Pre JYM Ingredient Breakdown

Pre JYM Ingredient Breakdown
A detailed rundown of the ingredients in Pre JYM and how they may help to enhance your performance and results.

Updated October 31, 2018

When I was Muscle & Fitness magazine's senior science editor many years ago, I wrote an article called "Does Your Pre-Workout Suck?" where I broke down what should be in your pre-workout. This formulation was based on my many years of doing research in the lab and with real athletes in the gym. This combination of effective ingredients—in the correct forms, at clinically-proven dosages, and in the right combination—became the prototype for what later turned out to be Pre JYM.

One question I’m commonly asked is: Why would you need a pre-workout? And it’s a good question, because it’s not enough to know what ingredients to take before a workout—you should know why you’re taking them as well. So below I break down the ingredients in Pre JYM and the benefits you’ll get from each one of them so that you can see why Pre JYM is the only properly formulated pre-workout on the market.

Creatine

Creatine is a protein-like compound found in high abundance in meat and fish. It's synthesized in the body, primarily in the liver, from the two amino acids arginine and glycine. Muscle tissue does not produce creatine, and therefore it must take up creatine from the bloodstream. Once inside muscle cells, creatine gets a high-energy phosphate attached to it and is then known as phosphocreatine (PCr), or creatine phosphate. It is this high-energy molecule that's one of the most critical components of creatine’s beneficial effects in the body, and here's why: Creatine donates its high-energy phosphate to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used by the muscle for the rapid energy it needs for contraction, such as during weightlifting.

How Creatine Works

Creatine doesn't work acutely. Instead, creatine levels must build up in the muscle tissue over time. Despite it being present in Pre JYM, the point is not to get an immediate benefit for that particular workout. Rather, before a training session is an ideal time to take your creatine because that's when you're focusing on other performance-enhancing nutrients, like branched-chain amino acids, which are going to enhance the utilization and uptake of that creatine.

Research shows that there are numerous ways by which creatine produces increases in muscle strength, muscle growth, and overall athletic performance. The majority of creatine’s benefits were originally believed to be due solely to the boost in fast energy that results from increased PCr in muscles. Having more PCr in muscle cells means that more ATP can be rapidly produced during exercise, which can lead to gains in strength, power, speed, and muscle growth. This allows athletes to recover faster between bouts of exercise, such as fast running or weight-lifting, which allows them to run faster or complete more repetitions with a given weight. Over time, the ability to complete more repetitions can result in muscle growth.

Today, we know that creatine works through a number of different mechanisms. One of those mechanisms is through muscle cell volumization, as the muscle cells fill up with water. Since creatine is essentially a protein, it draws water from the blood and the space outside of the muscle cells, known as the interstitial fluid, into the muscle through the process of osmosis. This is the major reason for the rapid weight gain that’s associated with creatine supplementation. However, this increase in cell volume causes the cell membranes to stretch, which initiates long-term increases in muscle growth and strength through greater protein synthesis—the method that muscle cells use to grow.

Yet another way that creatine has been found to work is by increasing the number of satellite cells in muscle fibers. Satellite cells are basically muscle stem cells, and one way that muscles grow bigger and stronger is by the addition of muscle satellite cells to existing muscle fibers. A 2006 study from the University of Copenhagen found that after eight weeks of supplementing with creatine while following a weight-training program, subjects experienced almost 100% more satellite cells in their muscle fibers compared to those taking a placebo. As expected, the greater number of satellite cells was associated with greater muscle size. This can also lead to greater muscle strength and power.

Creatine Boosts Muscle Strength

Numerous studies have reported significant improvements in one-rep max strength in subjects taking creatine. For example, Belgian researchers reported in a 1997 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology that untrained subjects taking creatine while following a 10-week weight-training program increased their one-rep max on the squat by 25% more than those taking a placebo while following the same program.

A 1998 study by University of Nebraska (Omaha) researchers found that trained collegiate football players taking creatine while following an 8-week weight-training program gained a 6% increase in their one-rep bench press strength, while those taking a placebo experienced no strength gains at all.

A review on creatine printed in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that out of 16 studies investigating the effects of creatine on one-rep max strength, the average increase in strength was about 10% more in those taking creatine as compared to those taking a placebo.

Studies also show that creatine enables subjects to complete more reps with a given weight. University of Queensland (St. Lucia, Australia) researchers reported that competitive powerlifters taking creatine while preparing for a competition increased the number of reps they were able to complete with 85% of their one-rep max by 40%, while those taking a placebo experienced no change in the number of reps completed with the same weight. In the review paper discussed above, the researchers determined that out of the 16 studies, the average increase in reps performed while taking creatine was about 15% more than those taking a placebo.

Creatine Boosts Muscle Growth

There are a plethora of studies showing that creatine significantly boosts muscle growth as well. University of Queensland researchers found that powerlifters taking creatine gained an average of over 6 pounds of lean body weight—with some subjects gaining as much as 11 pounds of lean body weight—in less than four weeks, while those taking a placebo had no change in body weight.

Since creatine supplementation likely does not increase bone mass or organ mass, the increase in lean body weight is more reasonably the result of a gain in muscle mass. A study by researchers at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) reported in a 2000 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that trained weight-lifters taking creatine gained almost 5 pounds of lean body weight in six weeks, while those taking a placebo experienced no change in body weight.

Creatine Boosts Athletic Performance

Most of the studies performed on creatine indicate that supplementing with it significantly enhances athletic performance, due to its ability to produce higher muscle force and power during short bouts of exercise. The subjects used in these studies had mixed athletic ability and training status, from relatively untrained novices to competitive college-level athletes. Some of the exercise performances that showed improvement included: various types of short-term all-out cycling, sprinting, repeated jumping, swimming, soccer, kayaking, rowing and, of course, weightlifting.

The greatest improvements in athletic performance seem to be found in bouts of repetitive, high-power output exercise. For example, following a short rest period (20–60 seconds) after a short sprint, speed may be increased on the second bout of sprinting. Athletic performance during these latter bouts of exercise can be increased by 5%-20% with creatine over the placebo group. This means that athletes in sports such as football and soccer, in which continuous play typically lasts for only a few seconds, can expect a significant boost in performance from creatine.

And yet another way that creatine works is through increases in insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IGF-I is critical in initiating processes in muscle cells that lead to enhanced muscle growth and muscle strength. St. Francis Xavier University (Canada) researchers reported in a 2008 study that weight-trained subjects taking creatine while following a weight-lifting program for eight weeks had significantly higher IGF-I content in their muscle fibers than those taking a placebo.

Creatine’s Health Benefits

In addition to enhancement of muscle size, strength, power, and overall athletic performance, creatine has also been found to provide numerous health benefits. Because PCr is important for energy production involved in nerve cell function, creatine has been shown to provide numerous benefits to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. For example, research has found that creatine supplementation enhances cognitive function and memory; may help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and even depression; and can also protect against brain injury.

Creatine has also been found to aid cardiovascular health, such as improvement of symptoms in those with congestive heart failure, and it may even help lower cholesterol levels. One study published in a 1996 issue of the journal Clinical Science discovered that male and female subjects taking creatine for eight weeks experienced a drop of more than 5% in total cholesterol and a drop in LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol) of more than 20%.

Similar findings were made by researchers from Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY). The researchers reported in a 2001 issue of the journal Metabolism that 28 days of creatine supplementation decreased total cholesterol by 10% in healthy young males. Virginia Commonwealth University researchers also showed that healthy young males taking creatine plus a multivitamin supplement significantly reduced their levels of homocysteine—an amino acid associated with heart disease—as compared to those taking just the multivitamin supplement.

In another interesting study, St. Francis Xavier University researchers immobilized one arm of subjects in a full-length cast for one week while they were given 5 grams of creatine four times per day. In the second part of the study, they immobilized the subjects' other arm while they took a placebo (5 grams of maltodextrin) four times per day. They reported that when the subjects received creatine they actually increased their arm muscle mass by 1%. Yet when they took the placebo, they lost 4% in arm muscle size. In addition, when they took creatine, they only lost 4% strength in the biceps and triceps, yet when they took the placebo they lost about 20% strength in the biceps and triceps.

In yet another study, University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) researchers had subjects take either 10 grams of creatine per day or 10 grams of a placebo (dextrose) for three months while following an aerobic training program. The Brazilian researchers found that the subjects taking creatine had lower blood glucose (blood sugar) levels due to the creatine pulling more glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle cells. This can help you gain more muscle size because glucose also pulls more water into the muscles. It can also help you train harder, as you'll have higher levels of stored glucose (glycogen) in your muscles. And it can help you burn more fat because you'll have less blood glucose, which means less glucose will be stored as fat.

And in yet another study, German researchers gave mice supplemental creatine in their diet or a plain diet without any supplemental creatine. They found that the mice receiving the creatine in their diet increased their lifespan by 10% more than the mice not receiving creatine!

These are just a few of the ways that creatine can benefit health—and new benefits are being discovered all the time. For example, German researchers found that creatine supplementation enhances skin cells’ protection from sun and oxidative damage.

Creatine Safety

Although there's ample research showing that creatine is safe for most people to use, there are still myths regarding creatine’s safety and purported side effects. One of the longest-standing myths is that creatine can cause muscle cramps. Numerous studies debunk this claim. A 2003 study by Arkansas State University researchers concluded that NCAA football athletes taking creatine over the course of three years experienced no increase in incidence of muscle cramps or muscle injuries. In fact, another 2003 study performed at Baylor University (Waco, TX) found that NCAA football players taking creatine for one full season actually had a significant reduction in muscle cramps and muscle injuries.

Another misconception about creatine is that it can lead to impaired liver and kidney function. Studies done in the ’90s were some of the first to show that short-term creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in healthy adults. Two recent studies from Uruguay have further shown that eight weeks of creatine supplementation in soccer and football athletes had no effect on health markers that included kidney and liver function measures.

Longer-term studies have also been done to confirm creatine’s safety. Truman State University (Kirksville, MO) researchers concluded that NCAA football players taking creatine for up to about six years experienced no long-term detrimental effects on overall health or kidney or liver functions. Researchers from the University of Memphis also reported that NCAA football players taking creatine for close to two years exhibited no negative effects on general health or kidney and liver function.

