- Decent formula
- Wide range of flavour options
- Premium price point
- Some flavours are not-so-good
Redcon1's total war is often touted as being the ultimate pre-workout. We take a deep dive into Total War to figure out if it truly deserves all its recognition.
Nutrition & Directions
Some of these core ingredients are what I consider to be fundamental features of a good pre-workout. It has the Citrulline Malate in a 6g dose and Agmatine sulphate at 1g. Both are great ingredients for blood flow/vasodilation effects (epic muscle pumps!).
Beta-alanine is included at a clinical dose of 3.2g, and taurine is included at a dose of 1g, both of which are intended to reduce fatigue and improve power output. So far, so good.
It's time to delve into the stimulant breakdown (stimulant by stimulant). But don't worry; I won't waste your precious time with unnecessary, long-winded explanations. No, I'll provide you with all the information you need in a series of informative one-liners.
Caffeine anhydrous (250mg): Caffeine anhydrous is a very concentrated form of caffeine with strong effects, such as improving alertness, focus, and physical performance.
Caffeine di-malate at (100mg): Caffeine di-malate can increase energy and alertness whilst potentially reducing the effect known as 'the crash' - which is often experienced after consuming high amounts of caffeine/stimulants.
Theobromine (50mg): It is structurally similar to caffeine and has a similar mechanism of action in the body, but it is less potent and has a longer duration of action, as well as cognitive/mood-enhancing properties.
Green tea extract (45mg): It's a nature-derived source of caffeine that contains a group of compounds called catechins, which are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and could help reduce muscle soreness during and after exercise.
Why are there so many different types of caffeine in this product? Excellent question, dear reader. I'm sure you're all just dying to know the answer.
Well, it's simple, really. Redcon1, in their infinite wisdom, wants to ensure that you never have to suffer the dreaded mid-workout or post-workout caffeine crash. How do they plan to achieve this miraculous feat, you ask? By providing you with multiple stage releases of caffeine *of course*.
But why stop at just one or two types of caffeine, you might be thinking? Redcon1 seems to have adopted the mentality that the key to avoiding a caffeine crash is to bombard your body with as much caffeine as possible. And what better way to do that than with a multi-stage release of various caffeine compounds?
All jokes aside, I can see an argument for adding theobromine for its mood/cognition-related benefits and green tea for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory side effects. However, I suspect the addition of Di-caffeine malate was to make the formula seem fancier. Let's not pretend that Di-caffeine malate will revolutionise your workouts or add a tremendous amount of additional effects to the formula.
With that out of the way, I need to draw your attention to two uncommon and unique ingredients in this formula. Naringin and Juniper Extract. Let me tell you, I had to go down a deep, dark rabbit hole of internet research to determine the relevance of these two products in Redcon1's total war formula. Here's what I found:
Naringin (25mg). Naringin is a flavonoid found in citrus fruits with a host of potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, immune system support, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Sounds pretty great, right? But hold on a minute, why on earth is this stuff in a pre-workout formula? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Naringin isn't a valuable addition to anyone's diet. It's just that it feels a bit out of place in a pre-workout supplement.
Juniper Berry Extract (150mg). Juniper berry extract is believed to have some potential health benefits, including its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and natural diuretic. While that sounds great, it's a similar story to the Naringin. In my opinion, it does not provide any particular ground breaking features to the product besides adding a botanical flair to the ingredient list.
Last but not least, we have Bioperine at 10mg. Bioperine is a patented form of piperine, an alkaloid found in black pepper. It is commonly added to supplements as a bioavailability enhancer to help the body absorb and utilise the ingredients more effectively. But my question is - does it really work in a pre-workout context? Who knows. There's limited research on its effects, specifically on pre-workout ingredients like amino acids and stimulants. But kudos to Redcon1 for including it. They care about ensuring optimal absorption and utilisation of the supplement's ingredients. Or maybe they just really love black pepper.
That's a wrap of the active ingredients.
Is there room for improvement in Redcon1 Total War's active ingredient formula? Yes, in my humble opinion.
