Only what is necessary and useful…


Supplements & Benefits

We select the ingredients for our Iron Joe products based on a simple philosophy:
Only what is necessary and useful and nothing more.

Each of the supplements selected for our products have not only strong backing from exercise science research but have also withstood the test of time and experience, over several decades of strength training and coaching. Two of the founders of Iron Joe are Starting Strength Coaches and we have used these supplements in our personal training as well as our coaching.

In other words, we include only those ingredients supported by scientific rationale and our own experience on the platform!

Branch-Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a set of essential amino acids (meaning your body cannot synthesize them on your own). What makes Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine unique is that, unlike other amino acids, they bypass the liver and are preferentially metabolized by skeletal muscle. BCAAs spike plasma amino acid levels and provide nutrients to the skeletal muscles quickly. Supplemented BCAAs stimulate mTORC1, an enzyme that drives muscle protein synthesis after strength training.1 A systematic review on the efficiency of BCAAs to help alleviate skeletal muscle damage (from training) indicates that it improves recovery, especially if taken prior to training (like in a delicious coffee-based pre-workout!)2

Since Iron Joe is brewed hot and typically served hot, you may have concerns that the heat will denature and destroy the BCAAs. In a 2009 study3 published in Molecular Medicine Reports, researchers noted that “…No significant decrease was noted in valine, leucine or isoleucine levels following the heating of the BCAAs to 80°C.” This included heating for 30 and 60 minutes, significantly longer than would be experienced in a Keurig K-cup brewer. Furthermore, the key takeaway of the study showed greater compliance in cirrhosis patients actually taking their BCAAs when it was heated.

In other words, warmed-up BCAAs are more palatable, and we think coffee is the obvious delivery vehicle for this critical ingredient.

In addition, our correspondence and conversations with Biologist Jim Barnett, PhD and Organic Chemist Daryle Fish, PhD of Saint Vincent College put to rest any worry that BCAAs, creatine, Beta-Alanine, carnitine, arginine or HMB would be denatured during the brewing process. Neither the temperature used in K-cup brewing (98.2 C) nor the length of time spent at that temperature would cause any significant change in the chemical composition of the supplements used in the product.

1 Jackman, Sarah et. al. (2017). Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans, Frontiers in Physiology, 8(390): 1-12.

2 Fouré and Bendahan (2017), Is Branched-Chain Amino Acids Supplementation an Efficient Nutritional Strategy to Alleviate Skeletal Muscle Damage? A Systematic Review, Nutrients, 9(1047): 1-15+

3 Mol Med Rep. 2009 Nov-Dec;2(6):983-7. doi: 10.3892/mmr_00000202.

Beta alanine (β-ALA), a non-essential amino acid, increases muscle carnosine levels.4 Why should you care? Multiple studies have reported that increased muscle carnosine levels serve as a physiological buffer,5 slowing the drop in muscle pH levels during strenuous exercise. In other words, increasing carnosine levels helps ward off fatigue allowing you train harder and longer. There are no known side effects besides a niacin-like skin flush or “tingle,” very familiar to athletes who use this supplement. If you’re like us, you’ll learn to love The Tingle—it means Iron Joe is working to power your workout.

4 Culbertson, Julie, et. al. (2010). Effects of Beta-Alanine on Muscle Carnosine and Exercise Performance: A Review of the Current Literature, Nutrients, 2(1): 75–98.

5 Artioli GG, et. al. (2010). Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance, Med Sci Sports Exerc., 42(6): 1162-73.

l-Carnitine is a quaternary ammonium compound derived from the amino acid lysine. It increases energy supply to active muscle by facilitating the transport of fatty acids into muscle cells and mitochondria for oxidation—that is, it helps muscles burn fat. Why is this useful?6 It improves ATP regeneration/recovery, and should decrease fatigue and possibly slow the “burn” feeling during training. Also, it’s associated with aiding in fat loss, so that’s a win-win-win situation!

6 Spiering BA et al. (2008), Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on muscle oxygenation responses to resistance exercise, Journal of Strength Conditioning Res, 22(4):1130-5.

We know caffeine works from the size of the coffee section at the grocery store and the length of the line at Starbucks in the morning. Coffee has caffeine and it is the basis of Iron Joe. We add a little more caffeine anhydrous to the mix to give it some extra pep. ‘Nuff said.

Creatine supplementation increases muscle creatine-phosphate, a critical depot of high-energy phosphate for work in the low-capacity, high-power, anaerobic energy system. More creatine phosphate in the muscle means you can work in this system longer—squeezing out that extra one or two reps. So you can get stronger!

Caffeine does not prevent the absorption of creatine according to a study from the “International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.” It showed that creatine is “rapidly and efficiently” absorbed by the body even in the presence of caffeine. This study used blood tests to determine creatine’s absorption rate. This study suggests creatine and caffeine consumed together do not affect the actual absorption of creatine.7

Some people have warned that mixing creatine in an acidic solution such as coffee may break down the creatine molecule into creatinine. Coffee has an acidity (pH) of 4.5, which is significantly less acidic than gastrointestinal secretions (about 1) and stomach acid (about 1.5). Creatine is highly bioavailable, especially for doses greater than 1 gram.8

7 One study by Vanakoski et. al,”Creatine and caffeine in anaerobic and aerobic exercise: effects on physical performance and pharmokinetic considerations,” showed that while caffeine did not interfere with creatine uptake, additional oral creatine did not aid in recovery or performance. Odd that the researchers used anaerobic exercises that are well outside of the C-P range of force production rendering the second conclusion irrelevant.

8 Harris RC, et al. (1992). Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation. Clin Sci 83: 367-74.

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