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Pre JYM Ingredient Breakdown

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

Pre JYM Ingredient Breakdown

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.

Name: Creatine

Benefits: Mass Building, Strength, Fat Loss, Energy Production, Health

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a protein-like compound found in high abundance in red meat and fish. Creatine is synthesized in the body—primarily in the liver—from the amino acids arginine and glycine. Because of this, it's technically considered a "non-essential nutrient, meaning your body doesn't require a dietary source for normal functioning. However, as you'll soon learn, the fitness benefits of increasing your body's creatine levels through supplementation can be substantial.

How Does Creatine Work?

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. This high-energy molecule is 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 to power muscle contractions for high-intensity exercises such as sprinting and weight lifting – primarily when short bursts of maximum output are needed.

Creatine Does Not Work Acutely

Unlike many commonly supplemented nutrients, creatine doesn't work acutely; that is, its effects aren't noticeable immediately after ingestion. Instead, creatine levels must build up in the muscle tissue over time. The inclusion of creatine in supplements such as your favorite Pre- or Post-Workout isn't just about timing relative to your workout; rather, it's about convenience and combining nutrients such as branched-chain amino acids or post-workout carbohydrates that may help enhance creatine's uptake and utilization.

More Muscle, More Strength, More Performance

Research shows that there are numerous ways by which creatine can help produce 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 more ATP can be rapidly produced during exercise, meaning more fast-acting energy is available to do more work in the following ways: performing more reps with the same weight, lifting more weight for the same number of reps, or sprinting a given distance in less time.

These performance benefits can lead to gains in strength, power, speed, and muscle growth. This can also allow athletes to recover faster between sets of a given exercise, such as sprints, supersets, or Tabata-style resistance-training, which promotes the ability to do more work in less time. Today, we know that creatine works through a number of different mechanisms, which are covered below.

Muscle Cell Volumization

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 often associated with creatine supplementation, which can simply make your muscles fuller and bigger if you maintain a relatively lean physique.

From a growth perspective, this increase in cell volume causes the cell membranes to stretch, which is thought to initiate long-term increases in muscle growth and strength through greater protein synthesis—the method that muscle cells use to grow.

Cellular Hydration and Protein Economy: More Synthesis, Less Breakdown

The notion that creatine could reduce protein breakdown was born out of research in the early 1990s which revealed that protein synthesis and breakdown were tightly connected to the hydration state of the cell ( i.e. its volume).1,2

These findings are consistent irrespective of the compounds used to increase cell volume, like glycogen, creatine, amino acids like glutamine and glycine. Conversely, breakdown was promoted by cellular dehydration, when either water-binding substrates like glycogen are reduced or increases in cAMP or glucagon (which breakdowns glycogen for glucose) become prominent.3

SIDEBAR: In Support of Carb Cycling

Going too long without reintroducing carbohydrates into your diet, which pulls water into muscle cells, is one of the reasons I teach carb cycling to attain maximum muscularity. Because of its cell volumizing properties, creatine is a perfect zero-carb molecule that can keep your muscle cells hydrated and help reduce protein breakdown.

Creatine and New Muscle Fibers

Yet another way that creatine is thought to work is by increasing the number of satellite cells in existing muscle fibers. Satellite cells are basically muscle stem cells that are strategically situated on the outside of mature muscle fibers. Standing by as relatively dormant cells, they wake up, engage, and rise to the occasion to become fully functioning muscle fibers in response to muscle overload, damage, and stress. Over time, the body can develop these satellite cells into new muscle tissue, leading to gains in muscle size and strength.

Though the exact mechanism isn’t clear, because creatine helps provide more fast-acting energy to working muscles, it allows athletes to place greater levels of stress on their muscles, which in turn stimulates more satellite cells to “wake up” and over time can cause them to become new additions to existing muscle cells.

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.

The majority of research on creatine has been done using creatine monohydrate. For most people, creatine monohydrate makes an affordable yet effective way to supplement with creatine. That said, my preferred form of creatine by far is creatine HCl. I have two reasons for that: (1) creatine HCl is more water soluble than creatine monohydrate, and (2) creatine HCl gives me less gastrointestinal discomfort (upset stomach) than creatine monohydrate.

Creatine Suggested Use

Take 2-5 grams per day. Most athletes find it best to take before an/or after workouts along with food or a protein shake.