Forms of Creatine

There are numerous forms of creatine on the market today, including: creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride (HCl), creatine tartrate, creatine ethyl ester, magnesium creatine chelate, and buffered creatine, to name just a few. The majority of research on creatine has been done with creatine monohydrate. For most people, creatine monohydrate makes a cheap, yet effective way to supplement with creatine.

That said, my preferred form of creatine by far is creatine HCl—that's why I include it in both my Pre JYM and Post JYM formulas. The reason is that creatine HCl is more soluble than creatine monohydrate, and is absorbed better by body. In fact, one study found that creatine hydrochloride was absorbed by the body 50% better than creatine monohydrate.

One benefit of this is that creatine HCl typically produces far less gastrointestinal discomfort (upset stomach) than creatine monohydrate. This is important because many, many people experience stomach issues with monohydrate—me being one of those people. HCl's better solubility also allows for a lower dose to be used.

For a more thorough explanation as to why I feel creatine HCl is superior to monohydrate, read my Creatine HCl article

One form of creatine that you may want to not bother spending the extra money on is creatine ethyl ester. One study from Baylor University found that this version of creatine was actually less effective than creatine monohydrate. This may be due to creatine ethyl ester being readily converted into the creatine breakdown product, creatinine, as some research has shown.

Creatine Dosing

How much creatine you take depends on the form. For creatine monohydrate and most other forms of creatine, research shows that the adequate dose is 5 grams taken both before and after training.

However, as I just mentioned, my preferred form is creatine HCl, and the dosage is significantly smaller because of the better solubility. Both Pre JYM and Post JYM include full effective doses of creatine HCl: 2 grams in Pre JYM, taken before workouts; and 2 grams in Post JYM, taken immediately after training, or during your workout if you prefer.

References

Supporting Research

Dash, A., et al. Evaluation of creatine transport using Caco-2 monolayers as an in vitro model for intestinal absorption. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 90(10):1593-1598, 2001.

Powers, M. E., et al. Creatine supplementation increases total body water without altering fluid distribution. Journal of Athletic Training 38(1):44-50, 2003.

Miller, D. Oral bioavailability of creatine supplements: Is there room for improvement? Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2009.

Andrews, R., et al. The effect of dietary creatine supplementation on skeletal muscle metabolism in congestive heart failure. Eur. Heart J. 19:617– 622, 1998.

Arciero, P.J., et al. Comparison of creatine ingestion and resistance training on energy expenditure and limb blood flow. Metabolism. 50:1429–1434. 2001.

Balsom, P. D., et al. Creatine supplementation and dynamic high-intensity intermittent exercise. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 3:143–149, 1993.

Balsom, P. D., et al. Skeletal muscle metabolism during short duration high-intensity exercise: influence of creatine supplementation. Acta Physiol. Scand. 1154:303–310, 1995.

Becque, M.D., et al. Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32:654–658. 2000.

Bemben, M.G., et al. Creatine supplementation during resistance training in College football athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 33:1667–1673. 2001.

Bender, A., et al. Creatine improves health and survival of mice. Neurobiology of Aging. 29(9): 1404-1411, 2009.

Birch, R., et al. The influence of dietary creatine supplementation on performance during repeated bouts of maximal isokinetic cycling in man. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 69:268 –270, 1994.

Bosco, C., et al. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on jumping and running performance. Int. J. Sports Med. 18:369 –372, 1997.11:234 –238, 1997.

Brenner, M., et al. The effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training in women. J. Strength Cond. Res. 14:207–213. 2000.

Burke, D.G., et al. The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 11:349–364. 2001.

Burke, D. G. Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 18(4):389-98, 2008.

Cancela, P., et al. Creatine supplementation does not affect clinical health markers in football players. Br J Sports Med. 42(9):731-5, 2008.

Casey, A., et al. Creatine supplementation favourably affects performance and muscle metabolism during maximal intensity exercise in humans. Am. J. Physiol. 271:E31–E37, 1996.

Chanutin, A., and L. P. Guy. The fate of creatine when administered to man. J. Biol. Chem. 67:29—41, 1926.

Chilibeck, P. D., et al. Effect of creatine ingestion after exercise on muscle thickness in males and females. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 36(10):1781-8, 2004.

Chwalbinska-Moneta, J. Effect of creatine supplementation on aerobic performance and anaerobic capacity in elite rowers in the course of endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 13(2):173-83, 2003.

Cribb, P. J. and Hayes, A. Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 38(11):1918-25, 2006.

Cribb, P. J., et al. Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 39(2):298-307, 2007.

Dalbo, V. J., et al. Putting to rest the myth of creatine supplementation leading to muscle cramps and dehydration. Br J Sports Med. 42(7):567-73, 2008.

Dangott, B., et al. Dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation increases satellite cell mitotic activity during compensatory hypertrophy. Int. J. Sports Med. 21:13–16. 2000.

Dawson, B., et al. Effects of oral creatine loading on single and repeated maximal short sprints. Aust. J. Sci. Med. Sport 27:56 –61, 1995.

Earnest, C., et al. High-performance capillary electrophoresis-pure creatine monohydrate reduces blood lipids in men and women. Clin. Sci. 91:113–118, 1996.

Earnest, C. P., et al. The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. Acta Physiol. Scand. 153:207–209, 1995.

Earnest, C. P., et al. Effects of creatine monohydrate ingestion on intermediate duration anaerobic treadmill running to exhaustion. J. Strength Condit. Res. 11:234 –238, 1997.

Enette Larson-Meyer, D., et al. The effect of creatine supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during off-season training in female soccer players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 14:434–442, 2000.

Febbraio, M. A., et al. Effect of creatine supplementation on intramuscular TCr, metabolism and performance during intermittent, supramaximal exercise in humans. Acta Physiol. Scand. 155: 387–395, 1995.

Ferraro, S., et al. Hemodynamic effects of creatine phosphate in patients with congestive heart failure: a double-blind comparison trial versus placebo. Clin Cardiol . 19(9):699-703, 1996.

Field, M. L. Creatine supplementation in congestive heart failure. Cardiovasc Res 31(1):174-176, 1996.

Giese, M. W. and Lecher, C. S. Non-enzymatic cyclization of creatine ethyl ester to creatinine. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Oct 16;388(2):252-5.

Green, A. L., et al. Carbohydrate ingestion augments creatine retention during creatine feeding in man. Acta Physiol. Scand. 158:195–202, 1996.            

Greenhaff, P. L., et al. Influence of oral creatine supplementation on muscle torque during repeated bouts of maximal voluntary exercise in man. Clin. Sci. 84:565–571, 1993.

Greenhaff, P. L., et al. The effect of oral creatine supplementation on skeletal muscle phosphocreatine resynthesis. Am. J. Physiol. 266:E725–E730, 1994.

Greenwood, M., et al. Cramping and Injury Incidence in Collegiate Football Players Are Reduced by Creatine Supplementation. J Athl Train. 38(3):216-219, 2003.

Greenwood, M., et al. Creatine supplementation patterns and perceived effects in select division I collegiate athletes. Clin. J. Sports Med. 10:191–194, 2000.

Greenwood M., et al. Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury. Mol Cell Biochem. 244(1-2):83-8, 2003.

Grindstaff, P. D., et al. Effects of oral creatine supplementation on repetitive sprint performance and body composition in competitive swimmers. Int. J. Sports Nutr. 7:330 –346, 1997.

Gordon, A., et al. Creatine supplementation in chronic heart failure increases skeletal muscle creatine phosphate and muscle performance. Cardiovasc. Res. 30:413-418, 1995.

Gualano, B., et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in sedentary healthy males undergoing aerobic training. Amino Acids. 2008 Feb;34(2):245-50.

Harris, R. C., et al. Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation. Clin. Sci. 83:367–374, 1992.

Harris, R. C., et al. The effect of oral creatine supplementation on running performance during maximal short term exercise in man. J. Physiol. 467:74P, 1993.

Haussinger, D. Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease. Lancet. 1993 May 22;341(8856):1330-2., 1993.

Hersch, S. M., et al. Creatine in Huntington disease is safe, tolerable, bioavailable in brain and reduces serum 8OH2'dG. Neurology 66(2):250-2, 2006.

Hespel, P., et al. Oral creatine supplementation facilitates the rehabilitation of disuse atrophy and alters the expression of muscle myogenic factors in humans. J. Physiol. 536:625–633, 2001.

Kraemer, W. J., and J. S. Volek. Creatine supplementation: Its role in human performance. Clin. Sports Med. 18:651– 666, 1999.

Hultman, E., et al. Muscle creatine loading in men. J. Appl. Physiol. 81:232–237, 1996.

Jacobs, I., et al. Creatine ingestion increases anaerobic capacity and maximum accumulated oxygen deficit. Can. J. Appl. Physiol. 22:231–243, 1997.

Johnston AP Effect of creatine supplementation during cast-induced immobilization on the preservation of muscle mass, strength, and endurance. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-20.

Kelly, V. G., and D. G. Jenkins. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on near-maximal strength and repeated sets of high-intensity bench press exercise. J. Strength Condit. Res. 12:109—115, 1998.

Rawson, E. S. and Volek, J. S. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. 17(4):822-31, 2003.

Vandenberghe, K., et al. Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. J. Appl. Physiol. 83:2055–2063, 1997.

Olsen, S., et al. Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training. J Physiol. 573(Pt 2):525-34, 2006.

Volek, J. S., et al. Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 312:1147– 1156, 1999.

Kreider, R. B., et al. Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Mol Cell Biochem. 244(1-2):95-104, 2003.

Terjung, R. L., et al. The American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable on the physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32(3): 706 –717, 2000.

Bender, A., et al. Creatine improves health and survival of mice. Neurobiology of Aging. 29(9): 1404-1411, 2009.

Gualano, B., et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in sedentary healthy males undergoing aerobic training. Amino Acids. 2008 Feb;34(2):245-50.

