ALRI Chain’d Out Review: The “Value Added” Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplement
“Chain’d Out™ is scientifically engineered to potently thwart muscle breakdown and catabolism. We made it to provide an incredible synergistic boost to the pro-anabolic drive, produce focused energy and mood elevation (without any jitters or negative stimulant qualities), improve strength, endurance, stamina and recovery, create optimized vasodilation and nutrient utilization, enhance oxygenation and fight stress, fatigue as well as other counterproductive body processes.”
If I had to describe Chain’d Out in just one sentence, I’d call it a “value-added” BCAA (branched chain amino acid) supplement. Instead of the usual free-form amino acids, Chain’d Out is a blend of amino acid esters and selected, health/performance-enhancing nutraceuticals.
The label tells the story…
Serving Size 10.35 Gram (1 Scoop)
BCAA Malfactor 211 Matrix™ 7000mg
LeuMal™ (Leucine Malate), IsoMal™ (Isoleucine Malate), ValMal™ (Valine Malate)
PerformActiv™ Proprietary Matrix Blend: 1800mg
Alanine, L-Theanine, CordyActiv™ (Dong Chong Xia Cao) RhoActiv™ (Rhodiola Rosea Extract), AppleActiv™ (Apple Peel Extract)
I’ll confess up front: this is the kind of stuff I like to see. While I’m not smitten with proprietary blends in general, the ones in Chain’d Out are short, sweet, and large enough to contain usable doses of the listed ingredients.
So far so good. Let’s dig a little deeper to see what they have to offer…
BCAA Malfactor 211 Matrix: This consists of leucine malate, isoleucine malate and valine malate—delivery forms for the three BCAAs.
I expect the “211” part refers to the ratio in the blend: 2 parts leucine to one part (each) isoleucine and valine.
This is typical for most BCAA supps, as it approximates the ratio of these amino acids in animal protein.
The BCAAs—and leucine in particular—have multiple functions that make them useful for anyone engaged in strenuous exercise. Leucine, isoleucine and valine:
- are important components of body proteins and precursors to non-protein compounds
- stimulate the process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS)
- reduce muscle protein breakdown (catabolism)
- may reduce fatigue, due to effects on the central nervous system
These functions are all covered in detail in the BCAA review. Suffice it to say, BCAA supplements are potentially useful to hard-working trainees and—taken under the right set of circumstances—can enhance post-workout anabolism and recovery.
As noted above, the three BCAAs are malate esters. ALRI claims they have 200%–300% greater oral bioavailability and are protected from gluconeogenesis. No proof of these claims is provided, however, and it’s not immediately clear that—even if true—this offers any real advantage. Work by Layman, et al, suggests that the ability to derive glucose from amino acids in general, and BCAAs in particular, contributes to glucose homeostasis and enhanced glycemic control during reduced carb/high protein weight loss diets. In addition, seminal research conducted in the 1980’s demonstrated that leucine oxidation is central to its anti-catabolic effects. Thus, the benefits of reducing/delaying BCAA breakdown are debatable.
For the record, I’d like to see some “real world” data that shows “LeuVal”, “IsoVal” and “ValMal” are superior to their free form counterparts. Simply stating it doesn’t make it so.
In fairness, the modified aminos also serve as a source of malate—a TCA Cycle intermediate and an important metabolite in its own right. Malate feeding reduced oxidative stress and improved antioxidant defenses in an animal model; furthermore it may play a role in the benefits seen with citrulline malate supplementation. Thus, it’s conceivable that the BCAA-malate esters in Chain’d Out are more than just amino acid delivery forms.
Nonetheless, the benefits of supplemental malate are far from proven. For example, it did not improve endurance cycling performance when given in combination with other TCA Cycle intermediates (succinate, alpha-ketoglutarate). Nor did it contribute to growth performance in livestock. Obviously, the benefits of exogenous malate are still pretty speculative.
Of course, we can speculate until the cows come home…for the record, there’s also a practical reason for using esterified BCAAs: improved solubility in water. BCAAs are hydrophobic, and tend to clump at the surface of various drinks they’re included in. While I haven’t seen any hard numbers, I’d expect malate esters to dissolve faster/better than free form BCAAs. From where I sit, that would be reason enough to use them.
PerformActiv™ Proprietary Matrix Blend: The five ingredients in this blend have a range of functions.
- Alanine is a non-essential amino acid, although it participates in crucial physiological reactions, such as the glucose-alanine cycle. Nonetheless, there are no studies—or even anecdotes—to indicate there’s any benefit to alanine supplementation during exercise. I suppose supplemental alanine might limit BCAA breakdown, although—given the small amount of alanine vs. the BCAAs in this supp, I doubt it makes a significant contribution.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea with relaxant and neuroprotective properties. L-theanine is used in various fat loss supplements, primarily for its effects on mood/cognition (both alone, and synergistically with caffeine). There is also some (very) preliminary evidence that it may have anti-obesity effects.
- CordyActiv™ is a proprietary name for “Dong Chong Xia Cao”, or Cordyceps sinensis—a type of parasitic fungus that grows on caterpillars. “Vegetable Caterpillars” are used in traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to stress/fatigue.
- RhoActiv™ is an extract from Rhodiola rosea. Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb used in Russian folk medicine. Positive effects on physical/emotional stress have been documented in several animal studies and small human clinical trials.
- AppleActiv™ is an apple peel extract. Apple peels are rich in a variety of bioactive components—flavonoids, phenolics and triterpenes—which have antioxidant and anti-cancer activities.
Ok, 4 out of 5 ain’t bad. While I have a hard time seeing a use for the alanine, the other ingredients in this blend are potentially useful for improving mood, reducing oxidative stress and mitigating fatigue.
I like BCAA/EAA supps in general, and respond well to them, so Chain’d Out was a product I was interested in trying. I ordered the “Appletini” flavor—which tasted just like sour apple Jolly Ranchers. As anticipated, it also mixed pretty well.
Since I’m doing a slight cut in preparation for summer, I found Chain’d Out especially useful for early morning cardio workouts. Taken after my usual slug of black coffee, 2 scoops of Chain’d Out added a nice finishing touch, mentally, and helped w/overall energy. The effects were less noticeable during my strength workouts, however…although this may be due to the fact that I was training in a fed state (natch!), so there was plenty of competiton for amino acid uptake.
All things considered, I liked this product. As I wrote in the BCAA review, “…a case can be made for modest [BCAA] supplementation”—and using Chain’d Out would certainly be one way to go about it.
Despite my questions about the advantages—if any—of using esterified amino acids—there are no known downsides, either. In addtion, it tastes good, handles well and provides additional, potentially beneficial nutraceutical support.
If you’re in the market for a decent BCAA supp, Chain’d Out is certainly worth a look.
|Summary of Chain’d Out|