References

Supporting Research

Haussinger D, Lang F; 12 December 1991; Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Biomembranes; 1071(4): 331-350 

 vom Dahl S, Haussinger D; February 1996; Journal of Nutrition; 126(2): 395-402

Stoll B, Gerok W, Lang F, Haussinger D; 1 October 1992; Biochemical Journal; 287(1): 217-222

Dash, A., et al. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 90(10):1593-1598, 2001

Powers, M. E., et al. Journal of Athletic Training 38(1):44-50, 2003

Miller, D. Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2009

Andrews, R., et al. Eur. Heart J. 19:617– 622, 1998

Arciero, P.J., et al. Metabolism. 50:1429–1434, 2001

Balsom, P. D., et al. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 3:143–149, 1993

Balsom, P. D., et al. Acta Physiol. Scand. 1154:303–310, 1995

Becque, M.D., et al. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32:654–658, 2000

Bemben, M.G., et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 33:1667–1673, 2001

Birch, R., et al. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 69:268 –270, 1994

Bosco, C., et al. Int. J. Sports Med. 18:369 –372, 1997.11:234 –238, 1997

Brenner, M., et al. J. Strength Cond. Res. 14:207–213, 2000

Burke, D.G., et al. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 11:349–364, 2001

Burke, D. G. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 18(4):389-98, 2008

Cancela, P., et al. Br J Sports Med. 42(9):731-5, 2008

Casey, A., et al. Am. J. Physiol. 271:E31–E37, 1996

Chanutin, A., and L. P. Guy. J. Biol. Chem. 67:29 – 41, 1926

Chilibeck, P. D., et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 36(10):1781-8, 2004

Chwalbinska-Moneta, J. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 13(2):173-83, 2003

Cribb, P. J. and Hayes, A. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 38(11):1918-25, 2006

Cribb, P. J., et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 39(2):298-307, 2007

Dalbo, V. J., et al. Br J Sports Med. 42(7):567-73, 2008

Dangott, B., et al. Int. J. Sports Med. 21:13–16, 2000

Dawson, B., et al. Aust. J. Sci. Med. Sport 27:56 –61, 1995

Earnest, C., et al. Clin. Sci. 91:113–118, 1996

Earnest, C. P., et al. Acta Physiol. Scand. 153:207–209, 1995

Earnest, C. P., et al. J. Strength Condit. Res. 11:234 –238, 1997

Enette Larson-Meyer, D., et al. J. Strength Cond. Res. 14:434–442, 2000

Febbraio, M. A., et al. Acta Physiol. Scand. 155: 387–395, 1995

Ferraro, S., et al. Clin Cardiol . 19(9):699-703, 1996

Field, M. L. Cardiovasc Res 31(1):174-176, 1996

Giese, M. W. and Lecher, C. S. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 2009 Oct. 16;388(2):252-5 

Green, A. L., et al. Acta Physiol. Scand. 158:195–202, 1996

Greenhaff, P. L., et al. Clin. Sci. 84:565–571, 1993

Greenhaff, P. L., et al. Am. J. Physiol. 266:E725–E730, 1994

Greenwood, M., et al. J Athl Train. 38(3):216-219, 2003

Greenwood, M., et al. Clin. J. Sports Med. 10:191–194, 2000

Greenwood M., et al. Mol Cell Biochem. 244(1-2):83-8, 2003

Grindstaff, P. D., et al. Int. J. Sports Nutr. 7:330 –346, 1997

Gordon, A., et al. Cardiovasc. Res. 30:413-418, 1995

Harris, R. C., et al. Clin. Sci. 83:367–374, 1992

Harris, R. C., et al. J. Physiol. 467:74P, 1993

Haussinger, D. Lancet. 1993 May 22;341(8856):1330-2, 1993

Hersch, S. M., et al. Neurology 66(2):250-2, 2006

Hespel, P., et al. J. Physiol. 536:625–633, 2001

Kraemer, W. J., and J. S. Volek. Clin. Sports Med. 18:651– 666, 1999

Hultman, E., et al. J. Appl. Physiol. 81:232–237, 1996

Jacobs, I., et al. Can. J. Appl. Physiol. 22:231–243, 1997

Kelly, V. G., and D. G. Jenkins. J. Strength Condit. Res. 12:109 – 115, 1998

Rawson, E. S. and Volek, J. S. J Strength Cond Res. 17(4):822-31, 2003

Vandenberghe, K., et al. J. Appl. Physiol. 83:2055–2063, 1997

Olsen, S., et al. J Physiol. 573(Pt 2):525-34, 2006

Volek, J. S., et al. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 312:1147– 1156, 1999 

Kreider, R. B., et al. Mol Cell Biochem. 244(1-2):95-104, 2003

Terjung, R. L., et al. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32(3): 706 –717, 2000

Bender, A., et al. Neurobiology of Aging. 29(9): 1404-1411, 2009

Gualano, B., et al. Amino Acids, 2008 Feb. ;34(2):245-50

Johnston A.P., E J Strength Cond Res., 2009 Jan.;23(1):116-20

Name: Beta-Alanine

Benefits: Strength, Mass Builder, Energy Production

What is Beta-Alanine? 

