Carbon PREP – Layne Norton’s Pre Workout DOA

UPDATE (September 2017): To the mild dismay of Layne Norton’s fans (including those overseas), the entire Carbon product line, which includes this product, has been discontinued. See our video below discussing it:

Subscribe to PricePlow on YouTube
Prep is Layne Norton's debut stim-free pre workout for his brand new supplement line, Carbon. Let's see what's in store!

Prep is Layne Norton’s debut stim-free pre workout for his brand new supplement line, Carbon. Let’s see what’s in store!

Last week we teased the new Layne Norton Supplements, as @BioLayne has partnered with to release Carbon, his own line of open label, clinically dosed sports nutrition supplements. At the time, Layne said the products would be released sometime in October.

Well, Christmas has come early for Layne’s huge fanbase, as the line debuted on September 30! So far, the line has two products, a post workout called Recover and the highly anticipated pre workout Prep.

The quick bullet points:

  • Nearly stimulant-free (there’s a dash of theobromine, add your own caffeine or fat burner if you must)
  • Clinical dosing of pump ingredients and muscle-builders
  • High doses of trusted focus boosters that we love
  • A very high astragalus dose, a potential difference-maker
  • Solid amount of cocoa extract, which could have all kinds of benefits

Before we get to the breakdown, take a second to check the best deal on this hot new product and sign up for PricePlow alerts:

Carbon by Layne Norton Prep - Deals and Price Drop Alerts

Get Price Alerts

No spam, no scams.

Disclosure: PricePlow relies on pricing from stores with which we have a business relationship. We work hard to keep pricing current, but you may find a better offer.

Posts are sponsored in part by the retailers and/or brands listed on this page.

Prep’s Ingredients

True to form, Prep’s label is completely open and uses clinically efficacious doses of proven ingredients all designed to get you prepped for your workout.

A big surprise is that this is a near-non-stim product making it perfect for people on a stim break or for those that want to add a caffeine cap or fat burner to their pre workout dosing protocol.

  • Citrulline Malate (6g)

    True to his word, Layne uses only efficacious doses of proven workout ingredients in Prep.

    True to his word, Layne uses only efficacious doses of proven workout ingredients in Prep.

    Prep comes out swinging with a nice hefty dose of citrulline malate. Here, citrulline is bonded to malic acid to create a superior nitric oxide booster compared to L-Arginine.[1]

    Not only is CM better absorbed by the body, it also removes ammonia from the body thereby acting as an intracellular buffer. The leads to increased endurance, better ATP production, reduced fatigue, and greater lean body mass.[2,3,4,5,6] The end result is improved workout performance and bigger gains.

    When we see 6g of citrulline malate (or 3g of straight L-citrulline), we know we’re in for some fun, so long as the caffeine dose is in line.

  • Creatine Monohydrate (3g)

    Why include creatine in a pre workout? Simply, it flat out works. Aside from caffeine, no single other sports supplement has been more heavily studied and proven effective time and again.

    Basically creatine improves ATP production in the body leading to increased strength, power, performance, and lean body mass.[7,8,9,10]

    You’ll notice that Layne sticks with creatine monohydrate over using some of the newer, “sexier” forms of creatine like Creatine HCl or Creatine MagnaPower®. The reason mono is included in prep is that no other form has shown to be superior to creatine monohydrate in bioavailability or effectiveness.[11]

    An interesting thing here is that hardly any stimulant-free pre workout supplements contain creatine. They focus on the pump. With Prep, Layne Norton took another route, working on one primary pump ingredient but plenty of muscle-builders and focus-enhancers instead. Well played, Layne!

  • BetaPower®(2.5g)

    Betaine Anhydrous, a.k.a. trimethylglycine, has quickly become a staple in new pre workouts hitting the market over the past 12-18 months. There’s a good reason for this, as studies have repeatedly shown it to improve endurance, power, and muscle protein synthesis.[12,13,14]

    Additional research also demonstrates betaine reduces muscle soreness[15] and possibly improve creatine production in the body.[16] Like every other ingredient so far in Prep, we get the full clinical dosage of 2.5g of betaine.

