Cytosport has long been synonymous with athletes due to the popularity of the post workout recovery drink, Muscle Milk. Now the brand that helped spark the post workout craze is stepping up their game with their Monster Series.
This “graduate” series of products debuted at the Arnold Expo earlier this year will 11 total offerings, ranging from protein powders to bulks like creatine and amino acids. No line would be complete without a serious pre workout, and Initiate just happens to be the brand’s moniker for their pre workout.
In case you didn’t know, Cytosport’s Fast Twitch was one of the earlier pre workouts out there, so it’s always held a place close to heart. But as time and technology move forward, newer and more powerful products have to come out!
The short story is that this looks like a well-balanced, no-nonsense pre workout that both beginners and advanced users will enjoy – especially at the 1.5 scoop range.
We’ll get into the details shortly, after you’ve had a chance to check the best deal and sign up for alerts from PricePlow:
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Initiate offers a straightforward label with some proven endurance boosters, with a side of pumps. It’s all disclosed on a completely open label so you know just what kind of a ride you’re in for. Let’s get to it:
Initiate gets off to a good foot with a sizeable 3g dose of L-Citrulline. Typically, the most solid pre workouts will have 6-8g of citrulline malate, which supplies 3-4g of citrulline. Here we get pure, unadulterated citrulline.
Compared to other pump inducers like L-Arginine, citrulline is more readily absorbed by the body and boosts plasma arginine levels better! This means higher nitric oxide (NO) production in the body, increased blood flow to the muscles and better, longer-lasting pumps!
Citrulline is more than just a great NO booster though, it also enhances endurance and ATP production due to its ability to buffer ammonia build up.[2,3] All resulting in much better performance in the weight room or on the field.
Overall, a great start.
Betaine Anhydrous (2g)
Also known as trimethylglycine (TMG), betaine is becoming as common in pre workouts as caffeine and beta alanine (both of which are in Initiate). It’s included for good reason, as it works in conjunction with creatine to aid its synthesis in the body as well as enhance overall ATP production.[4,5]
Aside from helping out creatine, betaine improves strength, power, performance, and hydration levels in the body.[6,7,8] The end result is a better quality workout which means more gains!
The clinically-reviewed study on muscle growth was at 2.5g, so you’re not going to see us complaining much here — this is a great dose. So far so good!
CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine (2g)
Continuing on with our endurance boosters, Initiate also contains beta alanine. This non-essential amino acid binds to histidine in the body and helps form carnosine. Similar to citrulline, BA acts as a buffer in the body, but instead of removing ammonia, it buffers lactic acid.
This “buffering effect” will help to offset the muscle burn that you feel during long sets and helps increase endurance, power, strength, and speed of recovery![10,11,12]
Most research points to needing 3.2g of beta alanine to get the full clinical effects of the ingredient, so you’ll need at least 1.5 scoops of Initiate to hit your quota, or add some bulk BA elsewhere in your day.
Often referred to as the “anabolic activator” amino, L-Leucine stimulates the mTOR (or Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) signaling process that is primarily responsible for muscle-building (a.k.a. anabolism). which plays a significant role in muscle-building
As one of the three BCAAs, leucine plays a key role in helping prevent catabolism, improving fat loss, and decreasing fatigue.[14,15,16] The 2g dose does seem a bit odd though, as we usually like to see either 3g of Leucine or 5g of total BCAAs.
Either way, we’ll take leucine any time, any place, no questions asked.
Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid with large reserves found in the brain, muscles, and heart. Primarily, taurine functions as a cell volumizer, helping to transport water and nutrients into skeletal muscles.. This helps to foster “water-based” pumps and improve endurance..
Additionally, taurine has been found to reduce the onset of muscle soreness and enhance focus due to large amounts being stored in the brain. We typically like to see 1-3g of taurine, so you’ll more likely than not need 1.5-2 scoops to really “feel” any benefit to this ingredient.
Here’s an ingredient that makes us scratch our heads sometimes. It’s found in lots of energy drinks, and doesn’t seem to be hazardous, but why is it everywhere? The studies on it are somewhat vague on any cognitive boost it may offer.[20,21]
Some bro-scientists claim it helps glucose metabolism, but there doesn’t seem to be any clear proof based on the few studies done on this ingredient.
Given the ridiculously high number of energy drinks that contain this, we wish there’d be more research on it. Obviously it doesn’t show adverse events (given how it’s been had in billions of servings), so it’s likely not at all bad, but we’d just like to get past the theoretical on this one.
