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Proper sleep, nutrition, and hydration can dramatically improve your performance in the gym, but for those that want an edge or an extra energy boost, the right pre-workout can increase your performance and tremendously impact the results you get in the gym, regardless of your objective.
Of all the supplements you can buy, pre-workout supplements tend to have the widest variety of ingredients and dosages, so it’s not easy to pick one, unlike creatine, which only contains one ingredient.
Pre-Kaged is a vegan-friednly pre-workout supplement developed by Kaged Muscle, a brand that is well-established among fitness and bodybuilding aficionados. They are generally trustworthy and transparent about every ingredient and respective dosage that goes into their supplements, which makes it easier for us to tell you if this is actually the right supplement for you.
In this article, we’re going to look at each ingredient in Pre-Kaged, and determine whether or not its use is justified based on the scientific literature available.
Pre-Kaged Ingredients & Benefits
Without further ado, let’s look at what this product actually contains, so you know whether you are likely to benefit from taking it. It is important to understand the ingredients of anything you plan to consume, and the Pre-Kaged formula contains:
- Betaine Anhydrous
- Creatine Hydrochloride
- Coconut Water Powder
- Spectra Total ORAC Blend
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
- Organic Caffeine
Unlike some Kaged Muscle products, Pre-Kaged may contain some lesser-known ingredients that you may be unfamiliar with. Let’s break them down so you understand what you’ll be consuming and what its intended purpose within the formula is.
L-Citrulline, or simply Citrulline, is a non-essential amino acid and based on the literature available, supplementation with citrulline, both short-term and long-term, may increase muscle, reduce fatigue, increase power output, and improve endurance in both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. 1, 2
However, most of the literature we have found is quite mixed, which means that the effects of L-Citrulline are not exactly proven, so it’s possible that you may be dealing with an ingredient that isn’t actually enhancing anything.
With that being said, the documented sports performance benefits of L-Citrulline were with subjects taking 6,000 – 8,000 milligrams of citrulline malate per serving, which is good news because Pre-Kaged contains 6500 milligrams of citrulline.
We’re not suggesting that citrulline is ineffective, but we would heed caution because there isn’t a huge body of evidence showing positive data.
BCAAs (L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine)
Pre-Kaged contains BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) delivered in a 4:1:1 ratio, which is different from the one used in scientific studies as it contains double the leucine.
Let’s look at the aforementioned BCAAs to determine whether they’re useful in this supplement.
Leucine is regarded as the main branched-chain amino acid and important amino acid for protein synthesis
Leucine can reliably boost muscle protein synthesis, according to studies, particularly in people with decreased dietary protein intake and the elderly (who are clearly impaired when it comes to achieving muscle protein synthesis via diet). 3
Most research suggests that supplemental leucine can augment muscle protein synthesis when a suboptimal dose of protein is consumed, but supplemental leucine will not confer additional benefit if a protein bolus sufficient to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis is consumed.
Therefore, if you’re young and consume adequate levels of protein, taking extra leucine will not guarantee you any benefits in terms of muscle gain.
Isoleucine is also one of the three branched-chain amino acids and is associated with glucose consumption and uptake. It’s able to increase the amount of glucose used during exercise and is also considered an anti-catabolic agent —aiding in the prevention of muscle loss.
Some sources claim that isoleucine helps in the prevention/reduction of muscle damage post-exercise, however, the evidence is mixed. A systematic review in 2017, shows that there is no direct evidence of the positive effects of BCAAs on muscle damage, except in very specific conditions, which involve taking 200mg of BCAAs per kilogram of body weight daily for a long period of time. 4
Claims suggesting that isoleucine may reduce fatigue during exercise may be true. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that an intake of BCAAs resulted in lowered ratings of perceived exertion and mental fatigue during a standardized cycle ergometer exercise. Apparently, BCAAs decrease the transport of tryptophan to the brain and decrease 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) synthesis which, in abundance, are both responsible for central fatigue. 5
Valine is purported to provide numerous benefits, including energy enhancement, increased endurance, and muscle tissue recovery & repair. Additionally, there are also claims that it may lower elevated sugar levels and increase growth hormone production.
