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htevans

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REVIEWS (62)

Reviews by htevans




Overall
Overall
8.0
Effectiveness
Effectiveness
8.0
Value
Value
9.0
  April 20, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Convenient
  • Good Value
  • Great Taste
  • Very Chewy
  • Very Little Fiber

Quick Summary

A decent protein bar that isn't as good as some competitors, but the stellar price-point negates the relatively small differences between most competitors.

Introduction

I saw these listed on a PricePlow deals alert email at a price that was an absolute steal. Having just missed out on a similar deal for some muscle milk RTDs, I jumped on these immediately after checking the macros to ensure I wouldn't miss out on yet another good deal. It seems like everyone is throwing up a review of these, so while I am still 3.5 boxes deep into a 6 box order I thought I'd...

Quick Summary

A decent protein bar that isn't as good as some competitors, but the stellar price-point negates the relatively small differences between most competitors.

Introduction

I saw these listed on a PricePlow deals alert email at a price that was an absolute steal. Having just missed out on a similar deal for some muscle milk RTDs, I jumped on these immediately after checking the macros to ensure I wouldn't miss out on yet another good deal. It seems like everyone is throwing up a review of these, so while I am still 3.5 boxes deep into a 6 box order I thought I'd share my thoughts too.

Ingredient Profile

8/10
The ingredient profiles stay the same across bars with some variation in cholesterol and sodium (approximately double the amount) among flavors as Bzyczek pointed out. Apart from that, the macros look decent: 220 calories in the form of 10g of fat (5g saturated; 3g monounsaturated; 2g polyunsaturated), 17g of carbs (1g dietary fiber, 6g of sugar), and 20g of protein. The sodium and cholesterol content ranges from 210-400mg and 20-55mg per bar respectively.
,
While I don't see much wrong with this profile, there are some things I would change. I would like to see at least 3g of fiber (half of sugar content) in these bars but it is not a deal breaker for me by any means. Additionally, I would take the fat down a little if I was making the ideal bar but I don't mind the 10g. I don't mind the sugar content at all because I find 6g to be a rather small amount to ingest to make your bar palatable. Plus, there is something to be said for using sugar over an abundance of artificial sweeteners. While there is still some artificial sweetener in here, it compliments the sugar content well and the bar doesn't taste artificial. Of course, I'd like for natural sweeteners like truvia, stevia, or monkfruit to compliment sugar but it is not a huge deal for me. After all, I have no problem downing a Coke Zero with a meal.

There are a lot of different fillers that reasonably change depending on the flavors. Some have corn cereal (confetti cake crunch) and some have tapioca starch and rice flower (ice cream cookie crunch). Thus, on a micro-nutrient level these bars are certainly not the cleanest option on the market. That's ok. They aren't trying to be or passing themselves off as such. They are clearly highly processed high protein foodstuffs but they are better than grabbing a Snickers, Milky Way, or Kit-Kat. That's how I look at it. If you're looking for a whole-food or more natural bar then look elsewhere but sometimes you just want an indulgence and I'd look no further than here for that.

My biggest problem with these bars is the protein source. While almost everyone has pointed out that the bars mostly use whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and/or whey protein hydrolysate milk protein isolate (in that order), which is excellent, there is some protein coming from less than optimal sources. Depending on the flavor there is also some protein coming from pea protein isolate and/or soy protein isolate. A little bit of either of these protein sources won't kill you, but it should be noted that they are used. Since the bars are not completely transparent (which is a trend that hasn't quite made it to nutrition panels for foodstuffs quite yet) I can't tell exactly how much of the 20g of protein is coming from those sources. However, in the Cookie Dough Crunch flavor soy protein isolate is listed immediately after a whey blend and then pea protein isolate follows a little after. Similarly, in Confetti Cake Crunch it soy protein isolate follows sugar so it could be about 5g. In the rest of the flavors, pea protein isolate comes about mid-profile so its probably like 1-2g and used for texture. I have no problem with a variety of protein sources, especially because whey can lend itself to terrible texture and diversification can help mitigate that issue. However, it is a bit hypocritical to put competitors on blast for their profiles (IMO use) when their products tastes equally as good and they managed to do it without any pea or soy protein (and sometimes less sugar for that matter). In short, its not a deal breaker but it necessarily prevents a higher rating in this section.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

8/10
Mixability is not applicable as this is a protein bar. Similarly, dosing is not really applicable since the "dosing" schedule is to eat them whenever you're hungry, want a snack, or want more protein in your diet. Personally, I had 1-2 straight out of the wrapper in the mornings as a quick breakfast before getting to work or class and then I'd occasionally have one in the evenings during later classes or longer days at work. Seeing as I'm trying to shed a quick few pounds before it warms up here in the DMV (will it ever?) this worked perfectly for my "dosing" needs.

I bought 3 boxes each of the Peanut Butter Crunch and the Ice Cream Cookie Crunch. I found the Peanut Butter Crunch to be my favorite as I am just in the mood for that kind of flavor more often. Oddly enough, I tend to like the Ice Cream Cookie Crunch flavor in the evenings - probably because I am craving something sweet around then.

The Peanut Butter Crunch flavor tasted like a slightly chewy peanut butter cup. The crunch part of the bar was definitely over-hyped when compared to something like a Nestle Crunch bar or a Combat Crunch bar. The peanuts inside the batter made for a little crunch but nothing too fulfilling in that regard. My biggest complaint was that it produced crumbs like an Honey & Oats Nature Valley Bar. Ok, maybe a little less but you get the point.

The Ice Cream Cookie Crunch flavor didn't really taste like ice cream, cookies, or a combination of the two. I got more brownie with vanilla glaze, or chocolate and vanilla glazed donuts (think the ones with the stripes) vibes. Still, while the flavor didn't match the label in my eyes, it was pretty good. The chocolate was definitely the dominant flavor and I found that after a bite or two I'd need a drink to keep myself from getting overpowered by the chocolate - if you're a chocolate connoisseur then this is definitely for you. I didn't really notice any crunch in this bar. Maybe you can consider the layers compacting under my teeth a "crunch" but I look for more oomph when I read "crunch" on a label. This flavor also produced a lot of crumbs like the Peanut Butter Crunch flavor - probably about equal amounts.

Additionally, as a "soft-baked" bar I was expected some soft, slightly chewy texture that was near cookie like. Maybe I am naive but what I've experienced in both flavors is a hard outer shell with a very chewy filling. The extreme chewiness is much worse with with the Ice Cream Cookie Crunch flavor but it it is still present with the Peanut Butter Crunch flavor. The Ice Cream Cookie Crunch can be, at times, like chewing a gob of peanut butter (ironic, right?) whereas the Peanut Butter Crunch is more akin to chewing two Chips Ahoy Chewy cookies.

Effectiveness

8/10
These bars were great for why I wanted them. I used them as snacks and mini-breakfasts and they always kept me full for a few hours. On average, I'd be content for about 3 hours which is perfect for a snack. As a high-protein foodstuff the effectiveness is best rated in relation to how they helped achieve my nutritional goals. Since I am on a moderate cut, these may not look like the best option but that isn't the case at all.

When I cut calories, I often cut fat without even meaning to as I'm just trying to eat healthier foods in general. The 10g of fat in these bars helped me make sure I wasn't dipping too low in my fat intake. If I was attempting to gain weight, I could see these also being useful but I'd probably limit myself to one given the higher fat content of other foods I'd be eating. The 20g of protein in each bar was most helpful though because I can often fall short of my protein needs if I just eat a quick bagel or waffle in the mornings. Getting a head-start on my protein consumption in the morning is crucial for me. Without these bars I would have, without a doubt, been drinking another protein shake or two before bed when I realized I had macros to fill. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it is annoying to have to do after a long day and I can easily forget so this head-start was extremely helpful to me. In short, this was as effective any other protein bar in that it was easy for me to fit into my macros and meet my daily nutritional goals. Cleaner bars may score a little higher because they could be easier to fit in on tight days but this could easily be worked in most days.

Value

9/10
The value on some of these flavors is just downright unbeatable. The Ice Cream Cookie Crunch was $13.99 for a box of 12 and the Peanut Butter Crunch was $14.99 for a box of 12 on Amazon Prime. That is $1.17 and $1.25 a bar respectively. I pay more for a bag of Lays, and just about the same for a candy bar, at a store in DC. The other flavors have various price-points that are not as good but I'd look for the flavors on sale and try to go with those. At $1.16-1.25 a bar, I can eat (literally) any concerns about protein sourcing, fat content, sugar content, chewiness, etc. This price seriously cannot be beat. I highly recommend trying these bars in the event you like them just for this factor alone.

Side Effects

8/10
About half of the time I ate these in the morning, I would experience a mild laxative effect. I don't mind it too much in the mornings since it kind of fits in with my natural routine anyways but it can certainly be annoying when you're in a rush. I also found it a bit odd that the first bar of the day would have this effect as the label warns about this after "excessive consumption." I would also get this in the evening but it would take longer to kick in - probably since I didn't have a completely empty stomach. Either way, it could be much worse as this wasn't anything like diarrhea just slightly loose.

Conclusion

8/10
I loved these bars. Mostly because the taste wasn't too bad and the drawbacks were manageable - especially at this price point. Without a doubt, if these bars were $25 for 12 then I wouldn't be so kind or lenient but I think for this price you just can't reasonably ask for much more. I came to a 8/10 overall rating since every section except Value scored an 8.0/10. I thought it was a clear indication that the product as a whole is a 8/10. In short, I'd recommend these to anyone looking for a quality high-protein snack/foodstuff.


  April 9, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Increased Energy
  • Outdoorsy Smell
  • Easy Application Schedule
  • Great Sales
  • Enhanced Calm
  • Better Stress Management
  • Leaned Out Significantly
  • Libido Booster
  • Sticky
  • Dropper Applicator
  • Small Health Downturn In Beginning
  • Difficulty Sleeping At Night

Quick Summary

Invictus is a transdermal cortisol blocker that gives noticeable physical and mental results. Expect moderate increases in fat-burning, libido, and a fair reduction in stress. Keep your eyes peeled for one of Iron Legion's amazing sales around holidays and double-tap the trigger.

Introduction

I became aware of Invictus after doing a lot of solo research on alternatives to PEDs that don't affect the HPTA axis. Eventually I stumbled upon Invictus and learned that the main ingredient b-AET can reduce cortisol and help promote fat burning, libido, and optimize tes...

Quick Summary

Invictus is a transdermal cortisol blocker that gives noticeable physical and mental results. Expect moderate increases in fat-burning, libido, and a fair reduction in stress. Keep your eyes peeled for one of Iron Legion's amazing sales around holidays and double-tap the trigger.

Introduction

I became aware of Invictus after doing a lot of solo research on alternatives to PEDs that don't affect the HPTA axis. Eventually I stumbled upon Invictus and learned that the main ingredient b-AET can reduce cortisol and help promote fat burning, libido, and optimize testosterone ratios as a result of reducing cortisol, all while leaving my precious HPTA axis alone. Being beyond stressed out, I decided relatively quickly that I wanted to give this a try to just make the going a bit easier - anything else would be a pleasant surprise. After 3-4 bottles over multiple months, I can say I am more than just pleasantly surprised.

Ingredient Profile

10/10
This is one of the first transdermal products I have used, and the first I have used to completion. Thus, it is also my first crack at reviewing a transdermal profile. Now, previous reviews have broken down all the minutia listed on the bottles but it basically boils down to Iron-Legion's legendary Salvo carrier and 100mg/ml (found this from a rep's comment on another message board) beta-Androstenetriol (b-AET).

