Saturday, December 10, 2016

DMAA / OxyElitePro - The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly - More Powerful (+180% Perf.) Than You'd Think, but ...

Back in the day, when the original Oxy-ELITE Pro was pulled from the market, people paid crazy amounts of money for the bottles that were left on Ebay - a big mistake! Not because it would fry your liver, but rather because it's 'stim' effects will - just as those of other DMAA products - turn against you, w/ chronic use. 
You may (rightly) be asking yourselves, why I am addressing an (albeit famous) supplement that is no longer on the market in 2016 blog post. Well, the answer is simple. I still see people whining about how "awesome" this product was all over the web. People who wish that DMAA and OxyElitePro would come back and people who would be willing to spend at least 5x the original price for the few (long expired) bottles that appear to be traded on the black market.

It's those people I want to advice: Even if you ascribe the liver damage as the result of stupid overdosing and acknowledge that other products appear to be far worse (García-Cortés. 2016 | FFT), don't waste your money on DMAA products, in general, and the original OxyElitePro (OEP), in particular. And here's why...
Unlike the average fat burner, OxyELITE was indeed more than just caffeine:

For Caffeine, Timing Matters! 45 Min or More?

Coffee - The Good, Bad & Interesting

Three Cups of Coffee Keep Insulin At Bay

Caffeine's Effect on Testosterone, Estrogen & SHBG

The Coffee³ Ad- vantage: Fat loss, Appetite & Mood

Caffeine Resis- tance - Does It Even Exist?
The "why"s are based on a recent study from the Department of Physiological Sciences at the University of Espírito Santo (Zovico. 2016) in Brazil. The study was originally conducted to "to evaluate acute and chronic OEP affects, at controlled doses in Wistar rats, on physical performance, metabolic parameters, liver injury markers and oxidative stress markers and mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle. A study of which you'd guess that it would long have been done in view of the fact that serious adverse effects have been reported after OEP consumption, all over the web.
Figure 1: Photo of the original OxyELITE Pro bottle and supplement facts label (Google Image Search).
In said study, the rats were divided in control, 4.3 mg OEP/kg (1/2 cap in human equivalents, HED), 12.9 mg OEP/kg (~1 cap HED) and 25.8 mg OEP/kg (1.5-2 caps, HED). All groups were submitted to supplementation with OEP for 4 weeks and the experimental protocols were performed 30 min after the first OEP administration (acute response) and 30 min after the last OEP administration at the end of the fourth week (chronic response).
  • The Good: OEP simply works -- If you are one of the previously referred to users of the product, you will probably remember your first training "on OEP". How would you describe it? Probably similar to the rodents in Zovico's study, who easily ran 2.6x and 2.8-fold further with the medium, respectively, the high dose of OPE in their blood.
    Figure 2: Effects of acute OEP supplementation at different dosages on running distance and time to exhaustion (Zovico. 2016) - based on data that is written out twice in the full-text of the study at hand, but has not been correctly plotted in the figure(s) from the original publication.
    Now, "awesome" would, in fact, be an appropriate word to describe the effects I've plotted for you in Figure 2 (note: the original figure in the study is messed up). In view of the fact that ...
    "[n]o effect was found in other analyses such as spontaneous physical activity, body weight, food and water intake, hepatic toxicity, cardiac oxidative stress and mitochondrial NA amount" (Zovico. 2016),
    ... you will now probably (and rightly so) ask yourselves: "So, what's 'the Bad', then, if it's not liver or heart damage as they both have been reported allegedly as a consequence of the (ab-)use of both, OxyElitePro and DMAA based products, in general?" 
  • The Bad: No liver damage, but potentially impaired adaptation to training -- Ok, part of the previously discussed "good news" was that there was no measurable - or, I should say - no sign. changes in AST, ALT and GGT (liver health) and even small beneficial effects on TBARs, i.e. lipid oxidation in the group of rodents that received the medium dose of the supplement (see MDA levels in Figure 3).
    Figure 3: Oxidative stress measured in MDA per mg or protein (left) and mRNA activity PGC-1A, a primary
    marker of exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis (Zovico. 2016).
    On the other hand, the scientists also found a significant, albeit likewise dose-dependent decrease in PGC-1A in the high dose group (the high dose group also saw non-significant decreases in food intake and body weight). With the latter being an important regulator of (exercise-induced) mitochondrial biogenesis, one may speculate that at least part of the exercise-induced adaptational response may be blunted in response to the either DMAA or one of the other supplement ingredients, namely the undisclosed amounts of Bacopa Monnieri, Bauhinia Purpurea, Cirsium Oolygophyllum, or Yohimbe bark extract (cf. Figure 1 | note: we know from previous studies that the 100mg of caffeine can't be the problem).

    Since this occurs only with the high dose of the supplement, i.e. 25.8 mg/kg or ~1.5-2 caps for a human being. This effect is bad, but not downright ugly - speaking of which...
  • The Ugly: OEP simply stops to work -- If you belong to the group of former OEP users I've previously alluded to and/or have used any other DMAA product more than once or twice, you will probably remember "the Ugly", anyway: After only a few workouts "on OEP" (or any other DMAA) products, the effects began to vanish.
    Figure 3: Relative endurance performance with acute and chronic (4 wks) supplementation (Zovico. 2016); all data expressed relative to the values of the control group on day 1 (cf. Figure 2).
    And as if that was not bad enough, the stimulant actually began to make you tired - as tired as it made the rodents in the study at hand, whose running performance decreased significantly (by up to 45% in the case of the running distance after high dose consumption) over the course of the 4-week supplementation period compared to the performance of the control group on day one (see Figure 3).

    Whether that's related to and/or a consequence of the previously discussed reduction in PGC-alpha expression in the chronically supplemented rodents would have to be investigated in future, studies - it does not seem unlikely, to say the least.
This study raises the question: Can you become caffeine-resistant, too? Learn the answer.
That your liver probably doesn't take a hit doesn't make OEP the hit: I guess that most of you will not even know where to get those expired bottles of OEP I mentioned in the introduction of this article. For those who do and those who contemplate buying one of the many illegal DMAA products you can still order on the Internet, the article at hand should be convincing enough to stay away: I mean, what's the use of a workout booster you can use only once or thrice before it backfires and the formerly ergogenic powder or tablets show their ugly ergolytic (=athletic performance decreasing) face? | Discuss your experience w/ this or other stims?
  • García-Cortés, Miren, et al. "Hepatotoxicity by Dietary Supplements: A Tabular Listing and Clinical Characteristics." International journal of molecular sciences 17.4 (2016): 537.
  • Zovico, et al. "Effects of controlled doses of Oxyelite Pro on physical performance in rats." Nutrition & Metabolism201613:90 | DOI: 10.1186/s12986-016-0152-4 [ahead of print].