Last week we teased the new Layne Norton Supplements, as @BioLayne has partnered with Bodybuilding.com 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 Bodybuilding.com 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:
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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)
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.
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.
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!
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 and possibly improve creatine production in the body. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.” 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.
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.
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!
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.
Rather than increase production, Huperzine inhibits acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown the acetylcholine. 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, and can possibly help create new brain cells thereby making it “neurogenerative.”
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.
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.
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.
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- 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
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- Lee EC, et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)
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- Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine administration increases the GH responses to GHRH of young and elderly subjects.
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