Natural Products Insider

MAR-APR 2019

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naturalproductsinsider . com 35 Specifi cally, ashwagandha supplementation increased VO 2 max and time to exhaustion; researchers attributed these benefi ts to the ability of the herb's constituents to improve the capacity of the blood to transport oxygen to muscles during exercise. Pre-workout and Energy Formulas While there are formulas designed and marketed to boost energy or blood fl ow, sports nutrition consumers increasingly turn to pre-workout formulas for these and other workout goals. These products typically contain some combination of either caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, carnitine, nitrates, amino acids and other energy- and performance-related ingredients. As there are so many ways to approach the energy-fatigue balance, the idea that a multi-ingredient pre-workout supplement (MIPS)—most often a ready-to-mix powder— could contain a range of ingredients that can address many such methods appeals to many consumers. Research reviewers from the Mayo Clinic, Wisconsin, and Lindenwood University, Missouri, said most MIPS studied in published literature do not list ingredients and/or amounts beyond a proprietary blend, making it hard to perform direct comparisons between the MIPS and the individual ingredients. However, their review of MIPS studies showed some limited research has found MIPS, compared to placebo, can increase exercise endurance (time to exhaustion) and muscle endurance (reps to fatigue), but other studies found no such benefi ts. 33 Researchers from Coastal Carolina University, South Carolina, noted caffeine is included in most MIPS and is likely responsible for much of the performance benefi ts. 34 To fi ll a gap in research on MIPS compared not to placebo, but to caffeine alone, they performed a pilot study on a pre-workout formula (as Perform Kinetics, from ATP Nutrition) compared to caffeine in trained men (at least one year of resistance training). After the subjects underwent various exercise protocols, the researchers found no signifi cant differences on vertical jumps, bench and squat repetitions or chest pass velocity between those taking the MIPS and those taking just caffeine. The only difference between the groups was the MIPS group had more quality squat repetitions than those taking just caffeine. While their study found little evidence MIPS ingredients work synergistically better than caffeine alone, they cautioned the sample size was small. "Our preliminary results do not discount the possibility that a [pre-workout supplement] may be more ergogenic than a matched dose of caffeine, but rather support the need for ongoing data collection," they concluded. Another gap in determining the synergistic value of MIPS is on female subjects. Another team from Lindenwood University and Mayo Clinic Wisconsin set out to change this. "Although there have been multiple studies supporting the use of MIPS, the majority of the available research to this Sports Nutrition: Energy USA Company: point has focused primarily on males," they said, in their research publication. 35 "There are limited data regarding the effectiveness of pre-workout supplementation in female populations." They found recreationally active females who consumed a female- specifi c MIPS formula (as FitMiss Ignite™, from Musclepharm) experienced acutely increased resting metabolism, a benefi t they theorized was likely due to the caffeine content. However, they reported no adverse effect on heart rate and systolic blood pressure, but there was increased diastolic blood pressure. They speculated caffeine's vasoconstricting effect from its impact on adenosine was a leading culprit, but the exact amounts of caffeine and other ingredients are not labeled—the product features a proprietary FitMiss Ignite Blend. The study also showed improved upper body muscular endurance and anaerobic capacity following high-intensity exercise in those taking the FitMiss supplement; focus was also subjectively improved in the treatment group. The body's regulation of energy production and fatigue signaling is complex, and formulating effective products to help athletes and active consumers not only fuel their exercise and daily activities, but also to enhance performance and gains is quite a challenge. While studies on ingredients and formulas are a great guide, many gaps are left in the research and answers yet to be found, not to mention new approaches yet to be discovered. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve endurance and oxygen capacity in both sedentary adults and athletes. For a list of references, email references@naturalproductsinsider.com

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