Salvo is hailed among transdermal products as being a holy grail of sorts for effectively delivering multiple compounds in a bioavailable form. I came across a lot of homebrewers and even a few companies (ex: AlphaGainz) using Salvo in their own formulations/products. Hence, I trust that Salvo is a relatively safe and effective carrier. Furthermore, I'm glad that Iron Legion is the source of Salvo so its all in-house with Invictus. From what I understand, b-AET is a naturally occurring DHEA metabolite that boosts lymphocyte activity (resulting in a stronger immune system) and suppresses glucocorticoids (i.e. cortisol). Suppressing cortisol starting at normal ranges is not without serious trade-offs, but in high-stress and high-producing individuals some suppression can bring cortisol levels back down to normal ranges. Since high cortisol levels can lead to decreased libido, fat gain, catabolicism, lower testosterone levels, and reduced immune function, a return to normal cortisol levels can potentially undo some or all of these conditions (although this is a return to previous baselines it would feel like an improvement from one's new baseline). Furthermore, unlike AAS (which can also reduce cortisol) b-AET doesn't appear to have any significant impact on the HPTA axis from what I could find.

I found this profile to be as close to perfect as possible. Just a carrier, main ingredient, and some woody essential oils to give off a manly smell. You really couldn't want much more and there isn't really anything to want taken out (unless you don't like the wood scent).

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

9/10
As a transdermal, there is obviously no taste - or there shouldn't be - so I will replace this metric with smell. The solution was imbued with some woody essential oils (I noticed cedar notes most prominently). Personally, I really liked the smell and almost wish there were some sprays or colognes with that scent to spray around my apartment. It gives off a "manly man" kind of vibe. If you don't like outdoorsy and woody smells then you probably won't like wearing this.

There isn't really any "mixability" per se as the solution comes pre-mixed and you just have to apply it to your skin with the built-in pipette-cap. I will replace mixability with a more holistic "application" meaning ease of application and properties of the solution (sticky, staining, etc). I found Invictus was extremely easy to apply - just squeeze the top of the lid and draw out 0.5ml. The pipette is clearly marked and its easy to hit 0.5ml. The only difficulty I ever experienced in this regard was towards the last week of each bottle when the solution would be so low that it would take multiple draws from various angles to get what I eyeballed to be 0.5ml. That was a bit of a pain and the measurements weren't as precise as the previous weeks. In terms of solution properties, the solution was a bit thick and a little sticky but not staining. After about 10-15 minutes of airing out the application site I would put a shirt on and notice minimal cling but if I was in a rush and got dressed immediately after applying I noticed my clothes would cling to my skin a bit - sort of like when you get dressed after a shower.

Finally, the dosing, or actual application, for Invictus was extremely easy. You could technically take 1ml (2 0.5ml applications) at any time but it was recommended to apply them in the morning and in the evening to correspond with peak cortisol times. I tried to adhere to this as best as possible by applying Invictus upon waking and after getting home from class and/or work. Occasionally I would even pack it in my bag to apply in the bathroom in between night classes. Over the course of a few bottles I experimented a bit with how late to apply the evening solution and found anything past 8pm made it harder to fall asleep. Therefore, I aimed for anywhere between 4:30-7:30 for my second application. I also experimented with multiple application sites. I typically used my shoulders (alternating shoulders between applications), upper chest, and clavicle region. However, I also tried applying it to my the tops of my feet and forearms. I didn't mind the changes but found the upper-body sites to be the best to easily air out.

Effectiveness

8.75/10
Cortisol blockers are somewhat tricky to review. There are tangible effects to be felt from reducing cortisol production, but like with insulin mimickers and blood sugar, it is hard to be certain unless you're actively measuring it. Since I was not getting blood tests done to track this, I will have to rely on all of the subjective markers.

The first few days I had a great placebo effect where I just felt like a million bucks. I'm sure that at a cellular level Invictus was already working its magic but I really didn't notice it until about a true week of continued use. After a week or so, I began to notice I was somewhat calmer and more at ease during the day. I wasn't on-edge or about to break at any minute due to stress. I felt like I could "breathe" in the metaphorical sense. Perhaps the most sought after result for me was a reduction in cortisol translating to how stressed out I felt so this was what I was looking for all along. This effect became stronger in the continuing weeks, and when I ran two bottles consecutively it was really at its peak around week 6-7. While this was largely what I was expecting, it did have a drawback. In some odd way, being too calm or relaxed late at night made it harder to sleep. I wasn't as tired as I was before when I was feeling stressed out. I was physically tired but not mentally tired enough to sleep like a baby as soon as I made it to my bed. Hence, I felt that I needed to sleep but just couldn't actually doze off. I found my optimal second application to be at about 5:00-6:00pm so I could beat back the exhaustion after a long day, hit the gym hard, and then still fall asleep relatively easy. Once I got through this learning curve (perfected by week 3) this was a non-issue for me.

In addition to feeling less stressed, which I attribute to a reduction in what must have been extremely high cortisol levels (conjecture), I also saw some leaning in my upper body. I didn't see any leaning in my abdomen or love handles beyond what I expect from normal weight-loss though. Given that my primary application sites were my delts, upper chest, and clavicle region, this makes some sense. I saw a few veins in my shoulders that I don't think I've ever seen, or at least haven't in a long time. I also noticed some striations and separation between my delts and shoulders. The only time I think I may have ever seen this was about two years ago and even then I don't think it was as pronounced as now. I would hit chest or shoulders in a tank top and just push through my work out with an endurance that seemingly came out of nowhere because I was feeling myself. In short, Invictus really did wonders for my self-esteem which probably translated to some gains in the gym too. However, I didn't notice much in the way of strength gains. I was using a lot of different supplements that help with strength (like creatine) while using Invictus so while it was possible I can't say for sure that Invictus was directly responsible for any strength gains. Moreover, whenever I added Invictus, I did not experience any noticeable boost in strength beyond what I had expected for that week.

Reducing cortisol can also promote immune system health. Again this is hard to objectively measure without medical testing and such so I'll have to rely on subjective measures. Oddly enough, during the first week or so of using Invictus I experienced a small downturn in my health almost similar to what happens to some people after getting an active vaccine. After that week though I felt fine. I didn't get sick in the slightest. This was during the peak of flu season in the Northeast US and I didn't get a flu shot (only 15% effective anyways though) so I consider that a pretty good sign. As soon as I finished Invictus though, I caught a terrible case of the flu that had me bed-ridden for 2-3 weeks. I can't say that Invictus prevented me from getting the flu or that cessation of use caused me to get the flu but I can say I felt that my odds were better while on Invictus. Additionally, I should note that I never experienced another slight downturn in health after finishing the other bottles of Invictus at later times so I can say with some degree of certainty that catching the flu was not related to that.

Finally, my libido had taken some fatal blows due to what I believe was extremely high cortisol production in response to a lot of stress in my life. By the end of week 1 of using Invictus, I saw a drastic improvement. I was back to my old self and getting into the mood perhaps too often. Even better, my cardio/stamina during sessions was a million times better. The difference was seriously night and day, and it only became more pronounced with continued use. This effect never really seemed to "peak" but when using two bottles consecutively, it maintained intensity after weeks 3-4. This was my second most desired result and Invictus delivered just as I had hoped.

Value

8.5/10
Invictus can be bought from Iron Legion's website for $49.99/30 serving bottle. A few third party retailers have it for around $40-45/bottle. That price alone is not bad considering how effective and unique this is. However, Iron Legion regularly runs amazing sales around the holidays that make this an unbeatable value. For example, Halloween (Hallolean) saw a 40% off sale, Thanksgiving was 45% off sale, News Years was 50% off, and St Patty's was 35% off. So it varies but it is pretty consistent. I purchased this during the Halloween sale for $30/bottle which at $1 per serving/day is pretty good in my opinion. If you can snag this during one of the 45-50% off sales you can get the price down to below $1 per serving/day ($27.50-$25.00/bottle) and that is a downright steal for something so unique and effective. I would typically lean towards putting more emphasis on the actual listed price instead of sale prices but the consistency of Iron Legion sales for even relatively minor holidays is just too great not to take it into consideration. Thus, while the $1.67 per serving/day is not a bad deal (probably about a 7.5/10) the more common price point for this effectively $1 per serving/day and that is a deal worth pulling the trigger every day of the week.

On a side note, I once played an order at Iron Legion for some of their products and one of the bottles was missing from my order. Given that their products are often out of stock I figured that my missing bottle was just a few days behind schedule. Well, life happened and a few weeks later I reached out to their sales department about the missing bottle. Rob at Iron Legion expedited me the missing product and promised me a free shirt on the next order. I find that to be absolutely solid customer service, especially since I had waited to so long to email them about the problem. In short, I definitely suggest going through Iron Legion directly to get Invictus and their other products.

Side Effects

8.5/10
Side effects were minimal with Invictus. I did notice some muscle spasms in my head (Drs said it was related to the optic nerve) that I initially thought were related but I no longer think that to be the case as they disappeared after awhile (not entirely certain either way though). I also noticed that applying an evening dose of Invictus past 8pm made it very difficult for me to fall asleep before midnight. Now, I'm not deducting any points for that because it is completely avoidable. Other than that, I also saw a small downturn in health (usually a sudden runny nose, etc.) for the first week of use.

Conclusion

8.6/10
I came to an 8.6/10 rating after averaging Effectiveness, Value, and Side Effects. I find it to be the best average because I don't really know enough about the ingredient profile to justifiably include that and I don't think the application schedule or smell is as important as the other categories. In short, I think Invictus is a stellar and extremely unique product that helps tremendously with stress management and promotes leaning and immune health as secondary effects. Plus, the company appears to have great customer service from my interactions with them. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a new and innovative approach to stress management. I would wait for it to go on sale though.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Olympus Labs for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  March 28, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Good Hydration
  • Good Recovery
  • Better Endurance
  • Reduces DOMS And Muscle Fatigue
  • Aids In Gains
  • More Hydrated
  • Taste Good
  • Mixes Well

    Introduction

    I'd like to apologize to Olympus Labs for taking so long to get this review out. I've heard great things about the company so when I saw some of their stuff pop up on TROOPS I wanted to try whatever I could grab. I can always use a good BCAA supplement so I grabbed Endure. I was expecting good things and was not let down.

    Ingredient Profile

    8.5/10
    First and foremost in a BCAA product are the BCAAs. In Endure there are 7.5 grams of BCAAs dosed at a 4:1:1 ratio. While I personally prefer a 2:1:1 ratio, I don't have any serious qualms with a 4:1:1. 7.5 grams is ...

    Introduction

    I'd like to apologize to Olympus Labs for taking so long to get this review out. I've heard great things about the company so when I saw some of their stuff pop up on TROOPS I wanted to try whatever I could grab. I can always use a good BCAA supplement so I grabbed Endure. I was expecting good things and was not let down.

    Ingredient Profile

    8.5/10
    First and foremost in a BCAA product are the BCAAs. In Endure there are 7.5 grams of BCAAs dosed at a 4:1:1 ratio. While I personally prefer a 2:1:1 ratio, I don't have any serious qualms with a 4:1:1. 7.5 grams is 1.5x the typical dose of 5 grams that a lot of BCAAs supplements out there use. I'm always pleased by anything that goes above and beyond the average. Next up is 2 grams of Velositol. This is a patented blend of waxy maize starch and chromium histidinate and picolinate. The 2 grams in Endure supplies 2 grams of waxy maize starch and 1,000mcg of chromium. Velositol is marketed as increasing muscle protein synthesis and increasing insulinogenic function and thereby increasing amino acid uptake. Personally, I find those claims hard to believe since chromium doesn't seem to really do much in terms of insulinogenic function in individuals who are not deficient in it. Still, I guess it can't hurt in the off chance it works.

