Over the last month, I’ve been testing Cytosport’s Monster Amino as part of my pre- and periworkout shake. Previously, I was using Controlled Labs Purple Wraath. After reading its nutritional label, curiosity got the best of me, so I made the switch over to Cytosport’s Monster Amino.

I’m a big believer in consuming amino acids, specifically leucine, before and during my workouts. Even though it’s not supported by clinical research, from a physiological standpoint, it makes sense. Because there’s only so much blood in the body, during exercise, the gut’s blood supply is decreased so the body can divert it to where it’s needed: the muscles. Thus, food and supplements aren’t broken down as thoroughly or as quickly during exercise. It would make sense then to consume items that don’t require a lot of work to be absorbed. Amino acids fit that criteria. I need them at my muscles as quickly as possible so they can turn a catabolic situation into an anabolic one ASAP. It’s pretty simple. Break the muscle down. Feed it as quickly as possible with the right nutrients and build it back up bigger and stronger than before. Here’s a nice article by strength coach Charles Poliquin on the benefits of consuming BCAAs during training.

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Why I Tried CytoSport’s Monster Amino

If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written, you know I’m not a fan of combination products. Most of us can create our own combination products using bulk powders much cheaper and with much higher dosages (thereby making them more effective) than the typical mass manufactured combination products. Manufacturers tend to throw everything including the kitchen sink into a product so they can make as many claims as possible about the product. The problem is that seldom is enough of each individual ingredient added to the combination product to make a difference. Rarely will they use the dosage that was used in the clinical studies.

When it comes to a branch chained amino acid (BCAA) combination product, I’m usually much more apt to try it out. If you’ve ever tried unflavored bulk BCAAs, you know why. They’re particularly unfriendly on your taste buds. A bad tasting periworkout shake makes it even tougher to consume during a workout when your stomach is already sensitive to any and all liquids except water.

The Monster Amino Formula – What I Initially Liked

  • 3.5 grams of Leucine peptides and 3.5g of l-leucine for a total of 7g of leucine
  • Only 10 calories
  • Sour Apple flavor
  • It focused primarily on the BCAAs
  • It listed the actual dosage of each ingredient. It didn’t hide behind proprietary blends or “complexes.”

The Monster Amino Formula – What I Initially Didn’t Like

  • Only 1 gram of citrulline malate. 3g would have been nice.

Purple Wraath – What It Was Missing

  • It focused primarily on essential amino acids (EAA) instead of BCAAs
  • It hid its individual ingredient dosages behind “complexes.”

The Results

The sour apple flavor  of Cytosport’s Monster Amino hid the unpleasant taste of the BCAAs without being overpowering. It honestly tasted like a watered down sour apple Blowpop. It also mixed fairly well in a shaker bottle.

Although there was no noticeable difference in strength or lean mass with Cytosport’s Monster Amino, I wasn’t expecting any. 30 days isn’t near long enough to see results from amino acids, especially when I was already consuming an EAA product previously.

Purple Wraath didn’t taste nearly as well as Cytosport’s Monster Amino. Plus, I never knew exactly how much leucine I was getting. I liked the fact Purple Wraath had beta alanine in it, but once again, I didn’t know how much. I consume between 2-4g of beta alanine in my preworkout shake. I know the total PurplEndurance Complex only had 2.7g so I would assume there was probably around 1g of beta alanine in each scoop, which is not nearly enough to make a difference.

With the price tag being almost identical, Monster Amino has 7g of leucine, and its taste and mixability, I’ll definitely be discontinuing Purple Wraath and sticking with Monster Amino. Add 5g of creatine and 2-4g of beta alanine, and you’ll have a nice pre-, peri-, or postworkout shake.