A clinical study published in 2017 found that acute oral supplementation of BCAA’s at a concentration of 0.087 g/kg body mass was sufficient to increase the rate of recovery in isometric strength, CMJ height (countermovement jump), and perceived soreness compared to the placebo group. 6
Another clinical study published in 2018 in the scientific journal Bioscience found that acute supplementation of valine leads to a fatigue reduction during swimming exercise in rats. Whether that’s true for human subjects as well is still up for more research. 7
Betaine Anhydrous (2.5g)
Betaine anhydrous is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body, and it can also be found in foods such as beets, spinach, cereals, seafood, and wine.
There is research suggesting that betaine can improve certain aspects of exercise performance, including body composition, and strength (namely in trained men). However, these effects don’t seem to translate to untrained men.
Overall, betaine anhydrous doesn’t seem to be very effective in terms of strength and exercise, and there’s strong evidence suggesting that’s the case. 8
Beta-alanine is a modified version of the amino acid alanine, and it has been shown to enhance muscular endurance, with many people reporting being able to do extra reps in the gym even in high-rep sets. 9
There’s also evidence that beta-alanine can also increase performance for cardiovascular exercises like rowing or sprinting. 10
The standard daily dose is between 2 and 5 grams, however, Pre-Kaged contains 1.6 grams, which is lower than the supposedly effective dosage.
Creatine Hydrochloride (1.5g)
Creatine is among the most well-researched and effective ingredients in sports nutrition, and there’s indeed evidence that creatine can help with exercise performance by rapidly producing energy during intense exercise.
But how does that function in practice? Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a chemical that transports energy within cells, is the primary fuel source for intense exercise. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is changed into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and adenosine monophosphate when it is used by cells as an energy source (AMP). In cells, creatine takes the form of creatine phosphate (also known as phosphocreatine), which gives ADP a high-energy phosphate group and converts it back into ATP.
Creatine supplements can speed up the recycling of ADP into ATP by raising the total amount of cellular phosphocreatine. This results in more energy being accessible for intense exercise. The supply of energy will be more plentiful, which may lead to gains in power and strength. 11
However, it’s important to note that creatine is dosage-dependent, which should vary based on how heavy you are, in other words, the heavier you are, the more creatine you need. Pre-Kaged contains 1.5 grams, which is low for someone that weighs 82kg, for instance.
Therefore, we can’t tell you with certainty that this ingredient is effectively playing a role in this supplement.
Coconut Water Powder (500mg)
Coconut water powder is not particularly effective for increasing performance during exercise, however, it contains important electrolytes that are usually exhausted during intense exercise, including sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Additionally, it also contains B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates, which are beneficial for your overall well-being.
Spectra Total ORAC Blend (100mg)
The Total ORAC Blend is a combination of different fruits and vegetables, and while it may not have a direct effect on exercise performance (which is the technical role of this supplement), it has a positive impact on your overall wellbeing because it contains powerful antioxidants that combat free radicals, which are malicious compounds that lead to aging, as well as awful diseases like cancer.
Kaged Muscle claims that taurine can increase athletic performance and reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress, however, there’s not enough evidence to support these effects.
Taurine is being heavily researched as an anti-diabetic compound, primarily because of its actions in organs that are of most concern to diabetics (eyes, kidney, nerve health), as well as controlling blood sugar and reducing some forms of insulin resistance. 12
But as far as physical performance is concerned, there’s no literature that clearly supports its use.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (1g)
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that the body spontaneously makes from phenylalanine, another amino acid.
Numerous studies demonstrate that L-tyrosine can guard against the loss of cognitive function when faced with challenging or stressful circumstances. 13
When subjected to extremely acute stressors, adrenaline (also known as noradrenaline or norepinephrine) and dopamine, two hormones known as “catecholamines,” are suggested to aid in reducing stress.
Tyrosine is crucial to have on hand since it will essentially promote the processes of creating additional catecholamines when you come into an acute stressor that is intense enough to produce depletion of those chemicals, contrary to what the data suggests.
This basically means that tyrosine may increase your mental clarity and concentration while you’re doing something demanding, like exercising, dulling your sense of exhaustion and giving you more stamina.
Theoretically, tyrosine might function in this way, but there isn’t any conclusive proof that it actually enhances physical performance. However, it is still included in numerous supplements, not just pre-workouts.