Johnston A.P.. Effect of creatine supplementation during cast-induced immobilization on the preservation of muscle mass, strength, and endurance. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-20.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the liver. You also get it in your diet from meat sources, such as beef and poultry. In the body, beta-alanine—whether from the liver or ingested from food or supplements—is taken up by the muscle fibers and combines with the amino acid histidine to form the dipeptide (two amino acid protein) carnosine. It is carnosine that provides all the benefits associated with beta-alanine, which include greater strength and power, better endurance, and even greater fat loss and muscle growth, as numerous studies now show.

How Beta-Alanine Works

Many people wonder if they need to take the amino acid histidine along with beta-alanine, since both of these amino acids combine to form carnosine. The answer is no. Muscle fibers naturally have a high concentration of histidine and carnosine synthetase, the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction of beta-alanine and histidine to form carnosine. The limiting factor is just beta-alanine. So to increase carnosine levels in muscle fibers, all you need to take is an adequate amount of beta-alanine, as research confirms.

Carnosine works by increasing the muscle's buffering capacity of hydrogen (H+) ions, which are produced when lactic acid levels rise during intense exercises, such as weight training. This increases the muscle's ability to maintain stronger contractions for longer during exercise. In other words, you can lift more weight and complete more reps during the later stages of your workouts. This ability leads to greater gains in strength and power as well as muscle mass, while also promoting greater fat loss.

Beta-alanine itself also has some benefits that are separate from those of carnosine. Because of its structure, beta-alanine is now being recognized in the lab as a neurotransmitter. In fact, many experience a boost in alertness and energy from beta-alanine that is weaker than—but similar to—caffeine. This is just one reason why it's a good idea to take beta-alanine before workouts, and why it is found in numerous pre-workout products such as Pre JYM. This is also the reason why beta-alanine often causes that prickling sensation or "pins and needles" feeling in the skin, known as paresthesia, that some experience. This feeling is completely normal, and is increased with increased doses.

Further Support for Beta-Alanine

One study reported that subjects taking just over 4 grams of beta-alanine per day for 30 days were able to increase the number of reps they could complete during a squat workout by almost 25% more than those taking a placebo. A 2012 study from UK scientists found that four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation in amateur boxers increased their average punching power in the last 10 seconds of simulated 3-minute rounds by 2000% more than those taking a placebo. Being able to maintain punching power late in the round is similar to be able to maintain more strength and power later in your workouts—meaning you can lift more weight for more reps

Beta-Alanine Dosing

Research shows that the absolute lowest amount of beta-alanine consumed to provide the benefits listed above is 1.6 grams per day. However, research has also shown that higher levels can provide better benefits. One study reported that when subjects supplementing with 2.4 grams of beta-alanine per day increased their intake to 3.6 grams per day, the resulting increase in muscle carnosine levels were even greater than they were while taking 2.4 g per day. When they then increased their intake to just over 4 grams per day, again their muscle carnosine levels increased even more. This is one reason why I recommend supplementing with 2-3 grams of beta-alanine before and after workouts for a total of 4-6 grams per day.

Since the uptake of nutrients, such as amino acids like beta-alanine, is improved around workouts, I recommend getting a dose of beta-alanine 30-60 minutes before workouts. Research shows that blood levels of beta-alanine peak within 30 minutes of supplementing with it, and it completely leaves the circulation within 3 hours of consuming. So it makes sense to get a 2-3 gram dose of beta-alanine 30-45 minutes before workouts, and again immediately after.

Research also shows a great synergy of beta-alanine with creatine. One study reported that weight-trained athletes consuming 3.2 g of beta-alanine plus 10 g of creatine monohydrate daily for 12 weeks gained significantly more muscle mass while simultaneously losing significant body fat, as compared to those taking just 10 grams of creatine alone and those taking a placebo. Both the creatine only group and the placebo group did not lose any body fat. This is why I highly recommend taking 2-3 grams of beta-alanine along with 2-5 g of creatine (depending on the form) about 30 minutes before workouts and again immediately after workouts.

References

Supporting Research

Hoffman, J. R., et al. β-Alanine supplementation. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):189-95.

Culbertson, J. Y., et al. Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: A review of the current literature. Nutrients 2: 75-98, 2010.

Artioli, G. G., et al. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73.

Derave, W., et al. Beta-alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J. Appl. Physiol. 103:1736-43, 2007.

Hill, C. A, et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 32:225-33, 2007.

Hoffman J. R., et al. Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr. Res. 2008; 28:31-5.

Hoffman J. R., et al. Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 2006; 16:430-46.

Hoffman J. R., et al. Beta-Alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int. J. Sports Med. 2008; 29:952-8.

Kendrick IP, Harris RC, Kim CK, et al. The effect of 4 weeks beta-alanine supplementation and isokinetic training on carnosine concentrations in type I and II human skeletal muscle fibres.. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 May;106(1):131-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-009-0998-5. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Kendrick I. P., et al. The effects of 10 weeks of resistance training combined with beta-alanine supplementation on whole body strength, force production, muscular endurance and body composition. Amino Acids. 2008; 34:547-54.

Stout J. R., et al. Effects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2006; 20: 928-31.

Stout, J. R., et al. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2007; 32:381-6.

Kern, B. D. and Robinson, T. L. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(7):1804-1815, 2011.

Donovan, T., et al. β-alanine Improves Punch Force and Frequency in Amateur Boxers During a Simulated Contest. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Oct;22(5):331-7.

Hoffman, J. R., et al. β-alanine supplementation improves tactical performance but not cognitive function in combat soldiers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 10;11(1):15, 2014.

Howe, S. T., et al. The Effect of β-Alanine Supplementation on Isokinetic Force and Cycling Performance in Highly-Trained Cyclists. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. In pres, 2013.

Dutka, T. L. and Lamb, G. D. Effect of carnosine on excitation-contraction coupling in mechanically-skinned rat skeletal muscle. J. Muscle Res. Cell. Motil. 2004; 25:203-13.

Dutka, T. .L, et al. Effects of carnosine on contractile apparatus Ca2+ sensitivity and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca+ release in human skeletal muscle fibers. J. Appl. Physiol. 112(5):728-36, 2012.

Harris, R. C., et al. The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids. 2006; 30:279-89.

Stellingwerff, T., et al. Effect of two beta-alanine dosing protocols on muscle carnosine synthesis and washout. Amino Acids 42(6):2461-72, 2012.

Betaine

Betaine is not all that new, but the realization of its benefits for boosting muscle strength, power, muscle growth, and even fat loss are. Known technically as trimethylglycine (TMG), this unique amino acid is well known for its health promoting effects. Your body uses betaine for joint and liver repair. Research has shown betaine can also enhance power, strength, and even muscle growth.

Additionally, supplementing with betaine can support faster recovery from injury and inflammation, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. This has to do with the fact that betaine is a methyl donor. A methyl donor is any molecule that can transfer a methyl group (a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms - CH3) to another molecule. Many important biochemical processes in the body rely on methylation.

How Betaine Works

The most critical reaction in the body where betaine performs its methyl donating function is in the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with inflammatory disorders, such as those covered above. But the methylation of homocysteine is also how betaine may aid muscle strength, muscle growth, and fat loss. This is due to the fact that the methylation of homocysteine produces extra methionine. Methionine is important in the body's own synthesis of creatine. So one way that betaine may boost muscle strength and size is by increasing creatine production in the body. Another way is through an increase in muscle protein synthesis.

Methionine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis (specifically the process known as translation). By having more methionine available for this process, protein synthesis is ramped up and therefore so are muscle growth and strength gains. Plus, high homocysteine levels lead to high homocysteine thiolactone levels, which have been shown to impair insulin signaling. Impaired insulin signaling can interfere with muscle growth and fat loss. So by decreasing the levels of homocysteine and homocysteine thiolactone, insulin signaling—and therefore muscle growth and fat loss—can be optimized.

Further Support for Betaine

In the last few years, betaine has shined in clinical studies for its ability to aid athletic performance. One of the first studies to look into betaine's performance-enhancing effects was done in my old lab at the University of Connecticut. The UCONN researchers discovered that weight-trained athletes taking 1.25 grams of betaine twice a day increased their muscle strength by 25%, and their muscle power by 20%.

Another study from Ithaca College had male and female subjects perform all-out, 12-second sprints on a stationary cycle, with a high amount of resistance on the pedals. In one trial they took a carb and electrolyte drink containing betaine before the workout, while in the other trial they drank a carb and electrolyte drink without the betaine. They reported that when subjects drank the betaine-containing drink they were able to peddle with about 5% more power than with just the carbs and electrolytes.

University of Memphis researchers reported that weight-trained subjects taking 2.5 grams of betaine daily for two weeks increased the total number of reps completed in a bench press workout, consisting of 10 sets, by 7 reps. A 2013 study on betaine and performance suggests that these increases in muscle strength, power, and endurance may be due to betaine's ability to increase levels of important anabolic hormones/growth factors and to better promote muscle protein synthesis.

UCONN researchers reported that weight-trained men supplementing with 1.25 g of betaine twice a day for two weeks experienced a 10% greater increase in growth hormone, a 15% greater increase in insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and a 15% drop in cortisol levels following a weight workout as compared to the placebo. The UCONN researchers discussed above also found that betaine significantly increased markers for muscle protein synthesis following the workout, as compared to placebo.

The latest study on betaine, from the College of Springfield (Massachusetts) had weight-trained males follow an undulating periodized weight-training program for six weeks. One group supplemented with 1.25 grams of betaine twice a day, and one group supplemented with a placebo twice a day. They reported that the subjects supplementing with betaine increased muscle mass by 4 pounds and arm size by 10%, while they decreased body fat 7 pounds. The placebo group experienced no increase in muscle mass or arm size, and no loss of body fat. Betaine supplementation has also been found to increase nitric oxide (NO) levels, as well as act as an osmolyte to regulate cellular fluid volume, which could further promote muscle pump and overall muscle size.

Betaine Dosing

I suggest you get about 1.5-2 grams of betaine before workouts and another 1.5-2 grams after workouts. This can be easily accomplished by taking my Pre JYM, which contains 1.5 grams of betaine, and by taking my Post JYM, which contains another 1.5 grams of betaine.