    A scoop of Endure also includes 2 grams of L-Glutamine, an amino acid often purported to aid and enhance recovery. I've read that some are skeptical as to whether or not it actually does anything but I've always liked it. I typically like to see L-Glutamine dosed at 5 grams so this is underdosed in my opinion but 2 grams is at least a decent start in the right direction. L-Taurine is also present at 1 gram per scoop. L-Taurine is an amino acid with a host of benefits but it was likely included in Endure to promote increased blood flow. An efficacious dose is somewhere in the range of 500mg-2 grams so 1 gram is perfectly in the middle. As always I tend to favor the maximum of dosing ranges but I'm fine with the "Goldilox zone" of perfectly in the middle doses. Additionally, Endure has 980mg of an electrolyte blend which I always like to see in BCAA and intra-workout supplements because proper hydration is crucial for maximizing your workouts and recovery. Furthermore, I tend to struggle with maintaining hydration so I really appreciate a significant electrolyte blend like this.

    Rounding out Endure is 480mg of VitaCherry Sport, a patented extract of Whole Tart Cherry. Tart Cherry contains anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce muscle damage and pain after strenuous exercise like long distance running. I couldn't pin down a suggested dose of an extract since most studies and articles I found talked about Tart Cherry juice. I'll give Olympus Labs the benefit of the doubt here and assume that since this is an extract that 480mg is equivalent to a decent dose. Finally, Endure did use some dyes but nothing too heavy. I'm not a fan of artificial dyes at all but if they must be present at least keep them relatively light (which Olympus Labs did). I'd prefer Endure without dyes but that's much more of a personal preference. All in all, this profile isn't too bad. I think that it could be dosed a little heavier on the L-Glutamine and that the Velositol could be swapped out for something else but as a whole the profile is certainly geared towards recovery and endurance (as it should be).

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    10/10
    I received the Krusherz flavor and it was amazing. I can't really describe the flavor too well but it was sort of like a punch mixed with a hint of cherry. It was delicious. I liked it so much I even grabbed it to drink cold after a few heavy nights of drinking. It was beyond refreshing. I seriously wish someone made a juice that tasted like this. The mixability was great as well. I never experienced any clumps, leftover grit, or swirling particles. Like with most BCAA products, dosing was relatively simple. I took a scoop intra-workout and typically drank it during cardio but occasionally drank it during my lifts. As noted above, I also drank this on a few other occasions as one-off uses. However, since I have some BCAAs of my own on deck, I tried to use this only during workout days and used my own during rest days.

    Effectiveness

    8.5/10
    I generally respond well to BCAA supplements and was expecting at least baseline results from Endure. Truth be told, I was expecting even more because I've heard good things about Olympus Labs and thought their BCAA product would be better than a lot of others. Thankfully, my expectations were not too far off the mark.

    I started using Endure about a week after I started using some Xtend that I got for a steal on Amazon. Hence, I had already been using a BCAA product for long enough to start feeling some results. I threw Endure into the mix on workout days and within another week I started to notice results in line with what I'd expect from a BCAA supplement. The first thing I saw was an improvement in baseline hydration. I didn't feel as thirsty after cardio/during my lifts and I didn't feel the "dehydration drain" (i.e. dehydration induced lethargy) that I get post-workout sometimes. In terms of hydration, when I took Endure on those one-off occasions, I saw a real difference over water or Gatorade - especially after a night of drinking. On those days, I had rebounded out of the "dehydration drain," felt more energized, and was urinating clear after 1-2 scoops in about 20-50 oz of water. For comparison, I've chugged full 64 oz Gatorades after a night of drinking and still felt dehydrated (and yes, the other dependent variable of how much I drank stayed about constant).

    I also noticed I shaved off a day or so of DOMS, especially after grueling workouts. Around week 2-3 I began noticing a slight improvement in endurance. I found that I didn't tire out as easily at the end of my workouts. I actually began hitting abs again a few times a week because I still had some left in the tank. Now, I've gotten similar results with some other decent intra-workout/BCAA products so this was nothing new for me but it is a sign of a good product in my eyes. In short, from weeks 1-3 I experienced results typical of a good BCAA/intra-workout product. In week 4-5, I saw much of the same results but I subjectively "felt it" more. What I mean by this is that I started to really grasp just how much I was actually doing in the gym and how little that seemed to weigh on me from a recovery standpoint. I maintained the soreness levels I was getting from weeks 1-2 despite increasing volume (per muscle group), weight, and muscle groups trained. Granted, I wasn't all of a sudden going full GVT or anything but I was adding about 7-10 more sets spread throughout my workout. Was I still getting sore? Yes. But did I ever feel like I got hit by a truck the next day? No. Not even on legs. In my subjective experience, that's pretty good.

    I really noticed how much I was getting from Endure and BCAA supplementation in general after I finished the product. After I finished off Endure, I took a break from BCAA supplementation for about a week and a half to see if anything would change. Maybe I was just experiencing some placebo effect (the power of the mind is ridiculously strong after all). Well towards the end of this time frame I started to get some significant DOMS. I couldn't even deadlift one day because my legs were so sore from a workout earlier in the week. The DOMS weren't necessarily worse at the onset (i.e. I didn't feel sorer on Day 1 or Day 2 after a workout) but the residual effects lasted for much longer. The DOMS from leg day that would normally be gone within a few days were still lingering on at the end of the week. Needless to say, I wasn't very thrilled and immediately started back on the BCAA train. In short, this was what I'd expect from a typical BCAA product and then some. I could definitely tell this was making a positive difference in my training.

    Value

    7.5/10
    I found this on Amazon Prime in all flavors for $35. A quick Google search pulled up similar results once you factor in shipping costs. That's $1.17 a serving - just a hair over $1 a serving. While that's not too bad considering you're getting 7.5 grams of BCAAs, some L-Glutamine, L-Taurine, and more niche ingredients like VitaCherry Sport and Velositol, it is not quite a great value either. For comparison, the other product I was using (and has somewhat of a similar ingredient panel), Xtend, can regularly be found on Amazon Prime for $18 for 30 servings. That's just $.60 a serving - almost half the price of Endure. Now, the ingredients are an exact mirror - Xtend has 500mg more Glutamine, 500mg fewer BCAAs (at a 2:1:1 ratio), and 190mgs more electrolytes. It also has 1 gram of Citrulline Malate 1:1 and no Velositol (or anything similar in terms of starch), L-Taurine (the Citrulline Malate serves a similar function though) or Tart Cherry extract. On a side note, both products have dyes. Still, I don't know if that difference in ingredients warrants nearly double the price. I can see justifying a little more of an increase in price but not double. I'd be willing to give this a 8/10 if it was $1/serving shipped. I know that doesn't seem like much - just $0.17, but in the long run it adds up - especially for staple products like BCAAs. Seeing as there are some patented ingredients in here, I'd even give this an 8/10 if there was a bigger size (60-90 servings) that contained that price point. As of now though, I think 7.5/10 is a solid rating for Endure. I'd still get this on my own dime.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I experienced no side effects while taking this product.

    Conclusion

    8.3/10
    I think Endure is a solid product in the BCAA/intra-workout category. Olympus Labs lived up to the hype that I've heard and my gains in the gym were all the better because of it. I saw reduced DOMS, increased hydration, and a little more energy to take my workouts up a notch. I came to a 8.3/10 rating after averaging the Ingredient Profile, Effectiveness, and Value sections which gave me a 8.17/10. I rounded up and then added 0.1 to account for the killer flavoring. I feel that its only fair to reward a product/company when they knock something like flavoring out of the park. After all, this is a BCAA/intra-workout supplement and most people drink them with a fair amount of water and expect them to be palatable. In short, I'd definitely recommend giving Endure a try if you're looking for something different to rotate into your BCAA/intra-workout line-up. I'd also recommend trying it if you were like me and itching to try something from Olympus Labs, it certainly left me with a good view of the company.


    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to Dioxyme for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      March 27, 2018

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • Boosts Endurance
    • Nice Name
    • Overall Performance Enhancer
    • Increased Strength
    • Interesting Ingredients
    • Tastes Good
    • Builds Muscle
    • Not Widely Available
    • Proprietary Blend
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive Depending On Dosage

    Introduction

    I sincerely apologize to Dioxyme for taking so long on this review. When I saw MPO come up on TROOPS, I pulled the trigger because the profile looked unique enough that it might work where other products failed for me. I had no knowledge of the price at the time but now that I do, I really appreciate the product and ability to try it much more.

    Ingredient Profile

    8.75/10
    MPO stands for Muscle Protein Optimizer, but what exactly is in it to warrant such a name? Turns out there's only a few ingredients but they pack a large punch.

    In the "Nitramino Complex" do...

    Introduction

    I sincerely apologize to Dioxyme for taking so long on this review. When I saw MPO come up on TROOPS, I pulled the trigger because the profile looked unique enough that it might work where other products failed for me. I had no knowledge of the price at the time but now that I do, I really appreciate the product and ability to try it much more.

    Ingredient Profile

    8.75/10
    MPO stands for Muscle Protein Optimizer, but what exactly is in it to warrant such a name? Turns out there's only a few ingredients but they pack a large punch.

    In the "Nitramino Complex" dosed at 6.5 grams there is creatine monohydrate and Beta-Alanine. In short, creatine monohydrate is a well-studied staple ingredient that helps increase strength and muscle hydration. Since it is listed first, it makes up at least a simple majority of the blend. Rounding out the blend is beta-alanine, a non-essential amino acid that helps buffer lactic acid production and thereby increase endurance. Since it is listed last it makes up a majority of the blend. Now, I'm disappointed that these ingredients are hidden in a propriety blend. Still, I can deduce basic math and determine that at least, if not both ingredients are undressed at the 1 scoop/serving level. An efficacious dose of creatine is 5 grams and an efficacious dose of beta-alanine is 3.2 grams (although I have heard on here that it is best to split your doses into two 1.6 gram doses). If creatine is dosed at 5 grams, then beta-alanine is just under half an efficacious dose (which may be better). Either way, I'd like to just have a transparent label so I can tell for sure and not have to guess.

    In the "mTOR Optimatrix" blend dosed at 5.25 grams includes, in order, Hydroxy Methylbutyrate (HMB), Alpha-Hydroxyisocaproic Acid (HICA), and Phosphatic Acid (PA). HMB is an active metabolite of leucine that reduces muscle protein breakdown and has shown anti-catabolic properties but doesn't appear to be any better than leucine for promoting muscle growth. An efficacious dose range is 1-3 grams. HICA is another leucine metabolite that has similar properties as HMB, notably anti-catabolic properties. It may also have anabolic properties but the research on HICA is extremely limited. The recommended dose is 1.5 grams a day split into three doses of 500 milligrams. PA is a lipid that has shown promise in activating the mTOR pathway, increasing strength, helping build muscle, and reduce cortisol levels. An efficacious dose is 750mg a day but positive results have been seen at higher doses as well. Again, since these ingredients are hidden in a proprietary blend, it is a bit hard to tell exactly how much of each ingredient is in each scoop. That being said, basic math tells us that these could each be dosed efficaciously (and at the maximum of the range for HMB). Therefore, I'll give Dioxyme the benefit of the doubt here and assume they did that.

    I didn't see any dyes listed and I didn't see any when I mixed MPO with water so I'll assume there are no artificial dyes, which I like a lot. That is always a plus in my book. In short, this profile is pretty solid but the first blend could be dosed a little heavier in my opinion.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    10/10
    I received the lemonade flavor, which I believe is the only flavor available, and it tasted pretty good. It was a very light flavor in all the different amounts of water I tried (8-20 oz) but I actually enjoyed that because I could mix it with other lemonade or lemon-lime flavored supplements I had. Considering each scoop packs a whopping 20 grams of ingredients it mixed pretty well. I never had any residual grit leftover nor did I ever encounter clumps or swirling particles mid-sip. Dosing could not have been any simpler. Dioxyme provides a dosing chart based on one's weight and I typically followed that recommendation. I took 1 scoop a day, typically before or intra-workout, but also occasionally at random points in the day (i.e. whenever I remembered to take it). Occasionally I'd dose this at 1.5 scoops in the event I forgot to take it on a rest day. I took MPO every day to the best of my ability.

