At a glance
Creatine: Old faithful for a great workout
Are you looking for a new supplement to take your workout to the next level but don’t know where to start?
From creatine to beta-alanine to LJ100® Tongkat Ali, there are multiple supplement ingredients you can take to enhance your workout. Plus, there are some sports nutrition ingredients you may have not heard of yet…
After all, workout supplements are designed to give you a boost of energy to increase performance, so why settle for one that won’t take you where you need to go?
The market for supplement ingredients designed to fuel your workout and take your gains to the next level is chock-full of options. Having multiple options isn’t a bad thing, but it is important to figure out which ingredients work for you — and which ones are simply too good to be true.
This list will dive into the science behind 4 notable workout supplement ingredients — plus one new formula that needs to be on your radar…
Creatine supplementation gained mainstream popularity following the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Today, creatine is widely used in both recreational and professional settings and, with more than $400 million in annual sales, it is one of the most popular supplement ingredients on the market.
The use of creatine has become increasingly pervasive over the past 30 years. Over 500 research studies have reviewed the effects creatine supplementation on exercise capacity, muscle growth, and other performance measures related to your workout. And since the benefits of this ingredient are backed by evidence, it is easy to jump on the hype train.
But did you know that creatine is created naturally in your body? That’s right — creatine is an amino acid primarily found in your muscles and brain. Your liver, pancreas, and kidneys produce creatine as well, albeit at levels far below those found in creatine supplements such as Creapure® — the most widely studied form of creatine that promotes strength, power, lean muscle mass, and muscle recovery. The same applies for meat and fish — creatine is in both food sources, but you typically won’t ingest as much as you would in a dietary supplement. These reasons, coupled with the evidence-backed benefits, is why creatine is among the top supplement ingredients for your workout.
- A modern study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examined the effects of creatine supplementation in 19 healthy men participating in resistance-training. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of creatine supplementation on multiple physiological adaptions, such as muscle fiber hypertrophy and muscle creatine accumulation.
- The men were randomly given either creatine or placebo in conjunction with regular interval heavy resistance training over the course of 12 weeks.
- After 12 weeks, the creatine group experienced a significant increase of 6.3% in both body mass and fat-free mass, as compared to the placebo group.
- Subjects in the creatine group also saw a 24% increase in bench press weight and a 32% increase in squats. Creatine subjects showed significantly greater increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional areas than the placebo group.
- The study concluded that creatine supplementation enhanced fat-free mass, physical performance, and muscle morphology in response to heavy resistance training.
The Muscle Accelerator Matrix (TorForce®)
So, here’s a new workout ingredient that is destined to become mainstream. Well actually it’s 2 ingredients, neither of which is traditionally associated with the sports performance supplements industry: East Indian Globe Thistle and Mango Tree Bark. Research has shown that when combined, the resulting matrix provides fast and powerful results for increasing muscle size and strength.
- A 2019 clinical trial set out to determine the validity of a blend of East Indian Globe Thistle (Sphaeranthus indicus) and Mango Tree Bark (Mangifera indica) extracts for improving muscle health. The study included 40 male subjects aged 18-40, who were tested for their muscle strength, muscle endurance, muscle size, time to exhaustion, body composition, and free testosterone.
- The study participants who used the Muscle Accelerator Matrix experienced significant improvement in all the above areas beginning at 14 days and gains continued throughout the study. After 54 days, the men saw significant improvement in muscle endurance and strength, as well as measurable increases in muscle size.
Men who supplemented with the ingredients in this powerful formula have shown up to a 15% increase in strength after just two weeks (compared to placebo), along with other benefits that will surely bring a new dynamic to your workout:
- Myosis heavy chain proteins build up
- Enhanced protein synthesis
- Anabolic mTOR pathway which ignites protein synthesis and new muscle
- Decrease in catabolic muscle breakdown
Nitric oxide causes your blood vessels to widen and stimulates the release of hormones such as insulin. And not unlike creatine, your body already produces nitric oxide on its own — but many people supplement with NO to amplify their workout.
One nitric oxide booster known as S7® has been shown in clinical studies to increase your own body’s production of nitric oxide significantly:
- S7® is a blend of 7 plant-based ingredients that increases nitric oxide production by 230%.
