Ultimate Supplement Guide

The Ultimate All-in-One Guide to Understanding Pre Workout Supplements

Some people like to break up each ingredient in a pre workout and supplement them separately. This is normally done so people can pinpoint specific benefits rather than shotgunning a blast of everything in one drink. Also, most people like to stack extra ingredients with a blended supplement drink. Popular ingredients include Creatine, Glutamine, Beta-Alanine, BCAAs, and L-Arginine.

Ultimate Supplement Guide

This page will teach you about each ingredient in a blended pre workout and give you the opportunity to piece out and buy ingredients separately to customize the best pre workout for your needs.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential Amino Acids are not produced in the body but can be found in various foods and supplements.These amino acids Improve Protein Synthesis, Increase Muscle Mass Gains, and Increase Strength through resistance training.

Branch-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)*

MusclePharm BCAA 3:2:1

These amino acids consist of Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine.

Muscle growth = Protein Synthesis > Muscle Protein Breakdown

  • BCAAs are metabolized directly in the muscle as opposed to the liver like the other essential amino acids.
  • This muscle presence allows BCAAs to be a quick viable source for energy during exercise.
  • Supplementation allows the body to use these amino acids instead of catabolizing muscle for energy.


  • Stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis

  • Causes the body to produce more muscle tissue faster

  • 15.4mg/lb or 34mg/kg…150lb=2.31g/day


  • Promotes muscle recovery

  • Helps blood clot formation

  • Regulates energy and blood sugar levels

  • 6.8mg/lb…15mg/kg…150lb=1.02g/day


  • Prevent breakdown of muscle by supplying extra glucose

  • Helps regulate toxic nitrogen removal from the liver

  • 8.66mg/lb…19mg/kg…150lb=1.3g/day


  • Increase bone strength through allowing for greater calcium absorption

  • Promote weight loss through fatty acid energy conversion.

  • Helps overall growth and skin health through collagen production

  • 5.44mg/lb…12mg/kg…150lb=820mg/day


  • Help liver process fats

  • necessary for creatine production

  • 9.52mg/lb…21mg/kg…150lb=1430mg/day


  • Converted into Tyrosine

  • Suppresses hunger

  • Maintains proper central nervous system functionality

  • 15mg/lb…33.1mg/kg…150lb=2250mg/day


  • Maintains strength and elasticity of tissues and muscles

  • Helps build strong bone and tooth enamel

  • Aids the immune system in antibody production

  • 3mg/lb…6.6mg/kg…150lb=450mg/day


  • Aids sleep

  • Antidepressant

  • 3.4mg/lb…7.5mg/kg…150lb=510mg/day



Optimum Nutrition Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine increases Carnosine levels in the muscle that limits hydrogen ion build-up.  Greater Carnosine levels help regulate hydrogen ion levels and ultimately increase anaerobic performance by delaying fatigue.  More high intensity training can be conducted before signs of rapid fatigue.

Consuming more than 800mg can result in an itchy tingling feeling known as paresthesia. This is more prevalent when consumed on an empty stomach. This feeling is not harmful  to the body but can be uncomfortable. Paresthesia is caused by an increase of plasma concentration. This side effect is temporary and can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.

Hydrogen Ion Regulation

During strenuous exercise hydrogen ions build up in the muscles cause decreases in performance.  Atrophy can be seen in peak power, overall strength, endurance, training capacity, and anaerobic threshold.  A large quantity of hydrogen ions correspond with a reduction of pH levels in the muscles.  Regulating hydrogen ion concentration is vital to optimizing strength and conditioning results.



NOW L-Tyrosine

The amino acid Tyrosine is produced in the body from Phenylalanine. Tyrosine is known for it’s stress relieving properties. By relieving stress it also decreases blood pressure.

Sodium Bicarbonate


Supplementation with Sodium Bicarbonate increases the pH level of our blood and decrease hydrogen ions.  Hydrogen ions move out of the muscle cells due to the differential of low pH caused by contraction and high pH through blood saturation of Sodium Bicarbonate. It is unclear exactly how beneficial sodium bicarbonate supplementation is to exercise.

Sodium Citrate

Blood interaction causes Sodium Citrate to break down into Sodium Bicarbonate. Where Sodium Bicarbonate seems to benefit short bursts of highly intense activity, Sodium Citrate seems to benefit high intense endurance based exercises that last anywhere from 2-15 minutes.


Is it safe?

Yes, Creatine is naturally produced mainly in the liver but is also created in the kidney and pancreas.  It travels from these areas to the muscles via blood circulation.  Generally high protein foods like red meats, fish, and poultry contain creatine.


Creatine is essential for providing energy during short-duration of highly demanding exercises in the form of Creatine Phosphate.  Creatine Phosphate levels decline during strenuous training.  As these levels decline so does the ability to meet maximal performance.  Glucose and fats are used for energy consumption during less intense conditioning.

