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Supplement Reviews

  • EHP Labs OxyShred vs. Victory Labs Xenevar

    Extreme energy levels and fat burning go hand in hand when it comes to thermogenic supplements. The best brands will allow you to trigger a higher level metabolic response while enjoying the benefits of focus, alertness, and energy. Today, we are looking at two of the heavy hitters in the thermogenic world: EHP Labs OxyShred and Victory Labs Xenevar. Let's review their respective formulas to see which one is worth using in your daily supplement program.

     

    EHP Labs OxyShred

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of EHP Labs OxyShred

    EHP Labs OxyShred is a thermogenic that has been uniquely designed for fat burning with extreme energy as a positive side effect. The EHP Labs OxyShred formula may even be considered too much for those who are inexperienced with thermogenic compounds. You can take that as a positive or a negative depending on your sensitivity to the ingredients.

     

    There's no doubt that the team over at EHP Labs did their homework with the formula. It features many scientifically backed ingredients including Conjugated Linoleic Acid, African Wild Mango, and 1, 3, 7 Trimethylxanthine that have been shown to boost fat burning and energy levels. (1-3)

     

    Cons of EHP Labs OxyShred

    The only issue that we have with EHP Labs Oxyshred is that it has a proprietary blend for its fat burning and energy boosting compounds. This means that you don't know exactly how much of each ingredient you're getting. Still, with that said, you can assume that each ingredient may be properly (if not almost properly) dosed at the ideal levels due to the size of the blend. For example, the thermogenic blend is almost 7 grams. That leaves a lot of elbow room for the dosing of these ingredients.

     

     

    Victory Labs Xenevar

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of Victory Labs Xenevar

    The user reviews on Xenevar have helped to draw plenty of positive attention its way. This product is all about fat burning, featuring tried and true compounds like L-Carnitine Tartrate, Guarana, and Raspberry Ketones. (4-6) It also contains a trademarked version of Fulvic Acid known as OxyGold. Victory Labs claims that Fulvic Acid can improve the uptake and assimilation of all the other compounds buts studies are inconclusive. Still, if it does play a role in nutrient assimilation, that's excellent news for you.

     

    Cons of Victory Labs Xenevar

    Just like with EHP Labs OxyShred, we were disappointed to see that Victory Labs Xenevar had a proprietary blend for a formula. What you do know is that you're getting almost 5 grams of a great stack of thermogenics and energy boosters. 5 grams is a decent amount and with L-Carnitine as the first ingredient on the list, there's a good chance you are getting the right dosing, if not close to it.

     

    Which One Should You Choose?

    These two thermogenic products are tough to choose between. They both have their strengths yet share the same weakness. EHP Labs has the bigger following as evidenced by the amount of user reviews and positive feedback reports online. You're also getting more out of the formula itself. With that said, Victory Labs Xenevar is holding its own amidst a crowded market. We would recommend trying both and seeing which one your body agrees with more. Either way, you're sure to experience high energy and incredible fat burning.

     

    References

    1. Leah D Whigham, Abigail C Watras, and Dale A Schoeller. Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans. Am J Clin Nutr May 2007. Vol. 85 no. 5 1203-1211.
    1. Judith L Ngondi, Julius E Oben, and Samuel R Minka. The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon. Lipids Health Dis. 2005; 4: 12. Published online 2005 May 25.
    1. Costill DL, Dalsky GP, Fink WJ. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports [1978, 10(3):155-158]
    1. Brandsch C, Eder K. Effect of L-carnitine on weight loss and body composition of rats fed a hypocaloric diet. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(5):205-10.
    1. Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. Improved cognitive performance in human volunteers following administration of guarana (Paullinia cupana) extract: comparison and interaction with Panax ginseng. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Nov;79(3):401-11.
    1. Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, Inoue S, Tsujita T, Okuda H. Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sci. 2005 May 27;77(2):194-204. Epub 2005 Feb 25.
  • Quest Protein Bars vs. Maxine's Burn Bars

    Protein bars have become such a household staple that they are immediately what you'll reach for as you're running to get to work or school. Protein bars are a quick and convenient way to satisfy hunger cravings, get extra protein, and replace a meal during weight loss. Two of the biggest names in the protein bar market are Quest Protein Bars and Maxine's Burn Bars. Let's take a look at both of these supplements to see which one is worth adding to your daily nutrition program.

