This morning I trialled SHATTER SX-7 by Muscletech, yet another sample pack provided by my friends at AAA Supplements. As always I did some research on this product before taking it, reading other reviews and experiences to get an idea of a good starting dosage. The sample pack comes with 6g, or 2x 1 serving (scoop), which after some reading I decided I would take the full sample pack. I am fairly tolerant to pre-workout supplements now as I’ve taken many and generally take them every day, but I was still a little nervous about taking a 2 scoop serving as Upload and Ritual have me bouncing off the walls from 1 scoop.
Let’s first take a look at the ingredients profile.
Ingredients – 8/10
First of all, I’d just like to say THANK YOU MUSCLETECH for not hiding your ingredients behind some stupid patented complex like many other companies do. As much as I love 2Shredded by Beast, do you think I can get them to tell me how much caffeine they have in that bad boy? My usual routine is a 1-scoop pre-workout before my morning cardio, followed by a mix of 2Shredded that I drink slowly over a couple of hours. I have started to utilize the free gym facilities in the building where I work to get a second workout in during my lunch break, but I’m a little concerned of caffeine overdose if I take a second serving of pre-workout on the same day. Just tell me how much caffeine you use so I don’t die!
Anyway, back to SHATTER. To say the least, the ingredients profile is rather unique. I’ve not heard of many of these ingredients before today, but have done some research and will try my best to explain their intended purposes below. But let’s start with some of the better-known and staple ingredients.
You simply can’t have a pre-workout without a generous helping of beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid that is proven to increase carnosine levels in your muscles to help push through intense workouts. This is also what gives you the “tingly, prickly skin” feeling that you’re surely to have experienced if you’ve ever taken a pre-workout before. This can be kind of scary the first time you take a pre-workout, especially if you’re not expecting it, but I’ve come to love this feeling as I know my supplement is aptly dosed when I get this feeling.
At 1200mg of beta-alanine, SHATTER is a little low on this ingredient when compared to many other pre-workouts, and most who are serious with their training will want to take 2 scoops to get the ideal dosage, which can make this a rather costly supplement.
Adenosine 5′ – triphosphate disodium (Peak ATP®)
ATP is something I don’t see all that often in the supplements I have taken, but it sounds like a promising addition, with Peak ATP being accepted as a leading proprietor of ATP. This is Peak ATP’s self-explanation:
PEAK ATP® increase levels of extracellular ATP. As a result, it enhances muscular growth, power, and strength, while improving recovery — allowing athletes to push themselves to new frontiers.* Importantly, PEAK ATP® is the only form of oral ATP delivery shown to enhance athletic performance and body composition.
Probably an equal first with beta-alanine as a stable of pre-workouts, caffeine is dosed at 160mg in SHATTER. To give you an idea by comparison, a standard coffee is approx. 60mg caffeine and a NO-DOZ pill is 100mg caffeine. So take a NO-DOZ with a regular coffee and you get the amount of caffeine you will find in SHATTER.
160mg seems to be the standard amount in most pre-workouts that I have tried so far.
Myristica fragrans extract (nutmeg)(seed)
Okay… nutmeg seed. According to Muscletech:
A nutmeg (seed) that contains a powerful premium compound called myristicin, which contributes to the unique sensory experience.
Contributes to the unique sensory experience. Huh. What the heck does that even mean?
So I did some research of my own for any clinical studies on anything at all related to physiology and came upon something a little concerning, from www.drugs.com:
Nutmeg has long been known for its psychoactive properties of producing anxiety/fear and hallucinations; however, clinical studies are lacking. Long-term nutmeg abuse has been reported. Laboratory tests have detected nutmeg metabolites, which are reported to be unlike amphetamine derivatives.
I’m not overly fond of anxiety, fear or hallucinations. Although I’m writing this a couple of hours after my workout and so far I’m not experiencing any of these scary side-effects, so I‘m going to put this ingredient in the bogus basket.