References

Supporting Research

Craig, S. A. Betaine in human nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 80: 539–549, 2004.

Hoffman, J. R., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 6:7, 2009.

Lee, E. C., et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7:27, 2010.

Trepanowski, J. F, et al. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 25(12):3461-71, 2011.

Pryor, J. L., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 9:12, 2012.

Apicella, J. M., et al. Betaine supplementation enhances anabolic endocrine and Akt signaling in response to acute bouts of exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology 113:793-802, 2013.

Cholewa, J. M., et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition 10:39, 2013.

Iqbal, O. Betaine induced release of tissue factor pathway inhibitor and nitric oxide: Implications in the management of cardiovascular disease. FASEB J 20: A655, 2006.

Lever, M. and Slow, S. The clinical significance of betaine, an osmolyte with a key role in methyl group metabolism. Clin Biochem 43:732–744, 2010.

Craig, S. S., et al. The betaine content of sweat from adolescent females. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7:3, 2010.

Taurine

Technically known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, taurine is a naturally occurring compound found in fish and meat, as well as being produced from the breakdown of the amino acid cysteine in the pancreas. Taurine functions as an antioxidant, and helps prevent oxidative stress induced by exercise.

Taurine is an amino acid that's not involved in muscle building, meaning it's not one of the building blocks of protein like amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine are. It’s what is known as a functional amino acid, meaning it provides specific actions in the body, and the reason you'll see it in a lot of pre-workouts and even energy drinks is due to the fact that it's been shown to enhance energy levels during intense training. Although it’s not a true amino acid, taurine is involved in muscle, brain, and dietary fat metabolism.

How Taurine Works

Research shows that when taurine levels in muscle fibers are low, as happens during exercise, so too is muscle strength and endurance; likewise, when taurine levels increase so does strength and endurance. Taurine improves the contractile performance of muscle, including heart muscle, which means it may enhance strength and endurance. It also has cell-volumizing effects, as it improves muscle-cell hydration. 
There's some concern that taking large doses of beta-alanine can lead to a taurine deficiency, so supplementing with taurine is a great idea if you supplement with beta-alanine--and you definitely should.

Taurine Dosing

Shoot for a 1g or 1000mg dose of taurine taken once or twice a day. One of the best times to get a dose of taurine is before workouts for the performance boost, to help improve performance, blunt fatigue, and improve energy levels during your workout. That's exactly why I have 1000mg of taurine in each serving of Pre JYM. I also provide another 1000mg of taurine in Post JYM just to make sure you're getting ample amounts of taurine because you are supplementing with beta-alanine.

References

Supporting Research

De Silva, L.A., et al. Effects of taurine supplementation following eccentric exercise in young adults. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Jan;39(1):101-4. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0229. Epub 2013 Jun 25.

Martinez Galan, B.S., et al. Effects of taurine on markers of muscle damage, inflammatory response and physical performance in triathletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017 Jul 25. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07497-7

De Carvalho, F.G., et al. Taurine: A Potential Ergogenic Aid for Preventing Muscle Damage and Protein Catabolism and Decreasing Oxidative Stress Produced by Endurance Exercise. Front Physiol. 2017 Sep 20;8:710. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00710. eCollection 2017.

De Carvalho, F.G., et al. Taurine supplementation can increase lipolysis and affect the contribution of energy systems during front crawl maximal effort. Amino Acids. 2017 Oct 29. doi: 10.1007/s00726-017-2505-3.

McLeay, Y., et al. The Effect of Taurine on the Recovery from Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Males. Antioxidants (Basel). 2017 Oct 17;6(4). pii: E79. doi: 10.3390/antiox6040079.

Goodman, C.A., et al. Taurine supplementation increases skeletal muscle force production and protects muscle function during and after high-frequency in vitro stimulation. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Jul;107(1):144-54. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00040.2009. Epub 2009 May 7.

Tu, D.G., et al. Preventive effects of taurine against d-galactose-induced cognitive dysfunction and brain damage. Food Funct. 2017 Oct 25. doi: 10.1039/c7fo01210a.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

This modified version of the amino acid cysteine is known for its powerful antioxidant properties, but research shows it offers much more for those looking to build muscle and strength, and drop body fat.

How N-Acetylcysteine Works

N-acetylcysteine is simply the amino acid cysteine with an acetyl group attached to it. This molecule makes it more stable, which aids its shelf life, and allows the body to absorb and use it better than plain cysteine. In fact, NAC is actually used as a powerful medicine to break up mucus, treat acetaminophen overdose, reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and decrease hair pulling in those with trichotillomania. But let's get into how this supplement can benefit your body.

As far as antioxidants go, NAC is not your typical run-of-the mill antioxidant like many vitamins and minerals. NAC provides its antioxidant benefits directly within muscle cells, where weight trainers need it most. NAC not only works directly as an antioxidant to scavenge muscle-damaging free radicals, but it also boosts levels of one of the body's most critical antioxidants: glutathione.

NAC increases levels of cysteine within muscles, which is needed to restore glutathione to its active form. One study from Victoria University of Technology (Melbourne, Australia) reported that NAC directly raised cysteine levels within muscles while increasing levels of activated glutathione before, during and after exercise. All of this antioxidant protection is important for keeping muscle damage under control during heavy training.

Two newer studies from Bairro University (Brazil) and the University of Oklahoma showed that muscle soreness and damage were reduced—and muscle recovery enhanced—when subjects supplemented with NAC before performing eccentric exercise, which causes severe muscle damage. In essence, NAC can enhance muscle recovery by decreasing the breakdown of muscle membranes and other important muscle cell components.

NAC Reduces Fatigue

Lactic acid buildup used to be blamed for fatigue during exercise, but new research now suggests that lactic acid may instead help muscles to maintain strength and endurance. Science is now focusing more attention on sodium and potassium imbalances in muscle as being the major player in muscle fatigue during exercise. When muscles receive the nerve signals to contract, sodium moves into the muscle cell, while potassium flows out. As you complete more reps and sets during your workout, sodium levels build up inside the muscle cells while potassium levels decline. To prevent this problem, muscle cells have sodium/potassium pumps to move sodium out and potassium back in. But during intense exercise free radicals disrupt these pumps, causing them to become overwhelmed and unable to keep up. This leads to a decrease in muscle strength and muscle endurance, and fatigue sets in.

Research has shown that NAC increases the activity of the sodium/potassium pumps during exercise, which allows muscle strength and endurance to be maintained to delay fatigue. It does this by preventing free radical buildup, allowing the sodium/potassium pumps to maintain their activity. In fact, research from the University of Kentucky Medical Center (Lexington) reported that during repeated handgrip exercise (much like doing reps in the gym), subjects were able to go 30% longer when they supplemented with NAC before exercise.

Two studies from Australia also found that subjects were able to perform intense exercise for more than 25% longer when taking a NAC supplement beforehand. And a 1994 study from Baylor College of Medicine found that subjects taking NAC had increased muscle strength and endurance.

Taking NAC can also enhance your ability to tolerate cardio for a longer duration. Research—such as one study done at Kansas State University—shows that supplementing with NAC reduces fatigue of the respiratory muscles, which help you take in oxygen during exercise. In other words, taking a dose of NAC before cardio can help make the workout easier, allowing you to train harder and burn even more body fat.

If you read my articles, you should be very familiar with nitric oxide (NO) boosters. Most NO-boosting supplements work by supplying some form of the amino acid arginine. In the body, arginine is readily converted to NO with the help of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which controls how much NO is produced. That's why advanced NO-boosting products also contain supplements that increase the activity of NOS for maximal NO production. Studies have now found that NAC actually works to increase activity of the NOS enzyme and boost NO levels in the body. This leads to increased blood flow to the muscles, which enhances energy levels during workouts, aids muscle strength and growth, and even helps with fat loss.

NAC Enhances Metabolism

You already know that it can enhance fat burning indirectly by allowing you to train harder for longer, and by boosting NO levels, but it can also aid fat loss directly. One study from Germany reported in the Journal of Molecular Medicine that subjects supplementing with NAC for eight weeks lost about 5% body fat without making any changes to their diet. This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that the group taking the placebo gained more than 5% body fat over those eight weeks. The German researchers concluded that NAC aids fat loss by reducing insulin's ability to interact with fat cells. Normally, insulin reacts with fat cells to increase fat storage and halt fat release from the fat cells. By decreasing insulin's effects on fat cells at the cellular level, NAC can make your fat-burning efforts that much easier.

NAC Dosing

To maintain optimal sodium-potassium pump function, I recommend 600mg of N-acetylcysteine prior to your workout.

References

Supporting Research

Kerksick, C.M., Kreider, R.B. & Willoughby, D.S. Intramuscular adaptations to eccentric exercise and antioxidant supplementation. Amino Acids (2010) 39: 219. 

Silva, L.A., et al. N-acetylcysteine supplementation and oxidative damage and inflammatory response after eccentric exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Aug;18(4):379-88.

Medved, I., et al. N-acetylcysteine enhances muscle cysteine and glutathione availability and attenuates fatigue during prolonged exercise in endurance-trained individuals. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Oct;97(4):1477-85. Epub 2004 Jun 11.

Palmer, Lisa A. et al. S-Nitrosothiols Signal Hypoxia-Mimetic Vascular Pathology. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 117.9 (2007): 2592–2601. PMC. Web. 5 Nov. 2017.

Alpha Glycerophosphocholine (Alpha GPC)

Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine (alpha GPC) is a specialized phospholipid that supplies choline, and is known primarily for its brain-boosting benefits. It also has benefits on muscle growth.

How Alpha GPC Works

Alpha GPC’s brain-boosting benefits stem from the fact that it provides the body a source of choline, which is a nutrient used by the brain to produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a critical neurotransmitter that the nerves use to pass along signals responsible for muscle contractions. As far as muscle growth goes, this comes from alpha GPC's ability to stimulate growth hormone (GH) production.