     

    Quest Protein Bars

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of Quest Protein Bars

    The first thing you'll notice about Quest Protein Bars is that the label doesn't contain a laundry list of ingredients. This is a welcome change from the supplements that you find containing unnecessary additives, fillers, colours, and questionable compounds. Quest Protein Bars are straight to the point and contain the bare essentials. You're getting protein, fibre, and a natural sweetener.

     

    The protein is an isolate, making it ideal to break the morning fast and to eat on the way home from the gym post-workout. The average protein amount is 21 grams, depending on the flavour of the bar. The amino acids that you'll get from this fasting acting type of protein may help to protect lean muscle mass, encourage new muscle growth, and support your fitness goals. (1-6)

     

    The fibre is also an excellent change of pace for a protein bar. Many people don't get the recommended amount of fibre, which is important for digestive and overall health.

     

    Cons of Quest Protein Bars

    It's almost impossible to say anything bad about Quest Protein Bars. These are, hands down, one of the cleanest and highest quality bars on the market. However, we were a bit disappointed when they started using sugar alcohols in some of their bars. They have split their product line into two different categories: natural and artificial sweeteners. Both are fantastic. The buying decision will come down to whether or not your stomach can handle artificial sweeteners.

     

    Maxine's Burn Bars

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of Maxine's Burn Bars

    Maxine's is a pioneer of the thermogenic protein trend. The idea is simple: Why not promote muscle building and fat loss simultaneously? Maxine's has produced a line-up of thermogenic protein products including the Burn Bars. These bars are really impressive as they contain a great protein blend and several proven fat burners.

     

    To support your muscle building, you'll be getting almost 15 grams of protein in every bar. This protein blend includes Whey Protein Isolate (WPI), Whey Protein Concentrate, and Calcium Caseinate, which offers you hours of amino acid delivery.

     

    On top of that, you'll also be getting thermogenic compounds such as green tea extract and L-Carnitine, both of which may be able to help support fat oxidation (7-8).

     

    Cons of Maxine's Burn Bars

    Our only disappointment with Maxine's Burn Bars is with the dosing of the thermogenic ingredients. Sure, there's only so much you can pack into a protein bar due to its size but we would have liked to have seen at least half the recommended dose. For example, one Maxine's Burn Bar contains 30 mg of L-Carnitine. If you look at studies or popular brands of the compound, you'll see that a standard dose is around 2 to 3 grams. Not even close, Maxine's.

     

    Which One Should You Choose?

    This can only be answered by defining what your fitness goals are for the long run. Quest Protein Bars are ideal for muscle building as they deliver an immediate shot of muscle supporting amino acids. Maxine's Burn Bars, on the other hand, may be more ideal if your focus is weight loss. Quest has more protein while Maxine's has the thermogenic benefit. You may even want to buy both. Use Quest after a workout and use Maxine's towards the evening to keep your metabolic rate high.

     

    References

    1. Tsutsumi R, Tsutsumi YM. Peptides and proteins in whey and their benefits for human health. Austin J Nutri Food Sci 2014;1(1): 1002
    1. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.
    1. Norton, Layne, Layman, Donald. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. J. Nutr. February 2006 vol. 136 no. 2 533S-537S.
    1. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.
    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.
    1. De Lorenzo A, Petroni ML, Masala S, Melchiorri G, Pietrantuono M, Perriello G, Andreoli A. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.
    1. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM. Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1195-204.
    1. Brandsch C, Eder K. Effect of L-carnitine on weight loss and body composition of rats fed a hypocaloric diet. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(5):205-10.
  • Dymatize Super Mass Gainer vs. ON Serious Mass

     

    For the hard gainers, is there anything more frustrating than spending an entire day training and eating just to fall short of your required caloric intake to start seeing size gains? Being naturally skinny can feel like a curse at times. When you need to eat upwards of 3,000 or 4,000 calories each day, your fitness goals can feel like a chore. That's where mass gaining supplements can help. Mass gainers provide huge caloric boosts to help you achieve that daily calorie intake. Let's take a look at two of the best in the industry to see which one is worth buying to help you achieve your goals.