    Effectiveness

    8.5/10
    To be entirely honest, I didn't expect much from the start other than results typically experienced from creatine monohydrate and beta-alanine supplementation. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised after about a week of use.

    Around a week into using MPO, I started to notice a bit more strength and endurance. I had just come from using another creatine supplement so I was expecting more of a continuation than anything too noticeable. However, I seemed to get a sudden jolt of strength out of nowhere. I recently started deadlifting again after a long hiatus and although some of it was likely muscle memory, I shattered some then-current PRs on the second week. Ok, so a sudden jump of like 50lbs was definitely not only a result of MPO, but I do feel that it helped. Why do I say that? Because every week throughout the rest of my run, I continued to increase the weight I pulled until I was almost back to my old time PR.

    Furthermore, I noticed these strength effects in other lifts and muscle groups as well. Within two weeks of use, I added at least 5lbs to every dumbbell lift I currently do and 10lbs to every barbell lift I do. Although I find that to be the case whenever I start taking creatine after a long time off, this was a bit surprising for me since I didn't have an "off" period so much as I switched creatine supplements and forms.

    In the way of endurance, I noticed I was able to crank out some seriously hard sets. For example, with deadlifts I pulled a set of 20 seemingly out of nowhere on a day when I was just beat and not expecting anything more than a "running through the motions" type of workout. I really started noticing an improvement once I started using MPO in combination with Vasky, however. I really loved the pumps I was getting, especially in my arms, so I regularly got overzealous and pushed myself to do some sets of 15-20 reps after my usual working sets to really feel (and see) it. Moreover, I wouldn't drop the weight by more than 5lbs so I considered this to be relatively significant in terms of endurance in my eyes. I can honestly say that before using MPO just one set of 15 reps with a weight 5-10lbs after my working sets would have been a serious struggle. Oddly enough, I never really noticed much in the way of endurance in cardio activities (usually just a treadmill for me). I typically see a small improvement in this area with beta-alanine supplementation so I was always kind of waiting for it to kick in but it never did. While that may have been a little disappointing, I would gladly trade improvements in cardio for the results I got in other areas.

    Value

    7/10
    I found this on Amazon and Dioxyme's website for $69.99 for 30 1 Scoop servings. I saw a 15% off coupon on Dioxyme's website that drops the price by nearly $10.50 but it is still almost $60. That's a bit steep for 30 servings. Now I understand you have to consider the ingredients but I can find raws of most of these ingredients for much cheaper. I saw that Xcmiler did a solid breakdown of raws and found that MPO can be value at the end of the day but I still think that since most of the ingredients (Creatine, Beta-alanine, HMB, and PA) can be found for cheaper it is not worthy of a score higher than 7/10. I found creatine and beta-alanine on amazon at $0.03 and $0.02 a gram respectively. I found HMB on amazon for $0.08 a gram. Basic math tells me that I can dose these ingredients on my own for less than $.50 a day. Phosphatic acid is a bit trickier but I get mine from lecithin granules that run me $10-15 for 30 servings and provides over a gram of PA. Including PA, I can run all of these ingredients at a cost of $1 a day. HICA is admittedly hard to find and expensive but I found some from Labrada but 1.5 grams costs about $0.90. Still, even with the HICA, this line up can be run for a little cheaper than the $2.33/serving cost of MPO - and that includes a full 3.2 gram dose of beta-alanine. So in short, I think the cost isn't terrible given the convenience of having everything all in one powder to scoop and flavored, but I would at least like to see one or more of the following before I dropped $60-70 for it: 1) patented ingredients 2) a transparently disclosed full efficacious dose of creatine and beta-alanine

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I received no side effects while taking this product.

    Conclusion

    8/10
    Ultimately, I think MPO is a solid product. Sure, I wish some things were different like a slightly better price point, a transparent label, and efficacious doses where they may not be present. However, I was really surprised by the results I experienced and think that that says something. In some regard, you get what you pay for. I came to a 8.1 rating by averaging the scores for Ingredient Profile, Effectiveness, and Value which gave me a 8.08. I rounded up to a 8.1 since I was so impressed by the effectiveness. In short, I would recommend this to anyone looking to break through a plateau or trying to shake up their supplementation a bit - you may just be (pleasantly) surprised at what you get out of it.


    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to NutraBio for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      March 24, 2018

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • High Quality
    • No Bloat
    • True Label Disclosure
    • Increased Energy
    • Extreme Endurance
    • Great Taste
    • Good Value
    • No Dyes
    • Lack Of Size Options

    Introduction

    I apologize to Nutrabio for taking so long to review this product. I really appreciate you guys sending out Super Carb to let me try and being patient with my review. Full disclosure of my bias: I love Nutrabio and their products and think they really set the standard for how supplement companies should operate.

    Ingredient Profile

    10/10
    This ingredient profile is simple, straightforward, and unique. Unsurprisingly for a carb supplement, there is 25 grams of ClusterDextrin, a patented form of Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin. HBCD is a preferred carbohydrate bec...

    Introduction

    I apologize to Nutrabio for taking so long to review this product. I really appreciate you guys sending out Super Carb to let me try and being patient with my review. Full disclosure of my bias: I love Nutrabio and their products and think they really set the standard for how supplement companies should operate.

    Ingredient Profile

    10/10
    This ingredient profile is simple, straightforward, and unique. Unsurprisingly for a carb supplement, there is 25 grams of ClusterDextrin, a patented form of Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin. HBCD is a preferred carbohydrate because it is low-glycemic, easily digested, and slow-release. In short, there's no blood sugar spike nor gastric distress (i.e. bloating). However, Nutrabio does not stop there. They also add 822mg of electrolytes sourced from Albion Labs and using the patented Calci-K form of Calcium. Thus, not only are you getting a great carbohydrate drink, but you're also staying properly hydrated and replacing electrolytes lost from sweat at the same time. Still, Nutrabio is not done. They completely disclose the rest of the label down to the beet powder used for coloring! Outstanding transparency. I absolutely love the transparency and lack of fillers and artificial ingredients like artificial dyes. You seriously couldn't ask for anything more in an ingredient profile.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    10/10
    I received the orange mango flavor and was pleasantly surprised by the refreshing taste. I find that the more complex flavors, especially anything mango, are easily screwed up by being too sweet or lacking balance. Super Carb was not as tasty as a sugary drink like Gatorade or Powerade but it wasn't far off. All things considered, I thought the flavor was delicious. I mixed a scoop with 16-20oz of cold water in a shaker cup and it always mixed up perfectly. I never saw any residual grit or clumps. I would typically take a scoop pre-workout if I was hitting the gym in-between meals and feeling a bit light-headed or weak. I also tried this intra-workout on days that I hit the gym after breakfast (I'm a light breakfast eater). A few times I even took this post-workout when I was hitting the gym and had to be in class shortly thereafter and didn't have time to eat a full meal.

    Effectiveness

    10/10
    I originally had this rated as a 9/10 but upon further reflection I realized that I really couldn't have expected anything more from a carb supplement like this (note: I consider something like 5%'s Real Food to be different). I will try my best to break down everything that I experienced in an effort to validate this admittedly extreme and rare rating.

    Just as the label claims, I experienced no gastric discomfort, bloating, blood sugar spikes (no, I didn't check with any kind of monitoring device - I'm going off feeling here). I can be sensitive to carbohydrates and bloat a fair amount with some so this is a pretty big deal for me. I generally stay away from carb supplements for this exact reason. In fact, this is one of my first serious forays into the category.

    Given that I was using this supplement for energy but also a kind of sustenance (to combat lightheadedness for heavy intense workouts in-between meals), my main concern was that I felt energized to hit the gym and didn't have any lightheadedness in the gym. I would usually take Super Carb pre-workout for this purpose and felt good-to-go within 15-20 minutes. I have a well-stocked apartment gym that I live right above so I'd take this as I got dressed for the gym and by the time I got to the gym I was as ready as ever. I was able to push through some seriously intense workouts and even make new PRs during gym sessions in which I would normally struggle (especially early morning, after breakfast). I was only expecting to be able to get through the workouts without feeling weak - I didn't expect to really kill it. I even had these experiences when I took Super Carb intra-workout (usually while doing cardio before my lifts). I also found that I stayed relatively hydrated, which is something I will perpetually struggle with. Subjectively, I wasn't as thirsty during my workouts. Now, I'm sure on a molecular level that the added electrolytes helped with muscle contractions and everything that stems from them but I can't in good conscious claim to have consciously felt that. Yet, I did notice my thirst was down which is how I generally judge my hydration during my workouts.

    The other use I had for Super Carb was to stave off hunger, maintain/increase energy levels post-workout, and [again] prevent any lightheadedness (from lack of carbohydrates) from setting in during class after workouts on a tight schedule. When I was rushed on these days I found Super Carb to be something of a lifesaver. Instead of having to rely on some quick junk food or whatever processed snacks my professor would bring in (he's nice like that) to stay alert during class, I could just toss a scoop of Super Carb in my shaker and drink it on the metro or in class. I experienced much more cleaner energy than the previous times I had to give into temptation and chow down on a few Oreos in class. Furthermore, I noticed that when I got home from class I could put off dinner for awhile as I was content (not starving nor stuffed). In short, I put the inherent versatility of a carbohydrate supplement to good use in a few different ways and Super Carb delivered every time.

    Value

    8.5/10
    Super Carb runs $60 for 60 servings for $33 for 30 servings. That's not much of a difference and while I would like to see a least a few more dollars shaved off for buying a bigger size, I cannot complain at all. This is a stellar supplement and you truly do get what you pay for with Super Carb. Moreover, this price point is par for the course for this category and I would argue that Super Carb is at the top of the category. In that regard, it is something of a "steal" but it is still a significant added expense into your stack. I give it a 8.5 because it really is a great value for what you get but I can't go any higher since it is still $1 per serving.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I experienced no side effects while taking this product.

    Conclusion

    9.5/10
    Ultimately, I found Super Carb to be an outstanding carbohydrate supplement. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I responded to it. I also loved that since I responded to it well I could use it in a few different situations with great success. I came to a 9.5/10 rating by averaging the Ingredient Profile, Effectiveness, and Value ratings. Moreover, given the good Taste/Mixability/Dosing rating I felt that this was a well deserved 9.5 rating.



    Overall
    Overall
    6.5
    Effectiveness
    Effectiveness
    6.5
    Value
    Value
    6.0
    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to VMI Sports for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      March 24, 2018

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • Interesting Flavor
    • Innovative Formula
    • Nice Name
    • Prop Blend
    • Expensive At Two Scoop Dosages

    Introduction

    I would like to apologize to VMI Sports for taking so long to review Vasogen. I greatly appreciate you guys letting me try it out and hope the review was worth the wait. On another note, I've decided to cut back my typically lengthy ingredient profile reviews and this will be my first review with that revision in place.

    Ingredient Profile

    7/10
    Vasogen uses something of a unique profile in that it includes a few commonly found ingredients in pump pre-workouts and a few novel ingredients. L-Taurine, an amino acid that has shown promise in helping promote increa...

    Introduction

    I would like to apologize to VMI Sports for taking so long to review Vasogen. I greatly appreciate you guys letting me try it out and hope the review was worth the wait. On another note, I've decided to cut back my typically lengthy ingredient profile reviews and this will be my first review with that revision in place.

