EAS’ Phosphagen Elite Reviewed: The Ultimate Creatine?
Note: Phosphagen Elite has been discontinued.
In biochemistry, a “phosphagen” is an energy storage compound used to produce ATP. The phosphagen we humans (as well as other vertebrates) rely on is creatine phosphate—so EAS’ Phosphagen creatine line is well-named. Phosphagen Elite is one of three related products: Phosphagen and Phosphagen HP are the other two. Phosphagen is straight creatine monohydrate, while the HP and Elite versions are creatine delivery systems.
What’s a creatine delivery system? Paul’s already got that one covered.
“Creatine delivery systems: These combine creatine with simple sugars like dextrose and alpha lipoic acid in order to elicit an insulin response—resulting in more creatine being shuttled to the muscle cells.”
It’s just as simple as that.
Simple sugars have been shown to enhance creatine uptake in several studies. One early study found a 60% increase in muscle creatine when it was taken with glucose. Phosphagen Elite (and Phosphagen HP) both provide creatine monohydrate, pre-blended with a solid amount of dextrose (D-glucose) to take advantage of this insulin-mediated boost in creatine storage.
What else is in Phosphagen Elite?
Amount Per Serving:
Calories From Fat 0
Total Carbohydrate 68g 23%
Phosphorus(from Magnesium Phosphate, Disodium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate) 400mg
Magnesium(from Magnesium Phosphate) 120mg
Sodium(from Di-Sodium Phosphate) 190mg
Potassium(from Potassium Phosphate) 160mg
Creatine Monohydrate 10.5g
Beta Alanine 3.2g
It’s a fairly simple formula. Besides the creatine and dextrose, the other principle ingredients are electrolytes (sodium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium), taurine and beta-alanine.
Exercising people need electrolytes: this is completely uncontroversial.
It’s necessary to replace minerals lost in sweat, which is the rationale for sports drinks like Gatorade.
While sodium is standard in most popular brands, the amounts of potassium and magnesium are typically minimal, as there is no immediate rehydration benefit.
Yet it is a fact that these minerals are vital for maintaining intracellular fluid volume.
It is also a fact that both are often undersupplied in the diet, so their inclusion in Phosphagen Elite is potentially useful.
Taurine is discussed in a separate review on the site. It’s also a vital nutrient, although the need for taurine supplementation in healthy people has not been firmly established. Taurine is often included in creatine delivery formulas to act as 1) a cell volumizer; 2) an insulin sensitizer; and 3) an antioxidant.
In truth, its antioxidant potential is probably the best supported function: there is no proof that taurine supplementation actually enhances creatine uptake or effects. Since exercise does increase oxidative stress, however, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an antioxidant in the formula.
Beta-alanine is one of the newer supplement ingredients on the market, and is the primary difference between the very similar Phosphagen Elite and HP products. As Paul notes in his review of H+ Blocker, beta-alanine is a precursor to carnosine, which acts to reduce the buildup of performance-limiting H+ ions in exercising muscles.
“I know what you’re thinking… what’s the big deal about carnosine?
Well, here’s the thing—carnosine is stored in muscle tissues, and one of its jobs is to neutralize the hydrogen ions which are the by-product of anaerobic glycolysis. This is the process by which the body creates energy without the presence of oxygen. When you lift weights, you require dramatic amounts of energy for those explosive, powerful movements. This energy is generated by anaerobic glycolysis, since the energy requirements are too extreme to be met by aerobic means.
As contractions continue, hydrogen ions build up in the muscle, lowering its pH level, and thus increasing its acidity. This is known as muscular acidosis—and its the reason for the increasing burn and the increased weakness you feel as you progress farther into the reps of your chosen exercise.”
All in all, Phosphagen Elite is made up of tried and true ingredients. It should work well—and it does: the reviews I’ve seen have been pretty good. EAS has been around for a long time, and its Phosphagen line of products have been used by a lot of people. There is one caveat, however: as noted above, Phosphagen Elite contains sugar…rather a lot of sugar. For people concerned about body fat, this isn’t necessarily a good thing, as Paul points out.
“Agreed, they do lead to a better pump, and are ideal as a post-workout supplement, but they also lead to fat storage (elevated insulin levels put the body in fat storing mode), which makes them less then ideal for regular usage.”
If you’re counting calories, it might be best to use either a “second generation” reduced carbohydrate delivery system, or else a straight creatine product, such as EAS Phosphagen. But if you’re not, then Phosphagen Elite is certainly worth a look.