MuscleTech NeuroCore in Brief
MuscleTech® is known worldwide for their range of quality bodybuilding and sports nutrition supplements including among other, the famous Hydroxycut™ series of weight loss supplements. Recently, they’ve developed a new concentrated pre-workout supplement known as NeuroCore™. So how does this newcomer stack up against some of its more famous and respected counterparts?
MuscleTech NeuroCore - First Impressions
MuscleTech NeuroCore comes in a small, sleek looking, black and yellow tub, similar to that of MuscleTech HydroxyStim. Like all concentrated pre-workout powders, although the tubs are quite small, the smaller serving sizes required means a larger tub would be redundant. Alongside a concise but thorough nutrition panel and dosing instructions are some statements about some of the innovations of NeuroCore as well as specific amounts of 3 key ingredients including ‘Geranium Robertianum’, ‘Beta-Alanine’ and ‘L-Citrulline’. A standard pre-workout warning label* is included in the packaging as is a scoop inside the tub. The powder itself is coloured a light brown (flavour tested was fruit punch), of fine consistency and has a slight sweet smell.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Taste
MuscleTech’s NeuroCore officially comes in two flavours; fruit punch and grape. The flavours themselves taste nice when mixed as directed, especially considering the concentration of the ingredients, however there is a very slight aftertaste. Nothing a swig of water won’t help though. When mixed as directed there is no sign of grittiness at all; an excellent sign of the quality production methods that MuscleTech has employed. A good suggestion is to mix the product with juice rather than water. This serves 3 purposes:1. To help the product go down a lot easier.
2. To provide a source of carbohydrates to help improve absorption of the creatine contained in the product.
3. To provide a continuous source of energy throughout your workout.
Tip No.1 – To improve palatability when mixing with water (especially with increased amount of scoops), it might be helpful to consume half of the mixture when mixed as directed, before adding additional water and drinking it throughout the workout.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Mixability
As mentioned previously, MuscleTech’s NeuroCore mixes extremely well with no residue, grittiness or clumps, but can be slightly frothy if mixed via shaking. A good rule of thumb to produce the best results when mixing is to use 100mL or 3.5 ounces of liquid with each scoop of product for best results. The water will turn into a slightly brown colour (if the flavour is fruit punch) similar to apple cider, but this is due to all natural colorants.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Value
MuscleTech’s NeuroCore comes in 3 official sizes providing 12, 45 and 100 serves respectively. However, this depends on how many scoops you use (maximum suggested = 3 scoops). This works out to be roughly $1.30-$4 per serve. In comparison, non concentrated pre-workout formulas have around 40-50 serves (again dependent on dosage) and works out roughly to be approximately $1.50-$5 per serve depending on the brand. The product works out to be quite cost effective compared to other pre-workout formulations, but at the end of the day, it is important to choose a supplement that works in your favour.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Pro's
MuscleTech’s NeuroCore contains some great ingredients which have definite potential ergogenic benefits. Of note is creatine, one of the most well known and well respected sports nutrition supplement in the market and has been shown in several studies and reviews to be beneficial in increasing muscle creatine stores and promoting improved exercise performance. L-citrulline and vinpocetine are both ingredients capable of increasing blood flow both to the brain and to the peripheral muscles, important for both mental and physical performance. In fact, l-citrulline as shown in one study was able to impact nitrous oxide metabolism moreso than another commonly used vasodilator (l-arginine).
Presence of beta alanine and rhodiola rosea are both ingredients able to delay fatigue, while the presence of caffeine helps promote stimulatory and thermogenic effects. This equates to reduced fatigue, greater and prolonged working capacity and an enhanced ability to utilise fats as a fuel source. Furthermore, rhodiola rosea has been shown to be a more potent than schizandra chinensis in terms of adaptogenic (stress management) ability when comparing studies. DMAE contained within the supplement also possesses fat burning potential as well as a mental function enhancer. While geranium is known as an extremely capable stimulant and thermogenic, the specific genus used in NeuroCore; geranium robertianum is still too under researched to make any final conclusions on.
One thing MuscleTech’s Neurocore should be applauded for however is their complete transparency with regards to specific ingredient amounts rather than simply stating a ‘proprietary blend’. This comes in handy not only in comparing against other products, but also as a way in comparing with therapeutic amounts used in studies.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Con's
The tricky thing with MuscleTech’s NeuroCore is that in a recommended serving (1 scoop), there isn’t enough of the specific ingredients to provide the beneficial effects, save for perhaps the amount of caffeine. This means that in order to get the necessary amounts of the active ingredients (3scoops) might mean a mega dose of caffeine at around 330mg, the amount in around 3 shots of coffee. It is important to be aware of this as increased use of caffeine and other stimulants are associated with negative symptoms such as heart palpitations, insomnia and shaky movements, which can negatively affect your workouts. It is also important to understand that you will experience increased tolerance to the ingredients, which may mean that over time, more of the product is necessary to sustain the original beneficial effects.
Another small negative with NeuroCore is the lack of flavours, but with such small amounts consumed over time and the ability to mix with a variety of different mediums, the lack of flavours is quite a trivial con. It should also be noted that the addition of Geranium means that there is a potential for you to be disqualified by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) if your sport or profession is under their jurisdiction for testing.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Active Ingredients
1. L-Citrulline – A compound found naturally in rinds of watermelon, it is a strong precursor to internal arginine production. In fact, some studies have shown it to be more potent than l-arginine itself in increasing body stores of l-arginine1, as it bypasses the liver. L-arginine is strongly involved in nitric oxide metabolism2. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, allowing blood vessels to dilate or open up, improving blood flow dynamics.