    Ingredient Profile

    7/10
    Vasogen uses something of a unique profile in that it includes a few commonly found ingredients in pump pre-workouts and a few novel ingredients. L-Taurine, an amino acid that has shown promise in helping promote increased blood flow, is included at an efficacious dose of 2 grams. 2 grams is actually the maximum of the efficacious dose range (500mg-2g) so I was impressed. Next up is a wide-ranging but relatively small proprietary blend of Hawthorne Berry Powder, Schizandra Berry Powder, Theobromine, Agmatine, Pine Bark Extract (Standardized for a minimum of 95% proanthrocyanidins), and Grape and Apple polyphenols. Hawthorne Berry Extract has been traditionally used to help promote cardiovascular health and may help dilate blood vessels. I wasn't able to find any efficacious dose range nor nail down any concrete evidence it actually works. Schizandra Berry Powder was shown to increase serum nitric oxide in one study and is mostly used as an adaptogen for reducing cortisol. A recommended dose is between 1-3 grams. Theobromine is an alkaloid from the cacao plant that acts similarly to caffeine and is also a vasodilator. A recommended dose is 500mg-1 gram or less if also ingesting caffeine since they are synergistic. Agmatine is an aminoguanidine that has been shown to elevate nitric oxide levels and a typical recommended dose is 500mg-1 gram. I like that VMI used the patented AgmaPure Agmatine Sulfate form. Pine Bark Extract has shown promise in elevating nitric oxide levels especially in the Pycogenol formulation which is standardized to 65-75% proanthrocyanidins. A typical recommended dose is 100-200mg. Polyphenols are antioxidants and the ones found in Apple and Grape skins have many benefits including blood vessel dilation. I couldn't really find an exact dose range for either since it is very much dependent on the polyphenols extracted, the fruit source, the purpose for supplementation, etc., however I did see that most dedicated polyphenol supplements are dosed around 500mg-1 gram.

    This sort of feels like a kitchen sink approach. There's a bunch of different extracts that despite showing promise aren't necessarily great at helping us get the legendary pump. There's also the trusted Agmatine and L-Taurine and recognizable Theobromine and Schizandra Berry Powder. Still, almost all (if not all) are significantly underdosed. The entire blend is only 1.15 grams. That's just enough room to efficaciously dose Agmatine, Theobromine, and Pine Bark Extract on the low end. Even at 2 scoops, this is still an underdosed blend. I would have much preferred VMI focus on staples like GMS, Agmatine, L-Citrulline and dose them properly than try to reinvent the wheel here.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    8/10
    I received the the Hawaiian Hurricane flavor which tasted kind of like a tropical punch. It was ok, nothing amazing but it wasn't like I had to choke it down either. The raw ingredients were a bit tart and gritty so that affected the taste a bit so while it was somewhat understandable it was also not delicious. Mixability was also just ok. There was a little grit at the bottom of my shaker cup each time and it didn't seem to change in different levels of water. It did not affect the taste insomuch that there were chunks or balls of powder to choke down but it was noticeable that there was some grittiness in the solution. I started out dosing this at 1 scoop on workouts when I did not need a lot of caffeine - usually late at night or after work on days when I downed a lot of free coffee (we got a new nitro cold brew machine so this was a common occurrence for a few weeks). Eventually, I moved to 1.5 and 2 scoops to see if there was any difference in effectiveness. I always took this on an empty or near empty stomach.

    Effectiveness

    6.5/10
    I did not notice much at 1 scoop. I would get a pump, especially when doing arms, but it was nothing mind-blowing. I would never call it "skin-splitting" or any of those hype terms. I was starting to try out some higher rep ranges so I would have expected some ridiculous pumps but instead I got something similar to the pump you just barely manage to get when you're dragging yourself to the gym and going through the motions for maintenance. Similarly, I didn't notice much of a difference in vascularity. This didn't change at 1.5 scoops. At 2 scoops, I noticed a little more in terms of results. The pumps were objectively better but nothing special. I would compare them to pumps I have gotten with most properly dosed classically formulated (stims and pump promoters) pre-workouts. Yet that is disappointing to me because this is supposed be a pump-focused pre-workout. The pumps should be amazing. They should blow the pumps you get from those more traditional pre-workouts out of the water; they did no such thing. Oddly enough, I still didn't notice much in the terms of increased vascularity - even at 2 scoops. I usually see an improvement with most of the traditional pre-workouts so this was a bit odd for me.

    I have had some amazing experiences with pump-based pre-workouts so I can subjectively compare the effectiveness (i.e. pumps) at 1 and 2 scoops with my best experiences. If my best experiences provided me with pumps that I would call a 10/10 then I would put 1 scoop of Vasogen at a 5 and 2 scoops at a 7. When I talk about 10/10 pumps those are pumps where it hurts to continue lifting, my arms blow up, all sorts of veins pop, and there's some difficulty taking off a shirt. I wouldn't expect anything similar to that with this.

    Value

    6/10
    I found Vasogen powder for $30 for 30 servings on Amazon Prime. That's a flat $1/serving (scoop). Now, $1 for 1 serving of a decent pump-preworkout is not a bad deal. There are cheaper options out there but I wouldn't be opposed to paying $1 for a scoop of a properly dosed pump-preworkout that worked. Since this meets neither of those criteria I find it hard to justify the price. Even at a more expensive dosing of 2 scoops this did not provide results worth the cost. I'm sure the wide range of ingredients make this a bit more expensive to produce than a product like Noxygen but it has to work at least equally as well to justify any significant difference in pricing - if not then what's the point? I give this a 6/10 because it isn't completely useless and the price isn't terrible for the category but the lack of effectiveness and seemingly poorly designed ingredient panel do some damage to the rating.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I experienced no side effects while taking this product.

    Conclusion

    6.5/10
    Ultimately, this is just an ok product. It was valiant entry in the pump-based pre-workout category but I'd suggest VMI go back to the drawing board on this one. I wouldn't recommend this to a friend unless it was on some ridiculous sale and even then I'd probably still caution against it. I came to a 6.5 rating after averaging the Value, Ingredient Profile, and Effectiveness sections. Usually I would factor in a less than perfect score for the Taste/Mixability/Dosing section but given the wide range of raw ingredients and their inherent characteristics (i.e. tartness, bitterness, etc.) I am giving it somewhat of a pass - to be consistent and fair I would have given any other supplement like this a pass if I was impressed by the effectiveness.


    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to VMI Sports for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      February 23, 2018

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • Full Label Disclosure
    • Muscle Endurance
    • Increased Power
    • Builds Muscle
    • Great Taste
    • Needs Higher Overall Creatine Dosage
    • Needs To Increase Magnapower Dosage
    • Dyes

    Introduction

    I apologize to VMI for taking so long to review this. I doubly apologize on that note because I had a solid draft going at work on Friday and forgot to click save so I had to start anew today. Some background: I claimed this off TROOPs because I had always wanted to try a creatine blend and this looked like as good of a product as any. I'm a big believer in taking what is proven to work and not reinventing the wheel. Applied to creatine supplementation, I usually supplement with Creapure micronized creatine monohydrate at 5g a day - but I've recently made a switch to My...

    Introduction

    I apologize to VMI for taking so long to review this. I doubly apologize on that note because I had a solid draft going at work on Friday and forgot to click save so I had to start anew today. Some background: I claimed this off TROOPs because I had always wanted to try a creatine blend and this looked like as good of a product as any. I'm a big believer in taking what is proven to work and not reinventing the wheel. Applied to creatine supplementation, I usually supplement with Creapure micronized creatine monohydrate at 5g a day - but I've recently made a switch to Myprotein Creatine Gluconate - because I trust that it is actually working how it supposed to and requires rather little additional thought or research on my part. That being said, I have always been curious as to whether creatine blends really work any better or really reduce bloating by a significant amount (I don't bloat too much from creatine to begin with though) and so I wanted to compare the results (with creatine monohydrate being my baseline) for myself.

    Ingredient Profile

    7.5/10
    SMART uses a blend of three different forms of creatine - creatine pyruvate, creatine citrate, Magnapower magnesium creatine-chelate, each dosed at 1.2g (total of 3.6g), and 200mg of sodium (NaCl). The blend is supposed to negate the need to load and reduce water retention/bloating. The sodium is apparently included for "skin tearing muscle swells" (i.e. pumps) which sounds both cool and troublesome at the same time. I'm fine with it being in the ingredient profile but if you want to promote "skin tearing muscle swells" then you're going to need something stronger than sodium. Agmatine, L-citrulline, or a nitrate would have been a much better choice. This part of the profile wins no points from me and just falls flat. However, this far from the most important part of the profile. For all I care, if the creatine part is solid then a small flaw like this is maybe a 0.5 or 1.0 deduction tops.

    Creatine pyruvate is a creatine bonded with a pyruvic acid group and is dosed at 1.2g. Creatine pyruvate is noted for producing higher plasma levels of creatine compared to creatine monohydrate (note: these studies used a dose of around 7g). However, the study that discovered this also found no difference in absorption or excretion values. I had time to review one study that compared creatine pyruvate and creatine citrate with a placebo (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2276184/). Creatine pyruvate increased mean power, force output, and relaxation speed at all intervals as well as oxygen consumption and blood flow during rest. Hence, creatine pyruvate might be a bit more beneficial for endurance. As promising as this study is, the dosage was 5g a day so this would be significantly underdosed in comparison. Additionally, for all the good creatine pyruvate is supposed to do, most of the results have not been found to be much different than those experienced with creatine monohydrate supplementation.

    Creatine citrate is a creatine bonded with a citric acid group and is dosed at 1.2g. Creatine citrate is noted for being more water soluble than creatine monohydrate but this does not appear to affect absorption. In the aforementioned study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2276184/) improvements in force and power output gained from creatine citrate supplementation decreased and became insignificant at later intervals. It also did not seem to have the positive effects on oxygen consumption and blood flow that were associated with creatine pyruvate consumption. For what it is worth, the study also used 5g of creatine citrate so to replicate those less-than promising results this would be underdosed - a double whammy. Furthermore, like with creatine pyruvate, there has not been any significant difference in results associated with creatine citrate supplementation when compared to creatine monohydrate supplementation.

    Magnesium creatine-chelate is a creatine with a magnesium chelated group and is dosed at 1.2g. Magnesium creatine-chelate is noted for providing creatine monohydrate like benefits without the water gain (i.e. bloat). The magnesium chelated group is included because magnesium is used in carbohydrate and creatine metabolism (particularly in the ATP cycle) and the thought is that this provides the "full package" and allows one to take greater advantage of the creatine. Some studies have shown statistically insignificant improvements over creatine monohydrate. One study that I found (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15142029) showed an improvement over placebo with a 2.5g dose of magnesium creatine chelate but it was insignificantly different from the improvements experienced with a 2.5g dose of standard creatine (I assume monohydrate was used here). That being said, I am a big supporter of using patented ingredients and the inclusion of Magnapower here is very much welcomed - even if the base ingredient isn't as useful as thought.

    While I may have dug into the science a bit, I'm not necessarily deducting because the profile includes creatine types that are not monohydrate. In other words, I'm not a creatine purist. I came into this knowing that the studies would likely show creatine monohydrate to produce equal or near-equal results. The problem is, however, that the studies I could find used around 5-7g of each type of creatine listed here. 1.2g of any of these forms is clearly underdosed in comparison. Additionally, I am a believer in the 5g a day maintenance dose so I would have liked to have seen at least 5g of cumulative creatine since if one assumes that, at worst, each form works no better than creatine monohydrate then (excusing ratios - creatine citrate and creatine pyruvate are about 65% and 60% creatine respectively in the study cited) at least that threshold is met. Now, I have seen some data showing that 2-3g is sufficient for a maintenance dose, and that would make this 3.6g more than an acceptable dose. Still, I would rather play it safe and use the 5g threshold.

