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- 1 Dark Energy = Split Opinions
- 2 Personal Experience
- 3 Ingredient Label
Dark Energy = Split Opinions
Dark Energy by Magnitude Life Sciences has been one of the most talked about hardcore pre workouts of the last year or so.
It’s one of the few pre workouts left with DMAA and DMHA (although you can always buy your own DMAA and DMHA).
But what’s more interesting to me is that I’ve never seen so many split opinions on a pre workout before. After trying it myself and looking at the ingredients, I suspect this has to do with different sensitivities to GABA. More on this in the ingredient breakdown below.
Some reviewers, like Fitness Deal News (video below), claim the pre workout “makes you fly” and provides “amazing mood elevation.” And coming from TJ, a trustworthy fellow who knows his stuff, this is high praise indeed.
Other reviewers, like 5 Minute Supp Reviews, were disappointed after 3 attempts with the pre workout. He reports a decent energy boost, which would be expected with the 400 mg of caffeine, and a slight mood elevation, but nothing quite as dramatic as what TJ experienced.
So with these split opinions, I wanted to see for myself and compare it to my recent hardcore experience with Assassin pre workout.
At the Gym
I took Dark Energy in the morning after a good night’s rest and a breakfast of eggs with a protein shake. This is all standard operating procedure for my Saturday workouts.
I went with one full scoop of the rocket research flavor, which is the standard serving size. After about 15 minutes I felt an energy boost kicking in along with some nice mood elevation. This peaked after 30 minutes with what I’d call 7/10 energy and 9/10 mood. I had a great workout lifting in some high intensity percent ranges for me. I probably could have kept going a bit, but I was on a schedule and had to leave. So yeah, Dark Energy gave me a good energy boost and a solid workout. This is to be expected.
I can see why TJ from FDN refers to this as one of his favorite happiness pre workouts. There’s some genuine mood elevation going on, but frankly I was disappointed with this pre workout. I felt nice and energized, but there was no intensity, no hunger to attack the weights. It would seem that my expectations were just not in line with what Dark Energy delivers.
If you want to feel hyped up, ready to lift everything in the gym, and kill your workout -- go with Assassin, hands down. I was fully expecting to come away from my experience with Dark Energy and Assassin and say “yeah, go with either, they’re both really good,” but really there is no comparison between the two.
Dark Energy is very smooth, mood elevating, and energizing, but I barely noticed a difference vs. something like Game Day, which has an entirely legal ingredient profile. If I’m taking something that’s “not for human consumption,” then I don’t want to feel like a human after I take it. This just isn’t the pre workout for that kind of experience. Dark Energy is better for uplifting energy and mood elevation.
Dark Energy has decent energy boosting and mood enhancing effects, but there is something missing in it. Given the ingredient label, I feel crazy saying “decent energy boost” for a product with DMAA and DMHA, but here we are. I suspect the GABA may be having unintended effects and taking too much of an edge off of the pre workout.
If you’re looking for something different that will improve your energy and mood in the gym, Dark Energy may be what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an intense pre workout that will hit you like a rocket and make you lift like a maniac, this ain’t it, chief.
Let’s walk through the label for Dark Energy.
DMAA (60 mg)
If you’re reading this, you want to know about the stims. The label says that one serving of Dark Energy contains 60mg of DMAA, a strong dose. I won’t contest that. DMAA is a powerful stimulant that is banned by the FDA, so it is difficult to find in most pre workouts, which is part of what makes Dark Energy so enticing. I have taken “pure” (according to the sources) DMAA from NutraVita Shop and ELV Bioscience. I felt a bigger energy surge after taking those, but I suspect this has to do with GABA interaction.
DMHA (200 mg)
DMHA is quite similar to DMAA in terms of effects, it just requires a larger dosage. This made it a popular pre workout ingredient for replacing DMAA. Of course, nothing lasts forever and the FDA began issuing warning letters to companies that included DMHA in their products in April 2019. The fact that Dark Energy has both DMAA and DMHA on its ingredient label is a huge middle finger to the FDA and, in my opinion, a large part of why it has received so much attention.
GABA (50 mg)
Here’s where things get interesting.
I suspect GABA is the ingredient that may be causing the controversy over Dark Energy.
GABA is an amino acid that behaves as a neurotransmitter, attaching to your brain’s GABA receptors and depressing the central nervous system (CNS).
Yes, depressing the central nervous system. It chills you out.
It’s also worth noting that not everyone responds the same way to oral GABA supplementation. Some people feel the effects more than others.
These GABA receptors are the same types of receptors that benzodiazepines (aka “benzos”) like Xanax or Ativan attach to, producing a calming effect on the CNS.
To be clear: GABA and benzos attach to similar receptors, but they are not the same classification of drug. Benzos have a well documented effect.
Oral GABA supplementation effects are less well documented, but they been reported anecdotally. Nitric oxide has also been shown to help GABA cross the blood brain barrier (i.e. make it effective instead of just swimming around in the body, where it can’t attach to GABA receptors in the brain), which citrulline malate helps with.
My armchair pharmacologist POV is that people that are underwhelmed by Dark Energy, even feeling calm on it, are overly sensitive to the GABA. The GABA is doing too good of a job at taking the edge off of the stimulants and is resulting in a pre workout that feels lacking. I suspect it’s also one of the reasons others feel “happy” while taking it.
I think that is what is leading to comments like this:
There is also some research that GABA may increase production of human growth hormone (HGH), although this effect is not well understood and it’s not clear if this achieves a performance enhancing effect. It’s worth noting that the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has not banned GABA, which I would suspect they would if it led to increased growth hormone production.
DMAE (750 mg)
DMAE is a choline molecule used to treat cognitive decline in elderly patients. It is included in pre workouts to promote focus and feelings of well being. Dosing guidance for performance enhancement is not especially well understood, but 750 mg is a pretty large dose compared to other pre workouts that contain DMAE.
Caffeine Anhydrous (400 mg)
I personally love a good 350 mg to 400 mg caffeine dose. Big fan of this.
L-Citrulline Malate (6 g)
6 grams of citrulline malate is a nice strong pump ingredient dosage. Standard stuff, but nice to see nonetheless.
Beta Alanine (3.2 g)
Again, standard dosage of beta alanine, power output enhancer and bringer of the “tingles.”
Taurine (2 g)
One of the star ingredients of Red Bull so many years ago, taurine achieves a number of different effects on the body. It’s likely included here as a small blood flow enhancer, but this is a minor effect and is hardly worth talking about.
Dark Energy Pre Workout Review
Overall, Dark Energy has decent energy boosting and mood enhancing effects, but there is something missing in it. Given the ingredient label, I feel crazy saying “decent energy boost” for a product with DMAA and DMHA, but here we are. I suspect the GABA may be having unintended effects and taking too much of an edge off of the pre workout.
If you’re looking for something different that will improve your energy and mood in the gym, Dark Energy may be what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for an intense pre workout that will hit you like a rocket and make you lift like a maniac, this ain’t it, chief.
- Decent energy boost
- Good mood lift
- No “crash” or negative side effects
- No intensity or extreme focus/urgency
- Too expensive