There has been considerable “buzz” on the Internet about USPLab’s Jack3d. Jack3d was a paradigm-shifter when it was released due to its price point and formula (again, usually you’ll find a laundry list of crap a mile long, but Jack3d only has 6 ingredients — simpler is better), and, perhaps most importantly, effect (try it — you’ll see what I mean).
The current Jack3d (note the “3? instead of an “e”) is actually the third iteration of the formula. The first version of the product, “Jacked”, had a proprietary blend of 3,166mg, was flavored differently, and apparently there was some confusion about patent infringement conerning creatine and sodium bicarbonate blend with supplement manufacturer BSN of NO-Xplode fame. There was also a separate issue with naming rights. Here’s a quote from a USPLabs rep:
“We had to remove the Fizz because BSN has liscensed the Patent for combo of creatine and sodium bicorbonate. That is why the FIZZ is gone and so the taste had to changed [sic] for that reason. Changed name from JACKED to Jack3d because another company has a trade mark on Jacked. We increased the amount of beta A and AAKG, but everything else is exactly the same including the price.”
“Jack3d”, the second effort, saw its proprietary blend increased from 3,166mg to 3,500mg, with the increase purportedly coming from beta-alanine and arginine alpha-ketoglutarate if you believe our intrepid USPLabs representative (I do). So the first formula revision was actually an upgrade, but here’s where it gets interesting: if you look at the label for the difference between the second and third versions — a change that was not highly publicized — there is one conspicuous absence: theophylline.
There were rumors flying all over internet message boards as to why theophylline was removed. For the official stance, I’ll call in another USPLabs rep (this one appears to be much more literate):
“The only ingredient that was removed since the first run of Jack3d is theophylline (in the latest version). Originally, theophylline was a part of the methylxanthine complex in Jack3d that would exert it’s effects partly via competitive inhibition of cAMP degradation, apart from the synergistic interaction with 1,3-Dimethylamylamine. This change, and the corresponding label changes, were undertaken to match FDA compliance requirements in terms of ingredients and their nomenclature. Back to theophylline. As it turns out, due to the small amount of theophylline originally used, coupled with the fact that caffeine could exert comparable effects in the formula without theophylline, the elimination of theophylline was not at the expense of formula potency. Furthermore, USPLabs took the opportunity of the removal of theophylline to increase the per-scoop amounts of creatine and schizandrol A.”
I think what’s interesting here is the interpretation of the word small, i.e. “…the small amount of theophylline originally used.” How much is small? If you look at the amount in tea, for example, the amount is downright minute: ~1mg/L, perhaps a bit more in yerba maté. As a reference point, most theophylline prescriptions (and thus, “prescription-strength”) contain 200-300mg — a couple orders of magnitude more. Alas, we may never know for sure unless a USPLabs rep is willing to divulge the milligram amounts; this is why I detest proprietary blends, by the way, although I do recognize that they are a necessary evil.
Anyway, USPLabs maintains that their removal of theophylline was entirely voluntary; furthermore, it didn’t weaken the formula — “the elimination of theophylline from the blend did not result in any decipherable loss in formula potency.” As mentioned above, with per-scoop increases in creatine and schizandrol A, there was a concomitant increase in proprietary blend size (again), but this time from 3,500mg to 4,145mg. One more thing I can’t help but notice: the first two versions of this product recommended two scoops, but the third version recommends three.
In any case, there is a reason why USPLab’s Jack3d catapulted up the ranks of best-selling pre-workout drinks, going from relative obscurity to threatening the category magnates, SuperPump250 and NO-Xplode, in less than a year’s time: the stuff works. I’ve castigated arginine and proprietary blends before (both present in Jack3d), and often lauded the scientifically proven combination of creatine monohydrate and beta-alanine (again, Jack3d has both). There are pros and cons to the formula “on paper,” but all pre-workout drinks are feeling products; the most important thing about any of them is that they make you feel fantastic before your workout. That alone will have more performance-enhancing effects than any other factor, and Jack3d seems to accomplish this quite resoundingly. I’m not buying or selling, but like everyone else on the Internet seems to be, I find myself taking Jack3d more often than not.