Brown algae extract (as Ecklonia cava)(stem and leaf)
So I can’t even see this ingredient listed on Muscletech’s website, which is strange, but my own research led me to this article on www.suppversity.blogspot.com.au:
For 12 weeks, a group of 97 overweight (not obese; BMI 24-29kg/m²) Koreans (mean age 40.5yr) consumed a test liquid containing 0 g of fructose, 0.65 g of dextrin, 12mg of sucralose, 0.15 g of sodium chloride, 0.6 g of citric acid, 0.15 g of vitamin C and lemon ﬂavor. Depending on which group (C, LD, HD) the respective subject had been assigned to, the content of the otherwise identical cans held had been enriched by 0mg (C), 72mg (LD) or 142mg (HD) of an Ecklonia cava extract with a total polyphenol content of 98.5% (measured in phloroglucinol equivalents). The subjects were adviced to consume the drink in between meals, but otherwise to maintain “their usual dietary intake and physical activity”, so that any changes in antropometric measurements, dietary intakes and biochemical and hematologic parameters would be attributable to the Ecklonia cava polyphenol (ECP) supplementation.
The anthropometric data taken after 12 weeks of supplementation makes it quite clear, that the polyphenols from the brown algae found in the ocean off Japan and Korea do in fact hold somepotential as an adjunct to a well planned weight loss regimen. In that, two things are particularly intriguing:
- In contrast to some other natural weight loss supplements (cf. yesterday’s news on green tea extract), the dose response curve does not seem to flatten out. At least within the range that has been tested in this study, doubling the dosage even produced a 2.25-fold increase in body fat loss.
- The polyphenol extract does not seem to work its magic by appetite suppression. As the data in figure 1 shows, the difference between calorie intake and estimated calorie expenditure did even rise by 4.7% and 5.5% in the ECP(72) and the ECP(144) group respectively (judged by the estimated calorie-expenditures both groups had a minimal caloric surplus of 79 and 106kcal).
If you also take into account that subjects in the ECP groups, “showed significant decreases in total cholesterol level after 12 weeks by 7.1% [ECP(72)] (p < 0.01) and 9.3% [ECP(144)] (p < 0.001), […]significantly reduced serum total cholesterol levels (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively)” and10.0% and 14.3% lower LDL and 8.6% and 13.3% higher HDL levels, the slimy sea food from the Far East does already appear more appetizing, doesn’t it? To eat your way through >10kg of sea weed (this is what the yield of the extraction process described by Lo et al. (Lo. 2009) would suggest to be needed as “basis” of a high quality extract), would nevertheless be pretty hard, which is why I tend to think that this is one of the few cases, where you should prefer the highly processed over the unprocessed variety of a natural superfood.
As far as the mechanism of action, responsible for the highly appreciable effects on body composition, blood lipids and, at high doses, glucose management (-4.9% blood glucose in the ECP(144) group) are concerned the scientists are yet still in the dark:
The antidyslipidemic mechanism of the phlorotannins is not clear. Based on the moderateinhibition of cholesterol esterase (IC50 = ~100 μg/mL on porcine pancreatic cholesterol esterase, unpublished result) by ECP, inhibition of cholesterol absorption may partly contribute to this effect. Other mechanistic speculations include protection of liver function from chronic exposure to high‐fat or high‐glycemic diet. […] In the present study, significant reduction was observed of serum ALT and AST levels in ECP‐supplemented groups compared with the placebo group. Therefore, based on its antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and hepatoprotective (Kim et al., 2005) activities, ECP might possibly contribute to normalization of blood lipids by
suppressing fat‐induced damage of liver tissue.
Be that as is may, as long as it entails small, but statistically significant, side-effect-free improvements in body-composition, lipid profile and glucose management, I doubt any overweight end-consumer will give a damn about the underlying molecular mechanisms which certainly won’t make the necessary lifestyle changes obsolete, but could potentially multiply and accelerate their effects.