    Finally, my last take on this profile is that there is an excessive amount of green dye used. In all honesty, this would have been an 8/10 profile if it wasn't for the dyes. I can see some logical arguments here and there that would mitigate some of the concerns I raised above and so I mitigated most of the deductions I would have made. Yet, the dyes are part of the profile and were rather repulsive at times so it has to affect this score as well.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    8/10
    I received the lemon lime flavor and it tasted pretty good. It wasn't too sweet or tart but it also wasn't Gatorade-esque either. I don't think I've had anything that tasted quite like this take on lemon lime so I can't give a comparison but it wasn't bad. Mixability was perfect as there was no clumping or residue leftover which can be a problem with some creatine forms. Dosing was relatively simple. The container recommendation is 1-2 scoops pre, intra, or post workout. I typically dosed this at 1 scoop. I took two scoops for the first few days and I would occasionally take two scoops if I had missed a dose (rare). I usually tried to take my dose sometime pre-workout but I was not as consistent with this as I would have liked to been. The nice thing about a creatine supplement is that my inconsistent dosing times didn't matter - as long as I got my dose in each day. My main qualm in this section is the excessive use of artificial dyes. I think dyes in general (i.e. even natural) should be used sparingly but I'll accept a moderate level of dyes in most mainstream supplements as a fact-of-life. This was just a bit absurd to me though. I could see excess dye kind of just swirling in my cup and it just made me feel "gross" for lack of a better word. I generally had to drink this in a colored shaker cup so I didn't have to look at it. In my mind, this psychological effect affects the final taste rating and seeing the excessive dye kind of just swirling about (think like a snake) in the cup affects the final mixability rating. I took a point off for each.

    Effectiveness

    8/10
    I've used creatine monohydrate a fair amount so I have a baseline for what to expect from an effective creatine supplement. Since creatine monohydrate is also the gold standard of sorts I can also use my personal comparisons to judge how SMART compares to the cheaper and more studied form that it is supposed to be better than.

    Unlike with creatine monohydrate, there is no suggested or designated loading period with SMART. I still erred on the side of caution and took two scoops for the first few days. Even with this extra dose, I experienced no bloating. I don't bloat much with creatine monohydrate but I've noticed there is always a little bit so it was nice to not have any this time around. While this is nice, I have and can suffer through some bloating if it means improved performance and progress in the gym so its not a huge issue for me but at least SMART lives up the no-bloat claim.

    I noticed after about two weeks of use that I could push and pull a little more weight in the gym. It was only about 5-10lbs on most lifts but every little bit helps build more muscle so it is very much welcomed. This was about what I experience from creatine monohydrate, albeit at loading dosages. I also noticed that my muscles felt a little fuller just walking around throughout the day. It wasn't like a perpetual pump but more that everything just felt a little heavier. This is from the increased cellular hydration so the creatine was definitely working to some extent. Yet, it wasn't anything radically different from when I've used monohydrate. There was less bloat so in a way I didn't feel as full but being the bad kind of "full" it was for the better. Again, since I don't typically bloat that much it wasn't anything extreme.

    I also noticed a slight bit more endurance in my workouts. I usually use a subjective measure of my objective cardio times to sort of balance out how I rate endurance but I am diverging from that a bit with this review because what stuck out to me was my endurance in the lifting portions of my workout. Almost habitually, I was squeezing out a few extra reps and sometimes practically another set. Sometimes I'll be feeling myself and think I can squeeze out more than is actually possible and then have to shamefully admit defeat and lower the weight or rest a bit more. I found myself doing that a bit less than usual about two weeks into taking SMART. This was also about on par with what I've experienced with creatine monohydrate supplementation but I will note than the reduced bloat made it noticeably easier to squeeze out more on the movements where mobility is more of a factor (deadlifts, squats, etc.). For example, I was able to squeeze out an extra five reps on deadlifts (much to my surprise) during one of my last workouts with SMART compared to what I had projected in my journal for the day. I can't say my form was pristine for those last few reps but what I am trying to get across is that I had the endurance or the "energy" to do so.

    I didn't really see much in the way of enhanced recovery but I've never gotten that from creatine monohydrate or even creatine gluconate supplementation either. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if at some cellular level I was recovering quicker but I couldn't feel it. I think it is a bit overplayed marketing but still worth noting since it is a label claim.

    In short, I experienced really similar effects to creatine monohydrate. This seemed to kick in a little bit earlier and with much less creatine (due to lack of loading phases) required. Is it better than creatine monohydrate in terms of effectiveness? Only insofar that there's no bloating, that you can take less, and you may feel it a little earlier. Other than that it was on par and certainly not worse.

    Value

    7.75/10
    I found this on a few sites for around $20 for a 30 serving container. Given that this is a true one-scoop serving, or at least close to it, this is not a terrible deal. That's about $0.67 a serving/day. That might sound like a bit much for just creatine at first but this is supplement is a creatine blend, including one patented form (also a huge plus), and it is also flavored. Taking all of that into consideration, this is a pretty good deal. However, I can't give it above an 7.75/10 for a few reasons. First, creatine monohydrate (the gold standard for creatine supplements) would cost you about $0.10 a day at maintenance levels and about $0.40 at loading levels. If I'm paying $0.57 more a day for different forms of creatine, I would like at least one of them to be efficaciously dosed as opposed to the overall blend meeting that threshold (I believe there is a difference). Additionally, I think that this would be a better value if it met the old recommended maintenance dose of 5g. Even if some newer studies have shown that 2-3g is enough for maintenance, I still subscribe to the "better to be safe than sorry" doctrine which in this case is also "the more the better" doctrine. Finally, when I compared SMART Creatine to some competitors, I noticed similar price-points and a handful of "extras" like betaine anhydrous, L-taurine, L-tyrosine, electrolytes, cinnamon bark extract, banaba leaf extract, and beta alanine to name a few. While no competitor had all of these "extras," most had at least one. For this to really break past an 8/10 there would have to be some "extras," or if it was to remain a pure creatine product then the price per serving would have to decrease. I would suggest perhaps using non-patented forms of creatine but I like to see patented forms and actually took that into consideration with rating this section so it is a bit of a double-edged sword. In short, this is a decent deal. There are certainly better deals to be had but you won't feel ripped off if you purchased this. If you find this on sale and like/want to try a creatine blend then it would likely be worth it to pull the trigger despite its shortcomings.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I experienced no side effects while taking this product. As promised, I did not experience any creatine bloat. I will note, however, that like with all creatine products this made me pretty thirsty or dehydrated if I didn't drink enough water. Aim for a gallon of water a day if possible while taking this. I don't deduct for this because it is to be expected with creatine supplementation.

    Conclusion

    7.7/10
    Overall, this is a decent creatine blend to try. I would caution everyone that the dyes are pretty bad so if that bothers you than look elsewhere. If you can find this on sale then it is probably worth pulling the trigger but at normal price its really at that indecisive point where it wouldn't be a great nor terrible purchase. I would probably recommend this to a friend with the caveat that I would warn them about the dyes and probably suggest an alternative to look at and compare SMART to as well. I came to a 7.7 rating after averaging the Ingredient Profile, Effectiveness, and Value sections since those were most important in this review to get a 7.75 rating. I then rounded down to the 7.7 for the overall score as a way to take the Taste/Mixability/Dosing score into consideration (i.e. dyes).


    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to Tropical Oasis for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      February 11, 2018

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • Easy To Ingest
    • Good Value
    • Okay Taste
    • 110 Ingredients!!
    • Amino Acids Included
    • Missing A Few Key Vitamins

    Introduction

    I'd like to apologize to Tropical Oasis for taking so long to review this. I claimed this on TROOPs because I was in need of a multivitamin and keen to try a different approach. I am a pretty loyal Orange Triad + Greens fan when I can afford it so I am not entirely new to liquid multivitamins. However, this was my first introduction to premixed liquid multivitamins. I admittedly came in with a bias against this product thinking that most of the premixed liquid multivitamins were either 1) underdosed 2) overpriced 3) using poor sources/forms of vitamins 4) disgusting. Ev...

    Introduction

    I'd like to apologize to Tropical Oasis for taking so long to review this. I claimed this on TROOPs because I was in need of a multivitamin and keen to try a different approach. I am a pretty loyal Orange Triad + Greens fan when I can afford it so I am not entirely new to liquid multivitamins. However, this was my first introduction to premixed liquid multivitamins. I admittedly came in with a bias against this product thinking that most of the premixed liquid multivitamins were either 1) underdosed 2) overpriced 3) using poor sources/forms of vitamins 4) disgusting. Even with these somewhat entrenched biases, Mega Premium Liquid Multivitamin managed to change my mind.

    Ingredient Profile

    7/10
    "Mega Premium Liquid Multivitamin" has a somewhat unique profile in my mind. 2.4ml of a 30ml serving contains colloidal minerals. I won't even pretend for a second that I know the pros/cons of ingesting all of these different minerals. From what I could gather through some online research, colloidal minerals are akin to ingesting trace minerals in the more common multivitamin pressed tablets with which we are all familiar. Most people don't get nearly enough of these trace minerals due to deficiencies in the modern diet so supplementation can help close this gap and optimize overall health and performance. Now, there are a host of purported benefits including everything from weight loss to increased energy to improved resting blood glucose levels. I don't buy into that so much but I do believe that it will help in promoting overall health by closing any nutritional gaps one might have. All this being said, I came across sources warning against heavy metals in colloidal mineral supplements. I noticed that the colloidal mineral complex does contain heavy metals and very clearly so (hafnium, mercury, gallium, thallium, cadmium, etc.). I have no idea if there is any reason for these to be in a health supplement as opposed to extracting only beneficial colloidal minerals. That is a bit out of my wheelhouse but I will say it concerns me and I should have done more research before taking this.

    In addition to a colloidal mineral complex, there is also Aloe Vera Gel 200:1 extract, an amino acid complex (including BCAAs and EAAs) and Choline, PABA, Inositol, CoQ10, Quercetin, and Grape Seed Extract. While I liked that these were included (who doesn't like a few added bonuses to their multis?) they seemed to be underdosed for the most part. Tropical Oasis claim that their liquid suspension product is absorbed 96% compared to the standard 18% absorption of pills. If that claim is true, then perhaps these are not as underdosed as they appear, however, I have no way of verifying that claim and honestly couldn't tell a difference during my run. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt with the claim for rating purposes since I can see the logic in taking a liquid based multi over a tablet/pill (after all I do run Orange Triad+Greens as a staple).

    Finally, this is a multivitamin [and mineral] supplement after all so there is a B vitamin blend as well as vitamins A, D, and E. All are technically well dosed but I would have liked to see Vitamin D dosed higher for those of us who lack sun exposure in the winter. Still, it make the 100% RDV threshold so it will at least allow you to cover your bases knowing you're not at risk of deficiency. Notably missing is Vitamin K, which from what I have seen is a bit of a hit or miss in multivitamin supplements. I would have liked to seen its inclusion here but it is not the end of the world to me.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    10/10
    I received the original flavor and it tasted fine. It was an orange-ish taste that while not "to die for" was certainly palatable. I can't imagine anyone having trouble taking the 30ml dose every day. Mixability is not really an issue but the bottle does recommend shaking it before serving. I usually did this and didn't seem to notice a difference from the days in which I forgot but its easy to do and surely can't hurt. Dosing was similarly easy. I had weighed out 30ml in the bottle's cap and found that a full cap was approximately 30ml so I took a cap full each morning with breakfast. If I was ever in a rush to work or class I took it with lunch. I sort of looked forward to it because I rather enjoyed the taste. Can't get much easier than this.