     

    Dymatize Super Mass Gainer

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of Dymatize Super Mass Gainer

    Looking at the calorie count for Dymatize Super Mass Gainer, you can tell this supplement isn't messing around. Each serving contains 1,280 calories! That is the equivalent of eating three meals in terms of caloric content. If you are eating 2,000 calories from a healthy and well-balanced diet, you'll easily reach your target with Dymatize Super Mass Gainer.

     

    It's important that you pair this supplement with a hardcore lifting program as this will skyrocket your results. Each serving provides you with 52 grams of protein from an advanced protein blend including Whey Protein Concentrate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, and Micellar Casein. This blend is important as it will allow for hours of amino acid delivery to muscle tissue. In turn, this may help support protein synthesis, muscle building, and muscle recovery. (1-5)

     

    Cons of Dymatize Super Mass Gainer

    There are two potential issues with Dymatize Super Mass Gainer: First, the vitamin and mineral content. Many people are already taking a multi-vitamin and using both may push your limits in terms of what your body should be getting with vitamins and minerals. If you use a multi-vitamin, don't use it on the same day as Dymatize Super Mass Gainer.

     

    Second, it's important to use Dymatize Super Mass Gainer post-workout. This is due to the 244 grams of carbohydrates, 23 of which are sugar. Sure, you can start your day off with Dymatize Super Mass Gainer but your body will be primed to utilize those calories immediately following a workout so take advantage of it.

     

    ON Serious Mass

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of ON Serious Mass

    Just like Dymatize Super Mass Gainer, ON Serious Mass is completely serious about helping you crush your daily caloric goals. ON Serious Mass contains 1,250 calories per serving. Each serving contains 50 grams of protein from a special blend featuring Whey Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate, Egg Albumin, and Sweet Dairy Whey. Blow for blow, ON Serious Mass and Dymatize Super Mass Gainer are pretty equal until you see the extras that Optimum Nutrition has added:

     

    • Creatine Monohydrate
    • L-Glutamine
    • Glutamine Peptides
    • Choline (As Choline Bitartrate)
    • Inositol
    • PABA (Para-Aminobenzoic Acid)

     

    Creatine and Glutamine may help support your muscle gains while Choline may boost energy levels and muscle recovery. (1-7)

     

    Cons of ON Serious Mass

    Just like with Dymatize Super Mass Gainer, watch out if you're using a multi-vitamin and make sure to use this post-workout due to the carbohydrate content.

     

    The addition of amino acids and ingredients like PABA is great but lacking in terms of the dosage. Still, not too bad considering most weight gainers just give you carbohydrates.

     

    Conclusion

    Scanning the label, it's hard to determine which one of these is truly better than the other. They match one another in every regard. The only true difference is the better protein blend in Dymatize Super Mass Gainer and the added bonuses in ON Serious Mass. Does this push one ahead of the other? Not at all.

     

    With this review ending in a draw, the real deal-breaker will be cost. Watch out for discounts on the Amino Z website and buy each one as it goes on sale. That way, you can try both and see which one you prefer.

     

    References

    1. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.
    1. Norton, Layne, Layman, Donald. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. J. Nutr. February 2006 vol. 136 no. 2 533S-537S.
    1. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.
    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.
    1. De Lorenzo A, Petroni ML, Masala S, Melchiorri G, Pietrantuono M, Perriello G, Andreoli A. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.
    1. Piattoly, Tavis. L-GLUTAMINE SUPPLEMENTATION: EFFECTS ON RECOVERY FROM

    EXERCISE. Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. (4 – 9) August 2005.

    1. Ralf Jäger, Martin Purpura, and Michael Kingsley. Phospholipids and sports performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007; 4: 5. Published online 2007 Jul 25. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-4-5.
  • International Protein Synergy 5 vs. International Protein Amino Charged WPI

    If there's one protein brand that stands out in the world of bodybuilding, it's International Protein. Offering supplements designed with bodybuilders in mind, International Protein has been allowing bodybuilding hopefuls to get closer to the stage. Two of the brand's most popular products have been the subject of debate. Let's take a look at International Protein Amino Charged WPI and International Protein Synergy 5 to see which one is the better protein by this famous brand.

