Are you setting new resolutions for a new school year, trying to get used to a new schedule, or just trying to get in shape before the holiday season? This month’s pick is dedicated to September, and all the changes it brings.

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The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2016 is Six Star Pre-Workout Explosion.

One serving is one scoop of powder, delivering 135 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Though this is a dry powder and not a Ready-To-Drink (RTD), we’ll review the Who, What, and When as we do for every Energy Drink of the Month.

 

Who is this for? Target Audience

As it says right on the label, Six Star Pre-workout Explosion is for active men and women, bodybuilders, and strength athletes. But to find out if this product is worth a try, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you workout for more than 20 minutes? Does your workout exceed the intensity where you find it hard to talk normally / find yourself out of breath?
  • Are you more concerned about limiting sugar and calories than avoiding artificial colors and sweeteners?
  • How much caffeine can you handle?

What is in it? Ingredients and Function

The key ingredients in this product include caffeine (duh), beta-alanine, arginine and citrulline, creatine, vitamin C, and vitamin B3 (niacin).

Caffeine is a stimulant, but it also has been shown to increase muscle endurance and athletic performance in reliable scientific studies. Have you seen my YouTube presentation, Caffeine in Workout Supplements and the 5 Levels of Fatigue yet?

Arginine and citrulline are ingredients we’ve reviewed in depth during for the Ingredient Focus series. In general, citrulline and arginine help the body remove biochemical waste, and they help improve blood flow. For more detail, see the Ingredient Focus three-part series on citrulline: What It Is, What It Does, Dosage and Side Effects.

Creatine and beta-alanine are both ingredients intended to help build muscle and increase muscle strength. In both cases, total doses of 3-6 grams per day are needed on a regular basis to have an effect. Beta-alanine has some fascinating studies behind it (nerd alert!), especially since one brand (CarnoSyn) owns the market and has been responsibly proactive about proving this ingredient’s benefits. In general, beta-alanine is claimed to increase muscle strength and power output. However, the specifics on how much one really needs and how exactly this ingredient works is worth further investigation. Beta-alanine will be our Ingredient Focus pick for this month, so stay tuned for that!

Niacin is like the person everyone wants at their party. Did you know that niacin participates in over 200 reactions in the body – most of them used to produce ATP (the chemical form of energy)? Did you know that niacin deficiency symptoms include the three Ds: dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis? Niacin is one of my favorite vitamins to talk about, especially since it disproves the idea you can never have too much of a water-soluble vitamin. It’s a popular vitamin in energy drinks, and yet with a 35 mg dosage, some people experience “niacin flush”.

If you’re a nerd like me and you want to learn more about what niacin does and why its story of discovery and application is so interesting, check out my book “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”

 

When to take it? 5 Levels of Fatigue

During grad school, when I was doing research on energy drinks and their ingredients, I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue. This system is designed to match the type and potency of caffeinated beverage with one’s true level of fatigue. In short, if you always reach for the strong stuff when you’re bored (not tired), it won’t work when you really truly need it.

This product contains 135 mg caffeine per serving, but the label of this product encourages people to have TWO servings! While the EFSA has ruled that up to 200 mg caffeine is safe to consume in one occasion, TWO servings would be 270 mg caffeine. That’s more than a whole can of Rockstar, more than the EFSA recommends consuming in one sitting, and more than half the safe daily max of 400 mg caffeine per day. According to the 5 Levels of Fatigue, this product is Fatigue Level 4. In short, this Pre-Workout Explosion may be too powerful for some people (and there’s no shame in that!).

While the EFSA has ruled that up to 200 mg caffeine is safe to consume in one occasion, TWO servings would be 270 mg caffeine. That’s more than a whole can of Rockstar, more than the EFSA recommends consuming in one sitting, and more than half the safe daily max of 400 mg caffeine per day.

 

Bottom Line

There’s a good reason Caffeine Informer considers pre-workout supplements one of the 8 Most Dangerous Caffeinated Products.  This is a large dose of caffeine per serving — not larger than what is considered safe in one sitting, but large enough to warrant careful consumption by the user.

I’ve been using this product as my pre-workout for about one month (*individual results may vary*) and I have found I don’t need any other source of caffeine the rest of the day. What helps most is that I add one (non-heaping) scoop to a 20 oz water bottle, and it takes me the full 90 minutes of my morning workout to get through the whole drink. Moderation and pacing are critical to consuming caffeine safely and effectively.

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