    Same story here as with creatine – few stim-free pre workouts contain this incredible muscle builder, so we love having it.

  • Astragalus (2g)

    Astragalus is one of the more intriguing ingredients included in Prep that will boost endurance and decrease markers of muscular damage.

    Astragalus is one of the more intriguing ingredients included in Prep that will boost endurance and decrease markers of muscular damage.

    Here is where Carbon Prep gets really unique, and it could be a great lift for those who aren’t adding stimulants to this.

    Astragalus is an herb with a long history of use in Ancient Chinese medicine. Modern research demonstrates that when combined with exercise, astragalus increases endurance and reduces markers of muscular damage like ammonia and blood lactate.[17,18]

    Additionally, Astragalus helps fight inflammation and support the body’s immune system.[19]

    Huge dose!!!

    Where this is interesting is that it’s a very high dose compared to what you’ll see elsewhere. Even when you buy it separately, it usually comes 500mg at a time, so we’re really interested to see how this plays out in terms of endurance.

    On top of that, this should help with the absorption of the other ingredients.

  • L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (1g)

    Standard L-Carnitine supplements have been around a long time; however, the vast majority of them showed no results unless you’re carnitine deficient, which are the elderly and vegetarians.[20,21]

    LCLT (L-Carnitine L-Tartrate) on the other hand has serious research backing it up showing that it’s effective for a much broader population and can increase exercise endurance and blood flow while reducing soreness and muscular damage[22,23,24]

    Studies have shown anywhere from 1-2g of LCLT confers these benefits. We get 1g here, and we have a sneaking suspicion you’ll get an additional gram in the post workout supplement, Recover.

  • Cocoa seed Powder (450mg)

    This may cause some of our readers to raise an eyebrow. Why in the world would you want cocoa powder in a pre workout?

    Some research has shown that it can increase blood flow, even in healthy individuals.[25]

    Standardized for 6% Theobromine (27mg)

    27mg theobromine. weaker than caffiene and very unlikely to provide any stimulant effect in that dosage. We tried to get it to 0 however it would have made it cost prohibitive — Layne Norton, on Facebook

    In this case, the label states that it’s standardized to 6% theobromine, which yields 27mg, a tiny bit of stim. This ingredient is often thought of as caffeine’s little brother. It’ll help improve your mood and give you a mild stim kick, but much smoother than you’d experience from caffeine.[26]

    The point is, 6% is small, meaning that Layne is trying to get the other stuff out of the cocoa – NOT the stimulants!

    So what else is in this?

    We’d love to know what else is in there – any caffeine? A high amount of flavonols?

    Perhaps… a nice dose of epicatechin, the incredible component in cocoa / dark chocolate that’s been linked to muscle growth, cardiovascular health, and even works a bit as a myostatin inhibitor?! That… would be awesome.

    We’ve reached out to Layne for comment and here’s what he had to say:

    “cocoa seed extract is pretty well established in the literature to improve blood flow. Not convinced improved blood flow means more muscle, but if people like it and it gives positive feedback, then that’s a positive.”

  • Alpha GPC (300mg)

    Layne teased this a few days ago on his Instagram page. Could this be the Cranberry Grape flavor of Prep?

    Layne teased this a few days ago on his Instagram page. Could this be the Cranberry Grape flavor of Prep?

    We’ve got ingredients to improve power and performance, but what about your mental state? Going into a workout you need to be “in it to win it” with a focused mind to dominate the iron.

    Alpha GPC is a choline-containing molecule that increases the production of acetylcholine in the body, a.k.a. the “learning neuro transmitter.”[27] In addition to boosting mood and focus, Alpha GPC also increases endurance, power output, and post workout Growth Hormone (GH) levels.[28,29,30]

    Normally, when you’re talking about the higher-quality forms of choline, two compounds come up the most: citicoline (Choline-CDP) and Alpha GPC. It’s personal preference as to which one people like best, but you really can’t go wrong with either. Even if you don’t add more stimulants to Carbon Prep, you should be “feeling” this.