Further Support for Alpha GPC

One study from my colleague and Muscle & Fitness Magazine contributor, Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss of the Center for Applied Health Science Research in Ohio, reported that taking alpha GPC can further boost the GH spike seen with weightlifting.

His research team had trained male weightlifters do a leg workout that consisted of six sets of squats for 10 reps per set, using a weight that was about 70% of their one-rep max—a weight they could lift for about 10-12 reps. In one workout, the men took alpha GPC 90 minutes before the workout, and in a second workout they took a placebo 90 minutes before. Following the leg workout, they had all subjects do three sets of bench press throws to measure muscle strength and power.

They reported in a 2008 issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that when the men took the alpha GPC before the workout, not only were their GH levels higher than when they took the placebo, but they were also stronger and had greater power. Ziegenfuss suggests that since GH can increase levels of the powerful growth factor insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1), the increase in strength and power could have been due to IGF-1 exerting positive effects on muscle contraction.

Alpha GPC Dosing

To boost GH levels during training, as well as muscle power and strength, take 150-300 mg of alpha GPC about 60-90 minutes before workouts. Also consider taking another dose 60-90 minutes before bed to further boost your GH levels during the night. Pre JYM contains 150mg of A-GPC

References

Supporting Research

Ziegenfuss, T. et al., Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(Suppl 1):P15, 2008.

Moreno, H., et al. Chronic dietary choline supplementation modulates attentional change in adult rats. Behavioral Brain Research 243:278-285, 2013.

Marcus, L., et al. Evaluation of the effects of two doses of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on physical and psychomotor performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Oct 5;14:39. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0196-5. eCollection 2017.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline is an amino acid first isolated in watermelon. This amino acid is closely related to arginine, and is readily converted to arginine in the body. In fact, research shows that taking citrulline increases arginine and nitric oxide levels in the blood better than taking arginine itself. Because of this, most of the benefits you get with arginine—such as NO and GH production—you get with citrulline as well. It also helps prevent muscle fatigue, by aiding in the removal of ammonia from the body, reabsorbing lactate for increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) resynthesis during high-intensity workouts, and boosting muscle protein synthesis via direct anabolic signaling. Taking citrulline malate has been shown to elevate muscle ATP by 35% during exercise and increase the rate of creatine phosphate resynthesis by 20%.

How Citrulline Malate Works

There are two main forms of citrulline being used in products today: L-citrulline, and citrulline malate. L-citrulline is the free-form version of the amino acid citrulline, and citrulline malate is the amino acid citrulline attached to a molecule of malic acid (malate). Research confirms that both L-citrulline and citrulline malate provide significant increases in exercise performance—but only in sufficient doses.

In my other lab—the gym—I've found that when working with doses found in most supplements—anywhere from 1-3 grams—L-citrulline provides more of a potent pump than citrulline malate. Citrulline malate, on the other hand, provides more of a strength and endurance boost during workouts than L-citrulline. However, if you increase the dose of citrulline malate to about 6 grams, it delivers significant improvements in muscle strength and endurance while also increasing the muscle pump like you wouldn't believe.

Let's take a closer look at the research that further supports what I've seen in the gym. Citrulline is broken down into arginine in the kidneys. In the body, the arginine-nitric oxide pathway is utilized to convert arginine into nitric oxide, with help from the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS) to catalyze the reaction. Increasing NO levels relaxes the blood vessels, allowing them to widen or dilate. Dilated blood vessels deliver more blood flow to tissues—like muscle fibers.

The two main benefits of greater blood flow to muscle fibers is (1) better exercise energy/endurance and (2) greater muscle pumps during workouts. The greater endurance and energy is due to the fact that pushing more blood to working muscles delivers more oxygen and nutrients to them. Increased blood flow also enhances muscle pump during workouts due to the fact that blood is more than 50% water. When you train, your muscle cells create waste products that pull water into them. With greater blood flowing to the muscles, there's more water that the muscle cells can draw into them, resulting in a bigger muscle pump.

Further Support for Citrulline Malate

While some experts feel that the muscle pump has no true physiological significance, the truth is that it can lead to long-term muscle growth. This is due to the fact that a greater muscle pump places a bigger stretch on the membranes of the muscle cells. This stretch signals chemical reactions that instigate long-term muscle growth by increasing muscle protein synthesis.

Some experts also argue that NO boosters offer no benefit to healthy individuals, especially during exercise. And it's hard to argue with them if you look just at the research. Studies on NO-boosting ingredients—like arginine—show mixed results. However, in the gym with thousands of men and women, I've seen definite benefits that include greater strength and endurance, and greater muscle growth. And one fairly recent study reported that subjects consuming arginine 30 minutes before a biceps workout increased biceps blood volume during the workout by over 100%.

Of course, citrulline is an even better NO booster than arginine. This has been shown in a couple of studies. The first one found that subjects taking equivalent doses of citrulline and arginine had higher arginine blood levels when they took citrulline versus arginine. A later study from German researchers reported that it took just half the amount of citrulline as arginine to raise blood concentrations of arginine to an equivalent level. The German researchers also found that a 3-gram dose of citrulline produced the highest increase in arginine and NO levels.

The greater effectiveness of citrulline versus arginine appears to be due to excessive breakdown of arginine in the body after it's consumed. This is due to the enzyme arginase that resides mainly in the intestines and liver. In fact, one study suggested that the amount of arginine consumed from oral supplements that was utilized in NO production was less than 1% of that consumed. Citrulline bypasses the liver, unlike arginine, and is not subject to breakdown by arginase. Therefore, using citrulline in place of arginine allows for higher arginine levels and higher NO production.

One study found that over 80% of L-citrulline is converted to arginine in the blood vessels. And yet another study in professional cyclists showed that those supplementing with citrulline had a significant increase in NO production during exercise.

In addition to boosting NO levels, using citrulline to increase arginine levels in the body can also elevate growth hormone (GH) levels. This works through arginine's ability to inhibit growth hormone inhibiting hormone (GHIH)—or somatostatin—which normally inhibits GH production. By inhibiting GHIH, arginine increases the production and release of GH from the anterior pituitary gland, which leads to higher blood levels of GH.

Spanish researchers reported higher GH levels in athletes during exercise when taking citrulline malate beforehand. Having higher GH levels during workouts may promote greater gains in muscle size and strength. It can also encourage greater fat burning during workouts due to an increase in lipolysis, which means that GH encourages a greater release of fat from fat cells so that it can be burned away for fuel during the workout.

Citrulline also has the ability to promote exercise endurance and blunt fatigue through its ability to enhance the removal of ammonia and lactate from the blood. This leads to a faster recovery between sets, and can allow for greater muscle endurance. Taking citrulline in the form of citrulline malate also provides the additional benefit of malate, which is involved in the Krebs cycle to generate energy aerobically in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the energy currency of every cell. In muscle cells, it's used to fuel muscle contractions, such as during exercise.

Research in exercising humans shows that citrulline malate significantly improves the amount of ATP that the muscles are able to regenerate, and enhances the rate that phosphocreatine (PCr) is regenerated. Phosphocreatine is what creatine is converted into inside the muscle cells, through the addition of a high-energy phosphate group. Creatine donates this phosphate group during intense exercise, such as weight lifting, to produce ATP quickly and power muscle contractions that are required to lift the weight. This means that supplementing with citrulline malate can increase endurance to allow you to go longer, while also allowing you to recover faster between sets, helping you to complete more reps per set later in your workouts. In fact, one study from Spain reported that subjects performing bench presses were able to complete more than 50% more reps from set 3 on for a total of 8 sets.

Citrulline Malate Dosing

Your best bet for boosting nitric oxide is to get a full 6-gram dose of citrulline malate—which is exactly what you'll find in Pre JYM. That way, you get enough citrulline for pumps and the citrulline/malate combo for greater energy.

References

Supporting Research

Haussinger, D. Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease. Lancet. 1993 May 22;341(8856):1330-2., 1993.

Alvares, T. S., et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Feb;37(1):115-26.

Kuhn, K. P., et al. Oral citrulline effectively elevates plasma arginine levels for 24 hours in normal volunteers. Circulation 2002; 106: II1–766S.

Schwedhelm, E., et al. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: impact on nitric oxide metabolism. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 65(1):51-9, 2008.

Morris, S. M., Jr. Enzymes of arginine metabolism. J Nutr 2004; 134: 2743S–7S.

Castillo, L., et al. Splanchnic metabolism of dietary arginine in relation to nitric oxide synthesis in normal adult man. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1993; 90: 193–7.

Boger, R. H., et al, Hypercholesterolemia impairs basal nitric oxide synthase turnover rate: a study investigating the conversion of L-[guanidino-15N2]-arginine to 15N-labeled nitrate by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Nitric Oxide 2004; 11: 1–8.

Solomonson, L. P., et al. The caveolar nitric oxide synthase/arginine regeneration system for NO production in endothelial cells. J Exp Biol 206:2083–2087, 2003.

Sureda, A., et al. Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise. Free Radic Res. 2009 Sep;43(9):828-35.

Sureda, A., et al. L-citrulline-malate influence over branched chain amino acid utilization during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Sep;110(2):341-51.

Sanchez-Gonzalez MA., et al. The effects of short term L-citrulline supplementation on wave reflection responses to cold exposure with concurrent isometric exercise. Am J Hypertens. 2013 Apr;26(4):518-26.

El-Bassossy HM, Arginase inhibition alleviates hypertension in the metabolic syndrome. Br J Pharmacol, 2013 Jun;169(3):693-703. doi: 10.1111/bph.12144.

Takeda, K., et al. Effects of citrulline supplementation on fatigue and exercise performance in mice. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2011;57(3):246-50.

Bendahan, D., et al. Citrulline/malate promotes aerobic energy production in human exercising muscle. Br J Sports Med. 2002 Aug;36(4):282-9.

Giannesini, B., et al. Citrulline malate supplementation increases muscle efficiency in rat skeletal muscle. Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Sep 30;667(1-3):100-4.

Sureda, A., et al. Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise. Free Radic Res. 2009 Sep;43(9):828-35.

