Universal Torrent: a New Standard for Post-Workout Nutrition?
“Torrent sets a new standard for post-workout (PWO) nutrition. Though often overlooked, this part of the bodybuilding equation is the most critical aspect in the quest to foster new growth. Properly utilizing this time is vital for inducing overall muscle mass “activation”. Torrent’s formula is designed to maximize the anabolic “window of opportunity” that exists after a hard training session, when muscle protein synthesis can potentially be stimulated for hours…
…When consumed immediately after intense training this potent blend can induce a powerful muscle building surge that shuttles nutrients into your starved muscle cells.* Heightened anabolism, rapid nutrient transport, insulin potentiating–all delivered by means of a delicious post-workout growth cocktail.* And we mean delicious. Torrent is an anabolic force mother nature never intended.”
Believe it or not, I rather admire the above sentences… as well as the rest of the write up for Torrent. Sure, it’s dramatic, like all bodybuilding supplement ads are; but I’m charmed by what it doesn’t say. Simply put, there are no promises of adding “slabs of rock hard muscle to your frame” or other over-the-top claims that the product (or company) can’t meet. Universal comes right up to the line with phrases like “powerful muscle building surge,” and “anabolic force,” but the company never crosses it.
So… can Torrent deliver a “powerful muscle building surge?” A look at the label will tell us more.
What’s in Torrent?
Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat 14
Total Fat 1.5g
Saturated Fat 1g
Total Carbohydrate 52g
Torrent Proprietary Blend 18,000mg
Anti-Catabolic Leucine Complex 8000mg
Leucine Alpha Ketoglutarate (AKG)
Leucine Ethyl Ester
Volubolic Amino Blend 7000mg
Glutamine Alpha Ketoglutarate (AKG)
Creabolic Complex 3000mg
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
Magnesium Creatine Chelate™ (MCC)
Tri-Methyl Glycine (TMG)
Other Ingredients: Osmosulin Matrix™(D-Glucose, Waxy Maize, Maltodextrin), Partially Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Concentrate(Milk)(Providing Di-, Tri-, Oligo-, And Polypeptides), Malic Acid, Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Blue #1
The Science Behind the Ingredients
As with so many other supps, the ingredients in Torrent are subdivided into a series of proprietary blends. Let’s take ’em apart, one-by-one.
Anti-Catabolic Leucine Complex: Leucine is an essential amino acid (EAA), and one of the three “branched chain amino acids” (BCAAs). It plays a major role in post-workout muscle protein synthesis (MPS): both as a substrate for building new proteins, as well as a trigger for initiating the process.
Stimulation of MPS by leucine is extremely complicated, and involves both insulin-dependent and independent pathways.
In brief, leucine can induce insulin release directly, as well as through enzymatic activation. Insulin, in turn, activates specific elements needed for the production of proteins from mRNA (aka, translation).
In addition, leucine can enhance MPS through direct activation of specific translational elements, or through inhibition of a translational inhibitor (AMPK).
So does more leucine mean more muscle? No…it’s not quite that simple. By itself, leucine stimulation of MPS is short-lived, and returns to baseline within a couple of hours, despite continued availability. Exercise, however, provides an additional, and synergistic stimulus, that can persist for up to 48 hours afterwards. This underscores the need for an adequate supply of leucine and other essential amino acids to capitalize on the effects of exercise on muscle growth.
As the name of the blend implies, leucine also has anti-catabolic activity. Exercise induces the breakdown of BCAAs by increasing the activity of Branched Chain Alpha-Keto Acid Dehydrogenase (BCKDH). This enzyme is part of a complex that’s responsible for removing the amino nitrogen groups (deamination), and converting the resulting carbon skeletons to compounds that can be utilized for energy. Aerobic exercise, for example, can reduce plasma leucine by 11%–33%, while strength exercise reduces leucine by approx. 30%. This breakdown is enhanced when muscle glycogen is low. In the absence of supplemental BCAAs, this process occurs at the expense of skeletal muscle, and can have the effect of “cancelling out” the exercise-induced increase in MPS.
So is a blend of 4 different forms of leucine superior to just regular ol’ free form leucine? I’ve yet to see any proof that this is so. Although leucine itself is certainly desirable, providing it in different forms is strictly marketing: it’s a way to provide the illusion that the blend has been “scientifically formulated.” All those sciency-sounding terms prove it… right?
Ummm… no. But whatevs, I guess. Leucine is still being provided, in amounts that are physiologically relevant.