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that’s naturally produced by the body in the liver. You can also get it from 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’s carnosine that provides all the benefits associated with beta-alanine, which may include improved strength and power, better endurance, and even greater fat loss and muscle growth, as numerous studies demonstrate. 

How Does Beta-Alanine Work? 

In the body, beta-alanine combines with histidine to form carnosine, and research suggests that muscles with higher levels of carnosine have the ability to generate greater, more forceful contractions for a longer period, which can result in superior strength, endurance, and mass gains. 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. As a result, this can help you lift more weight and complete more reps during the later stages of your workouts. This greater work capacity can lead to greater gains in strength and power as well as muscle mass, while also promoting greater fat loss.

Beta-alanine itself also has some studied benefits that are separate from those of carnosine. Because of its structure, beta-alanine is now being researched in the lab as a neurotransmitter. In fact, many people report experiencing a boost in alertness and energy from beta-alanine that’s similar to caffeine. This is just one reason why it's a good idea to take beta-alanine before workouts and why it’s found in numerous pre-workout products. This is also the reason why beta-alanine often causes that prickling sensation, or "pins and needles" feeling in the skin, known as paresthesia. This feeling is completely normal and harmless and is most prevalent with increased amounts – usually between 1 gram to 4 grams taken all at once. 

Beta-Alanine: Real-World Benefits

Numerous studies show that beta-alanine supplements (which increase carnosine levels in muscle) produce a lactic acid buffering effect, which helps push back the “burn” you feel during exercise, possibly allowing you to perform more repetitions during weight-training sessions.4

The burn is one of the primary causes of muscle fatigue, which leads to momentary muscular failure. To see how this works from a practical standpoint, 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.5

Another study conducted by 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 2,000% more than those taking a placebo. Being able to maintain punching power late in the round is similar to being able to maintain more strength and power later in your workouts—meaning you can lift more weight for more reps.6

Beta-Alanine and Creatine

Research also suggests a synergy between beta-alanine and creatine. One study reported that weight-trained athletes consuming 3.2 grams of beta-alanine plus 10 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for 12 weeks gained significantly more muscle mass while simultaneously losing significant body fat, as compared to those taking 10 grams of creatine alone and others taking a placebo. This is why I suggest taking beta-alanine along with creatine about 30 minutes before workouts and again immediately after workouts.

Beta-Alanine Suggested Use 

Research suggests taking 1.6 - 3.2 grams daily, and up to 6.4 grams per day.   

Timing: Some studies state that blood levels of beta-alanine peak within 30 minutes of ingestion, and it completely leaves the circulation within 3 hours of consuming. Thus, it makes sense to take a sufficient serving of beta-alanine 30-45 minutes before workouts, and again immediately after.

References

Supporting Research

Varanoske AN, Stout, JR, Hoffman JR; 2019; Nutrition and Enhanced Sports Performance (2nd Edition), 327–344

Hoffman J, Ratamess NA, Ross R, Kang J, Magrelli J, Neese K, Faigenbaum AD, Wise JA; 2008; International Journal of Sports Medicine; 29(12): 952-958

Donovan T, Ballam T, Morton JP, Close GL; October 2012; International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism; 22(5): 331-337

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

Culbertson, J. Y., et al. Nutrients 2: 75-98, 2010

Artioli, G. G., et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc., 2010 June ;42(6):1162-73

Derave, W., et al. J. Appl. Physiol. 103:1736-43, 2007

Hill, C. A, et al. Amino Acids. 32:225-33, 2007

Hoffman J. R., et al. Nutr. Res. (2008) ;28:31-5

Hoffman J. R., et al. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. (2006) ;16:430-46

Kendrick IP, Harris RC, Kim CK, et al. 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. Amino Acids. (2008) ;34:547-54

Stout J. R., et al. J. Strength Cond. Res. (2006) 20: 928-31

Stout, J. R., et al. Amino Acids. (2007) ;32:381-6

Kern, B. D. and Robinson, T. L. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(7):1804-1815, 2011

Hoffman, J. R., et al. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 10;11(1):15, 2014

Howe, S. T., et al. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. In pres, 2013

Dutka, T. L. and Lamb, G. D. J. Muscle Res. Cell. Motil., 2004; 25:203-13

Dutka, T. .L, et al. J. Appl. Physiol. 112(5):728-36, 2012

Harris, R. C., et al. Amino Acids. (2006) ;30:279-89

Stellingwerff, T., et al. Amino Acids 42(6):2461-72, 2012

Name: Betaine

Benefits: Power, Strength, Muscle Growth

What is Betaine? 