Goubel, F., et al. Citrulline malate limits increase in muscle fatigue induced by bacterial endotoxins. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997 Mar;75(3):205-7.

Callis, A., et al. Activity of citrulline malate on acid-base balance and blood ammonia and amino acid levels. Study in the animal and in man. Arzneimittelforschung. 1991 Jun;41(6):660-3.

Perez-Guisado, J. and Jakeman, P. M. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22.

Beta Vulgaris (Beet Root Extract)

By now it’s clear I’m a firm believer in the benefits of boosting nitric oxide (NO) levels. Boosting NO is very beneficial for cardiovascular health because it relaxes blood vessels, allowing them to widen. This keeps your blood vessels functioning properly and prevents them from getting "stiff" as we age.

Relaxing or dilating the blood vessels also helps to deliver more blood flow to tissues like muscle fibers. As explained above, the two main benefits of greater blood flow to muscle fibers is better exercise energy/endurance, and bigger muscles pumps during workouts. The greater endurance and energy is due to the fact that pushing more blood to working muscles delivers more oxygen and more nutrients to them.

The arginine-nitric oxide pathway is an effective one to target. Yet there is another pathway that can lead to higher NO levels in the body: the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. Nitrates are found in many plants—one of the richest sources being beets.

How Beet Root Extract Works

Nitrates have the chemical formula NO3. When you consume nitrates, such as from beets, bacteria in the mouth reduce the nitrate to nitrite, which has the chemical formula NO2. In other words, nitrate loses an oxygen atom to form nitrite. The nitrite then travels to the bloodstream where loses another oxygen atom and is further reduced to nitric oxide, with the chemical formula NO.

Supplementing with nitrates—usually by consuming beet juice or taking a beet (beta vulgaris) extract—has been shown in numerous studies to enhance exercise performance. The performance enhancements include greater exercise endurance, greater power output, and less fatigue. This means that during a typical weightlifting workout it can improve your strength, allow you to complete more reps with a given weight, and allow you to better maintain rep ranges and strength toward the end of the workout. All of this can help to increase muscle strength, muscle growth, and muscle endurance.

Beet Root Extract Dosing

Beet extract is present in Pre JYM at the optimal performance-enhancing dosage of 500mg. Taken 30-45 minutes before workouts—as directed on the bottle of Pre JYM—beet extract can help to boost NO levels and increase your training intensity, reduce workout fatigue, increase muscle endurance, help you recover faster between sets, and help you lift more weight. All this can lead to improved results, such as greater muscle growth and strength gains.

References

Supporting Research

Haussinger, D. Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease. Lancet. 1993 May 22;341(8856):1330-2., 1993.

Alvares, T. S., et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Feb;37(1):115-26.

Cosby, K., et al. Nitrite reduction to nitric oxide by deoxyhemoglobin vasodilates the human circulation. Nature medicine. 2003;9(12):1498-1505.

Lundberg, J. O., et al. NO generation from nitrite and its role in vascular control. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2005;25(5):915-922.

Lundberg J. O., et al. Roles of dietary inorganic nitrate in cardiovascular health and disease. Cardiovascular research. 2011;89(3):525-532.

Wylie, L. J., et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves team sport-specific intense intermittent exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol, In press, 2013.

Lansley, K. E., et al. Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jun;43(6):1125-31.

Cermak, N. M., et al. Nitrate supplementation's improvement of 10-km time-trial performance in trained cyclists. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Feb;22(1):64-71.

Lansley, K. E., et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. J Appl Physiol. 2011;110(3):591-600.

Larsen F. J., et al. Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans. Cell metabolism. 2011;13(2):149-159.

Vanhatalo A., et al. Dietary nitrate reduces muscle metabolic perturbation and improves exercise tolerance in hypoxia. The Journal of physiology. 2011;589(Pt 22):5517-5528.

Bailey, S. J., et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2010;109(1):135-148.

Bailey, S. J., et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009;107(4):1144-1155.

Larsen, F. J., et al. Effects of dietary nitrate on oxygen cost during exercise. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2007;191(1):59-66.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

The branched-chain amino acids—leucine, valine, and isoleucine—are the three most critical amino acids for building muscle. They're called branched-chain aminos due to their structure: each one has a forked outcropping that resembles a branch. In addition to being special for their structure, these three powerful aminos do far more than just grow muscle—they are also special for numerous other reasons: In addition to being the most effective amino acids for muscle growth, they also boost energy levels, delay muscle fatigue, and even aid in fat loss.

How BCAAs Work

What makes the BCAAs so special is how the body handles them. Typically, when you ingest amino acids—either as individual amino acids or as whole protein—they first travel to the liver. There the liver can break them down for use as fuel, if it decides the body needs them for energy rather than for building and repairing muscle and other tissues. The BCAAs tend to be spared by the liver, however, and get sent directly to the muscles so that the muscles can decide what to do with them. Unlike the other amino acids, the muscle can use the BCAAs directly for fuel or to build and repair itself. So during workouts, the BCAAs can act as a fuel source, but then when the workout is over, they can build muscle. These are just two reasons why it's so critical to take BCAAs before and after workouts.

In addition to their role in energy production and muscle repair, BCAAs also influence hormone balances. As you’ll discover below, leucine boosts insulin levels. Two other important muscle-building hormones are affected by BCAAs: growth hormone (GH) and cortisol.

In one study, Italian researchers found that athletes taking BCAAs for one month had higher levels of GH after workouts than those who didn’t take the supplement. The higher your GH levels after workouts, the greater potential you’ll have for increases in muscle size—not to mention strength—as well as fat loss.

Finally, research shows that athletes taking BCAAs have lower levels of cortisol during exercise. This is a good thing, as cortisol is a catabolic hormone that interferes with testosterone and encourages muscle breakdown. Numerous studies have confirmed that athletes taking BCAAs have significantly less muscle breakdown after exercise, and better muscle recovery.

Leucine

Leucine is by far the most valuable of the three BCAAs for building muscle. Much like the ignition of a car starts the engine, leucine turns on the process of muscle protein synthesis. In scientific terms, leucine activates a complex called mTOR, which ramps up protein synthesis, and therefore muscle growth. Research has shown that subjects adding extra leucine to their post-workout protein and carbs experienced significantly greater muscle protein synthesis than those taking only protein and carbs.

Leucine also boosts levels of insulin, an anabolic hormone that may further stimulates protein synthesis in its own—separate from leucine—and decreases muscle protein breakdown. Plus, insulin is critical for driving creatine and carnitine into muscle cells to promote recovery and growth. Immediately following an intense training session is a critical time for increasing insulin levels to promote muscle gains.

In addition to leucine's role in muscle growth is its potential role in fat loss. This benefit has gotten somewhat confusing for most, due to its effect on insulin. Insulin is known to increase fat storage and limit fat burning. Yet despite the fact that leucine spikes insulin, leucine and the BCAAs have been shown to actually encourage fat loss. One way may be due to the fact that leucine acts as a potent hunger suppressor.

Research from the University of Cincinnati shows that leucine also activates mTOR in the brain, which signals the brain that the body has ample energy, leading to a drop in hunger, as well as a boost in satiety and feelings of fullness. Another theory is that leucine has such a major impact on increasing protein synthesis throughout the body that the energy demand created for this process causes the body to burn more calories.

Valine

Numerous studies show that supplementing with BCAAs before exercise promotes muscle endurance and blunts fatigue. One reason for this is the fact that the BCAAs are used directly by the muscle fibers for an energy source. This is especially true during intense exercise, such as weight training.

Another way that BCAAs keep you energized during workouts is thanks to valine. During exercise, tryptophan is taken up by the brain in large amounts. Tryptophan is converted in the brain to 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP), a precursor to serotonin. Having higher serotonin levels during exercise signals the brain that the body is fatigued. This leads to a reduction in muscle strength and endurance. Valine competes with tryptophan for entry into the brain—and typically wins. This means that less tryptophan gets in to be converted to serotonin, allowing your muscles to contract with more force for a longer time before getting fatigued. This can also help you stay more alert and keep your brain sharper during the day when you are not working out.

Isoleucine

While the BCAA leucine plays the major role in muscle growth—as well as fat loss—and valine is the key BCAA for energy, the BCAA isoleucine also has its unique benefits. Isoleucine also plays a role in providing the BCAAs their fat-burning benefit. This is unique from the way that leucine aids fat loss, meaning yet another boost to your fat loss efforts.

Japanese researchers discovered that mice given isoleucine while eating a high-fat diet gained significantly less fat than mice not getting supplemental isoleucine in their diet. This was due to isoleucine's ability to activate special receptors—known as PPAR—that increase fat burning and inhibit fat storage.

BCAA Synergy

While each of the three individual BCAAs have their own unique properties, taking them together is your best bet to get all the advantages that they provide. Plus, they also work together to provide a host of other benefits.

Although research has pegged leucine as the MVP of the BCAAs when it comes to muscle growth, taking leucine along with valine and isoleucine is your best bet. After all, all three branched-chain aminos are critical building blocks for muscle protein. Plus, the majority of the studies showing their benefits on muscle hypertrophy were done with BCAA supplements, not leucine on its own.

Scientists from Baylor University actually compared the effects of BCAAs against leucine. They gave men either just leucine, all three BCAAs, or a placebo before workouts and immediately after workouts. They reported in a 2008 issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that although leucine increased muscle protein synthesis after the workout significantly better that the placebo, BCAAs increased muscle protein synthesis significantly better than the placebo AND leucine alone.

BCAAs Boost Fat Loss

We’re not just talking about a muscle-building supplement here; BCAAs—specifically, leucine and isoleucine—can also a play a major role in your fat loss efforts. One of the first studies to highlight this benefit was a 1997 experiment done on competitive wrestlers, which found that subjects supplementing with BCAAs while following a low-calorie diet experienced a greater drop in body fat, particularly in the waist, as compared to those taking a placebo.

Moreover, a study out of Brazil found that six weeks of leucine supplementation caused a large drop in body fat. The researchers proposed that the increase in protein synthesis stimulated by leucine increased energy expenditure so much that it helped to burn off body fat. Leucine has also been found to reduce hunger, causing you to eat less while you burn more, which ultimately leads to fat loss.

