Athletes continuously seek better means of recovery and performance improvement, and dietary supplements are considered to serve this purpose. In this regard, they actively utilize the principle of nutrient timing, which consists of select the best openings to administer the required nutrients and enhance their workout performance rates. According to Kedia et al. (2014), there is an increased emphasis on the importance of the pre-training window as the fitting time to consume supplements. This way, athletes expect to optimize the process of workout adaptation while enabling better recovery afterward. Kedia et al. (2014) state that there is a variety of dietary supplements used in such situations, as the combinations of ingredients can hardly be counted. Nevertheless, there exist specific elements, which are present most of the time.
This list comprises a selection of botanical extracts, carbohydrates, caffeine, amino acids, and creatine monohydrate. Kedia et al. (2014) refer to prior research, which aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of such supplement administration in the pre-workout period, which historically received less attention than post-training windows. As the results show, the combination of ingredients listed above contributed to the better performance of athletes during high-intensity training, effectively improving their results. In other words, the administration of pre-workout supplements had observable benefits for athletes. Therefore, this area of study deserves additional research, which would examine the impact of specific pre-training supplements and their combinations on workout performance. Kedia et al. (2014) acknowledge that such elements as creatine, betaine, and caffeine, are well-established and widely used in supplement production due to their confirmed effectiveness. However, the proposed study added another less studied component, which is the dendrobium extract traditionally used in Eastern herbal medicine (MPP). Kedia et al. (2014) theorized that such a combination would enable further improvement of the workout results, instigated by the mix of conventional and traditional supplements. The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of the pre-training supplement on the physical characteristics, cognition, and performance of athletes.
In order to meet the research objectives, the authors of the study under review carefully planned its design to obtain objective, credible results. The selected methodology comprised two major stages: an acute hemodynamic safety study and a six-week efficacy study (Kedia et al., 2014). During Phase One, the sampling process selected forty men and women with a mean age of 26. The participants were supposed to be healthy, which is why the selection criteria excluded those who smoked, took anabolic steroids, or had a history of serious conditions and injuries. The subjects were requested to submit a 24-hour dietary recall to an expert dietician and replicate the intake to a maximum extent. Next, the participants were to consume their assigned supplements following an eight-to-ten hour fast and a forty-eight-hour break from strenuous activities. The administration of the FDA-approved supplements (either the one containing the dendrobium extract or an alternative) was prescribed in a randomized, double-blind manner. The obtained data were subjected to a t-test compared with previously recorded baseline characteristics. In order to ensure the integrity of the results, the statistical analysis was performed when the groups’ assigned supplements remained blinded.
The second part of the study was designed to address the resistance of subjects. The selection yielded a sample of 18-45-year-old, healthy men and women with 10-25% of body fat and a body mass index of no more than 30 kg/m2 (Kedia et al., 2014). Similar to Phase One, the exclusion criteria comprised serious injuries, cardiovascular diseases, smoking, anabolic steroid use, and other conditions, which would impede the objectiveness of the study and undermine its safety. People who consumed caffeine were not excluded from participating, but they were instructed to maintain their normal intake of this element for the duration of the study. A double-blind approach was used to assign subjects to the MPP or comparator supplement. Once again, all test subjects had to fast past midnight and refrain from strenuous activity for 48 hours before testing. A four-week exercise plan was designed by specialists, comprising 10-12 workouts to match the physical parameter of each group. The study aimed to analyze cognitive aspects using the visual analog scale pre-training. Analysis of covariance was applied to examine the differences in body composition, safety markers, and muscular performance between groups.
Following the testing procedures described in the previous section, the data was subjected to comprehensive statistical analysis in order to compare the performance between two randomly assigned groups. For Phase One, there was an increase in SBP and DBP for the MPP group, whereas the comparator-takers showed a marginal elevation of the former combined with a decrease of the latter (Figure 1). The changes of SBP for MPP subjects were observed at 30-, 60-, 90, and 120-minute marks post-ingestion. At the same time, the corresponding marks for DBP were noted at 60, 90, and 120 minutes following the ingestion. The comparator did not demonstrate a notable increase in SPB throughout the screening. Ultimately, the comparison of the aforementioned results to the baseline parameters showed a significant DBP difference in the case of the subjects who took the MPP. Figure 2 reflects the differences in heart rate for MPP and comparator groups. For the former, there no observable differences in comparison to the baseline figures. Simultaneously, the ingestion of the comparator supplement resulted in a notable heart rate decrease at 30-, 60-, 90, and 120-minute marks.