     

    International Protein Synergy 5

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of International Protein Synergy 5

    As the name implies, International Protein Synergy 5 contains five types of protein, all with varying degrees of digestive speed. The rate of digestion is important when it comes to your goals of muscle building as the slower a protein breaks down, the more amino acids it will release into the muscle tissue. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle tissue and they are key to an efficient recovery post-workout. Studies suggest that the amino acids found within this variety of protein may be able to promote lean muscle growth and an efficient recovery. (1-6)

     

    We were really impressed with the protein blend found within International Protein Synergy 5 as it hits all ends of the protein spectrum, offering 32 grams per serving. Here's a breakdown of type and digestion speed:

     

    Hydrolysed Whey Protein Isolate

    • Digestion Speed: Fastest

     

    Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

    • Digestion Speed: Fast

     

    Whey Protein Concentrate

    • Digestion Speed: Average

     

    Egg Albumen

    • Digestion Speed: Slow

     

    Micellar Casein

    • Digestion Speed: Slowest

     

    This is going to ensure you are getting muscle supporting amino acids for hours as opposed to just a quick shot.

     

    Cons of International Protein Synergy 5

    Aside from the use of artificial sweeteners and thickeners, we couldn't find anything wrong with International Protein Synergy 5. This is high quality protein that allows for an extended release of amino acids for hours. It's an ideal supplement to start your day or prepare for a workout.

     

     

    International Protein Amino Charged WPI

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of International Protein Amino Charged WPI

    We are big believers in post-workout nutrition as this is when the body is primed and ready to go to take in the nutrients needed for results. Most lifters use a standard whey protein isolate and while this is great, there is a better option. This is where International Protein Amino Charged WPI comes in.

     

    International Protein Amino Charged WPI is an elite quality whey protein isolate that also contains hydrolyzed peptides and amino acids. This is important because you're getting three high quality forms of muscle building nutrients. WPI, hydrolyzed peptides, and amino acids are all fast-acting nutrients that may be able to boost recovery, support muscle gains, and promote your fitness goals. (1-6)

     

    The unique thing about International Protein Amino Charged WPI is that it contains a fermented version of L-Glutamine as well as L-Arginine. This provides an ideal combination of muscle building nutrients, making it an ideal post-workout treat.

     

    Cons of International Protein Amino Charged WPI

    It may come as no surprise but there's not much we can say against International Protein Amino Charged WPI. International Protein is a very high quality brand that is targeted towards a bodybuilding market. This means that aside from the usual sweeteners, International Protein strives for elite quality.

     

    Conclusion

    What you have here is two incredible protein supplements. The problem is that they are often compared when there really is no room for comparison. Synergy 5 is a protein supplement that can be used throughout the day while Amino Charged WPI is ideal as a post-workout supplement. Both will support your fitness goals and, if it's possible, they should be purchased together. Use Synergy 5 as a meal replacement, a pre-workout, or a bed-time treat. Use Amino Charged WPI during or right after a workout.

     

    References

    1. Tsutsumi R, Tsutsumi YM. Peptides and proteins in whey and their benefits for human health. Austin J Nutri Food Sci 2014;1(1): 1002
    1. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.
    1. Norton, Layne, Layman, Donald. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. J. Nutr. February 2006 vol. 136 no. 2 533S-537S.
    1. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.
    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.
    1. De Lorenzo A, Petroni ML, Masala S, Melchiorri G, Pietrantuono M, Perriello G, Andreoli A. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.
  • Cellucor CN3 vs. Cellucor C4

    With pre-workouts leading the way in the supplement industry, some of you may be surprised to learn that the term 'pre-workout' encompasses more than just a simple caffeine product. Pre-workout is used to describe any supplement that is taken before your workout to improve your overall performance and results. Energy boosting pre-workouts are just one facet of a huge category.