Betaine isn’t all that new, but what is rather recent is the recognition of its benefits for helping to boost muscle strength, power, growth, and even possibly support fat loss. Known technically as trimethylglycine (TMG), this unique amino acid is well known for its health-promoting effects. Your body naturally uses betaine to support joint and liver health. However, recent research suggests that betaine may play a role in helping fitness enthusiasts reach their goals.

Betaine is a methyl donor, which 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 Does Betaine Work? 

Within the body, how betaine performs its methyl-donating function is in the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine, which is also how betaine may help aid muscle strength, muscle growth, and fat loss. Methionine is important in the body's natural ability to synthesize creatine. Hence, 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.

Betaine and Protein Synthesis 

Methionine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis (specifically in the process known as translation). By having more methionine available for this process, protein synthesis is ramped up, and therefore so is the potential for increased muscle growth and strength gains. 

Betaine and Performance

In the last few years, betaine has shined in studies for its ability to help support athletic performance. One of the first studies to look into betaine's performance-enhancing benefits was conducted 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%.7

Another study from Ithaca College had male and female subjects perform all-out, 12-second sprints on a stationary cycle, with a high level of resistance on the pedals. In one trial, the subjects consumed a carbohydrate and electrolyte beverage containing betaine before the workout; in the other trial, subjects drank a carb and electrolyte beverage without betaine. The researchers reported that when subjects drank the betaine-containing beverage they were able to pedal with about 5% more power than those who drank just the carbs and electrolytes.

Betaine and Hormone Status

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 of 7 reps. A 2013 study on betaine and performance suggested that increases in muscle strength, power, and endurance may be due to betaine's ability to help increase levels of important hormones/growth factors and to better promote muscle protein synthesis.

UCONN researchers reported that weight-trained men supplementing with 1.25 grams of betaine twice a day for two weeks experienced a 10% greater increase in natural growth hormone, a 15% greater increase in natural insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and a 15% reduction in natural cortisol levels following a weight workout as compared to the placebo. These same researchers also found that betaine significantly increased markers for muscle protein synthesis following the workout, as compared to placebo.¹

Betaine and Muscle Mass

A recent 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. The researchers reported that the subjects supplementing with betaine increased muscle mass by 4 pounds and arm size by 10% while decreasing body fat by 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 help regulate cellular fluid volume, which could further help support muscle pump and overall muscle size.

Betaine Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 1.25 to 3 grams of betaine one to two times daily preferably around workouts.

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.

Name: Taurine

Benefits: Heart Health, Cell Volume, Glucose Utilization, Antioxidant

What is Taurine? 

Taurine is a naturally-occurring compound found in fish and meat, as well as being produced in the body through the breakdown of the amino acid cysteine. Taurine functions as an antioxidant and helps reduce 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 the branched-chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Taurine is known as a functional amino acid, meaning it supports specific actions in the body, and the reason you'll see it in a lot of pre-workouts, and even energy drinks, is because taurine has been researched to support enhanced energy levels during intense training. Although not a protein-building amino acid, taurine plays a role in muscle recovery, brain health, and dietary fat metabolism.

How Does Taurine Work?

Some research suggests 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 helps improve the contractile performance of 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 reduce the amount of taurine available for use by the body, so supplementing with taurine is a great idea if you are also taking beta-alanine.

Taurine Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 500-2000 mg of taurine per day preferably before training or with your pre-workout meal. 

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.

Name: Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha GPC)

Benefits: Brain Boosting, Muscle Contractions, Hormone Release

What is Alpha GPC?

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

How Alpha-GPC Works

Alpha-GPC’s brain-boosting benefits stem from the fact that it provides the body with 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 specific signals in the body, including those responsible for muscle contractions. As far as its role in helping to promote muscle growth goes, this comes from alpha-GPC's ability to help support the body's ability to stimulate natural growth hormone (GH) production.

Alpha-GPC and Hormone Release

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 normal GH spike typically seen with weightlifting. His research team had trained male weightlifters perform 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.

The researchers 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 natural GH levels higher as compared to when they took the placebo, but the subjects were also stronger and had greater power. Dr. Ziegenfuss suggests that since GH can naturally increase levels of the powerful growth factor insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1), the increase in strength and power that was reported could have been due to IGF-1 exerting positive effects on muscle contraction.

