By Brandon Hahn Athletic Xtreme
Agmatine, Glycerol, and nitrates which can be found in many pre-workout products and the benefits these can truly have on workouts, performance, and what could be some negative side effects from dosing too much. As we all know in the supplement industry there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to dosing supplements. Sometimes more is not always better, and understanding the correct dose is what matters most.
Benefit differences between stimulants and non-stimulants
Some people are very sensitive to stimulants, whereas others are mega-dosing them like skittles. Let’s look at some of the differences and benefits. Caffeine in higher amounts can constrict blood flow and that can also take away from a pump during a workout. Caffeine can also raise blood sugar which can downgrade amino acids in the body which is a not ideal, especially when it comes to building muscle mass (as amino’s are the building blocks of protein).
Long term caffeine use can lead to adrenal fatigue and something labeled “burnout” which is not always the best thing to have. Ever feel a period in life where you are just tired constantly? This could be from an overdose or a long term use of caffeine requiring you to take time off or “Cycle” Stimulants. Before we continue, let’s focus be clear on the term “overdose” as most people immediately assume hospitalization or worse. The term overdose simply means consuming or using in greater quantities than tolerable or recommended.
A lot of companies suggest a break or time off listed on their supplement label to reduce build up of adrenal strain. Those adrenal glands in your body can only take so much and when a tolerance is built up there needs to be a time when they are restricted to help restore them to normal levels. This is again another key factor of why cycling pre-workouts or caffeine can be beneficial.
Lastly some individuals do train later at night, and because of this a non-stim option would be ideal to help them sleep. Taking caffeine or stimulants later at night could leave the individual up and awake and prevent proper sleep in the end. These are just some of the main factors why a non-stimulant pre-workout would be a wise investment.
Non-Stimulant Ingredient #1: Agmatine
Most individual’s will dose Agmatine at 1g or split 500mg into a twice daily dosing protocol. I would suggest 1g upon waking on your off days and playing around with 500mg at first, pre or post-workout, to see how you react to the effects. If you are not seeing or feeling much at 500mg pre-workout try bumping to 1g, or splitting 1g between pre and post-workout. Both have advantages and varying effects, but see what suits you best in those 3 scenarios.
Dosing at these times will allow you to reflect the amount of molecules in your body to help direct mechanisms for NMDA receptors to utilize NOS enzymes. NOS enzymes are also important for Nitric Oxide products that would help elicit a pump in your body especially around training. These help mimic and correlate inhibition and result in a increase channeling of serotonin receptors. These are all responsible for activation imidazoline, NO2, and NDMA receptors to increase NOS enzymes for the increased amount of pump in the bloodstream around training and upon waking (best times to dose the product). The release of these endorphins in the bloodstream increase the imidazoline receptors for the appropriate adrenal glands and ryanodine receptors to achieve an excess of nitric oxcide and pump for your workouts or nutrient repair.
A downside to Agmatine is that there was a study done on rodents that showed up to 100mg (which is a lot less than the usual 500mg dosing ((minimum dosing)) shown during a workout has had an effect on NOS levels and damaging tissues towards preventing a stroke. Nitric oxide and oxidative metabolite can result in a small loss of overall damage towards aiding the prevention of the stroke.
Non-Stimulant Ingredient #2: Glycerol
Glycerol is stored inside the muscle which could help bring water into the cell and cause it to swell and increase in pressure. This aids in pump and vascularity which is a key reasoning why people use this ingredient. The key thing with being lean and being able to utilize glycerol is the leaner you get the more enhanced effects you may see. Trying to take someone who is not the leanest individual may not signify or show much off utilizing glycerol.
When people get stage lean or competition lean you will notice they are more vascular by nature. Because of the nutrients traveling to your muscle cells this can aid in extra blood flow to the muscle and enhance volume and size. Due to the improvements of water and muscle swelling when ingesting glycerol in a supplement form (usually pill or powder) this will allow quick delivery of those nutrients and enhance the pump effect during your workout. Most notably you will signify this when training in the hypertrophy rep ranges on many exercises. Most people who utilize glycerol will intake around 500mg to 1g and usually in a pre-workout form.
Downsides to Glycerol could be headaches when going to higher amounts. Higher amounts would lead to the 1.5-2g range depending on the individual. Dizziness could be another side effect, bloating, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and diarrhea. Also remember that since Glycerol is utilizing cell volume to help aid pump there could be a downgrade in red blood cells and them being damaged in the process from long term and high dose amount.
Non-Stimulant Ingredient #3: Nitrates
Nitrates are becoming more and more popular because they can enhance the effects of NO (nitric oxide) and have an increased value towards pump as a main feature (Check out AX Supersize which contains Leucine Nitrate). There are many different ways nitrates can be utilized as they can be bonded to different ingredients and cause different features. For instance leucine nitrate which can be found in Supersize (note: Supersize is a stimulant based pre-workout). Leucine nitrate is a nitrate inhibitors which means that it lowers the amount of nitrate build up over time making them more effective over and over again. Because of this there is a decrease in nitrate build up or tolerance in the individual making it more potent time in and time out.
Nitrates in general play a major role in reducing inflammation in the muscle, restore function of the endothelial, lower C reactive protein levels, and prevent heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention nitrates are one of the key features for non-stim pre workouts which can aid in overall pump and vascularity. The funny thing is that nitrates are so common in a lot of the foods we eat such as deli meat and vegetables. You would have to consume quite a large amount of veggies to get real pump attributes from the nitrates. It’s also not ideal to eat a boatload of veggies before going to train and then feel very bloated during the workout session.
We do realize that nitrates play a major role in blood flow, muscular contraction, and glucose uptake which has been studied in various pubmed studies to aid the control of cellular respiration. Studies that have been done on nitrates via numerous pub med citations will show a reduction in inorganic nitrate can be formed in the vivo. Because of this there will be an increase in metabolic and circulatory parameters during exercise which can aid blood flow, cell swelling, and an increase in cellular size to add to pump and vascularity during ones workout. Dosing for nitrates is usually found around the .500mg-1g range especially when utilized as a pre-workout dosing for your workout.
The negative side effects that can come from too many nitrates or continued use of nitrates would be headaches, dizziness, and also blood pressure may start to rise from continued use of the product.
The Take Home Message
Overall these are not all of the main non-stim ingredients out there, but these are some that should get solid attention. I will have to continue to script more of these in the future as more research does come out but for now this should be some quality information. It’s up to you to decide on what you want out of pre-workouts; stim or non-stim. You also get to determine the dosing and how much or how little you are truly getting to make an impact on your training .