It'd be great to see Redcon1 include ingredient(s) that improves mood/cognition/feelings of well-being. While theobromine may have some cognitive-enhancing properties, it is not primarily used for that purpose. Instead of relying on stimulants alone, I think Redcon1 should consider the potential benefits of adding ingredients like L-Tyrosine, Alpha GPC, Huperzine-A, Acetyl Choline, or L-theanine to their formula. These ingredients have been shown to improve mood and cognition.
As for the remainder of the ingredients (non-active components), we've got ourselves quite the laundry list:
Other ingredients include:
Natural and artificial flavours
Disodium phosphate: a flavour enhancer
Citric acid: a flavour enhancer
Sucralose: an artificial sweetener (flavour enhancer)
Acesulfame-potassium: an artificial sweetener (flavour enhancer)
Silica: anti-caking (clumping) agent
calcium silicate: anti-caking (clumping) agent
Maltodextrin: could be used as a processing aid and anti-caking (clumping) agent.
It's great to see that Redcon1 is transparent about its formula by presenting it with an open-label (no propriety blends). This allows consumers to make informed decisions about the products they are purchasing and shows that Redcon1 values transparency in this product.
Notably, they have not included any colours in the formula – which is a bonus for anyone trying to prevent staining their teeth!
It's worth noting the flavouring is both natural and artificial. On the other hand, both sweeteners are artificial (Sucralose and Acesulfame-potassium).
Now, some quick math allows us to figure out the total weight of the active ingredients, which is 11.785g. Therefore, the "other" elements come out to 2.915g in a 14.7g serve, which means 24.7% are "fillers".
However, this is not something to be concerned about. When it comes to pre-workouts, it's typical to see that the active ingredients only make up about 75% of the formula. The other 25% consists of flavouring agents and anti-clumping agents - often referred to as "fillers". It's important to note that the inclusion of these "fillers" is not something to be concerned about, as they serve important functional purposes in the formula. For example, pre-workout supplements often contain strong or unpleasant ingredients, so they must be heavily masked with flavourings to make them more palatable. Additionally, many pre-workout ingredients tend to clump together, so companies use anti-clumping agents to keep the product from becoming a brick (for a better lack of terms).
Given its sheer amount of stimulants, Redcon1's Total War is targeted towards experienced pre-workout users. Basically, I'm saying that if you're looking for a pre-workout with enough stimulants to revive a small elephant, total war will not disappoint you.
It's also correctly dosed with pump/blood flow and stamina/endurance ingredients, which means that you can expect a good workout for the most part. So there's no question that this product offers a solid foundation for a pre-workout supplement.
However, I could see it being more impressive with the inclusion of nootropic ingredients such as huperzine-a or L-tyrosine to boost cognitive function and elevate mood. Unfortunately, I can't comment much on the novel ingredients like juniper berry extract or naringin because the purpose or relevance of those ingredients in the product just isn't that clear.
The label lists all active ingredients and their respective amounts (open-label). This is particularly important when it comes to a product like pre-workout, whereby knowing the dosage of stimulants and certain amino acids is key.
They've outlined that they use a combination of natural and artificial flavours, which is not always common practice in supplements. Some people value knowing that information.
Now that's out of the way, it's time to unleash my inner critic.
I have to highlight that the product's label includes the claim of "laser focus," but it does not contain any ingredients specifically linked to improved focus and concentration beyond caffeine.
Additionally, the claim of "unstoppable power" may imply the presence of strength-enhancing ingredients such as creatine. I suppose an argument can be made that the reference to physical performance enhancement was intended to be attributed to caffeine. But it's still slightly ambiguous in my books.
Directions & Servings
The directions for Redcon1 recommend starting by taking half a scoop to assess tolerance due to the high caffeine content in the product. I tend to agree with this recommendation when it comes to taking any high-stimulant product.
They recommend mixing one scoop with 4-6 ounces (188mL - 177mL) of water and consuming it 30 minutes before training. These are standard recommendations for a pre-workout.
Anyway, I was happy that a levelled scoop came out to precisely the serving size - 14.7g.
Taste & Texture
Total war is currently available in 17 flavours. Plus, they're known for consistently releasing limited-edition flavours. Having such a large and diverse flavour range ranks Total War in the top 90% when it comes to flavour options within the pre-workout category.
To get a good grasp on the flavour profiles, I decided on a few popular flavours.
