I’ve tried and studied many pre-workout formulations. Most fall short with small serving sizes limiting the number of ingredients and dosages within the formulation leading to a pre-workout being carried by caffeine.
Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout has turned this on its head. With a whopping 30 g serving size, they have fit almost every proven performance-enhancing ingredient at efficacious doses and included speculative ingredients for the potential performance boost without side effects.
I broke down the main ingredients within the Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout to show you why this is the best pre-workout on the market.
Who Are Shifted?
Shifted is a new supplement company taking the space by storm. Launched in 2022, their supplements are scientifically formulated by Dr. Adam Gonzalez, Chief Scientific Officer of Shifted Supplements.
He holds a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology and has contributed to the scientific literature in this field. His goal was to create the best fitness supplement products available.
Shifted Supplements also gives back to the community, supporting organizations dedicated to the fitness and well-being of disadvantaged and disabled children.
Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout Review
In my opinion, 95% of judging a pre-workout comes down to the ingredients. Let’s start with the main efficacious ingredients:
Red Spinach Leaf Extract
What sets this pre-workout apart is the efficacious dosing of every ingredient, reflected in the enormous 30 g serving size. You won’t find this in any other pre-workout.
A pre-workout rarely has the maximum dose of L-citrulline, and it is often paired with malate.
While malate works synergistically with L-citrulline, pure L-citrulline is where you benefit most . Doses should be between 6 – 8 g to have a positive effect within pre-workout, with the higher end being better for acute performance benefits .
8 g of L-citrulline reduced muscle soreness after working out, increased the number of reps to failure, and improved grip strength when taken 60 minutes prior . Even lower doses of 6 g taken over seven days increase the time to exhaustion during moderate-intensity cycling .
Further, subjects feel less muscle fatigue after exercise than a placebo . But how does L-citrulline work to enhance your endurance and give you crazy pumps in the gym?
It’s a nitric oxide booster acting as a vasodilator (expanding the blood vessels). But there are more nitric oxide ingredients than this, so why choose L-citrulline? The other major ingredient is L-arginine, but you haven’t seen that used since the NO Explode days.
For a good reason, L-arginine has poor gut absorption, meaning you lose many nitric oxide benefits, like reducing the need for oxygen and ATP during exercise and improving the efficiency of the muscle's energy factories (mitochondria) to produce energy .
L-citrulline is a precursor to L-arginine and solves this problem by converting to L-arginine in the kidneys bypassing the gut. From this, L-arginine concentration increases, converting to nitric oxide and improving blood flow for vicious pumps and endurance.
While you can get L-citrulline from natural sources like watermelon, you’d need a lot of it to reach an 8 g dose since there’s anywhere from 0.7 to 3.6 mg of L-citrulline per gram of fresh weight.
While creatine doesn't provide acute performance benefits, it does with long-term use. This means you don't need to take additional creatine on days you take Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout. However, you can take 5 g of creatine separately when you aren't working out.
How long is long-term creatine use? The recommended dose ranges between 3 – 5 g per day to maintain creatine muscle saturation, and it takes up to 28 days to maximally saturate the muscle .
You can use a loading strategy of 20 g a day for 6 days, but it's unnecessary, in my opinion, and you're better off forming the habit of taking it daily.
But how effective is creatine, and why is it included in pre-workouts? With long-term creatine ingestion combined with lifting weights, we see an 8% increase in strength and a 14% greater number of reps performed at a given load than placebo .
Further, you can sustain higher intensities for longer, as shown by enhanced anaerobic power during a 30-second maximal cycling sprint .
The American College of Sports Medicine supports this stating, "Exercise performance involving short periods of extremely powerful activity can be enhanced, especially during repeated bouts by creatine supplementation .
How does creatine work? Creatine is a molecule stored within the muscle. Hence why it’s about saturating the muscle with creatine. These creatine molecules bind with in-organic phosphate to create phosphocreatine (PCr).
PCr is quick energy for the muscles as it doesn’t need to be created through various metabolic processes. Your muscles use adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as energy to contract, but when ATP is used, it loses a phosphate, becoming ADP.
To replenish ADP to ATP quickly for fast energy, PCr improves high-intensity performance. Further, PCr consumes hydrogen ions, potentially delaying the time to fatigue .
However, whether the acidification of the muscle is the primary reason for muscular fatigue is up for debate since much of the research was performed in vitro under extremely cold environments.
Lastly, creatine can enhance the ability to replenish glycogen for energy, making it a potent performance ingredient .
This is the highest dose of taurine I have seen in a pre-workout or energy drink. Taurine doses typically reach 1 – 1.5 g per serving, whereas Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout has a whopping 3 g per serving.
Does this mean better performance during your next workout? Most probably. Research suggests performance increases with increasing doses of taurine (up to 3.1 g) regardless of caffeine dose .
The itchy skin feeling after taking pre-workout that makes you feel like it’s working is from beta-alanine. It’s a harmless side effect when taking more than 800 mg as it stimulates the formation of carnosine .
The recommended dose is between 2.4 – 6.4 g, with Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout sitting at the bottom of this range. But why am I not worried about having such a low dose? Two reasons:
Like creatine, it makes sense to supplement with pure beta-alanine when you're not taking this pre-workout.