Next, the second phase of the project had the objective of studying a wider array of parameters, comprising the physical and cognitive characteristics of the subjects. Two groups with a total of 43 participants were analyzed in this study with an average completion rate of 90%. As inferred from the efficacy analysis, the MPP group demonstrated significantly higher levels of concentration and energy, as observed at Week Three and Week Six marks (Figure 3; Figure 4). In addition, subjects taking the MPP reported better self-perceived focus while acknowledging lower degrees of fatigue. However, the authors note that these differences have not reached the level of statistical significance. The MPP and the comparator did not vary in terms of DEXA-determined tissue mass, lean mass, and fat mass (Figure 5). In addition, no significant differences were observed in terms of the bench press weight figures between the groups. Finally, the six-week ingestion of the MPP did not result in any statistically significant changes in vital signs of the participants (Figure 6)
Overall, the use of dietary supplements has become the norm for athletes willing to improve their workout performance and recreational fitness enthusiasts. Kedia et al. (2014) confirm that the choice of pre-training supplements usually comprises multi-ingredient products, which are based on similar core products, such as caffeine. Nevertheless, the authors argue that the perceived effectiveness of such supplements is usually based on the parameters of individual elements rather than combined complexes. In this regard, the study under review focuses on the effectiveness of a specific supplement product, which contains base ingredients, as well as the dendrobium herbal extract (MPP). The quantitative analysis by Kedia et al. (2014) did not result in a significant difference between the performance of athletes taking either the MPP or its unnamed comparator. However, the use of the former had an overall positive effect in the form of reduced fat mass combined with an increased lean mass. In addition, the use of the MPP was proved to be generally safe, as its ingestion did not cause any observable changes in the subjects’ vital signs. Therefore, the presented results cannot be considered a cause for any health-related concerns among the takers of the MPP.
Nevertheless, the study demonstrates several limitations, which are to be addressed. First of all, the sampling process had specific inclusion criteria conditioned by ethical concerns. Accordingly, the perceived safety of the MPP is limited to healthy young adults without serious chronic conditions, bad habits, and injuries. Evidently, certain conditions may entail adverse side effects, meaning that the use of dietary supplements is not universal nor comprehensive. At the same time, the study by Kedia et al. (2014) focused on the effects of two commercially available products with a limited sample of test subjects. Additional research with a higher scape and scope may yield varying results while contributing to the better understanding of the effect of pre-training supplements on the performance of athletes. Overall, within the framework of the present study, it is possible to acknowledge the effectiveness of the MPP.
Ultimately, the ingestion of various dietary supplements has become the norm for people who actively participate in sports and fitness-related activities. While the concept of post-training supplements is well-established and researched, the idea of pre-workout products deserves further exploration in the academic context. The article under review emphasized the effect of specific elements on the performance of athletes and sports enthusiasts. While pre-training supplements demonstrate an immense variety of ingredients, it is possible to determine the range of core elements. However, new products, such as the MPP, appear in the market regularly, which requires additional analysis of their impact. The value of the article by Kedia et al. (2014) is conditioned by the inclusion of cognitive parameters in the study design. Such a framework allows researchers to have a better understanding of the complex effect of dietary supplements on an individual. The MPP demonstrated excellent results, as inferred from the findings of the six-week efficacy study, making it a viable choice of a pre-training supplement. However, the limitations of its use are embedded in the methodology of the research, and the question arises whether these products can be considered safe and positive for the general population.
Kedia, A. W., Hofheins, J. E., Habowski, S. M., Ferrando, A. A., Gothard, M. D., & Lopez, H. L. (2014). Effects of a pre-workout supplement on lean mass, muscular performance, subjective workout experience and biomarkers of safety. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 11(2), 116–126. doi: 10.7150/ijms.7073