Alpha GPC Suggested Use 

Research suggests taking 300mg - 600mg per day

Name: Citrulline Malate

Benefits: Nitric Oxide (NO) and Growth Hormone (GH) Support, Energy Output

What is Citrulline? 

Citrulline is an amino acid first isolated in watermelon. Citrulline is closely related to arginine and is readily converted into 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.,. As a result, some of the benefits you get with arginine—such as NO and growth hormone (GH) support—you get with citrulline as well. Citrulline may also help reduce muscle fatigue by aiding the body's natural ability to remove ammonia; reabsorbing lactate for increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) re-synthesis during high-intensity workouts; and boosting muscle protein synthesis via direct anabolic signaling Taking citrulline malate has been shown to promote elevated muscle ATP during exercise and help increase the rate of creatine phosphate resynthesis. 

How Does Citrulline work? 

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 suggests that both L-citrulline and citrulline malate help provide increases in exercise performance, but only when taken in sufficient amounts. 

In my other lab (the gym) I've personally found that when working with typical amounts found in some supplements—anywhere from 1-3 grams—L-citrulline give me more of a pump than does citrulline malate. On the other hand, I find that citrulline malate provides more of a strength and endurance boost during my workouts than L-citrulline. However, when I increase the amount of citrulline malate to about 6 grams, it delivers significant improvements in my muscle strength and endurance while also increasing my muscle pump.

Citrulline: A Closer Look  

In the body, citrulline is broken down into arginine. which is then converted into nitric oxide with help from the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS). 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 exercise-based benefits of improved blood flow to muscle fibers are (1) better exercise energy/endurance, and (2) greater muscle pumps during workouts. The greater endurance and energy are due to the fact that pushing more blood to working muscles delivers more oxygen and nutrients to them. Increased blood flow may also enhance muscle pump during workouts due to the fact that blood is more than 50% water. When you train, your muscle cells naturally 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 greater muscle pump.

The Pump and Citrulline Malate

While some experts feel that the muscle pump has no true physiological significance, research suggests that it might lead to long-term muscle growth because muscle pump causes the membranes of the muscle cells to stretch. This stretch signals natural chemical reactions within the body that can instigate long-term muscle growth by increasing muscle protein synthesis.

Some experts also argue that NO-boosting ingredients offer no benefit to healthy individuals, especially during exercise. And it's hard to argue with them by solely looking at the research. Studies on NO-boosting ingredients, like arginine, demonstrate mixed results. However, in the gym, I've personally seen benefits that include greater strength, endurance, and even muscle growth. Additionally, a 2012 study reported that subjects consuming arginine 30 minutes before a biceps workout increased biceps blood volume during the workout by over 100%.

For Nitric Oxide and Muscle Pumps, Citrulline Beats Arginine 

A few studies suggest that citrulline can be an even better NO booster than arginine. The first study found that subjects taking equivalent amounts 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 half the amount of citrulline as arginine to raise blood concentrations of arginine to an equivalent level. The German researchers also found that 3 grams of citrulline produced the highest increase in arginine and NO levels.

Arginine’s Downfall: Breakdown Before Uptake

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, which is naturally found mainly in the intestines and liver. In fact, one study suggested that less than 1% of the amount of arginine consumed orally was utilized in NO production. However, citrulline is not broken down by arginase; therefore, using citrulline in place of arginine might help promote higher arginine levels and greater NO production.

Citrulline Converts to Arginine in Blood to Promote Greater NO and GH Production 

One study found that over 80% of L-citrulline consumed is converted to arginine in the blood vessels.¹ And yet another study, performed in professional cyclists, showed that those subjects supplementing with citrulline had a significant increase in NO production during exercise.⁹ In addition to boosting NO, using citrulline to increase arginine levels in the body may also support growth hormone (GH) levels via arginine's ability to reduce growth hormone inhibiting hormone (GHIH), or somatostatin, which can inhibit GH production. 

Citrulline, Energy Production, and Delayed Exercise Fatigue 

Citrulline may also have the ability to promote exercise endurance and reduce workout fatigue through its ability to support the body's natural ability to remove ammonia and lactate from the blood. This can help promote faster recovery between sets and greater muscle endurance. Taking citrulline in the form of citrulline malate may also provide 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.

