Recent deaths have been linked to the pre-workout supplement Jack3d (pronounced “jacked”) which contains methylhexanamine, or DMAA. Jack3d is intended to give users more energy, motivation, focus and improved mental state while enabling them to lift more or just go harder. Although DMAA is currently legal to possess in the US, it is ban in some countries as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency. There are conflicting reports on whether or not DMAA is actually safe or not, and I’m certainly not an expert so I’m not going to pass judgement on it.
I have not taken Jack3d, but I have used the “fat burner” Oxyelite Pro when it contained DMAA, along with a good amount of caffeine. I took it during the day, not close to workouts, and it did provide a boost of energy and kinda made me feel warmer. I took it as directed and did not have any major side effects. Here are some less controversial supplements I’ve tried and how they worked for me.
C4 Extreme & ACG3 – The former I received as a sample from GNC about a year ago and the latter I just tried today. I’m lumping them together because the had similar effects. Most notably they contain caffeine & creatine. Both gave me energy and helped me feel good throughout the workout. They both taste like concentrated Kool-Aid, which isn’t bad. I do have to make sure I don’t take too much (I’m small) otherwise I feel a little lightheaded and dehydrated. Otherwise in the right amounts, they work good for me. That said, I don’t use them often.
Gatorade 01 Pro Prime – This stuff is great prior to long endurance workouts. It has a good amount of carbs (30g – aka energy), which is good for prolong activity. My only complaint is that it’s kind of sugary and can mess with my stomach at times, but if I give enough time between taking it and working out, I’m fine. This is also my pre-race fuel. Otherwise, reserved for continuous endurance training lasting over an hour.
Gatorade 02 Pro Endurance Formula – Along with water, this is generally all I use while training or competing. I typically drink it more so during longer summer workouts when I’m sweating more and therefore need electrolyte replenishment. Compared to normal Gatorade, this has less sugar (and therefore calories, only 50/8oz serving) but more sodium and potassium. I get it in powder form so I can control the concentration. It’s also cheaper and more environmentally friendly versus buying individual bottles. I had come close to passing out due to dehydration during long summer workouts prior to using this (and just drinking water). Lemon-lime is my favorite flavor.
Water – Yep, plain old water is usually all that’s in my Camelbak, especially this time of year when I’m training at lower intensities and not loosing as many electrolytes through sweat. Your muscles also need water to grow. I try for no less than 8 cups per day—usually much more. Oh, and it should also be noted—no soda in my diet! During the day, it’s generally black coffee or water for me.
In general, protein has helped me increase strength and muscle mass by taking it post-strength workout. You could get just as much protein from the right food, but shakes are convenient. The right amount of protein is essential to build lean muscle. Lack of protein tells your body to store more carbs as fat (it goes into somewhat of a survival mode).
GNC AMP 60 – This is a blend of whey Isolates and hydrolysates. Although it worked fine, I realized that I don’t need 60 grams of protein in a supplement when factoring in the rest of my diet. A sports dietitian also told me I was taking in too much protein which could be stored as fat (I believe her words were “you’re not a body builder.”). Currently, I try for about 1g of protein per pound of body weight—which is still a bit more than she recommended.
GNC AMP Recovery Protein XR – I started taking this because it had a more appropriate amount of protein for me + carbs for recovery. Then I realized, I didn’t need the extra carbs. After a workout, I’m hungry and typically eat food with carbs anyways.
ON 100% Whey Natural – This is what I currently use. It’s less expensive than the GNC brands, works just as well and has the right amount of protein for me (24g). The vanilla flavor isn’t the greatest, but it’s ok. I also like the fact that there are no artificial flavors or dies. Mix it with 6oz of organic skim milk for a little extra protein (6g) and better taste. I will continue to buy this for the foreseeable future.