Role: Performance Enhancer/Muscle Builder
Creatine is a molecule that supports cellular function and thus increases muscular performance. It occurs naturally in meat and some other foods but can be supplemented as well resulting in improved power output and increased muscle mass.
Recommended Dose: 5000mg
Role: Increases Muscular Endurance
Beta-alanine, an amino acid and building block of the dipeptide carnosine, is a molecule which is known to help buffer acid in the muscles during strenuous exercise, thus increasing performance. It is also known to increase gains in lean mass.
Recommended Dose: 2000-5000mg
If you are currently using or are considering using a pre-workout to give yourself an edge in the gym, there are a few things you should know.
1. Most Off The Shelf Products Aren't Worth the Money
There are a few supplements, such as beta-alanine, caffeine, etc., that are proven to provide results when taken pre-workout. As a result, these supplements are often prominent ingredients in most off the shelf pre-workout blends. Most of the raw ingredients are relatively inexpensive to buy in bulk, so why would you pay a 200-300% markup to let someone else throw in some flavoring and mix it all up for you? Although there are some good off the shelf blends out there, most are a waste of money.
2. "Proprietary Blend" is Code for "Lots of Fillers"
A surefire way to spot a product you shouldn't waste your money is to take a look at the ingredients. If the label doesn't tell you the amount of each ingredient, but instead groups together several ingreients under the heading of Proprietary Blend and then gives a cumulative total, you can bet the product is a ripoff. For example, if you're looking for a pre-made pre-worout mix that has beta-alaning and citrulline malate in it, you will probably stumble across several products with nutrition labels that look something like this:
|Ultra Endurance Buzzsaw Proprietary Blend||3500mg|
Creatine Mono, Vitamin B, Magnesium
Chelate, Beta Alanine
|Vaso-Shotgun Pump Proprietary Blend||2300mg|
Arginine, Taurine, Citrulline Malate, Gamma
Here's the deal - you have no idea how much of each supplement is in these proprietary blends. The endurance blend might be 3000mgs of the 3500mg total for all you know. So you are looking at a supplement providing something less than 500mg of beta-alanine - the effective dose of which is 2000-5000mgs. You're better off leaving this one, and all others like it, on the shelf.
3. It's Much More Cost Effective to Make Your Own
The big four - Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, and Caffeine - are cheap and readily available on the internet or at brick and mortar sports nutrition stores. If you want to experiment with other supplements such as various amino acids like Taurine or others, those are readily available as well. We strongly recommend utilizing Examine.com (LINK) to do your research before determining what to include in your personal blend. Once you've decided what supplements and their quantities, add in a sugar free flavoring such as Crystal Light or maybe mix in some juice and bingo, you've got yourself a cheaper, more effective pre-workout. Now give it a cool, supplement-y sounding name - we like HyperGamma Gains-Multiplier Matrix 2.0., but get your own name.
4. MOST IMPORTANT - Food > Supplementation
No supplement, repeat, no supplement, will provide results matching those that a solid nutrition plan will. Head on over to The Kitchen for more on that.
Keep checking back for our thoughts and experiences with various performance and recovery supplements.