Faster Recovery Between Sets

Research in exercising humans shows that citrulline malate can help improve the amount of ATP that the muscles are able to generate, while enhancing the rate that phosphocreatine (PCr) is regenerated. Phosphocreatine is what creatine is converted to inside the muscle cells through the addition of a high-energy phosphate group. Creatine donates this phosphate group during intense exercises, such as weight lifting, to produce ATP quickly and support muscle contractions that are required to lift the weight. 

Supplementing with citrulline malate has also been demonstrated to help increase endurance to allow you to exercise 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 over 50% more reps from set #3 on for a total of 8 sets. 

Citrulline Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 6 to 8 grams per day to promote athletic benefits.

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.

Name: Nitrates

Benefits: Promote Enhanced Blood Flow, Circulation

What Are Nitrates?

By now it’s clear that I’m a firm believer in the benefits of boosting nitric oxide (NO) levels. Boosting NO promotes relaxes blood vessels, allowing them to widen. This supports healthy blood vessels 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 exercise-based benefits of greater blood flow to muscle fibers are better exercise energy/endurance, and bigger muscles pumps during workouts. The greater endurance and energy are due to the fact that pushing more blood to working muscles delivers more oxygen and more nutrients to them.

One way to promote increased nitric oxide production is through the arginine-nitric oxide pathway. Yet there is another pathway that can help promote higher NO levels in the body: the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. 

How Nitrates Work

Nitrates have the chemical formula NO3. When you consume nitrates, bacteria in the mouth naturally 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 it loses another oxygen atom and is further reduced to nitric oxide, with the chemical formula NO.

Supplementing with nitrates has been shown in numerous studies to help 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 help improve your strength, allow you to complete more reps with a given weight, and allow you to more efficiently maintain rep ranges and strength toward the end of the workout. All of this is beneficial to help increase muscle strength, muscle growth, and muscle endurance.

Nitrates Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 500mg of nitrates 30-45 minutes before workouts.  

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.

Name: Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Benefits: Delay Exercise Fatigue, Support Muscle Protein Synthesis, Promote Natural Hormone Output

What are BCAAs?

The branched-chain amino acids—leucine, valine, and isoleucine—are critical amino acids for supporting muscle growth. They're called branched-chain aminos due to their structure: Each one has a forked outcropping that resembles a branch. In addition to being unique in their structure, these three powerful aminos do far more than just help grow muscle—they help to boost energy levels, delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue, and may even help contribute to fat loss when combined with a healthy diet and workout program.

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, where, depending on conditions, they can be used for either fuel or to help build and repair muscle and other tissues. For these reasons, I recommend taking BCAAs before and after workouts.

BCAAs and Hormone Balance

In addition to their supportive role in energy production and muscle recovery, BCAAs can also help influence the body's natural balance of hormones. As you’ll discover below, leucine can help the body's ability to boost insulin levels. Two other important muscle-building hormones that can be affected by BCAAs are 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 are after workouts, the greater potential you may have to help increase muscle size, strength, and possibly fat loss.

Finally, research suggests that resistance athletes taking BCAAs have lower levels of cortisol during exerciseThis is beneficial, as cortisol is a catabolic hormone naturally found within the body that can interfere with testosterone and lead to muscle breakdown. Numerous studies have suggested that athletes taking BCAAs have less muscle breakdown after exercise and better muscle recovery,,

Individual BCAAs – Leucine

Research has suggested that leucine is by far the most valuable of the three BCAAs for building muscle. Much like how the ignition of a car starts the engine, leucine's role in the body is to "turn on" the process of muscle protein synthesis. In scientific terms, leucine activates a complex called mTOR, which helps ramps up protein synthesis and can help support muscle growth. Research suggests that subjects adding an extra 1-2 grams of leucine to their post-workout protein and carbs experienced greater muscle protein synthesis than those taking protein and carbs alone.

Leucine has also been researched for its ability to help boost levels of insulin, an anabolic hormone that may further stimulate protein synthesis on its own (separate from leucine) and helps reduce muscle protein breakdown. Plus, insulin is critical for driving creatine and carnitine into muscle cells to help promote recovery and growth.  Having elevated insulin levels immediately following an intense training session is beneficial to help promote muscle gains.

In addition to leucine's supportive role in muscle growth, it has been studied for its potential role in helping to promote fat loss. This benefit can be somewhat confusing due to leucine's effect on insulin, as insulin is known to naturally increase body fat storage and limit body fat burning. Yet despite the fact that leucine potentially spikes insulin, leucine and the other two BCAAs have been shown to encourage fat loss when combined with a healthy diet and exercise program, possibly due to leucine's ability to act as a potentially powerful hunger reducer.

