The benefits of nutritional supplements like creatine, beta-alanine, amino acids, and caffeine are well-established. But have you ever wondered about the multi-ingredient supplements that mix all of them into one package? A recent study examined the effects of two of these products: NO-Shotgun and NO-Synthesize, both from Vital Pharmaceuticals. NO-Shotgun is made up of whey protein, casein protein, BCAAs, creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine. NO-Synthesize contains whey protein, casein protein, BCAAs, creatine, and beta-alanine.
Two groups of men with a background of resistance training were used. Both groups trained three times per week for six weeks. The first group consumed the multi-ingredient supplements, taking NO-Shotgun pre-workut and NO-Synthesize post-workout. The second group consumed a placebo drink pre- and post-workout. Researchers measured levels of anabolic hormones, strength, power, and body composition both before and after the six-week trial.
All participants followed the same training program. The program was that of your typical gym-goer that isolates muscle groups. You know what I’m talking about – lots of bench press and bicep curls. I did find one familiar exercise among them: straight-leg deadlift.
So did the multi-ingredient supplement group show any advantages over the placebo group? Yes, a few. First, both groups showed increases in the hormones testosterone and hGH. Looks like regular resistance training alone is enough to raise those hormones, which is a cool finding in itself. But the supplement group also showed a slight increase in levels of IGF-1, while the placebo group actually had a slight decrease in IGF-1. The difference wasn’t significant, but it’s clear that supplements at least do no harm to anabolic hormones, and they might actually improve them.
The supplement group showed a large improvement in body composition and greater hypertrophy than the placebo group. The supplement group also showed greater power output on a stationary bike. However, the supplement group did not show any improvement over the placebo group in maximal strength on the bench press and leg press. So the supplement group didn’t show an advantage in every single test, but it still had a clear win overall. One caveat: the study was paid for by Vital Pharmaceuticals, the producer of the supplements tested.
I think multi-ingredient supplements are great. I personally use a creatine and beta-alanine mix as part of my training. One thing I’ve learned when shopping multi-ingredient supplements is to closely examine the dosages to ensure you’re getting as much of each component as you desire. It’s difficult for multi-ingredient supplements to include everything you want with the full dosage you want without charging a price that makes them unappealing – so keep a skeptical eye and examine the label closely.
1. Ormsbee, Michael J, et al. “The effects of six weeks of supplementation with multi-ingredient performance supplements and resistance training on anabolic hormones, body composition, strength, and power in resistance-trained men.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9:49, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.