And in the case of isoleucine, as stated above, isoleucine has been shown to activate PPAR receptors, leading to an increase in the activity of genes that encourage greater fat burning in the body, while at the same decreasing activity of genes that increase fat storage.

BCAAs Boost Immune Function

BCAAs have also been shown to enhance immune function following exercise. Since intense exercise can take a toll on your immune system and increase your chances of getting sick, supplementing with BCAAs is a smart idea to keep from catching a cold or flu and missing time from the gym. BCAAs may also help to increase life span. Italian researchers from discovered that mice supplemented with BCAAs had higher amounts of mitochondria in their muscles, higher activity of the longevity gene SIRT1, and lived 12% longer than those not getting BCAAs. Although these benefits have yet to be confirmed in humans, they are some potential fringe benefits from a supplement that you are already taking for greater muscle size and strength.

BCAA Dosing

Supplementing properly with BCAAs comes down to three main variables: dose, ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine, and timing. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Dose: A small dusting of BCAAs won't cut it. The optimal dose is around 5-10 grams. Pre JYM and Post JYM each contain 6 grams of BCAAs, which is right in the sweet spot and without a doubt considered a full dose.

Ratio: This is a key variable. Leucine is the major mass-builder of the three BCAAs, but that doesn’t mean that more leucine is always better. You want to reap the benefits of all three with a ratio of  2:1:1, leucine to isoleucine to valine, pre-workou—the exact ratio found in Pre JYM. Post-workout, a slight bump in leucine to a ratio of 3:1:1—as found in Post JYM—will further promote muscle recovery and growth without being too high of a ratio. Anything above that results in insufficient levels of isoleucine and valine for the leucine content.

Timing: I’ve heard many people say that BCAAs taken pre-workout are of little value, and BCAAs taken post-workout are overkill if you’re already taking a good protein powder. I vehemently disagree, and this disagreement is backed by science. I believe in full doses of BCAAs both before and after training, regardless of how much protein and the source you’re also consuming—before because BCAAs are an immediate energy source, and they blunt fatigue; and after because they ignite protein synthesis, boost insulin and GH levels, and blunt cortisol release.

If you take Pre JYM before training and Post JYM after, your BCAA needs will be covered. That means you won’t need any extra BCAAs during the workout.

References

Supporting Research

Anthony, J. C., Yoshizawa, F., Anthony, T. G., Vary, T. C., Jefferson, L. S., Kimball, S. R. (2000) Leucine stimulates translation initiation in skeletal muscle of postabsorptive rats via a rapamycin-sensitive pathway. J. Nutr. 130: 2413-2419.

Crozier, S. J., Kimball, S.R., Emmert, S. W., Anthony, J. C., Jefferson, L.S. (2005) Oral leucine administration stimulates protein synthesis in rat skeletal muscle. J. Nutr. 135: 376-382.

Crowe, M. J., et al. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Aug;97(6):664-72.

Bolster, D. R., Crozier, S. J., Kimball, S. R., Jefferson, L. S. (2002) AMP-activated protein kinase suppresses protein synthesis in rat skeletal muscle through down-regulated mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. J. Biol. Chem. 277: 23977-23980.

Koopman R, Wagenmakers AJ, Manders RJ, Zorenc AH, Senden JM, Gorselink M, Keizer HA, van Loon LJ. (2005) Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 288(4): E645-653.

Coburn, J. W., et al. Effects of leucine and whey protein supplementation during eight weeks of unilateral resistance training. J Strength Cond Res 2006 May;20(2):284-91.

Mourier, A., et al. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.

Cota, D., et al. Hypothalamic mTOR signaling regulates food intake. Science. 2006 May 12;312(5775):927-30.

Donato, J., et al. Effects of leucine supplementation on the body composition and protein status of rats submitted to food restriction. Nutrition 22(5):520-527, 2006.

De Lorenzo, A., et al. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.

Blomstrand, E. A role for branched-chain amino acids in reducing central fatigue. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):544S-547S.

Gomez-Merino, D., et al. Evidence that the branched-chain amino acid L-valine prevents exercise-induced release of 5-HT in rat hippocampus. Int J Sports Med. 2001 Jul;22(5):317-22.

Nishimura, J., et al. Isoleucine Prevents the Accumulation of Tissue Triglycerides and Upregulates the Expression of PPAR{alpha} and Uncoupling Protein in Diet-Induced Obese Mice. J. Nutr., March 2010, in press. 

Tipton, K.D., et al. Acute response of net muscle protein balance reflects 24-h balance after exercise and amino acid ingestion. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism 284(1):E76–E89, 2003.

Karlsson, H. K., et al. Branched-chain amino acids increase p70S6k phosphorylation in human skeletal muscle after resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2007; 287(1):E1-7.

Blomstrand, E., Saltin, B. BCAA intake affects protein metabolism in muscle after but not during exercise in humans. Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism 281(2):E365–374, 2001.

Borsheim, E., et al. Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism 283(4):E648–E657, 2002.

Shimomura, Y., et al. Nutraceutical effects of branched-chain amino acids on skeletal muscle. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):529S-532S.

Stoppani, J., et al., Consuming branched-chain amino acid supplement during a resistance training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009, 6(Suppl 1):P1, 2009.

P. La Bounty et al., The effects of oral BCAAs and leucine supplementation combined with an acute lower-body resistance exercise on mTOR and 4E-BP1 activation in humans: preliminary findings. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(Suppl 1):P21, 2008.

Bassit, R.A., Sawada, L.A., Bacurau, R.F., et al. The effect of BCAA supplementation upon the immune response of triathletes. Medicine Science in Sports Exercise 32(7):1,214–1,219, 2000.

Bassit, R. A., et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and the immune response of long-distance athletes. Nutrition. 2002 May;18(5):376-9.

D'Antona, G., et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation promotes survival and supports cardiac and skeletal muscle mitochondrial biogenesis in middle-aged mice. Cell Metab. 12(4):362-72, 2010.

de Araujo, J.A., et al. Effect of chronic supplementation with branched-chain amino acids on the performance and hepatic and muscle glycogen content in trained rats. Life Sci. 2006 Aug 29;79(14):1343-8.

De Palo, E.F., et al. Plasma lactate, GH and GH-Binding protein levels in exercise following BCAA supplementation in athletes. Amino Acids 20:1–11, 2001.

Greer, BK, et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and indicators of muscle damage after endurance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007 Dec;17(6):595-607.

Hassmen, P., et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation during 30-km competitive run: mood and cognitive performance. Nutrition 10(5):405–410, 1994.

Koba, T., et al. Branched-chain amino acids supplementation attenuates the accumulation of blood lactate dehydrogenase during distance running. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2007 Sep;47(3):316-22.

Matsumoto, K., et al. Branched-chain amino acids and arginine supplementation attenuates skeletal muscle proteolysis induced by moderate exercise in young individuals. Int J Sports Med. 2007 Jun;28(6):531-8.

Ohtani, M., et al. Amino Acid Mixture Improves Training Efficiency in Athletes. J. Nutr. 136: 538S–543S, 2006.

Talbott, S., et al. Effect of Branched Chain Amino Acids on Salivary Cortisol Levels During Endurance Exercise. Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Las Vegas, 2006.

L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine is an amino acid that helps to produce a number of hormones and neurotransmitters in the body. It's also critical for controlling metabolism. This form of the amino acid tyrosine is more bioavailable than regular tyrosine supplements, meaning that it is absorbed and used more effectively by the body than plain tyrosine.

How Tyrosine Works

Research shows that supplementing with it during intense training can help to blunt fatigue, enhance performance, increase energy, boost mental focus, elevate mood, aid 
fat loss, raise muscle strength, and even boost sex drive.

Tyrosine Dosing

The dose of L-tyrosine can vary from just a few hundred milligrams to a couple of grams depending on when it's taken with and the outcome you're looking for. In Pre JYM, I provide 1.5g of L-tyrosine, or 1500mg. This is a huge dose but it's essential for that improvement you get in focus, in drive, in energy, when you're taking Pre JYM. It works with the caffeine, the huperzine, and the alpha-gpc to help blunt fatigue, improve focus and concentration, and help enhance performance.

References

Supporting Research

Deijen, J.B., C.J. Wientjes, H.F. Vullinghs, P.A. Cloin, and J.J. Langefeld. Tyrosine improves cognitive performance and reduces blood pressure in cadets after one week of a combat training course. Brain Res. Bull. 48:203–209. 1999

Owasoyo, J.O., D.F. Neri, and J.G. Lamberth. Tyrosine and its potential use as a countermeasure to performance decrement in military sustained operations. Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 63:364-369. 1992

Deijen, J.B., Orlebeke, J.F. Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Brain Res Bull 33(3):319-23 1994

Caffeine

When most people think of caffeine, the thought of coffee, energy drinks or soda comes to mind. But the supplemental form of caffeine—found in pills and powders—is one the most effective and extensively researched supplements on the market today. On my personal list of favorite ingredients, it ranks up there with protein powders, creatine and BCAAs. After all, I did put it in Pre JYM for a reason: performance!

How Caffeine Works

Caffeine, known scientifically by the name 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, is a stimulant. The main way it works in giving you more energy, greater alertness, and enhanced brain function is due to the fact that it binds to adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a breakdown chemical that is produced in the body, and when it binds to its receptors in the brain it signals fatigue. This makes you tired and sluggish, slowing down nerve activity and therefore brain function. By binding to adenosine receptors, caffeine prevents this fatigue signal and keeps you more alert and mentally focused.

These adenosine receptors also happen to be the main mechanism through which caffeine boosts fat burning—another one of its popular benefits. When adenosine binds to its receptors located on fat cells, it inhibits lipolysis—the release of fat from the fat cells. Caffeine, however, binds to adenosine receptors on fat cells to allow fat to be released from fat cells, where it then can travel to other tissues, like muscle, and be burned as fuel.

