If you’ve ever looked at the labels of Kaged Muscle’s Pre-Kaged, the standalone Kaged Muscle Caffeine capsules, or the caffeinated version of Amino Synergy, you’ll notice that they’re not using caffeine anhydrous, which is a synthetic form of caffeine manufactured in a lab (anhydrous meaning “without water”).
Instead, the brand led by Kris Gethin uses PurCaf, an organic caffeine source developed by Applied Food Sciences that is completely derived fromgreen coffee beans!
What’s the deal with Kaged Muscle and PurCaf?
When we interviewed Kris Gethin this summer, we dug into their 2018 product launches (such as the Ferodrox testosterone optimizer and MicroPure Whey Isolate, CreaClear creatine monohydrate, and the aforementioned Amino Synergy), and Kris told us that Kaged Muscle only sells products that work best in his body, and that includes caffeine from PurCaf.
On top of that, Kris has a propensity for food and supplements that are natural. This is no surprise coming from a man who works hard to “earn his residency on Earth” and will post a picture of his feet in some grass to Instagram, reminding you to “Earth yourself today”.
But our readers need more than that. We’re also seeing other new supplements like NutraBio’s EAA Energy use the ingredient, so there’s got to be something here. What is the science behind PurCaf?
PurCaf as explained by Applied Food Sciences
On the manufacturer’s website, they state that PurCaf® is a highly water soluble powdered caffeine extract that’s standardized at 95% pure caffeine from green coffee beans. It’s a non-GMO, GRAS (general recognized as safe) caffeine source, and has a neutral taste profile.
Meanwhile, anecdotal reports (ones I agree with) are that PurCaf provides a smoother-feeling energy hit than caffeine anhydrous.
Yet that’s still not enough for us. So if we have ~95% caffeine, what’s in the other ~5%? And how pure is that competing caffeine anyhydrous in everyone else’s supplements?
Who else to ask than Kaged Muscle’s formulator, Brian Rand, who we call their “executioner” because he’s the man who’s making Kris Gethin’s demands really happen behind the scenes!
PurCaf vs Synthetic Caffeine:
First off, Brian tells us about the “competition”:
“From a composition standpoint, synthetic caffeine must meet the USP specifications, and contain 99.5% caffeine. The 0.5% balance can be impurities in the synthesis process and residual solvents.”
— Brian Rand, Kaged Muscle Formulator
“PurCaf contains 96.5% caffeine, 2.5-3% naturally-occurring polyphenols and the balance water, with no chemical byproducts.”
— Brian Rand
PurCaf’s “Other” 5%: Mostly Chlorogenic Acid
How PurCaf “works” differently in the body has not been studied in humans, but Brian stated that those who have studied the effects of a combination of natural-occurring caffeine and antioxidants (think coffee) versus synthetically derived sources have found that:
When naturally-occurring antioxidants are present with the caffeine they tend to mitigate the negative effects of increased adrenal fatigue that can occur with caffeine alone
When naturally derived sources of caffeine, that contain other plant-based compounds are used relative to caffeine alone one can see a positive impact on the control and release of cortisol
The active antioxidants in PurCaf, namely the Chlorogenic acids, may exert protective effects against toward vascular endothelial cells, in which nitric oxide production may be enhanced, by promoting endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression, thus supporting the maintenance of normal endothelial function
PurCaf is a naturally derived source of caffeine from coffee; the functional and synergistic activities in coffee, namely the caffeine COMBINED with the chlorogenic acids in coffee, have been associated with healthy carbohydrate metabolism and enhanced heart heathy benefits, relative to ingestion of caffeine alone.
He then cited several papers, all of which are referenced below.[1-8]
The general gist is this — all other things considered equal, coffee drinkers live longer, have lower rates of metabolic syndrome, and are “better-protected” against poor diets.
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean anything for PurCaf itself, since it’s important to note that several of those studies are with regard to coffee drinkers (both black and green bean) as well as higher-dosed chlorogenic acid supplementation. Regardless, what we’re seeing is that there’s something very special to coffee, and it’s probably not the caffeine, per some of the following research:
Telomere Length Data Backs up the Coffee Hypothesis
Telomeres are nucleoprotein structures that protect the ends of your chromosomes. Over time while aging, telomeres shorten, and short telomeres generally lead to negative health consequences. In fact, looking at a massive study of 20,000 participants, individuals with telomeres in the shortest category had 25% greater risk of early death compared to those in the longest telomere category, after adjusting for potential confounders.
With that foundation set, let’s look at the telomeres between coffee drinkers and “energy drink” drinkers.
A study published in 2017 showed that as caffeine intake increased, telomere length tended to decrease, signifying accelerated aging. Conversely, as coffee intake increased, telomere length tended to increase, suggesting decelerated aging. This only makes sense if something else in the coffee is doing the heavy health lifting here, since caffeine (at least on its own) doesn’t seem to be.
Meanwhile, other studies have shown that it’s not just the caffeine, because decaf coffee has been associated with a small reduction in all-cause and CVD mortality.
What’s this mean for PurCaf?
Honestly, we don’t know. Fact is, the ingredient itself hasn’t been studied, and likely won’t be in such massive amounts like coffee has (the studies cited above have literally tens of thousands of subjects).
But if nature is rewarding coffee-drinkers by keeping caffeine paired with its other natural constituents, then it may not be a bad idea to have some of that in your pre workout… even if it’s only 5% of the ingredient’s mass.