2. Beta-Alanine – A naturally occurring beta amino acid and one of the two amino acids making up carnosine. Carnosine is an important compound in our muscles with high buffering capacity and thus able to protect against changes in pH levels – resulting in improved performance and less fatigue. The amount of beta-alanine is the primary determinant of how much carnosine we have. Several studies have promoted improved ergogenic benefits of beta alanine supplementation3,4.
3. Creatine Hydrochloride - A well known ergogenic compound which can facilitate greater storage of phosphocreatine stores in our muscles which are involved in the anaerobic system of energy production, often used in weightlifting and power exercises and events. Creatine has been shown to help with carbohydrate loading, endurance, high intensity and interval activities5. Creatine hydrochloride is a form of creatine that has been said to be more soluble than the monohydrate form, however the study was commissioned by a company producing products with the specific form of creatine studied6. Regardless, creatine is creatine at the end of the day.
4. Geranium Robertianum – Geranium as a flower species is a common product found in pre-workout formulations as compounds contained within it such as 1,3 Dimethylamylamine** have stimulatory and thermogenic properties similar to that of caffeine but with greater potency. Few studies have been done with geranium robertianum however, but one study did suggest possible blood glucose lowering effects.
5. Caffeine Anhydrous - A natural stimulant found in teas, coffees and energy drinks which has the ability to help aid with fat loss and weight management as well as endurance performance. Caffeine is believed to help with sparing carbohydrates by increasing the utilisation of fat as a fuel5.
6. Rhodiola – Rhodiola Rosea is a plant known to possess adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are a name given to compounds or ingredients which have the potential to help counteract stressful situations and reduce fatigue. A recent review of rhodiola rosea has shown that it may benefit both physical and mental performance as well as helping alleviate fatigue.7
7. Vinpocetine – A compound derived from the periwinkle plant that has been researched and implicated to help improve cerebral vascular flow8. That is, it has the potential to increase blood supply to the brain helping to increase mental performance and focus.
8. DMAE – Dimethylaminoethanol is a chemical compound used in many dietary supplements as a precursor for choline and thus acetylcholine. Choline9 itself is involved in fat metabolism and deficiency of choline can lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver. Acetylcholine10 is considered an important and necessary compound for signalling both the peripheral and central nervous systems and to affect mental function including focus, mood and memory.
9. Sucralose – A very sweet artificial sweetener.
10. Acesulfame Potassium – A zero calorie sweetener used often in conjunction with other sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame to produce a better sugar taste and to mask any undesirable aftertastes.
11. Citric Acid*** – A weak acid found commonly in citrus fruits and often used as a preservative in certain products. It is also used to add sour of acidic flavours to certain food and drink products.
MuscleTech NeuroCore - Conclusion
Overall, MuscleTech’s latest product NeuroCore appears to be a great pre-workout supplement first and foremost to help with mental focus and attention, something required to complete a hard workout without getting distracted by an often noisy and rowdy gym environment. Coupled with fatigue reducing and vasodilatory properties, NeuroCore has the potential to improve pumps while giving you the energy to maintain constant strength throughout the workout. A decent tasting and great mixing powder, what separates MuscleTech’s NeuroCore from the majority of the pack is its transparency with regards to the amounts of their ingredients.
* A standard pre-workout formulation warning label generally suggests that users should be over 18 and even over 21 in certain circumstances and that one should not use the supplement if they have any pre-existing medical condition or are currently on any current medications. Users should also not be consuming other stimulants in conjunction with the supplement.
** 1,3 Dimethyamylamine is banned by the World Anti Doping Agency.
*** Citric Acid is only used in MuscleTech NeuroCore (Grape Flavour)
1 Schwedhelm et al., 2007. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: impact on nitric oxide metabolism. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 65(1):51-9.
2 Osowska S, Moinard C, Neveux N, Loï C, Cynober L. ‘Citrulline increases arginine pools and restores nitrogen balance after massive intestinal resection.’ Gut. 2004 Dec;53(12):1781-6.
3 Baguet A, Bourgois J, Vanhee L, Achten E, Derave W. ‘Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance.’ J Appl Physiol. 2010 Oct;109(4):1096-101. Epub 2010 Jul 29.
4 Derave W, Everaert I, Beeckman S, Baguet A. ‘Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training.’ Sports Med. 2010 Mar 1;40(3):247-63. doi: 10.2165/11530310-000000000-00000.
5 Kreider RB et al. ‘ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations.’ J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 7.
6 Donald W. Miller. ‘Oral Bioavailability of Creatine Supplements: Is There Room for Improvement?.’
7 Panossian et al. 2005. Stimulating effect of adaptogens: an overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration. Phytother Res. 19(10):819-38.
8 Bönöczk P, Panczel G, Nagy Z. ‘Vinpocetine increases cerebral blood flow and oxygenation in stroke patients: a near infrared spectroscopy and transcranial Doppler study.’ Eur J Ultrasound. 2002 Jun;15(1-2):85-91.
9 See Article ‘Fat Loss Proteins – Part 3’.
10 Himmelheber, AM; Sarter, M; Bruno, JP (2000). "Increases in cortical acetylcholine release during sustained attention performance in rats". Brain research. Cognitive brain research 9 (3): 313–25. doi:10.1016/S0926-6410(00)00012-4