Significant improvements are present in strength, recovery time, and fatigue resistance. Body weight increase of 2-4 pounds can occur at first from an increase in lean muscle and water absorption.

Supplementation: Loading and Maintenance

Supplementation allows for creatine concentrations to remain high, resulting in longer duration of strenuous conditioning. Supplementation can increase creatine concentrations in the muscles by 20%. Once we reach this level of concentration our muscles are considered saturated with creatine. When the muscles are saturated creatine concentration is maxed out and will not increase anymore.  After stopping creatine supplementation it takes about 4 weeks for creatine levels to return back to base level.

Loading Phase

The loading phase occurs during the first 5 days of supplementation.  About .135 g/lb or 20-25 grams of creatine should be consumed during this time. The goal here is to saturate the muscles in order to see quicker elevations in creatine concentration.

Maintenance Phase

After the initial loading phase only 2-4 grams or .0135 g/lb of creatine a day is needed to keep up muscle saturation. Maintenance can be done without loading but it can take 25 days longer to maximize creatine concentrations.

Creatine Monohydrate

  • 40% Muscle Cell Absorption Rate: resulting in a need for high dosages

  • Dosage 3g/100lb

  • Bloating

  • Loss of Definition: due to water retention

  • Not Very Soluble

  • Upset Stomach

  • 5g Monohydrate = 4.40g Creatine

#1 Creatine Hydrochloride(HCl)


  • Increased Absorption Rate: +50% Bioavailability 

  • Dosage .75g/100lb

  • No Bloating

  • No Water Retention

  • +42% Soluble

  • No Nausea

#2 Micronized Creatine


  • Increased Absorption Rate

  • Decreased Bloating

  • Very Soluble

  • Decreased Nausea

#3 Creatine Nitrate


  • Same as Monohydrate

  • Nitric Oxide Production

 #4 Creatine Citrate
  • Goal: Increasing solubility
  • Result: Citric acid and Creatine disassociate before reaching the muscle
  • Same as Monohydrate
  • Con: 5g Creatine Citrate = 2g Creatine

#5 Creatine Phosphate

  • Containes 63% creatine vs the 88% in monohydrate
  • Same effects as Monohydrate

 #6 Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
  • Goal: Greater absorption rate
  • Result: Ethanol and Creatine decompose before reaching the muscle
  • Same effects as Monohydrate


#7 Creatine Kre-Alkalyn

  • Goal: Protect Creatine from breaking down in the stomach
  • Result: Creatine wound up breaking down 35% more
  • Same effects as Monohydrate

#8 Creatine Malate

  • Not guaranteed to reach the muscles before leaving the body.



This stimulant enhances nervous system activity providing mental and physical improvements. It has the ability to reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and causes a feeling of euphoria. This drug has been used by athletes throughout history as a performance enhancer. It is so potent that in large doses (about 500mg) it would cause an athlete to fail a drug test. The stimulant benefits both aerobic and anaerobic activities.

Caffeine vs Coffee

Greater performance benefits from caffeine are seen through pure supplementation rather than through a food source like coffee or soft drink.  Improvements in aerobic endurance may not be seen at all and if so very little when ingested through a source like coffee. Coffee contains hundreds of biologically active compounds including caffeine and there seems to be some that counteract the performance enhancing benefits in caffeine.



Jarrow Formulas L-Arginine

L-Arginine is a nonessential amino acid found in nuts, oatmeal, beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products like milk and yogurt.  The body produces it but not enough, so we must reach out to other sources like food or supplementation to fulfil that need.  This amino acid aids production of proteins, creatine, and nitric oxide.  

Nitric Oxide (NO)

As a precursor to L-Arginine, Nitric Oxide promotes blood vessels to dilate causing better blood circulation and vascularity. Increased blood flow offers our muscles more oxygen and nutrients to perform at a higher level. This performance increase is often described as pump. NO is the go-to solution for increased pump in the gym.

L-Arginine Useless?

Some people claim L-Arginine is a useless supplement. This is because some people’s bodies are unable to convert L-Arginine to NO. Those who are overweight, have poor blood pressure and cholesterol, or have risk of poor heart condition like smokers may not be able to translate L-Arginine to Nitric Oxide. People with this issue deem L-Arginine useless. L-Arginine is effective in most healthy individuals but NO conversion can still be inhibited. This inconsistency is why most people claim Arginine to be useless.

When Arginine does work in healthy Individuals L-Arginine supplementation results in bursts of power encouraging the growth of lean muscle. It also helps strengthen your immune system and allows for fast recovery.



Now Foods L-Citrulline

L-Citrulline can be found in watermelon, cucumbers, and squash. Citrulline gets rid of toxic ammonia from the liver allowing for proper excretion of urea. This amino acid converts into L-Arginine thus providing all the benefits of Nitric Oxide if the Arginine converts properly. Significant results have been proven in very high doses of 6g-8g. Most pre wokouts don’t offer this large amount and at this dosage nausea is common. Supplementation can result in a reduction of muscle fatigue and an increase in endurance.