Volubolic Amino Blend: This is a weak spot in the Torrent formula. It’s a hodgepodge of auxilliary amino acids with reputations that generally don’t match reality.
- Taurine: Taurine is a non-protein, non-essential amino acid that performs a range of important metabolic functions. Taurine is often touted as a “cell volumizer,” due to its role in regulating cell volume, but there’s little evidence to suggest that supplemental taurine can boost muscle size or strength. It may have some value for reducing oxidative stress, improving mood and enhancing insulin sensitivity, but it’s not a performance-enhancer.
- Glutamine Alpha-Ketoglutarate: This compound has been touted as “the most advanced and effective form of glutamine on the market.” Even if this is true, however, it probably doesn’t amount to much. While glutamine is a conditionally-essential amino acid that’s useful for burn/injury/trauma patients, its value for strength trainees has yet to be established. A recent review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition rated alpha-ketoglutarate as “too early to tell,” and glutamine as “apparently ineffective.” Certainly, there may be health benefits to supplementing with glutamine, but—as the review concludes—”…there does not appear to be any scientific evidence that it supports increases in lean body mass or muscular performance.”
- L-Phenylalanine: L-Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and a precursor to l-tyrosine… itself a precursor for a range of important neurotransmitters (dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine) and metabolites (thyroid hormones, melanin). Nonetheless, outside the context of essential amino acid supplements, there’s little reason for healthy athletes to supplement directly with l-phenylalanine.
- Citrulline malate: Citrulline is another non-protein amino acid that’s part of the urea cycle. Since it’s readily converted to arginine, it’s often used as a surrogate for it in NO-boosters. Citrulline malate is a citrulline salt that may enhance ammonia clearance, reduce fatigue/muscle soreness and promote aerobic energy production in exercising muscle. While these are useful properties, the sticking point is amount. The doses of citrulline malate used in some of these studies equals (or approaches) the size of the entire Volubolic Amino Blend. As such, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s underdosed here.
Creabolic Complex: This is a blend of three different forms of creatine, plus trimethylglycine (aka betaine). Creatine monohydrate, of course, needs little introduction… it’s one of the best-researched sports supplements in existence. So why include other forms?
Because it looks classier and more “high-tech” on the label, that’s why. Needless to state, there isn’t a shred of data to suggest that combining creatine monohydrate with other forms is somehow more effective than creatine monohydrate alone. This is particularly true when other components in the blend don’t measure up. While creatine-magnesium chelate appears to be a decent alternative, creatine-ethyl ester (CEE) is not. Once heralded as the greatest, most bioavailable form of creatine ever (!!!), CEE’s star has fallen considerably. In the years that CEE’s been on the market, not ONE SINGLE STUDY—not even an in-house one—has been produced to confirm the extravagant claims made by the manufacturers and retailers of creatine ethyl ester supplements.
Fortunately, the Creabolic Complex is anchored by good ‘ol creatine monohydrate. It may be boring, but for most trainees, it’s still the best thing out there.
What about the trimethylglycine? Betaine is a “methyl donor” that can help reduce plasma homocysteine—a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It may also protect the liver against fatty liver disease. It’s healthful enough, but its record as a performance enhancer is mixed. For example, a 2010 study concluded 14 days of betaine supplementation improved some measures of power/force; whereas two other recent studies showed betaine had no significant effects.
Other Ingredients: Although they’re not included in the “Torrent Proprietary Blend,” Torrent would be incomplete without two additional components: sources of carbs and protein. While the proprietary blend helps to differentiate Torrent from other workout supplements, the carbs and protein represent the foundation of this supp. As most experienced trainees are aware, rapidly-digesting carbohydrates and protein are a potent combo that can help:
- replenish glycogen stores
- stimulate protein synthesis
- reduce muscle breakdown
- enhance endurance performance and resistance training adaptations
Torrent provides solid amounts of both carbs (52g in the form of glucose, waxy maize starch and maltodextrin) as well as protein (20g of whey hydrolysate), which should be quite sufficient to kickstart post-workout recovery and anabolism.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Torrent appears to be a well-made supplement. It contains (mostly) proven ingredients in useful amounts, so it would be a good adjunct to a solid training/nutrition program. While Torrent isn’t particularly innovative, you can’t go wrong with its tried-and-true combination of ingredients. So, if you’re in the market for a post-workout drink, Torrent is certainly worth a look.
|Summary of Universal Torrent|