It's no secret that pre-workout is usually everyone's favorite supplement, however there's certainly a huge difference between a well formulated, effective pre-workout and the ones that you might as well not even waste your money on. In order to help you decipher the good from the bad, we put together a list of the top 5 pre-workout ingredients your supplement of choice should always have and why! We broke it down into 5 categories as every pre-workout should address these 5 major performance enhancement categories:
- Fatigue Delay
- Muscle Building
Citrulline Malate 2:1 - Clinical Dose 6g
Citrulline Malate is a gold-standard ingredient for crazy pumps due to it's involvement in the nitric oxide synthesis pathway. Citrulline Malate is the combination of L-Citrulline; An amino acid which is converted into L-Arginine and then Nitric Oxide, and Malic Acid; A compound that is an intermediate in the Kreb's cycle which is one of the ways our cells make ATP. The "2:1" means that for every 2 L-Citrulline molecules there's 1 Malic Acid- which yields 4g L-Citrulline and 2g Malic Acid when dosed at it's clinical dose of 6g. This ingredient increases nitric oxide- a vasodilator that increases blood flow to the muscles and the malic acid increases ATP production.
Beta-Alanine - Clinical Dose 3.2g
Beta-Alanine is a unique ingredient because it is the "beta" form of the amino acid L-Alanine. Our bodies use alpha form of amino acids to build proteins for our body- this form has the NH2 amine group attached to the central carbon of the amino acid backbone. However, beta-alanine has the amine group attached to the "beta" carbon, or the one next to the central carbon. Though this is rare, it actually works in helping our muscle cells delay fatigue because beta-alanine us used by our bodies to generate a compound known as carnosine by being combined with L-histidine. Carnosine delays fatigue of our muscle cells by buffering our cellular pH when it can become acidic from strenuous exercise.
BCAAs 2:1:1 - Recommended dose at least 5g
Branched-chain-amino-acids are a group of 3 essential amino acids; Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine which have clinical significance in their ability to increase protein synthesis in muscle cells. All three of these amino acids differ from any of the other 17 amino acids as these ones contain an aliphatic side chain and are involved in protein synthesis such as the mTOR pathway. Leucine is the most important one as protein synthesis rates are believed to be dependent on leucine concentration in the cell. Therefore, if your leucine levels are higher so will your protein synthesis and your muscle growth & recovery. The ration 2:1:1 refers to amount of Leucine to Isoleucine to Valine and you should always look for ratios that favor Leucine in at least a 2:1:1 ratio- the higher the first number the better.
Caffeine - Recommended dose 100-300mg
Xanthines are a class of organic compounds that are derived from the purine base xanthine. Xanthine itself is found in most body fluids and organs, and gives rise to a number of compounds the include some of the most effective and common stimulants we know, such as caffeine and theobromine which are known as methylxanthines due to the presence of methyl groups (CH3-red on the diagram) on the NH groups on the Xanthine structure. If you look above you will notice the only differences between xanthine, caffeine, and theobromine is the addition of methyl groups to the structure; theobromine having two and caffeine having three. These methyl groups are significant because they are attached to the NH groups on the structure which allows them to exert potent stimulant properties in two different ways:
- Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors: They can bind to and block the enzyme phosphodiesterase to raise cAMP and activate PKA (Protein Kinase A- an enzyme directly involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs which is why they exert great fat loss abilities) and also regulate certain immune system aspects such as TNF-α and Leukotriene concentrations to reduce inflammation and other innate immunity effects; this gives them their bronchodilation effects(Opening of air passageways)
- Adenosine Receptor Antagonists: basically, methylxanthines can also bind to adenosine receptors to block the receptor from being stimulated. Adenosine is a neuromodulator responsible for the onset of fatigue and drowsiness, but if the receptor needed for adenosine to bind to for it to exert its effects is blocked by the presence of one of the methylxanthine compounds, the fatigue will not occur.
- There have also been findings that show methylxanthines have the ability to block an enzyme (monoamine oxidase) responsible for the breakdown of various beneficial neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. The blocking of this enzymes is also why taking caffeine/theobromine with the next class of compounds were going to discuss, monoamines, is so effective.(1)
Dynamine(Pure Methylliberine) - Minimum dose of 40mg
A nootropic is a compound that exhibits potent focus increasing abilities and the term was coined by “Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea” when he combined the Latin terms: nous(mind) and trepein(to bend). Dynamine is a type of catecholamine reuptake inhibitor which increases focus by blocking what as known as transport proteins in your neural synapse. These transporter proteins are responsible for carrying neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinepherine, and nor-epinepherine out of your synapse to be recycled. By blocking these proteins, those neurotransmitters remain in your synapse longer, exhibiting enhanced effects which include increases in energy, mood, focus, and even bronchodilation. For more information on this process and other compounds like dynamine click on the word "dynamine" in the title.