Founded in 1986, Optimum Nutrition (“ON”) is one of the most well-known brands in the supplement industry. Initially focused on whey protein, ON has grown tremendously since then, to the point where they even have a 600,000(!) sq ft facility in Illinois. They are recognized my many as a “leader” in the supplement industry.
Specifically created in 2010, ON’s Amino Energy + Electrolytes (technically, it’s called “Essential Amin.o. Energy + Electrolytes”), was one of the earlier pre-workout boosters to focus on energy while not having super high-levels of caffeine.
For those unaware, pre-workout energy boosters are designed to do exactly what their name suggests – to increase your energy levels before and during your workout. In turn, this gives you a better workout and better results. They can also be used throughout the day and in place of energy drinks.
But does Amino Energy work? Well, read-on for my full and comprehensive review of ON’s Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes. It was my first time trying the product and, yes, I spent my own money to purchase and review it.
About ON’s Amino Energy + Electrolytes
First, you should know there a few different varieties of Amino Energy. Specifically, there are 5 different powdered versions of Amino Energy. Each one is slightly different in formula, with a slightly different purpose as outlined below:
This review is for ON’s Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes formulation, specifically the “Watermelon Splash” flavor.
Now I typically don’t compare about the “looks” when it comes to supplements. However, it does help to know you can easily and quickly find relevant information such as ingredients, dosage, mixing instructions, and the like. In this case, I think Optimum has done a really nice job.
The labeling is clear, easy-to-ready, and attractive. It’s a little busy but nothing concerning. Overall, first impressions are that it’s professional and attractive.
How To Use / Dosage
For a couple reasons, my recommendation is to use pre-workouts no more than once or twice a week at most. For one, you should be able to have a good workout without a pre-workout. If you have to rely on an outside source for your motivation or energy, you’re not in the right mindset for sustainable progress.
Secondly, the more you use workout boosters the more your body gets used to ingredients and the less effective they are. In turn, you have to up the dosage to get the same effect.
Third, blasting your body with consistently high-levels of caffeine and other “energy” ingredients can cause a “crash” and leaving you feeling drained and irritable.
With all that said, using Amino Energy + Electrolytes is easy. Simply use the included scooper, and scoop 2-6 scoops into 10-12 fluid oz. of water and then stir until all clumps are gone.
How much should you use? There is dosage information on the label itself you should follow. My personal recommendation is, if you’re new to pre-workouts or under 175 lbs. or so, to start off with the recommended 2 scoops. You can always up the dose if don’t feel anything.
Now, I’m about 190lbs and drink coffee daily so I split the low (2 scoops) and high recommendations (6 scoops) and went with 4 scoops in 10 oz. of water. Mixing was easy enough although there were a couple clumps even after 30 seconds of pretty vigorous mixing, as you can see in the picture. However, it was easy enough to use the back of my spoon to break those up and mix for another couple seconds to get ride of them entirely.
Before I talk about my results, let’s do a quick review of the ingredients. Here’s a pic from my phone:
As you can see, there are quite a few ingredients in the formula, including 5g of amino acids. Amino acids are, essentially, protein. And some studies have shown that small amounts of protein before or during a work-out improve not only your workout endurance but recovery as well. While it won’t give you a “buzz,” it’s good to see some protein in the formula.
On the plus side, ingredients such as the Caffeine, Green Tea Leaf Extract, and Green Coffee Bean Extract will give you energy. At least, it did for me as I’ll detail below. I also like that there’s no sugar in the formula as that can be added for a cheap, quick energy source.
Now to the bad – Amino Energy contains both “artificial flavor” and “sucralose” which are two things I generally don’t like to see. And, obviously I’m not the only one as ON actually has a naturally flavored version that contains neither.
But…those ingredients are not a deal-breaker to me especially since this is not something I’m going to be using every day or very often. On the plus side, I’m very happy there’s no aspartame as, generally, aspartame flavored supplements taste horrible to me. More importantly, aspartame has also been linked to cancer and other serious health risks and I tend to avoid it at all costs.
Like I mentioned above, I tried the watermelon splash flavor. And it definitely tastes like watermelon. In fact, I’d say it has a strong watermelon flavor. Something to keep in mind if you’re not a fan of watermelon.
The overall flavor was a bit sweet with a little bit bitter taste. It’s not unpleasant and the watermelon flavor grew on me the more I drank. It’s also not overly sweet, which is something I hate in supplements. It had a bit of an artificial taste to it (probably due to the sucralose) but – on the plus side – it didn’t leave a real strong aftertaste like other supplements.
Overall, I liked it and it’s something I would drink again.
While I’m not a regular pre-workout booster, I am a pretty big coffee drinker anymore. As such I wasn’t sure what to expect as my body is pretty desensitized to caffeine but – to cut right to the chase – this stuff worked and worked well!
Per the instructions, you’re supposed to drink it around 20-30 minutes before your workout. I modified this a bit by drinking half about 30 minutes before my workout. In doing so, I started to feel something about 10 minutes in. I waited another 10-15 minutes occasionally sipping on the remaining mixture before starting my workout.
Thirty minutes in, I could feel the additional energy and, importantly, it came on fairly smoothly. Normally, I do light movement such as jumping jacks or jumping rope before my workout. Not only does this warm me up overall, it also loosens me up and gives me a better range of motion in my activities. My tempo during the warm-up was noticeably increased as I was ready and excited to go on to my actual workout.
My actual workout consistently of basic but effective movements such as dumbbell bench press, pull-ups, front squats, and kettlebell swings. Not only did I feel stronger than normal, I also needed less time in between sets. I wouldn’t say I was frantic but I was definitely moving quicker and with more purpose.
Mentally, I would also say I was more focused on my workout than normal. Overall, I was more “in the zone” than I normally feel during a workout.
In order to help keep the energy levels, I drank the remaining third of the mixture throughout my workout. This seemed to work very well as I had plenty of energy to finish my workout. In fact, I threw in some additional activities like a Bulgarian split squats, Turkish Get-Ups, and additional mobility work at the end of my workout.
Overall, I was really impressed as the additional energy and feeling of well-being lasted a couple hours. Luckily, it felt pretty smooth while it tapered off and I didn’t have a “crash”, which a lot of people experience with pre-workouts.
Depending on your serving size, you can get Amino Energy + Electrolytes for less than $1 per serving. That’s an amazing deal especially when compared to comparable energy drinks such as Red Bull. Not only is it cheaper but, in my opinion, it’s way more effective.
The ingredients and taste are good (not great) overall and those preferring all-natural ingredients can always try the version with stevia.
While it’s not something I recommend using every day, it’s great for that extra tough workout or when you’re feeling tired.
Considering the effectiveness and price, ON’s Amino Energy + Electrolytes is highly recommended. Scroll down for the final rating.