    Effectiveness

    8/10
    Multivitamins and multiminerals are one of the harder supplements to review for effectiveness. These products work on a cellular level that you can't feel like you can a beta-alanine rush. That being said I have used metric of wellbeing (before and after use) in my previous multivitamin reviews and find it relatively useful. In keeping with that trend, I'll be judging this in part based off that metric. During the use of this product, I felt healthy (i.e. I didn't get sick). Of course, there are multiple compounding factors as to why one becomes sick or does not, but I always think it is a good sign if you remain healthy while taking a multivitamin and multimineral supplement. I see it as a sign of a strong immune system supported by well-rounded nutrition and supplementation to fill any nutritional gaps. Knowing that my diet is not the best, I have to think some of that is owed to proper supplementation, especially in the form of multis. Additionally, during my use of this product I felt a slight increase in general subjective wellbeing. For example, I felt like it was a little easier to slog through a rough day. Was it akin to a caffeine boost? No. Was it in line with I have come to expect from a halfway decent multi? Yes.

    The other way I can evaluate effectiveness for this product is by judging the absorption claim (or try to). While I can't say if this absorbs better than other forms of multivitamin supplements, I can say it absorbs quicker than tablet/pill forms I have used in the past. I would always have neon urine from excess B2 in my system the next time I'd use the restroom after taking my daily dose. To add some perspective, that's probably about 30-45 minutes in the morning hours at work as I try to rehydrate by drinking the free filtered water in the office as quick as possible. This is on par with what I have experienced with Orange Triad+Greens and Animal Pak powder [that become liquids] formats. So at least this is absorbing quicker than tablets/pills if not ~5x better.

    Value

    8.5/10
    I found this on Amazon for $19.99 for the original flavor and $22.99 for an orange-mango flavor. From what I can tell there is no difference in formulas between the two aside from flavoring. Therefore, I'll use the $19.99 figure to rate the value. This price works out to $0.62/fluid oz (1 serving). In contrast, my beloved Orange Triad+Greens is about $1.1/serving from Amazon. Mega Premium Liquid Multivitamin is about half the price per serving and $15 cheaper per container. Given that it covers the major vitamins, except for K, and minerals (perhaps even the harmful ones?) this is a great deal. Does this have all the extra goodies that some multis have? No. However, is this an extremely barebones and cheap [quality] product? No. I think this is a good middle of the road product that will suffice for most people and this is a great deal for such a product.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I experienced no side effects while taking this product.

    Conclusion

    7.8/10
    I get to a 7.8 rating by averaging the Ingredient Profile, Effectiveness, and Value sections to get a 7.83 and then rounding down for my concerns over heavy metals. I also did not give a usual bump for good Taste/Mixability/Dosing and Side Effects scores as is customary in my reviews as a way to factor in these concerns. In short, I think this is a solid middle of the road multivitamin and multimineral supplement for most people. Some of us will want more extras in our multis like digestive, joint, and probiotic blends. However this is not really catering to that audience. So while it may fail to meet those expectations, it is a solid [and tasty] ready-to-drink for those who need to cover their bases on a budget or who do not need/want all the extras that more deluxe products offer. I'd only caution people to look into the heavy metal thing a bit more before purchasing. Personally, I'll probably stay away in the future just so I can ignore the risk altogether but if I knew with some certainty that there was no reason to be concerned then I would definitely use this again.


    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to Magnum Nutraceuticals for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      February 7, 2018

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • Increases Insulin Sensitivity
    • Open Label
    • Lowers Blood Glucose
    • Prevents Bloating
    • Could Use Better Dosing
    • More Servings For More Frequent Daily Use Would Be Nice

    Introduction

    I sincerely apologize for taking so long to get to this review. I was looking to take another go at an insulin-mimicking product when this came up on TROOPS. The profile looked decent enough so I pulled the trigger. I was not disappointed and learned a bit more about how I personally responded to such products.

    Ingredient Profile

    7/10
    There are 207mg of Jiaogulan, or Gynostemma Pentaphyllum (standardized for 95% gypenosides) per serving. Although there are somewhat limited human studies on the source plant and its potentially useful gypenosides, the existing r...

    Introduction

    I sincerely apologize for taking so long to get to this review. I was looking to take another go at an insulin-mimicking product when this came up on TROOPS. The profile looked decent enough so I pulled the trigger. I was not disappointed and learned a bit more about how I personally responded to such products.

    Ingredient Profile

    7/10
    There are 207mg of Jiaogulan, or Gynostemma Pentaphyllum (standardized for 95% gypenosides) per serving. Although there are somewhat limited human studies on the source plant and its potentially useful gypenosides, the existing research suggests that at least some gypenosides have anti-diabetic properties. Specifically, gypenosides may help reduce blood glucose and HbA1c levels and increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics (the studies used a Gynostemma based tea of which gypenosides are likely the active ingredient). Additionally, gypenosides may have some anti-cancer properties but that research is still ongoing. Given that this product is meant to mimic insulin, the anti-diabetic properties are clearly the main reason for its inclusion. Furthermore, the research is still out on what an efficacious dose of gypenosides would be for humans. That being said, given the similarities to Panax Ginseng, a similar dose (100-500mg) provides a reasonable starting point. There are 196.65mg of gypenosides present per serving in Mimic so this is within the range. I'd have liked to see 200-250mg but I must admit I imagine that difference is negligible.

    Berberine is a classic ingredient for insulin mimicking supplements. Berberine has anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties that rival equal doses of metformin (1500mg) - although I wouldn't suggest replacing an existing prescription with Berberine without doctor supervision. In short, Berberine has shown particular promise in reducing blood glucose, total cholesterol and Hb1Ac levels. Yet, it is not without its faults. Berberine activates the enzyme AMPK which inherently suppresses hypertrophy (the goal of most but not the technical goal of this supplement). That being said, it is theorized that extensive exercise may be able to mitigate this side effect. An efficacious dose of Berberine is 900-2000mg split up among 3-4 doses since high singular doses may cause gastrointestinal discomfort and even diarrhea. The 200mg present in Mimic is a bit shy of the lower end of the range (300mg; assuming you take 3 doses - which is expensive) and less than half of the maximum (500mg; assuming you take 4 doses - which is expensive). In short, great ingredient but there needs to be more per serving to truly mimic insulin.

    R+ Alpha-Lipoic Acid is the most bioactive form of Alpha-Lipoic Acid. ALA is a mitochondrial fatty acid that has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may even have anti-aging properties because it has shown promise in reversing oxidant damage. Specifically, ALA has shown slight reductions in Hb1Ac, inflammation, lipid peroxidation, and oxidation levels. An efficacious dose is 300-600mg so the 200mg present falls a bit short of the minimum of the range. Since this is R+ isomer, the increased bio-availability may mitigate some of that distance (or perhaps the efficacious dose takes into account the poor bio-availability of ALA and refers to actually absorbed ALA? I'm not certain so I proceed with the basic understanding that R-ALA is the form of ALA to take but one should take 300-600mg)

    Cinnamomum Cassia is cinnamon. It is present in Mimic at 200mg in a 8:1 concentration ratio (equivalent to 1.6g of Cinnamomum Cassia if my math is correct) that is water extracted, standardized, type-A polymer Cinnamon bark which is basically equivalent to the patented Cinnulin PF from what I read. According to Examine, ceylon cinnamon is preferred for supplementation because it has lower levels of coumarins (toxins that contribute to taste) than cassia cinnamon. Humans generally have a TDI (Tolerable Daily Intake) of 0.1mg/kg of Coumarin. I could not find anything that said type-A polymer Cinnamon bark couldn't be extracted from ceylon cinnamon (or other types for that matter). Cinnamon has been shown to have anti-diabetic properties. Specifically, it improves blood glucose levels (reducing blood sugar spikes) and perhaps even cholesterol levels. A standard dose range for anti-diabetic purposes is 1-6g so this falls within that range given the concentration ratio but the fact that Mimic uses a cheaper and potentially dangerous source of cinnamon worries me. The entire point of supplements is to live a healthier lifestyle - not to ingest known toxins. So while I am glad that this is at least properly dosed, I wish they would have used a better source of cinnamon or foregone its inclusion altogether.

    Chromium is an essential mineral used in regulating glucose metabolism and insulin. In short, chromium is part of a protein called chromodulin which is vital for the action of insulin receptors. Supplementing chromium has only found to be helpful in individuals with a deficiency though. It may be helpful for people with subclinical deficiencies but the jury is still out. In the cases of those with a deficiency standard dosing practices are 1,000mg of chromium picolinate twice daily. Mimic contains 400mcg of Chromium 454 which is a patented trivalent form of chromium that is basically more bio-available. Even then, this is still underdosed for those with deficiencies - which are the only ones who would benefit from taking the additional chromium. I'm not a huge fan of Chromium 454's inclusion in Mimic because it is likely a waste for most people (i.e. we are not chromium deficient) and just means we're paying for an ingredient (and a patented one - read: more expensive) that we don't need. I would like to see this replaced with something more effective - or just dropped for an increased dose of the other ingredients or less toxic form of cinnamon.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    10/10
    Taste is non-applicable since these are capsules but there was no after taste and they were relatively small capsules that were very easy to swallow. I typically followed the bottle's dosing instructions and took 1-2 capsules 15 minutes before a large carbohydrate meal. Occasionally I would take it almost during my meal and once or twice right after. I never noticed a huge difference as a result of the different timing. I started with taking 1 capsule before my largest carbohydrate containing meal and progressed to 2 capsules after a few days. One day I took 4 capsules (2 before lunch and 2 before dinner) since the meals were uncharacteristically large. I noticed the same effects but just twice (each time I took Mimic) that day as opposed to once. Overall, this is a relatively easy supplement to take with straightforward dosing protocols.

    Effectiveness

    7/10
    It is hard to truly judge the effectiveness of an insulin mimicking product. I'm not diabetic so I don't regularly test my blood sugar nor have the instruments to do so. Therefore, I never checked my blood sugar levels before and after meals with and without taking Mimic. So I cannot say definitively that there was or was not improvement in this way. However, I do have anecdotal evidence of how I felt before and after taking Mimic around meals and I can compare this to my previous experience with insulin mimicking products. With other products, I have felt less bloated, gorged (i.e. less gluttonous/stuffed), and sleepy after large carbohydrate meals. Mimic was no different - but the effects were not as strong nor as noticeable. For a typical dose, I would take 2 capsules of Mimic and then set the table. Then I would eat a lot of carbohydrates - typically in the form of rice and bread. Whereas I would normally get the itis and just about pass out, I felt only moderately tired when I took Mimic. I also noticed that I didn't feel all that bloated - I still had some minor bloat but nothing too noticeable or serious; it certainly didn't feel like I was walking around pregnant. Additionally, I never felt like I had overate (although sometimes I most certainly had). Instead, I usually just felt content but full. These are the kind of results I was looking for from Mimic. However, I have experienced these effects with greater intensity with other products. Again, I have never tested my blood sugar levels to have any sort of scientific comparison (ironic given my love of science when it comes to the ingredient panel) so I cannot say that Mimic underperformed in this regard in comparison to those products. I can only say that with some products, I almost never felt even remotely after a large carbohydrate meal and experienced less of a bloat than with Mimic. That being said, I would say all products in this category that I have tried (which is admittedly few) have left me feeling similarly "content but full."

