Constant training can drain your energy stores. No matter the sport, no matter the style of workout, we all need to be properly fueled and sometimes stimulated to make big things happen. Over the past three months I have been experimenting with various pre-workout energy drinks, usually for their intended use but sometimes beyond just to test the limits of their viability.
All three of these products are focused on delivering high quality amino acids when the body needs them the most. However, each is unique in its ingredients, flavoring and effectiveness. While it won't be pragmatic to argue the science behind their designs, I can certainly give you the details of my experiences. I reviewed each of these products for Amazon.com and you can find links to the reviews in this article, the reason for a recap is that here I will be comparing them with each other to give you a better measuring stick for what might be right for you.
No one wants to spend $50 on a product that might not work or might taste terrible. In many places supplements are considered food items so stores often won't take returns. Recording my trials was meant to can save you from a misplaced purchase or enlighten you towards a good one. I hope this helps.
It's clear, pure and tastes like bubble gum. Modern BCAA by USP Labs is an excellent source for drinkable branch chain amino acids in a variety of flavors. I tried grape bubble gum and it is strong, the taste alone will kick you out of a foggy stupor. Modern BCAA has helped fill me up if taken before or during workouts. However, it is mostly notable for what it does not have. There are no artificial flavors or colors, no sugar, no stimulants and no carbs. You get two teaspoon size scoopfuls of micronized BCAAs that are lighter than a fruit drink but heavier than water.
My big problem was running out of energy at the late end of a weight workout. Modern BCAAs solved that problem. You are getting 10 grams of aminos in each scoop and it includes Glutamine for recovery. It mixes quick and easy (I use a bicycle bottle) and appears clear. There is an absence of residue in your bottle afterwards (Which is a problem with other brands). My purchase from a local GNC was about $23. but it retails a little higher. You do get 35 servings which is well worth the money.
I also took it along as a second bottle on a long bike ride. In that case the drink was not heavy enough. Even though it does have electrolytes, the lack of carbs or sugar make it more suited for short, intense workouts under two hours in length.
Need a kick in the pants to get your workout going? The 1.M.R Vortex has become my go to product on those days when my feet are dragging a little. This drink provides an instant energy boost, plenty of caffeine to get you going and a great taste. It mixes well in my cycling bottle but don't take it out on the trails. Vortex is basically to jazz your body using a combination of 3 different stimulants and one pump agent. Built for the gym, it probably won't help you on the bike.
A word of warning: Any product that can wake you up like Vortex should be taken with caution. People have different tolerances to stimulants but to avoid having too much of a good thing I'd recommend only having a light coffee day when you are using this product. In addition, if you are hoping to lose weight its diuretic effect can also be quite strong.
The 1.M.R Vortex has a high price tag around $30+ on the shelf. The company calls it a "Limited" product so don't expect the cost to come down any time soon. Regardless you get 50 servings which comes out to about 70 cents per scoop. This is a case of getting what you pay for. It's nice to try a product that delivers the intended response, without question.
I was on my 4th set of overhead presses with 90 pounds. The weight was stubbornly edging up. The amazing thing is that my muscles were not getting tired. I was able to keep pressing for that final rep to set a new personal record. On this particular day I was using BPI Sports Pump-HD pre-workout drink. In fact it has become my go to on those heavy days of lifting for this very reason.
Pump-HD uses caffeine for an energy kick, electrolytes for hydration and amino acids to build muscle. However it's big attractions are CarnoSyn and Creatine which provide the power and lactic acid buffer that allow that last few reps to happen. As everyone knows, it is in those final efforts where the biggest changes take place.
Pump-HD has most of the great benefits of the other two products in this review plus a few that neither has. Perhaps the most surprising difference is the price. 30 servings for as low as $24. per bottle. For all of the reasons listed above, if I had to pick only one of these pre-workout drinks, this would be my choice.
BPI Sports Pump-HD