If you can’t be bothered reading the article, the long-story-short is that in the studies conducted on brown algae extract, fairly significant reductions of body fat were observed on those being supplemented with 214mg of the supplement. Whether the dosage of 36mg found in SHATTER will be enough to have any real effect is of question though.
Holy basil extract
Holy grail or holy schmoly? Another ingredient I had to do some research on (Come on Muscletech, you’re making me work too hard).
So some preliminary studies have found that holy basil extract may assist to reduce cortisol production. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone and high stress levels correlate with weight gain, specifically the inability to lose weight. I have no doubt at all that lowering cortisol levels is a fantastic way to aid your weight loss goals, however yet again it seems this is another incredibly under-dosed ingredient. The daily recommended dosage of holy basil extract seems to be about 500mg, whereas SHATTER only contains 20mg per serving.
My personal recommendation for lowering cortisol levels is to supplement a good dosage of Ashwagandha. I have been using Stress Relief by Swisse and it works wonders. You can see my full review for more details.
Grains of paradise extract (as Aframomum melegueta)(seed)
With a name like “Grains of paradise” I’m expecting something pretty damn fantastic. Again, had to do some research and found the following research from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is responsible for cold- and diet-induced thermogenesis, and thereby contributes to the control of whole-body energy expenditure (EE) and body fat content. BAT activity can be assessed by fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) in human subjects. Grains of paradise (GP, Aframomum melegueta), a species of the ginger family, contain pungent, aromatic ketones such as 6-paradol, 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol. An alcohol extract of GP seeds and 6-paradol are known to activate BAT thermogenesis in small rodents. The present study aimed to examine the effects of the GP extract on whole-body EE and to analyse its relation to BAT activity in men. A total of nineteen healthy male volunteers aged 20-32 years underwent FDG-PET after 2 h of exposure to cold at 19°C with light clothing. A total of twelve subjects showed marked FDG uptake into the adipose tissue of the supraclavicular and paraspinal regions (BAT positive). The remaining seven showed no detectable uptake (BAT negative). Within 4 weeks after the FDG-PET examination, whole-body EE was measured at 27°C before and after oral ingestion of GP extract (40 mg) in a single-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover design. The resting EE of the BAT-positive group did not differ from that of the BAT-negative group. After GP extract ingestion, the EE of the BAT-positive group increased within 2 h to a significantly greater (P<0·01) level than that of the BAT-negative group. Placebo ingestion produced no significant change in EE. These results suggest that oral ingestion of GP extract increases whole-body EE through the activation of BAT in human subjects.
Taste / Mixability – 8/10
Not much to say. Watermelon flavour was pleasant, no complains there. Mix was very clumpy though and I found myself breaking up some clumps with my tongue, but that may have just been due to the age of the sample pack, not sure.
Effectiveness – 7/10
I was pretty excited about taking this after reading so many reviews of people saying it gave them insane energy, focus etc. I was also rather nervous as I was taking a 2 scoop dosage when I usually only take 1 scoop of my go-to pre-workout supplements. However, I found that even after an hour I had minimal beta-alanine tingles, which at 2400mg of beta-alanine is very strange, and although I had energy it wasn’t what I would expect. In a 2 scoop dosage there’s 320mg of caffeine! That’s utterly ridiculous if you ask me, I was afraid I’d feel like tearing off my skin but I really didn’t get close to the energy I expected.
Compared with Upload and Ritual, the energy was rather dismal. So far I’ve had no crash though, and hours later I still feel energetic yet relaxed. For a first-time pre-workout supplement taker I would think SHATTER is perfect. I also can’t really comment on the effectiveness of the contained fat burners, however from the studies I read I am optimistic about the grains of paradise extract in the product.
As stated above, SHATTER would be perfect for a first time pre-workout supplement user. It’s additional fat-burning potential may also make it a good supplement to be used alongside a thermogenic when trying to lose weight. As I myself still have quite a lot of excess fat to lose I may purchase a tub of SHATTER when my tub of Ritual runs out and comment further on the fat burning capabilities at a later date.