To have a true pre workout, you need to have caffeine. Whereas the trend in the industry seems to be more and more and more with pre workouts, Initiate plays to the lower stim crowd and uses only 150mg of caffeine per scoop.
Initiate uses a combination of caffeine anhydrous and PURENERGY® (caffeine pterostilbene cocrystal). We all know what caffeine anhydrous is, as it’s most commonly used form of caffeine in pre workout supplements, but PURENERGY is another story.
Caffeine Pterostilbene Cocrystal is a trademarked caffeine hybrid that contains 43% caffeine and 57% pterostilbene cocrystals.[22,23] Developed by Chromadex, PURENERGY provides a similar kick like anhydrous does, but early research shows it to be stronger and longer lasting than most other forms.
The studies show PURENERGY® lasting 6-8 hours longer than caffeine alone. The result of this longer duration is a prolonged energy boost, better concentration and elevated mood. More importantly for those who don’t handle high stims well, the increased effectiveness means you can get the same benefits of a high dose of caffeine, but with a much smaller amount!
The best part of that blend is that if you need 1.5-2 scoops, you’re going to get some serious L-citrulline pumps. That will obviously cost you more, but we think that if you’re in the ~200-250mg caffeine range, this is an incredibly balanced yet simple no-nonsense formula.
Cytosport is available in 30 serving tubs in four “standard” flavors:
- Blue Raspberry
- Fruit Punch
- Sour Apple
Side rant warning: With the proclivity of pre workouts that seem to be hitting the market each month, would it be too hard for the larger companies to experiment with new flavors. These standard flavors have been done to death for YEARS! It’s time for companies to take a cue from some of the flavor innovators in the industry and start experimenting with new offerings.
Initiate is a firm re-entry into the pre workout category from one of the industry’s bigger companies. It includes several ingredients proven to improve your endurance, power, and strength. However, most will end up needing to use 1.5-2 scoops of the product for either the increased energy or to get full clinical doses of the ergogenic aids, which inevitable lowers the amount of servings you get per tub.
Overall, a straightforward offering from Cytosport, and may be worth your money, provided it’s priced somewhere around $20 for a tub, which we’re already starting to see thanks to the PricePlow coupon system.
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- Curis E., et. al; “Citrulline and the gut;”; Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care; September 2007
- Hickner RC. et. al.; Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; “L-citrulline reduces time to exhaustion and insulin response to a graded exercise test;“
- Moinard C., et. al.; The British Journal of Nutrition; “Dose-ranging effects of citrulline administration on plasma amino acids and hormonal patterns in healthy subjects: the Citrudose pharmacokinetic study;” April 2008
- Sanchez-Margalet V, Valle M, et al. Elevated plasma total homocysteine levels in hyperinsulinemic obese subjects. J Nutr Biochem 2002;13, 75-79.
- Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, et al. Effect of 15 days of betaine ingestion on concentric and eccentric force outputs during isokinetic exercise. J Strength Cond Res 2011;25, 2235-2241.
- Courtenay ES, et al. Vapor pressure osmometry studies of osmolyte-protein interactions: implications for the action of osmoprotectants in vivo and for the interpretation of “osmotic stress” experiments in vitro. Biochemistry. (2000)
- Cholewa, J; Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone.; Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, Coastal Carolina University; 2013
- Lee EC, et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)
- Hill, CA et al.; Amino Acids; “Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity ;” February 2007
- Kendrick IP, et al.; The effects of 10 weeks of resistance training combined with beta-alanine supplementation on whole body strength, force production, muscular endurance and body composition. Amino Acids. (2008)
- Baguet, A et al.; Journal of Applied Physiology; “Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance;” July 2010;” 2005
- Roger C. Harris; et al.; “The effect of a supplement containing β-alanine on muscle carnosine synthesis, ventilatory threshold and exercise capacity in Korean cyclists, during 12 weeks combined endurance and weight training“
- Dreyer, H; Resistance exercise increases AMPK activity and reduces 4E-BP1 phosphorylation and protein synthesis in human skeletal muscle; Department of Physical Therapy, University of Texas Medical Branch; 2006
- Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss
- Shimomura Y, et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2010)
- Nutraceutical Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acids on Skeletal Muscle
- Hoffmann, E.K., I.H. Lambert, and S.F. Pedersen, Physiology of cell volume regulation in vertebrates. Physiol Rev, 2009. 89(1)
- Alford, C., H. Cox, and R. Wescott, The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood. Amino Acids, 2001. 21(2)