Research from the University of Cincinnati demonstrates that leucine activates mTOR in the brain, which signals 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 due to leucine's ability to increase protein synthesis throughout the body, the energy demand created for this process causes the body to burn more calories.

Individual BCAAs – Valine

Numerous studies suggest that supplementing with BCAAs before exercise helps promotes muscle endurance and reduces exercise-induced fatigue. One reason for this is that 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 help keep you energized during workouts is due to valine. During exercise, tryptophan is taken up by the brain in large amounts. Tryptophan is converted in the brain to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a precursor to serotonin. Having higher serotonin levels during exercise signals the brain that the body is fatigued, which leads to a reduction in muscle strength and endurance. In the body, valine competes with tryptophan for entry into the brain, and it typically wins. This means that less tryptophan is converted to serotonin, promoting your ability to exercise for longer before feeling fatigued. This can also help you stay more alert and focused during the day when you’re not working out.

Individual BCAAs – Isoleucine

While the BCAA leucine helps play a major role in promoting muscle growth (as well as fat loss) and valine is the key BCAA for supporting energy, isoleucine also has unique benefits. Isoleucine may help play a role in providing the BCAAs their fat-burning benefit. This is unique from the way that leucine aids fat loss, meaning yet another potential boost to your fat loss efforts.

Japanese researchers discovered that mice given isoleucine while eating a high-fat diet gained significantly less body fat than mice not getting supplemental isoleucine in their diets. 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 experience all the potential advantages they provide. Plus, they work together to provide a host of other benefits. Although research has pegged leucine as the MVP of the BCAAs when it comes to promoting muscle growth, taking leucine along with valine and isoleucine is ideal. After all, the three BCAAs 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.

In on study, scientists from Baylor University 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 than the placebo, BCAAs increased muscle protein synthesis significantly better than the placebo AND leucine alone.

BCAAs May Help Boost Fat Loss

We’re not just talking about a muscle-building supplement here; BCAAs—specifically, leucine and isoleucine—can also help play a role in fat loss. 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 from Brazil found that six weeks of leucine supplementation helped cause a 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 suggested to help reduce hunger, causing you to eat less while you burn more, which may ultimately lead to fat loss.

In the case of isoleucine, as stated above, it has been shown in mice 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 May Help Boost Immune Function

BCAAs have also been researched for their ability to help enhance immune function following exercise. Since intense exercise can take a toll on your immune system, supplementing with BCAAs is a smart idea to help keep you healthy and from missing time in the gym. 

BCAAs Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 5-6 grams of the three BCAAs before and after training in the ratio of 2:1:1 (leucine, isoleucine, valine)

References

Supporting Research

Anthony JC, Yoshizawa F, Anthony TG, Vary TC, Jefferson LS, Kimball SR, Oct. 2000, Journal of Nutrition; 130(10): 2413-2419

Crozier SJ, Kimball SR, Emmert SW, Anthony JC, Jefferson LS, Mar. 2005, Journal of Nutrition; 135(3): 376-382 

Crowe, MJ, et al., Aug. 2006, European Journal of Applied Physiology; 97(6): 664-72

Bolster, DR, Crozier SJ, Kimball SR, Jefferson LS, (2002) J. Biol. Chem. 277: 23977-23980

Koopman R, Wagenmakers AJ, Manders RJ, Zorenc AH, Senden JM, Gorselink M, Keizer HA, van Loon LJ, (2005) Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 288(4): E645-653

Coburn, J. W., et al. J Strength Cond Res, 2006 May ;20(2):284-91

Mourier, A., et al. Int J Sports Med., 1997 Jan. ;18(1):47-55

Cota, D., et al. Science, 2006 May 12;312(5775):927-30

Donato, J., et al. Nutrition 22(5):520-527, 2006

De Lorenzo, A., et al. Diabetes Nutr Metab., 2003 Oct.-Dec. ;16(5-6):291-7

Blomstrand, E. J Nutr., 2006 Feb. ;136(2):544S-547S

Gomez-Merino, D., et al. Int J Sports Med., 2001 July ;22(5):317-22

Nishimura, J., et al. J. Nutr., Mar. 2010; in press

Tipton, K.D., et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 284(1):E76–E89, 2003

Karlsson, H. K., et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2007; 287(1):E1-7

Blomstrand, E., Saltin, B. Endocrinology and Metabolism 281(2):E365–374, 2001

Borsheim, E., et al. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism 283(4):E648–E657, 2002

Shimomura, Y., et al. J Nutr., 2006 Feb;136(2):529S-532S

Stoppani, J., et al., Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2009, 6(Suppl 1):P1, 2009