- S7® is designed for use in products that target performance and muscle building athletes, but it has made its way into cardiovascular support formulas as well, given that nitric oxide promotes healthy circulation.
- Increased nitric oxide production can deliver more oxygen and other key nutrients to your muscles during workouts.
Like creatine, beta-alanine is an amino acid produced in your body; it is found in meat and fish as well. However, it is likely you’ll receive higher amounts in dietary supplements than through eating.
Unlike most amino acids, beta-alanine is not used by your body to synthesize proteins. Instead, it teams up with histidine to produce carnosine. And over time, carnosine acts as a buffer to help delay the onset of lactic acid and muscle fatigue, all while improving endurance and post-exercise recovery.
A review of the mechanisms and use of beta-alanine supplementation in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition notes that beta-alanine generally enhances high intensity exercise lasting over 60 seconds, with greater effects on open point exercise bouts such as exhaustion tasks.
- The review also states that chronic beta-alanine supplementation suggests improved high-intensity exercise performance by increasing muscle carnosine content, which, in turn, enhances intracellular proton buffering. Furthermore, daily supplementation with 4 to 6 grams of beta-alanine for a at least 2 to 4 weeks has been shown to improve exercise performance.
- Beta-alanine reduces neuromuscular fatigue, especially in older subjects. Plus, preliminary evidence indicates that beta-alanine may improve tactical performance.
- Research shows that beta-alanine supplementation produces a significant ergogenic effect on high-intensity exercise, particularly where the exercise lasts between 1 and 4 minutes. For reference, high-intensity exercise is defined as any form or mode of exercise that gets your heart rate above 75% of your max heart rate for 10 minutes or more.
Multiple beta-alanine dietary supplements are available on the market. However, with each individual supplement comes different results, especially when you look at the ones that aren’t backed by studies.
CarnoSyn® is one form of beta-alanine that is scientifically proven and globally patented. Backed by years of research, it is the only beta-alanine with New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) approval by the FDA; it is also the only patented beta-alanine on the market.
Awarded the 2019 Sports Nutrition Ingredient of the Year, CarnoSyn® is the most common and highest-quality beta-alanine available. The benefits of this impressive beta-alanine include:
- Enhancing muscle endurance and exercise performance levels in athletes and bodybuilders
- Raising intramuscular concentration of carnosine
- Building endurance during short exercises
- Aiding in increased muscle endurance for older adults
- Improving training volume and reducing fatigue during resistance training
- Increasing body mass and lean muscle mass
LJ100® Tongkat Ali
LJ100® may be the last supplement on our list, but it is certainly not the least. Known as “Malaysian Ginseng,” LJ100® is a clinically studied unique extract of Tongkat Ali. It is a breakthrough in men’s nutrition – especially when it comes to fueling and restoring healthy testosterone levels.
According to the official website of the manufacturer, over 15 published clinical studies have investigated the mechanisms of actions and the benefits of LJ100®. The studies examined how LJ100® impacts endogenous testosterone production and release, as well as how it promotes favorable cortisol levels. Furthermore, studies looked at how LJ100® renewed testosterone levels and cortisol balance impacted sports and fitness performance, promoted vitality, and more.
“The Ergogenic Effects of LJ100®,” a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, investigated the effect of the increase in testosterone levels (obtained by LJ100®) on body composition and muscle strength and size in 14 healthy men.
- The male subjects were randomly divided into two groups – one consumed 100 mg of LJ100® per day; the other received placebo – and performed an intense strength training program for 5 weeks.
- The results suggest LJ100® increased fat free mass, reduced body fat, and increased muscle strength and size.
- These findings suggest that LJ100® may have an ergogenic effect.
- A double blind, randomized study involving 31 women between 45-59 were given either 100 mg of LJ100® or placebo for 12 weeks.
- The study found significant improvement in multiple categories such as bench press, leg press, balance, hand grip strength, and muscular endurance.
So, if you are looking to take your workout to the next level — or even if you just want to get more out of your current routine — one of these 5 ingredients, or a combination of them, is a prime candidate.