Watermelon: This flavour represents more of a watermelon candy flavour. The flavour can be described as juicy, sweet, and slightly tangy, with a slightly artificial taste. I'd definitely recommend this flavour to people with a sweet tooth!
Green Apple: The green apple has a refreshing and slightly tart taste reminiscent of green apple juice. The flavour is slightly crisp, sweet, and slightly acidic, with a slight artificial-candy-type taste to it. I liked this flavour the most as the slight acidity counteracted the sweetness and balanced out the flavour well.
Strawberry Kiwi: Whilst this is one of the most popular flavours, I wasn’t a big fan. It tasted very artificial and wasn't reminiscent of strawberries or kiwi fruit. The sweeteners drown out the flavour. Pair that with a strange and slightly sour aftertaste - to make this the worst flavour I've tried of Total War. Sorry, Redcon1.
Sour Gummy Bear: Oh boy, where do I start? The flavour was nothing like sour gummy bears. It tasted more like someone mixed a whole bag of sugar, citric acid, artificial green apple and lime flavouring and called it a day. But hey, it was better than the Strawberry Kiwi.
It's always tricky to know what to expect from this flavour. The best way to describe this flavour is that it stands at the intersection of blue and red Gatorade. Add an artificial tinge and a hint of tartness to the mix, and you have yourself the flavour profile of the war blue raspberry total war. Sarcasm aside, this flavour is average. You could easily drink the entire serving without an issue, but it's nothing to rave about.
Rainbow Candy: I presume the flavour name of Rainbow Candy is attempting to emulate that of Skittles (you know, the small, chewy candies that are coated in a hard, colourful sugary shell). Rainbow Candy is sweet, slightly tangy and has a strong artificial fruity profile, which accurately represents the skittles flavour. I'd definitely recommend this to someone who likes candy-inspired flavours. Overall, this flavour profile is above average.
Overall the flavours are a mixed bag between good, average and not-so-great. I commend Redcon1 for offering many different and unique flavour options, like Sour Gummy Bear and Rainbow Candy. Overall, they land themselves slightly above average when it comes to flavour profiles overall.
Solubility & Texture
This product dissolves easily in water and can be mixed using either a shaker or a spoon. However, I noticed very small black specks in the beverage due to the inclusion of Bioperine. These specks may not be a concern for everyone, but some may find them unappealing in an otherwise clear drink.
Total war is super popular. In fact, it's one of the strongest selling pre-workouts in the category.
Total war has a ton of user reviews. In fact, it has some of the highest user reviews within the pre-workout category.
Value for Money
Total war comes in just one size, which is common for most pre workouts. However, when we rank it relative to the other products within the category, it ranks in the top 29%, when more size options are better.
The first thing you'll notice about Total War is its epic military-themed label graphics. It definitely gives off a badass Navy SEALs vibe.
The second thing you'll probably notice about total war is that it has an external and internal seal, which communicates that Redcon1 cares about the quality and appearance of its product. The tub is made of recyclable plastic (HDPE) and is considered to be an average size for a pre-workout enclosure. The jar size and shape also make it practical for consumers to use and store the product.
It's worth mentioning that included in the pre-workout is a scoop (placed on top) and a desiccant to absorb moisture and prevent the product from clumping.
Assuming the purchase price is at the RRP of $69.95, you're looking at $2.33 per serve, which puts it above the average price point within the pre-workout category.
I know you're probably asking yourself, "Where's the extra cost coming from"?
Well, I have to admit, I've had that thought about this particular formula. Don't get me wrong, the stimulant content and the efficacious dosages of amino acids like beta-alanine and citrulline are definitely a plus, but I can't help but feel like the price is slightly inflated.
Wouldn't it be amazing if this formula had a nootropic added to the mix? That would make it super comprehensive and worth every penny of that little bit extra. But without that extra nootropic ingredient, I'm just not sure if the price point is fully justified.
If you're looking for a hard-hitting stimulant pre-workout with a popular brand name, Redcon1's Total war could be your go-to pre-workout (so long as you don't mind the slight premium in price point). With a ton of unique flavours, good mixability and a decent line up of proven ingredients in the formula (for the most part), there's a reason why Total War is one of the most popular pre-workouts on the market.