    Value

    6.5/10
    Mimic is commonly found online for $30 for 60 capsules or 30-60 servings depending on how you dose it (most will probably get 30 servings out of this so I will base the value off of that). That is a pretty straightforward $1/serving. Unfortunately, since this product is underdosed in most areas it is not much of a deal. A better use of money for insulin mimicking purposes would probably be to buy some berberine and gynostemma capsules. Compared to Glyco-X 500, a product that I've gotten off Amazon before, which has 500mg of Berberine HCL and 24mg of Banaba Leaf Extract per capsule (efficacious dose range is 1.5g-3g from my understanding) Mimic doesn't do so well. Glyco-X 500 runs about $24 for 120 capsules and 1 capsule could reasonably be one serving given the amount of berberine present in a capusle. Given the $0.80/serving difference, I find it hard to see myself purchasing Mimic over just bulk ingredients. Additionally, there are competitors that although not the cheapest option, are at least efficaciously dosed and similarly priced. For these reasons, Mimic scores a bit low on value for me.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I did not experience any side effects while taking this product. I would get a bit light-headed if I did not eat carbohydrates soon enough after taking a dose but that is less of a side effect and more of an expected reaction.

    Conclusion

    6.9/10
    I come to a 6.9 rating by average the Value, Ingredient Profile, and Effectiveness section scores which gives a 6.83 and then rounding up for the lack of side effects and aftertaste and easy dosing. Overall, I feel like this is a fair rating as I find Mimic to be a bit expensive and underdosed. The results were a little below par on what I was expecting from an insulin mimicking product that wasn't just a basic 1 or 2 ingredient product (like Glyco-X 500). I was expecting something better than what I have experienced from just buying some basic and barebones raws and going that route. Yet, I was left wanting. In short, Mimic is an ok product but don't expect anything otherworldly and don't expect the best of what this category of products has to offer. If you find a great deal on it then it would be better than taking nothing but that's just about the only time I would suggest pulling the trigger on it.


    Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
    Thanks to BELDT Labs for sending it out!
    (Show run details )
      August 25, 2017

     Pros:
     Cons:
    • Good Value
    • No Crash Effect
    • No Jitters
    • Leaning Out
    • Increased Energy
    • Increased Endurance
    • Respiratory Support
    • Only 3 Weeks For Max Dose
    • 90 Pill Bottle Would Be Nice
    • No Appetite Suppression

    Introduction

    Thanks to BELDT Labs for sending this out. I really appreciate their patience and generosity. I'd also like to thank Tommy for helping me fix the bug with the original version of this review.

    Ingredient Profile

    8/10
    Each capsule contains a 341mg proprietary blend of Caffeine Anhydrous, N-Acetyl-Tyrosine, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Bitter Orange Fruit Extract, White Willow Bark Extract, Verbsacum Thapsus Leaf Powder, Theobromine, Elecampane Root Powder, and Bioperine Black Pepper Fruit Extract.

    While I appreciate the range of ingredients and lack of useless fill...

    Introduction

    Thanks to BELDT Labs for sending this out. I really appreciate their patience and generosity. I'd also like to thank Tommy for helping me fix the bug with the original version of this review.

    Ingredient Profile

    8/10
    Each capsule contains a 341mg proprietary blend of Caffeine Anhydrous, N-Acetyl-Tyrosine, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Bitter Orange Fruit Extract, White Willow Bark Extract, Verbsacum Thapsus Leaf Powder, Theobromine, Elecampane Root Powder, and Bioperine Black Pepper Fruit Extract.

    While I appreciate the range of ingredients and lack of useless fillers (e.g. raspberry ketones), I hate the use of proprietary blends. That being said, if proprietary blends are used then I prefer that the stimulants at least be disclosed. Thus, I am not overjoyed by this profile at a glance, but it could be a lot worse. Time to look at the ingredients more closely.

    Caffeine Anhydrous is perhaps the cheapest and most simple form of caffeine available. From a chemical standpoint, it is caffeine lacking water, which makes it more potent on a gram to gram basis compared to other forms. Caffeine helps increase metabolism (fat oxidation), energy, endurance, and strength [output]. It is also a nootropic due to its effect on the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin. If you had to pick one ingredient as a must for fat-burning, this is probably it. In short, caffeine will help: boost your metabolism, give you the energy and frame of mind to hit the gym, stay in the gym for longer periods of time, and push more weight. All of these benefit weight loss goals tremendously. Granted, this may sound like a miracle drug from my description so it is important to note that some of these effects are rather mild, but it is still an ideal ingredient for a fat-burner. Additionally, [caffeine] being dosed at 110mg per capsule allows for some tailoring in dosing so that both stimulant-sensitive and stimulant-tolerant individuals, like myself, can safely use the product. That's a huge plus in my book.

    N-Acetyl-Tyrosine is a form of L-Tyrosine with acetic acid. L-Tyrosine is metabolized to produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and adrenaline, giving it both nootropic and stimulatory properties. However, it appears that simply supplementing with L-Tyrosine does not directly increase neurotransmitter levels thanks to our bodies' knack for homeostasis. It also structurally related to thyroid hormones which may give it some fat-burning (i.e. metabolism increasing) properties of its own. I haven't found anything definitive that says for sure that supplementing with L-Tyrosine will increase thyroid hormone levels, but it is a theoretical possibility that cannot hurt if fat-oxidation is the goal. Additionally, L-Tyrosine helps relieve acute stress, but this occurs in studies at 100-150mg/kg bodyweight, or 7-10 grams for a 150lb person. Clearly, that is a lot of L-Tyrosine to take. A comparison to anecdotal doses may be fairer, but those amounts range from 500mg-2g. Seeing as N-Acetyl-Tyrosine comes after caffeine, which is listed as 110mg, we can infer that it is dosed at under 110mg. Granted, the inclusion of acetic acid is purported to help bioavailability, but this is still underdosed.

    Green Tea Leaf Extract contains catechins. These catechins, especially polyphenols, have cancer preventative properties as well as protective properties for a long list of organs, notably the heart, liver, and brain. The catechins also have fat-burning properties mostly notably via the catechin Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), but these effects are only notable at 400-500mg. Since, green tea leaf extract is listed after N-Acetyl-Tyrosine, we can infer that it is dosed at under 110mg N-Acetyl-Tyrosine [dose]. Clearly, it is underdosed.

    Bitter Orange Fruit Extract is a source of synephrine, a relative and replacement for ephedrine. It is essentially a weaker, legal form of ephedrine and is purported to have similar effects. It is dosed either at 10-20mg three times a day, or 50mg once a day. It is possible that there is enough to meet the threshold of 10mg, and if you take more than one capsule a day you could fall within proper dosing guidelines.

    White Willow Bark Extract is a source of salicin. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in Aspirin. Apart from the well known blood-thinning and anti-inflammatory properties, Aspirin was commonly included in ECA (ephedrine, caffeine, aspirin) stacks. Thus, the idea here is to complete the recreation of that infamous stack with White Willow Bark Extract. Without standardization notes, it is hard to say how much active salicin is in each capsule. It is not a stretch, however, to say that this naturally-sourced replacement stack of White Willow Bark Extract and Bitter Orange Fruit Extract is less effective than the original it emulates.

    Verbsacum Thapsus Leaf, or Common Mullein, is a plant that has a long history of use in herbal medicine. It purportedly helps with coughs and other sorts of respiratory problems. It is this use that likely contributes to the purported "respiratory support" in BELDT Labs marketing materials. Personally, I interpret that as meaning that there is some sort of increased lung capacity or oxygen intake in healthy individuals. I couldn't find much from reputable sites on dosing guidelines so I can't really say if it is underdosed but given that nearly everything else is, I'd guess that it probably is. That being said, this is extremely unique in fat-burning supplements and is the main reason I wanted to try this product.

    Theobromine is a methylxanthine that has similar effects to caffeine and is found in cacao. It is purported to last longer than caffeine and work synergistically with, or as a replacement for, caffeine. From what I understand, the science is a bit mixed on this but it is a common ingredient nonetheless. Even if it did have the effects that proponents claim, it is underdosed. However, that may not be an inherently bad thing when caffeine is included. Still, it is probably better from a scientific standpoint to just go with caffeine, even at a slightly increased dose.

    Elecampane Root Powder, like Verbascum Thapsus Leaf, is traditionally used to treat respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma. It is thought to be an expectorant. Like with most herbal 'medications' the science isn't solid, but it probably cannot hurt. The clear connection is that this will help with breathing, which will in turn help with fat-burning activities like cardio. It is probably underdosed.

    Bioperine is a patented form of Black Pepper Fruit Extract. It helps with absorption of various vitamins and minerals. I'm glad that they used a patented form with science-backed results. It is too in the weeds to know for sure if it helps the absorption of every ingredient, but it is a welcomed addition. Clinical doses are 10mg but 5mg is common. It is plausible that is included here at either dose.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    10/10
    No aftertaste to the capsules. Additionally, since mixability is inapplicable, I will substitute taste for "ease of taking." The capsules are small and easy to swallow with any liquid. No problems here.

    Dosing was extremely easy. I started with one in the morning before/after breakfast (depending on how rushed I was). After about a week, I upped the dosage to one capsule in the morning and one capsule in the afternoon or pre-workout, depending on whether I could remember to bring the bottle with me to work.

    Effectiveness

    8.5/10
    Here is where a lot of the skepticism that I had in the ingredient profile section was put to rest. I felt sufficiently energized thanks to the 110mg of caffeine included in each capsule. After 15 minutes or so, I'd feel about the same as if I had just drank a K-cup. Nothing amazing or groundbreaking for a stimulant junkie like me, but definitely enough to give me a slight boost in the morning.

    Additionally, the "breathing support" components had me skeptical, to say the least. I didn't think I'd see much of a difference since I am not currently suffering from respiratory illnesses. However, I did notice that cardio became slightly easier in regards to conditioning. This wasn't akin to taking some puffs of an inhaler by any means, but I could tell that I was getting a little more out of each breath. Did it help a lot? No. I won't lie. It made 10 minutes of cardio feel like 9 or 8 in terms of breathing. That's not much but it is something. Every little bit helps when it comes to cardio.

    Perhaps the most important metric of effectiveness for a fat burner, however, is whether it helps you burn/lose fat. While it goes without saying that no supplement will burn fat for you without you also putting in work (i.e. gym time), some supplements will amplify your results. I have used worse and better fat-burners in this regard. So where does this fall? Somewhere in the middle of the pack. I lost about 5lbs overall during this run, of which some was water weight. Still, I noticed that even on "bad days" (i.e. splurge days) I looked slightly more defined. It may full well be that my own diet and exercise regimen were completely responsible for these results, however, SKALD at the very least made those regimens easier to follow so it is at least indirectly responsible. That being said, I like to think it helped a little more than that. On "fat burning" alone I'd give it a 7/10.

    Unfortunately, I did not experience much in the way of appetite suppression, a welcomed property in fat-burners. While I don't think the typical ingredients like Garcinia Cambogia do much in this area, I would have liked to have seen a greater effort in this area. If there was an innovative ingredient or two like there was with breathing support, this could have really be a revolutionary product (not that the breathing support components weren't already revolutionary in their own right).

    Value

    8.50/10
    I found this for $30 for a 60 serving bottle. That breaks down to $0.50 a capsule. That's a decent value but you're probably wondering why it warrants a 8.50/10. There are some killer deals run on this. I've seen it for as low as $10 a bottle before. Granted, those are temporary sale prices and this [$30] is what it can always be found for. Still, the amazing sales on this product that happen a few times a year should not go without notice. I've added 0.50 to account for that.

    Side Effects

    10/10
    I experienced no side effects while taking this product.

    Conclusion

    8.4/10
    I got this rating by averaging "Value" "Effectiveness" and "Ingredient Profile" categories, which gives a 8.3 rating. Then I rounded up to 8.4 since I thought the innovativeness of the product should be rewarded somehow. All in all, I think this is a unique and worthy competitor in the fat-burning market. I'm looking into using Common Mullein and Elecampane individually as a result of my experience. If you're looking for something new and different, definitely give this a shot. Steer clear if you want a cracked-out stimulant vibe. Personally, I think the breathing support alone is reason enough to give it a go.




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