Caffeine Enhances Endurance

Korean scientists from the Institute of Elderly Health in Seoul discovered when they gave caffeine to both rats and humans and made them exercise to exhaustion, the amount of fat in the blood increased, as did endurance. This is because during exercise, the body begins to feel fatigued when muscle glycogen is burned, at which point performance begins to suffer. But since the body will burn any free-floating fat in the bloodstream before tapping into glycogen stores, more fat being available to burn first due to caffeine ingestion equates to a longer period of time you can exercise before fatigue sets in.

A study published in a 2003 issue of the Journal of Pain found that subjects who took a large dose of caffeine an hour before doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling reported feeling significantly less muscle pain. It's pretty well established that caffeine can mediate pain, but the implication of this study is that if you're not hurting, you'll be able to work out harder for longer. And that can lead to greater muscle growth, as well as greater fat burning.

Supporting this is a 2007 study from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) that reported that females taking a caffeine supplement one hour before a 30-minute bout of intense cycling had a large reduction in leg muscle pain as compared to when they took a placebo. What's more, a University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) study presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) found that when subjects took caffeine one hour before a workout, they were able to complete more reps on biceps curls using their 12-rep max, and reported significantly less muscle pain on the fourth set of curls as compared to when they took a placebo or aspirin.

Caffeine Enhances Strength

Scientists at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) found that trained subjects could do more reps with the same weight—80% of their 1RM—after taking just over 200 mg of caffeine an hour before working out. Of course, the more reps you can do at a relatively heavy weight, the bigger and stronger you'll get. The same research team found, in a later study, that taking just over 200 mg of caffeine an hour before workouts increased one-rep max strength on the bench press by an average of five pounds.

How does caffeine work to boost muscle strength? Since it's a nervous system stimulant, one way it may do this is by increasing the firing rate of the nerves going to muscles, which can lead to stronger muscle contractions. Caffeine may also act directly on muscles by triggering an increase in the release of calcium into the muscle. Calcium is needed for muscle contractions, so more calcium may lead to stronger muscle contraction and in turn greater force production by the muscle.

A University of Connecticut study presented at the same 2007 ACSM meeting mentioned above had trained cyclists perform a max strength test on leg extensions before and after a two-hour intense bout of cycling. They reported that when the subjects ingested caffeine during the cycling session they experienced no loss in leg strength; with no caffeine ingestion, a loss in leg strength was noted.

Another way that caffeine may increase exercise performance is by increasing blood flow to muscles through a boost in nitric oxide (NO). Although many think that caffeine constricts blood vessels, past research in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that caffeine increased blood flow to forearm muscles by increasing NO levels. Better blood flow means delivery of more nutrients like amino acids and glucose to muscles, as well as more oxygen for better energy production during exercise.

Caffeine Safety

Unfortunately, many people—especially ill-informed trainers and dietitians—warn to not drink caffeinated beverages or take caffeine because it's a diuretic. Yes, caffeine does act on the kidneys to increase urine volume, which is why it's considered a diuretic. But the effect is very mild and certainly won't affect your health or your workouts. A 1997 study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine compared the effects of caffeinated and caffeine-free sports drinks during exercise. The results showed that consuming caffeine while working out doesn't significantly affect hydration. Moreover, a review of over 40 human studies found that caffeine intake of up to 400 mg daily—around four cups of coffee—does NOT produce dehydration, even when exercising. So there's really no need to worry about caffeine dehydrating you.

Also unfortunate is the fact that many misinformed trainers and nutritionists warn that caffeine and coffee can have a negative impact on your health. One 2006 study, published in the journal Epidemiology, did suggest that drinking coffee can increase heart attack risk, but yet again a closer look at the details of the research reveals a lot. The first thing to understand about this particular study is that it was not performed in a lab. Rather, the scientists interviewed over 500 Costa Ricans who had had non-fatal heart attacks about their coffee intake. So at best, the results only show an association between caffeine and heart attack, not that the caffeine caused the heart attack. Furthermore, the scientists had to rely on the subjects not only to tell the truth, but to remember what they were eating and drinking before the heart attack happened. Finally, it's important to note the conclusion of the study. The scientists noted that the greatest risk of heart attack came in those people who didn't exercise, who had other risk factors for cardiac illness, or who didn't drink much coffee.

New research actually shows that caffeine and coffee offer numerous health benefits. One study conducted at the Medical University Innsbruck in Austria examined subjects' brains after taking either a dose of caffeine or a placebo, and found that the "caffeinated brains" showed more activity—and the subjects they belonged to showed improvement in short-term memory. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that caffeine can significantly lower the risk of getting diabetes. In most people, it only took three cups of coffee to provide this advantage, but those who drank tea were also in the clear. Other research shows that those who consume higher intakes of caffeine—either from coffee or other sources—have a reduced risk of cognitive decline with aging, depression, heart disease, stroke, liver and colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

Caffeine Dosing

Research has shown that as little as 200 mg of caffeine can have significant benefits on strength and endurance. Other studies suggest a dose of 300 mg or more works best for strength and other performance benefits. For most people, I have found that a dose of around 200-300 mg of caffeine anhydrous works best for performance. Hence the reason why I added 300 mg to each serving of Pre JYM. For fat loss, a dose of around 200 mg taken 2-3 times per day works best. That's why I have 200 mg of caffeine in Shred JYM.

While continually taking caffeine will desensitize you to the jolt you get from it, it will not diminish the performance benefits. One study found that habitual caffeine users experienced a significant performance boost during exercise when taking caffeine before workouts.

References

Supporting Research

Umemura, T., et al. Effects of acute administration of caffeine on vascular function. Am J Cardiol. 2006 Dec 1;98(11):1538-41.

Echeverri, D., et al. Caffeine's vascular mechanisms of action. International Journal of Vascular Medicine, 2010.

Acheson, K.J., et al. Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. Am J Clin Nutr May 1980
vol. 33 no. 5 989-997

Acheson K.j., et al. Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling? Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;79(1):40-6.

Tallis, J., Yavuz, HCM. The effects of low and moderate dose caffeine supplementation on upper and lower body maximal voluntary concentric and eccentric muscle force. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Oct 24. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0370. [Epub ahead of print]

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is an extract from the plant Huperzia serrata—known less formerly as firmoss, or Chinese club moss. It is a potent brain booster that can promote better focus, enhanced memory, and even boost mood to the point of a mild euphoric effect.

How Huperzine A Works

Huperzine A works mainly by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which normally breaks down acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is a critical neurotransmitter that allows nerve signals in the brain to connect. So having more of it available makes for faster and better synchronized nerve conduction, which leads to sharper brain function and clearer focus, as well as better memory and cognitive performance. Acetylcholine is also a critical neurotransmitter for muscle contractions. It's the chemical that is released from the ends of the nerve cells that control the muscle fibers. The release of acetylcholine signals the chemical reactions to take place in the muscle that lead to a muscle contraction. By having more acetylcholine available, nerve impulses to the muscles are faster and better synchronized, and can better withstand fatigue. This results in stronger muscle contractions and less central nervous system fatigue, meaning you are stronger in the gym and can maintain that strength for longer.

Huperzine A Dosing

Combining huperzine A with alpha-GPC, as I have done in Pre JYM, has a synergistic effect on the nervous system and the muscles.

The alpha-GPC provides more acetylcholine, while the huperzine A prevents breakdown of the acetylcholine. This leads to higher levels of acetylcholine than can be achieved by taking just one or the other. And this is seen in those supplementing with Pre JYM before workouts who report increased muscle strength, better muscle endurance, and enhance mental focus in the gym.

The 50 mcg of Huperzine A combined with the 150 mg of alpha-GPC are the perfect doses to provide this benefit, as I have discovered over many years of experimenting with them.

References

Supporting Research

Sun, Q. Q., et al. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999 Jul;20(7):601-3.

Li J, Huperzine A for Alzheimer's disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD005592

Malkova, L., et al. The effects of huperzine A and IDRA 21 on visual recognition memory in young macaques. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Jun;60(7-8):1262-8.

Kitisripanya, N., et al. Binding of huperzine A and galanthamine to acetylcholinesterase, based on ONIOM method. Nanomedicine. 2011 Feb;7(1):60-8.

Xiao, X. Q., et al.. Huperzine A protects rat pheochromocytoma cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced injury. Neurosci Lett. 1999 Nov 12; 275(2): 73-6.

Piperine (Black Pepper Extract)

Piperine is an active extract derived from black or long pepper.

How Piperine Works

Research suggests piperine enhances nutrient absorption, most likely by increasing blood flow to the digestive tract. For example, ingesting vitamin B6 along with Bioperine-branded piperine more than doubled the amount of B6 found in the blood of healthy men two hours after ingestion. It has been shown to increase the absorption of numerous other ingredients.

Piperine Dosing

Studies have shown that 5mg of black pepper extract is sufficient to enhance nutrient absorption

References

Supporting Research

Patil UK, Singh A, Chakraborty AK. Role of piperine as a bioavailability enhancer. Int J Recent Adv Pharmac Res 4:16–23. 2011

Khajuria A, Zutshi U, Bedi K. Permeability characteristics of piperine on oral absorption: an active alkaloid from peppers and a bioavailability enhancer. Ind J Exp Biol 36:46–50. 1998

Khajuria A, Thusu N, Zutshi U. Piperine modulates permeability characteristics of intestine by inducing alterations in membrane dynamics: influence on brush border membrane fluidity, ultrastructure, and enzyme kinetics. Phytomedicine 9:224–31. 2002

Hiwale A, Dhuley J, Naik S. Effect of co-administration of piperine on pharmacokinetics of beta-lactam antibiotics in rats. Ind J Exp Biol 40:277–81. 2002

Pre JYM – Real Science, Unreal Results

So there you have it, a complete breakdown of every ingredient and benefit you get in each scoop of Pre JYM. Why should you take a pre-workout? Well at least in the case of Pre JYM, because you know how and why it works. If you want to enhance your workouts, boost strength and endurance, get better focus and pumps—Pre JYM has everything you need, all in a single scoop. Proven ingredients at listed, effective amounts—no proprietary blends, no “concentrates”—just real science, for unreal results.

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