B Complex Vitamins

NOW Foods B-100 Caps

  • Helps convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is then used as energy.

  • Promotes healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver.

  • Helps metabolize fats and protein.

  • helps nervous system.

  • Found in dairy products, fish, eggs, nuts, poultry, and lean meats

Niacin (Vitamin B3)


Niacin helps your nervous system, digestive system, and keeps your skin, hair and eyes healthy. Often this vitamin can be found in multivitamins and workout supplements. It helps reduce bad cholesterol and turn carbohydrates into energy.

Niacin increases HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol that sweeps your blood for bad cholesterol and disposes it in the liver. For males 14 years old or older 1.6g should be consumed and females 14 years old or older should take 1.4g.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)


Pyridoxine helps carry signals from one nerve cell to another maintaining normal brain function. It enhances the immune system by increasing red blood cell production. Vitamin B6 also helps with the absorption of Vitamin B12 to help make immune system cells.

High Homocysteine levels found in blood is thought to cause heart disease. Vitamin B6 decreases the Homocysteine levels in blood, decreasing the risk factor of cardiovascular disease.

Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B12)


A main source of Methylcobalamin is meat and many vegetarians are deficient. Vitamin B12 provides for nerve health and production of red blood cells. Methylcobalamin aids the production of DNA and RNA and helps support adrenal functions.

Signs of Deficiency

  • Unexplained weakness

  • Numbness or tingling in extremities

  • Decreased efficiency in nervous system functions

  • Chest pain

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)


Folic Acid maintains proper brain function by aiding mental and emotional health. It works with vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and help iron function properly in the body. Like vitamin B6 and B12, B9 helps decrease homocysteine levels in blood.



Allmax Nutrition Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid found in the body that supplies our muscles with nitrogen. The optimal anabolic state consists of greater nitrogen intake than output. This is a sign of full recovery from the previous workout. A larger amount for nitrogen accounts for quicker recovery after a workout.

Glutamine is stored in muscles and is used as fuel for the body. If there is not enough Glutamine the body will break down muscle tissue to feed internal organs. This process is known as catabolism.

Glutamine decreases the rate in which your muscles break down during exercise and increases the metabolism of protein. This can be useful during aerobic activities to avoid muscle loss but still promoting fat loss. This amino acid is not necessarily geared toward building more muscle but to maintain muscle by avoiding catabolism.

The immune system requires glutamine to function and during strenuous exercise Glutamine levels deplete quickly. This leaves the body vulnerable to sickness. Through supplementation high glutamine levels can be maintained to provide proper functionality to the immune system and other parts of the body.

Citrus Aurantium


This “bitter orange” can be found in southern vietnam and provides similar effect as the banned substance Ephedra without the side effects of nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and mood changes. The active component of Citrus Aurantium is Synephrine.


Synephrine stimulates beta-3 adrenergic receptors without stimulating other receptors like beta-1 or beta-2 adrenergic receptors that cause negative side effects. Synephrine causes decomposition of lipids resulting in accelerated fat metabolism. When combined with caffeine muscle endurance has been seen to improve.

Weight lose is a common use for Citrus Aurantium. “Bitter orange” decreases appetite and increases heat production through Thermogenesis. Thermogenesis allows for an increase in energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

Omega 3 (Fish Oil)


more info

There are 3 essential fatty acids that are referred to as Omega 3: Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid(EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Omega 3’s can be found in sea food, plants, and nut oils. I recommend supplementing with EPA and DHA because in most cases ALA cannot be effectively converted.


  • Reduce risk of age-related muscle deterioration
  • Reduce joint tenderness and stiffness
  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad cholesterol” by lowering triglycerides
  • Increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good cholesterol“
  • Reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis
  • Reduce Inflammation

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)


This fatty acid can be found in seaweed and cold water fish like salmon, sardines, and herring. DHA is responsible for proper functionality of the brain. It is an important asset to maintaining a healthy nervous system and visual capabilities.

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)


Dietary absorption is available in the same sources as DHA like shellfish, cod, mackerel, halibut, and algae. EPA helps decrease triglycerides, high-blood pressure, and inflammation.


Calories in a meal that are not absorbed immediately are stored as fat called triglyceride. High levels of triglyceride can occur when you regularly eat more calories than you burn. Triglyceride is associated with coronary artery disease, high bad cholesterol (LDL), and low good cholesterol (HDL).

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

ALA is commonly found in plant products and oils like flaxseed, canola, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Once ingested the body converts ALA to DHA and EPA. Some people cannot perform the conversion effectively because the process seems to be unreliable and restrictive.
Studies have shown disproportionate values of EPA and DHA being produced from ALA. Most people who convert high amounts of ALA to EPA, have significantly lower conversion rates for DHA. There is often a 40%-50% less DHA converted than EPA through ALA supplementation. Vitamin Research Department

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