How much do you need to accumulate? Research shows a 2.85% increase in endurance performance with 179 g of beta-alanine accumulated over 3 – 10 weeks. The most effective improvements come during high-intensity exercise in the 1-4 minute range .
Beta-alanine works by increasing carnosine levels improving the ability to remove waste products from energy metabolism during high-intensity exercises.
Betaine anhydrous is a relatively new ingredient used in pre-workouts. There's not much research backing it, but it may potentially reduce AMPK involvement improving the anabolic environment after exercise .
The AMPK pathway is the endurance pathway heavily influenced by the duration and intensity of endurance exercises but downregulates the muscle-building pathway known as mTOR.
Therefore, by downregulating AMPK, we can increase mTOR. The recommended dose ranges between 1 – 6 g, with Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout providing 2.5 g.
L-tyrosine is a common brain-enhancing ingredient used in pre-workouts. It's a precursor to dopamine which can be depleted under stressful conditions . However, you need huge doses for L-tyrosine to be effective, ranging between 100 – 150 mg/kg of body weight (7-10 g for a 150 lb person).
For example, 50 mg/kg of body weight reduced headache, distress, fatigue, muscular discomfort, and sleepiness when U.S Army personnel were placed in cold conditions and simulated altitude for 4.5 hours a day .
150 mg/kg of body weight protects against memory deficit, improves mood with cold exposure, and improves working memory under mild stress . While L-tyrosine is under-dosed, fitting the full 10+ g people need into a serving would be impossible.
Further, no other pre-workout has doses this large.
Red Spinach Leaf Extract
This is another ingredient with little research behind it but looks promising. Taking 1 g for 7 days and 1 hour before a 4 km cycling time trial improved time to complete power output and average speed compared to placebo .
I like using ingredients like this that cause no harm but may have a significant upside!
Alpha-GPC is another brain supplement increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain. It promotes cognitive improvements without being a stimulant .
Caffeine & L-Theanine
Why have I grouped these together? Because there's a synergistic effect between caffeine and l-theanine, making it the most effective nootropic blend. Caffeine is a stimulant enhancing attention and alertness, raising mental function.
L-theanine reduces stress and anxiety, having a relaxing effect . But when used together, we see improvements in reaction time, visual processing, working memory, increased alertness, decreased tiredness, and reduced mental fatigue .
Another benefit you’ll notice is it takes the edge off caffeine reducing jitters and anxiety from high caffeine doses. Caffeine is the leading performance enhancer in all pre-workouts.
Maximizing performance with caffeine involves a 3 – 6 mg/kg of body weight dose. This can be a lot of caffeine hence Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout has a whopping 300 mg dose per serving. If you are caffeine sensitive, this isn’t the pre-workout for you.
This is another ingredient with little scientific backing but may have upside for acute performance enhancements. It has been shown to increase blood ATP levels with a single dose in healthy, fasting subjects .
150 mg of ElevATP (same dose as Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout) taken daily for 12 weeks increased muscle thickness compared to placebo . Further, a single 1.5 g dose had subjects take more steps during a resisted step test, traveled further, and burned more calories than placebo .
Rhodiola Rosea is a herb that may reduce fatigue and improve cognition. 170 mg taken for two weeks reduces fatigue under the stress of the night shift . Mental benefits tend to come from 150 – 300 mg doses, making this slightly underdosed.
With a scoop and serving size like a serving of protein powder, you'd expect an overpowering flavor with so much powder. However, it's not the case. The berry flavor doesn’t have an artificial taste other pre-workouts have.
I have yet to try crushed grape or gummy blast flavors, but if the berry flavor is anything to go by, the other flavors will also be great.
The other issue with other pre-workouts is how sweet they are. While there is a sweet flavor, it’s not overpowering.
Even with the large serving size, it mixes easily. You don't need to worry about the clumping that happens with some pre-workouts. You can mix it in your shaker by shaking it or with a milk frother.
I tested it with a 2/3rd glass of water, which mixed well. Shifted recommends using 8 – 12 oz of water to mix, which is a good recommendation based on my testing.
Each tub has 20 servings costing $49.95. That equates to $2.49 per serving. This is much more expensive per serving than other formulations. However, no other formulation has a 30 g serving size and over 10 ingredients dosed for maximum performance.
Most pre-workouts have serving sizes up to 15 g. In the case of Shifted, you’d only fit the first three ingredients in a serving size that small. The value is not needing to buy all these ingredients separately and becoming a bathtub chemist.
What’s The Difference Between Shifted Premium & Maximum Pre-Workout?
The Shifted Premium Pre-Workout is a formulation with lower doses of the main ingredients. Mainly, 2 g less of L-citrulline, which is still an efficacious dose, 3 g less creatine, 2 g less taurine, 500 mg less beta-alanine, and 50 mg less caffeine.
Why would you purchase the Premium over Maximum Pre-Workout? If 300 mg of caffeine is too much, the 250 mg dose may sit better with you. While you could half scoop the Maximum Pre-Workout, you get half the dose of other ingredients.
The Shifted Premium Pre-Workout still gives you proper doses with a slightly lower caffeine dose.
Most pre-workouts are glorified energy drinks. Shifted Maximum Pre-Workout combines large efficacious doses of many performance-enhancing ingredients, including caffeine, to maximize your workouts.
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