  • Rhodiola Rosea (180mg)

    Rhodiola rosea is an underutilized herb in many pre workouts. It’s an adaptogenic ingredient that helps the body deal with psychological, emotional, and physical stressors. Herbs like rhodiola improve endurance and alertness while reducing mental fatigue from stressful situations.[31]

    Additional research also shows that rhodiola can improve cognitive functioning and memory due to its actions on the neurotransmitter systems for dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and acetylcholine production.[32]

    This is the one and only ingredient that may be dosed a touch on the light side, but that’s fine – it will still feel great and get it’s job done. This is our favorite herb, especially when on a stimulant-break.

    We thought this may have been the only ingredient possibly low on dosage, so we reached out and heard back from the man himself on this:

    “based on the standardization for rosavins and what is needed for the adaptagen effect. That said of course some people may have varying responses based on dose, but based on the literature this should be more than sufficient.”

    Basically, your “standard” Rhodiola that you find in nearly all other pre workouts is standardized to 3% Rosavins. Prep uses a much higher 5% Rosavin standardization, meaning you’ll need less of the overall ingredient to get more of the goods!

    Note: The Alpha-GPC isn’t disclosed. This ingredient could be 300mg of actual Alpha GPC, or 300mg of 50% Alpha GPC (thus making it 150mg). Confirm with the manufacturer if concerned, and we will update this post if there is clarification.

  • Huperzine A (200mcg)

    Prep’s final ingredient is yet another focus boosting ingredient. While Alpha GPC and Rhodiola can directly increase acetylcholine production in the body, Huperzine works in just the inverse way.


    Acetylcholinesterase breaks down our acetylcholine.[28] Huperzine A helps slow this process down.

    Rather than increase production, Huperzine inhibits acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown the acetylcholine.[33] Therefore Huperzine indirectly increases amounts of this crucial neurotransmitter by helping it stay around your system longer.

    Furthermore, Huperzine also blocks against the “neuron death molecule” glutamine,[34] and can possibly help create new brain cells thereby making it “neurogenerative.”[35]

    Another huge dose!!

    If you can’t feel the choline, rhodiola, or astragalus, trust us when we say you will feel this — this is 4x the “standard” dose of 50mcg, and some of our other favorite pre workout supplements contain higher doses of it as well.

    It’s a very expensive ingredient, so we love how Layne made this happen.

Flavors Available

Prep is available in two flavors the always trite and mundane Fruit Punch, and the much more intriguing Cranberry Grape. Each tub of Prep contains 20 servings enough for approximately one month of workouts.

Wrap Up

Carbon Recover Layne Norton

Layne’s actually drinking Carbon Recover here — that analysis is coming next!

Wow. Now that’s how you make a nearly-stim-free pre workout.

Layne Norton’s debut supplement is quite a doozy. It packs a ton of ingredients that indeed will enhance your performance and prepare your body for the task at hand. What it does not contain is a bunch of stims and niacin to make “think” the pre workout is working – but we’re sure you’re still going to feel this.

With all of the adaptogens and focus enhancers, even if you do want to add a stimulant, you might only need to add very little – say 100mg of caffeine. The rest of this formula will speak for itself.

Prep utilizes ingredients proven to improve your performance allowing you to push more weight for higher reps and recover better in between sets. If you need some extra push, simply stack a caffeine tab or a stimmed pre workout of your choice.

Welcome to the game, Layne! You are off to one hell of a commendable start, and we can’t wait to see where he goes from here.

Carbon by Layne Norton Prep - Deals and Price Drop Alerts

Get Price Alerts

No spam, no scams.

Disclosure: PricePlow relies on pricing from stores with which we have a business relationship. We work hard to keep pricing current, but you may find a better offer.

Posts are sponsored in part by the retailers and/or brands listed on this page.

About the Author: Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is a biohacker with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several "n=1" experiments done on himself.

Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

No Comments | Posted in , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Curis E., et. al; “Citrulline and the gut;”; Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care; September 2007
  2. Wilson GJ1, Layman DK, Moulton CJ, Norton LE, Anthony TG, Proud CG, Rupassara SI, Garlick PJ. Leucine or carbohydrate supplementation reduces AMPK and eEF2 phosphorylation and extends postprandial muscle protein synthesis in rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Dec;301(6):E1236-42
  3. Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Lord T, Vanhatalo A, Winyard PG, Jones AM. l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Aug 15;119(4):385-95
  4. Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22.
  5. Osowska S, Duchemann T, Walrand S, Paillard A, Boirie Y, Cynober L, Moinard C. Citrulline modulates muscle protein metabolism in old malnourished rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Sep;291(3):E582-6.
  6. Le Plénier S, Walrand S, Noirt R, Cynober L, Moinard C. Effects of leucine and citrulline versus non-essential amino acids on muscle protein synthesis in fasted rat: a common activation pathway? Amino Acids. 2012 Sep;43(3):1171-8.
  7. Netreba, A; [Creatine as a metabolic controller of skeletal muscles structure and function in strength exercises in humans].; Ross Fiziol; 2006
  8. Bemben, M; The effects of supplementation with creatine and protein on muscle strength following a traditional resistance training program in middle-aged and older men.; Neuromuscular Lab, Dept. Health & Exercise Science, U. Oklahoma; 2010
  9. Chilibeck, P; Effect of creatine ingestion after exercise on muscle thickness in males and females.; College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan; 2004
  10. Hoffman, J; Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes.; Dept. of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey; 2006
  12. Lee EC, et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)
  13. Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue
  14. del Favero S, et al Creatine but not betaine supplementation increases muscle phosphorylcreatine content and strength performance . Amino Acids. (2012)
  15. holewa, J; Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone.; Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, Coastal Carolina University; 2013
  16. Betaine supplementation enhances anabolic endocrine and Akt signaling in response to acute bouts of exercise.
  19. Cho WC, Leung KN; In vitro and in vivo immunomodulating and immunorestorative effects of Astragalus membranaceus . J Ethnopharmacol. (2007)
  20. Carnitine status of lactoovovegetarians and strict vegetarian adults and children>
  21. Carnitine function and requirements during the life cycle
  22. Volek JS, Judelson DA, Silvestre R, Yamamoto LM, Spiering BA, Hatfield DL, Vingren JL, Quann EE, Anderson JM, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Effects of carnitine supplementation on flow-mediated dilation and vascular inflammatory responses to a high-fat meal in healthy young adults. Am J Cardiol,2008 Nov 15;102(10):1413-7
  23. Kraemer WJ, Spiering BA, Volek JS, Ratamess NA, Sharman MJ, Rubin MR, French DN, Silvestre R, Hatfield DL, Van Heest JL, Vingren JL, Judelson DA, Deschenes MR, Maresh CM. Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2006 Jul;38(7):1288-96
  24. Ho JY, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Fragala MS, Thomas GA, Dunn-Lewis C, Coday M, Häkkinen K, Maresh CM. l-Carnitine l-tartrate supplementation favorably affects biochemical markers of recovery from physical exertion in middle-aged men and women. Metabolism, 2009 Dec 30
  28. Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise.
  29. Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine administration increases the GH responses to GHRH of young and elderly subjects.
  30. Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine.
  31. Khanum F., et. al.; Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety; “Rhodiola rosea: A versatile Adaptogen;” 2005
  32. Shevtsov VA, et al; Phytomedicine; “A randomized trial of two different doses of Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work;” 2003
  33. Zhao, Q; Effects of huperzine A on acetylcholinesterase isoforms in vitro: comparison with tacrine, donepezil, rivastigmine and physostigmine.; State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; 2002
  34. Ved, H; Huperzine A, a potential therapeutic agent for dementia, reduces neuronal cell death caused by glutamate.; Division of Biochemistry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; 1997
  35. Ma, T; Huperzine A promotes hippocampal neurogenesis in vitro and in vivo.; State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University; 2013

Comments and Discussion (Powered by the PricePlow Forum)