as alpha-yohimbine) is what is known as a ‘stereoisomer’ of Yohimbine, meaning it is chemically similar in structure. Because of this similarity, Rauwolscine produces similar effects, though perhaps more potent.
In the context of Ion, Rauwolscine promotes focus and perceived energy.
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.
Additionally, Caffeine can enhance calcium-ion release in muscle tissue, which directly increases muscle contraction force. Rather than discuss dozens of studies, we’ll leave it at this: Caffeine is an extremely effective ergogenic aid, though tolerance build-up is certainly an issue to keep in mind.
Performix list the amount of Caffeine in Ion at 175mg per serving, enough to increase focus and alertness in those who are not tolerant to Caffeine, but low enough to be double-dosed for those that are.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The ingredient profile of Ion is not unlike other pre-workouts we’ve seen. The main issue, however, has to do with how these ingredients are dosed. Literally every non-stimulant ingredient is under-dosed relative to what has been proven effective. So, even though the formula contains highly effective ingredients, it may not actually convey the benefits of each of these. At about $1.40 per serving, Ion is extremely over-priced and we have to recommend passing.
Still not sure which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements List!
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