Today I’m reviewing Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy which is an essential amino acid, pre-workout energy supplement. This is a podcast and blog all rolled into one! The podcast is just below if you want to listen to the review and the blog is the part with all the letters and words. You can check out both, or one, or whatever, it’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book but without cheating by reading the different options before hand.
What is Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy?
This product is a combo of energy and essential amino acids. It comes in 13, count ’em, 13 flavors:
- Blueberry Mojito
- Blue Rasberry
- Fruit Fusion
- Green Apple
- Ice cafe vanilla (what?)
- Lemon Lime
- Mocha cappuccino (they call it a “cup”okeeno and wait’ll you see what it costs!)
- Peach lemonade
- Strawberry Lime
For this review, I was trying blueberry mojito which I don’t think tasted all that much like a mojito but the taste of it was good. These products usually have these flavors pretty nailed so they always taste good. I got this on sale for $24.99 Canadian maple syrup dollars from a store called Supplement King near me. (I didn’t use real maple syrup..)
Why Does It Contain Amino Acids?
Good question and why are these amino acids essential? Well, they are not made by the body so must be attained from the diet and they include:
- Lysine (What about the lysine contingency we could put that into effect..that is absolutely out of the question)
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and you can think of each of them as individual pearls on a necklace that would be a whole protein. You need to get a balance of all of them to make proteins in your body in order to build and repair muscle, fight infection and reduce protein energy malnutrition.
If you want to full scoop read my blog all about protein:
Amino energy by Optimum Nutrition puts these all into the product in a micronized form for better absorption along with some natural caffeine sources for a good pre-workout kick
What Are The Other Ingredients?
How Do You Use It?
It’s suggested to use two scoops (comes with scoop) mixed with 8-12 ounces of water 20-30 minutes before a workout. This gives you 5 grams of the amino acids and around 100mg of caffeine. This might not be a huge dosage of amino acids and they suggest you can go up to 6 scoops for 15 grams but that gives you a crap load of caffeine at around 300 mg.
The idea with using this around a workout is that you can help prevent further muscle breakdown and promote recovery while getting some more energy to push through harder. The three amino acids of importance are the BCAA or branch chain amino acids which include leucine, isoleucine and valine.
There are also many studies that show a connection between caffeine and enhanced performance.
I like waiting closer to the 30 minutes before working out after taking it as I like to add in some creatine and ideally you want at least 30 minutes (45-60 seemingly better) before you hit the gym.
How Is It?
This stuff seemed pretty good. I haven’t used many pre-workout supplements as a lot of them just seem like massive stimulants with a ton of caffeine. I don’t drink coffee or tea so I think I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine but there is definitely an energy, AND STRENGTH, boost from this product. I’m always conscious of the placebo effect of anything but when you combine the caffeine and the performance aspect of the amino acids I was lifting a lot heavier than I have in awhile.
I normally do bench reps at 185 for 6-7 but now was getting in 12 reps. 205 for 6-8 and 225lbs for 5-6 reps. I haven’t put 225 on the bar for awhile as my heavy benching days seem to be in the past.
Also, I normally do supersets on chest day that are a set of dips to failure followed by as many push-ups as I can do. Normally I’ll get around 10 dips out with about 8 pushups after. With Amino Energy I was getting 11-12 dips followed by 15-16 push-ups. This really caught my attention as I’m very aware of my strength capabilities in the gym.
I tried going to three scoops one workout to see what it would be like but made me feel too over stimulated and almost jittery, I wasn’t down with it. If you’re the type of person who takes in a lot of caffeine it might not be a big deal to you.
What I liked About Essential Amino Energy:
- Cleaner caffeine sources
- Quick load time
- Tons of great flavors.
- Relatively cheap compared to other pre-workout supplements
- Increased strength
- Focused energy on the single serving size
What I Didn’t Like About Essential Amino Energy:
My biggest issue is the amount of artificial ingredients that I don’t believe are needed. It has artificial and natural flavors which are virtually the same thing. (listen to my interview with Mark Schatzker, author of the hugely popular book “The Dorito Effect” about this insane world of artificial flavors)
I’m also not a fan of seeing sucralose and an artificial color in there. I’d rather see something as natural as possible and to me if that means it lacks great flavor then so be it. If something is effective I really don’t give a crap how it tastes and will just get it down the hatch. I get that taste is paramount to the average consumer so they have to have these flavors dialed in. I just wish they would find better ways to do it.
Did you catch my two references sprinkled throughout? One was Jurassic Park and one from Arrested Development? ANYWAY…for not being a big pre-workout guy this stuff is really solid. The energy is pretty good and the strength I felt cannot be ignored. The price seems to be pretty good and Optimum Nutrition is one of the main legit companies out there with a good track record and a ton of great review across the board.
On a scale of 1-10 mojitos I give Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy a 7.5
Have you tried this product? Go ahead and leave a comment if you have and while you’re doing all this work don’t forget to:
- Subscribe via iTunes (leave a rating and review if you please)
- Sign up for the e-mail newsletter (and get my free healthy eating e-Book)
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