     

    Cellucor is one of the top contenders in the pre-workout industry as it has several pre-workout products, all of which promise to boost your workout in different ways. Today, let's take a look at two extremely popular pre-workouts from the brand, Cellucor CN3 and Cellucor C4, to see which one is worth buying.

     

    Cellucor CN3

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of Cellucor CN3

    Cellucor CN3 is commonly referred to as a N.O. Booster. Nitric Oxide boosters are used to promote blood flow and oxygen uptake into muscle tissue. Benefits from this may include better performance and strength as tissue is able to capitalize on the increased nutrient delivery and blood flow. When you use an N.O. booster, you may experience 'the pump.' This is when blood swells in the muscle being worked. It's a feeling that most serious lifters strive to accomplish each workout.

     

    Cellucor CN3 contains Creatine Nitrate, the result of bonding nitrate with creatine monohydrate. Studies show that using 3 grams of Creatine Nitrate each day is safe, well tolerated by most, and may result in boosting your performance. Subjects saw a significant improvement in their bench press results, suggesting that Creatine Nitrate may also increase strength levels as well. This is very important if your goals include strength gains and lean muscle mass. (1, 2)

     

    Cons of Cellucor CN3

    There are no downsides to using Cellucor CN3. The only two ingredients are Creatine Nitrate and Vitamin C. Most importantly, the Creatine Nitrate has been dosed at 3 grams per serving, which was the ideal range as shown in the studies. This is a solid pre-workout product.

     

    Cellucor C4

    Where can I buy it?

     

    Pros of Cellucor C4

    Cellucor C4 has been around the pre-workout circuit for a long time. As one of the pioneers of next level pre-workouts, C4 has gained a massive following and it's not hard to see why. It contains a variety of energy boosters such as Caffeine Anhydrous, Velvet Bean, and Theacrine but it also has a nitric oxide boosting blend featuring Creatine Nitrate and AAK (Arginine Alpha Ketoglutarate).

     

    The energy boosting formula contains caffeine and theacrine, which is an amazing blend. Studies show that pairing these two together results in higher energy levels without the anxiousness associated with caffeine use. Also, the use of Beta Alanine may be a great way to boost strength and performance. (2-4)

     

    Cons of Cellucor C4

    While it does have Creatine Nitrate (the main ingredient in CN3), it is only dosed at one gram, making it essentially ineffective compared to the proper dose of 3 grams. This can be remedied by pairing up C4 with CN3, as I talk about below. (1)

     

    The only other issue we have with C4 is the use of the proprietary blend, which makes it impossible to know exactly how much of each ingredient you are getting in the energy blend. Still, this isn't a huge issue because you can assess your tolerance with C4 using a single serving, making it obvious that the dose is high enough to work.

     

    Conclusion

    Cellucor CN3 and Cellucor C4 are both fantastic products in the same category but they couldn't be further apart in terms of functionality. CN3 is a nitric oxide booster that may be able to increase strength levels, overall performance, and that pump you feel during the workout. Cellucor C4, on the other hand, is used to increase energy, boost focus, and promote performance. If you're serious about your workouts, then ideally you should be getting both of these products as they may have a significant impact on your gains.

     

    References

    1. Elfego Galvan, Dillon K. Walker, Sunday Y. Simbo, Ryan Dalton, Kyle Levers, Abigail O'Connor, Chelsea Goodenough, Nicholas D. Barringer, Mike Greenwood, Christopher Rasmussen, Stephen B. Smith, Steven E. Riechman, James D. Fluckey, Peter S. Murano, Conrad P. Earnest and Richard B. Kreider. Acute and chronic safety and efficacy of dose dependent creatine nitrate supplementation and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201613:12. DOI: 10.1186/s12970-016-0124-0.
    1. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM. Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1195-204.
    1. Daniel J. Kuhman, Keanan J. Joyner, and Richard J. Bloomer. Cognitive Performance and Mood Following Ingestion of a Theacrine-Containing Dietary Supplement, Caffeine, or Placebo by Young Men and Women. Nutrients. 2015 Nov; 7(11): 9618–9632.
    1. Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
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