Organic Caffeine (274mg)
Perhaps one of the most used ingredients in pre-workout supplements, caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and it can be used to improve physical strength and endurance by sensitizing neurons and providing mental stimulation.
In fact, due to its positive impact on exercise performance, some organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have started to ban it in higher doses.
Regular caffeine consumption is also associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
In our opinion, this is one of the most important ingredients to have in pre-workout formulas.
Pre-Kaged has a variety of flavors available, but the one we’ve managed to test was the pink lemonade flavor which was incredibly sweet and zesty, but for some people, it may actually be too sweet.
Although Pre-Kaged only has 4g of carbohydrates (a small percentage of it being added sugars), those sugars come in the form of zero or low-calorie sugars such as sucralose and stevia. Allow us to also mention that this formula contains a bunch of different fruit concentrates, which is essentially how the powder gets to be pink.
All in all, the flavor is quite delicious, but we’ve only tested one flavor, which was pink lemonade. So, keep this in mind if you’re opting to purchase Kaged Muscle’s Pre-Kaged formula.
One canister of Pre-Kaged costs $44.99, equivalent to $2.22 per serving, which makes it more expensive than other pre-workout formulas on the market.
However, Kaged Muscle allows you to get a monthly subscription and save 10% on Pre-Kaged, which is a good option, but only if you intend to take it medium to long-term.
What we don’t like about Pre-Kaged is not the price itself, but the fact it only comes with 20 servings, which is low for someone that loves to consistently spend time working out in the gym.
If you want to purchase Pre-Kaged, feel free to do so through Kaged Muscle’s official website.
Is Pre-Kaged Effective?
Frankly, because of ingredients such as beta-alanine, creatine, and caffeine, one can conclude that Pre-Kaged is a pre-workout formula that is worth trying.
However, it is also true that it contains ingredients that may be deemed unnecessary for the intended purpose of maximizing physical performance, simply because there is not enough evidence to suggest they are actually effective.
For instance, L-citrulline, the main ingredient in Pre-Kaged, does require more studying before we could confidently say that it’s effective in what it claims to do.
Does that mean that Pre-Kaged is entirely ineffective? No, that’s not what we’re claiming, but we are very skeptical about the roles of certain ingredients.
Editor’s note: The content on this website is meant to be informative, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The content of our articles is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always best to speak with your doctor or a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, or trying a new supplement.
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2. Takeda K, Machida M, Kohara A, Omi N, Takemasa T – Effects of citrulline supplementation on fatigue and exercise performance in mice – J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo).
3. Rieu I, Balage M, Sornet C, Giraudet C, Pujos E, Grizard J, Mosoni L, Dardevet D. Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia. J Physiol. 2006 Aug.
4. Vahid I, Abdolali B, Fatemeh M, Alireza N, Mehdi S. The effects of branch-chain amino acids on fatigue in the athletes. Interv Med Appl Sci. 2018.
5. Blomstrand E. A role for branched-chain amino acids in reducing central fatigue. J Nutr. 2006 Feb.
6. Waldron M, Whelan K, Jeffries O, Burt D, Howe L, Patterson SD. The effects of acute branched-chain amino acid supplementation on recovery from a single bout of hypertrophy exercise in resistance-trained athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Jun.
7. Tsuda Y, Iwasawa K, Yamaguchi M. Acute supplementation of valine reduces fatigue during swimming exercise in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2018 May.
8. Ismaeel A. Effects of Betaine Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Power: A Systematic Review. J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Aug.
9. Stout JR, Cramer JT, Zoeller RF, Torok D, Costa P, Hoffman JR, Harris RC, O’Kroy J. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2007.
10. Sweeney KM, Wright GA, Glenn Brice A, Doberstein ST. The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on power performance during repeated sprint activity. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jan.
11. Mujika I, Padilla S. Creatine supplementation as an ergogenic aid for sports performance in highly trained athletes: a critical review. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Oct.
12. Moloney MA, Casey RG, O’Donnell DH, Fitzgerald P, Thompson C, Bouchier-Hayes DJ. Two weeks of taurine supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in young male type 1 diabetics. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2010 Oct.
13. Jongkees BJ, Hommel B, Kühn S, Colzato LS – Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands- A review – J Psychiatr Res. (2015 Nov)