P. La Bounty et al., Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(Suppl 1):P21, 2008

Bassit, R.A., Sawada, L.A., Bacurau, R.F., et al. Medicine Science in Sports Exercise 32(7):1,214–1,219, 2000

Bassit, R. A., et al. Nutrition., 2002 May ;18(5):376-9

D'Antona, G., et al. Cell Metab. 12(4):362-72, 2010

De Araujo, J.A., et al. Life Sci., 2006 Aug. 29;79(14):1343-8

De Palo, E.F., et al. Amino Acids 20:1–11, 2001

Greer, BK, et al. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab., 2007 Dec. ;17(6):595-607

Hassmen, P., et al. Nutrition 10(5):405–410, 1994

Koba, T., et al. J Sports Med Phys Fitness., 2007 Sep. ;47(3):316-22

Matsumoto, K., et al. Int J Sports Med., 2007 June ;28(6):531-8

Ohtani, M., et al. J. Nutr. 136: 538S–543S, 2006 

Name: L-Tyrosine

Benefits: May Help Increase: Focus, Energy, Muscle Contractile Force, Strength

What is L-Tyrosine?

L-tyrosine is an amino acid that converts into a powerful precursor to the “excitatory” neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Supplementing with L-tyrosine may help to reduce effects from acute stressors (which tend to deplete norepinephrine) and may help support fat-burning metabolism. In fact, norepinephrine, also called noradrenaline or noradrenalin, is an organic chemical in the catecholamine family that naturally functions in the brain and body as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. In the brain, norepinephrine is responsible for increasing arousal and alertness, promoting vigilance, motivation, enhancing focus and is an extremely important neurotransmitter involved in muscular contractions. 

Studies have demonstrated that when the body's natural levels of norepinephrine are “running low,” due to stressful events, there is a direct correlation with a decrease in performance

How L-Tyrosine Works

Research suggests that by supplementing with L-tyrosine athletes may be able to support the body's natural ability to increase levels of the performance-oriented neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. This is particularly true when supplementing during intense training, and L-tyrosine supplementation can help deliver a performance advantage by helping to reduce exercise-induced fatigue, promote increased energy, boost mental focus, helping to improve strength, and helping support fat loss. 

Tyrosine Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 500 – 2000mg per serving one time per day, preferably 60-90 minutes before exercise

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

Name: Caffeine

Benefits: Energy, Alertness, Focus, Fat Loss, Muscle Contractions

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a powerful physical and mental stimulant naturally found in over 60 different plants, including coffee, cocoa, tea, kola nut, guarana, and yerba mate. When most people think of caffeine; 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.

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 has been shown to reduce appetite and boost metabolism, helping you burn more calories while eating less. 

Caffeine Enhances Performance

Research shows that caffeine can increase muscle strength, improve muscle endurance, and decrease muscle fatigue during workouts, which are key metrics for exercise when trying to preserve lean muscle mass. 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.

So, how does caffeine work to boost muscle strength? 

Since it's a nervous system stimulant, one way caffeine 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 Suggested Use

Research suggests 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.

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]

Name: Huperzine A

Benefits: Helps Increase Focus and Alertness

What is Huperzine?

Huperzine A is an extract from the plant Huperzia serrata—known as a firmoss plant, known less formally as, Toothed Clubmoss or Chinese Clubmoss. It is a powerful brain booster that may help  promote better focus, enhanced memory, and even help to boost mood.

How Huperzine A Works

Huperzine A works mainly by helping to reduce the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which naturally acts in the body to break down acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is naturally found in the body and is a critical neurotransmitter that allows nerve signals in the brain to connect. So having more acetylcholine available allows for faster and better synchronized nerve conduction, which may help promote sharper brain function and clearer focus, as well as support memory and cognitive performance.

Acetylcholine is also a critical neurotransmitter for muscle contractions, as it is the chemical that is released from the ends of the nerve cells that control the muscle fibers. The natural 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. In turn, this can help promote stronger muscle contractions and reduce central nervous system fatigue, support your ability to be stronger in the gym and can help maintain that strength for longer.

Huperzine Suggested Use

Research suggests taking 50 - 200mcg daily, preferably in the morning or before a workout.

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.

Name: Piperine (Black Pepper Extract)

Benefits: Nutrient Uptake

What is Piperine?

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

How Piperine Works

Research suggests piperine enhances nutrient absorption, most likely by inhibition of microsomal enzyme system in 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 Suggested Use

Research suggests that 5mg of black pepper extract (taken with specific supplements) is enough 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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