Tier 1 – Analysis of Ingredients and Doses

Okay so a couple people have asked for information on how we dosed the ingredients in Tier 1 and which studies we referenced when we decided on the formulation.  There will always be opinions (why not this, why not more of that, etc.) but this should help everyone understand why we did what we did. 

When deciding on ingredients/doses we take three things into consideration:

  1. Be scientifically sound. Human performance studies preferred to critter studies. Doses similar/identical to those used in studies.
  2. Expert Review. Specifically Alan Aragon and Lyle McDonald. These are the two main resources we trust when it comes to supplements and nutrition. We like to think of ourselves as halfway intelligent and we devour studies and relevant literature but we are also susceptible to making mistakes. Trusting expert advice on empirical evidence is very important.
  3. We are happy with the mix and take it ourselves. Ultimately this company started because we were scratching our own itch and it is a fundamental principle we follow. Yes, we take Tier 1. The day we don’t we’re going to stop selling it. Plain and simple.
Without further ado….



Creatine – probably the single most studied dietary supplement. For those who don’t know, basically supplementing with creatine increases your intramuscular stores of phosphocreatine, which allows your body to resynthesize an energy source in your body called ATP.

Simple terms – creatine increases performance during high intensity activities that require short bursts of energy like weight lifting and sprinting as well as activities that require a mix of short bouts and steady state energy. The most important thing with creatine is to make sure you get your maintenance dose (once loaded). When you take it is a secondary concern. So why did we include it in our pre-workout?

    • We wanted Tier 1 to give the added value of providing a maintenance dose of creatine on training days. Back to the principle of creating supplements we take ourselves – we like the convenience of having it in our preworkout on training days instead of taking it separately.
    • Three (3) grams per serving for the maintenance dose determined through this study. Click Here. 

Of note was the study’s conclusion that: “Following the maintenance period, muscle TCr stores were still similar to post-loading values for both the 2 g x day(-1) and 5 g x day(-1) conditions.” So to keep it as economical as possible while providing an effective dose – 3 grams it was.


Another performance ingredient with multiple studies showing its effectiveness. Supplementing with beta-alanine increases intramuscular carnosine levels which helps reduce fatigue. It’s been shown to improve muscular endurance and strength/power when paired with creatine. Simple terms – beta alanine reduces fatigue, improves muscular endurance, and helps with strength/power when paired with creatine.

We’ve gotten a couple questions about why we “only” have 2 grams of beta-alanine.  If you examine the numerous studies of beta-alanine you’ll find that the majority administered it in divided doses. Beta-alanine has been shown to cause a histamine response – an irritating and stinging/burning sensation in the skin (commonly referred to in bro circles as tingles but more scientifically referred to as paresthesia). We believe this is one of the reasons why it was administered in divided doses.

Some of the literature also mentioned that divided doses helps with optimal absorption but we could not find any studies that examined the difference between a large single dose vs. divided doses. Reference this statement made by Lyle McDonald in his Supplements Part 2 article on Bodyrecomposition…. Maybe some of the experts can weigh in on this.
Supplements Part 2 – Lyle McDonald
These were some of the studies we referenced which all used divided doses. 

Okay….so Why 2 grams of beta-alanine in Tier 1?

We used these studies that paired beta-alanine with creatine when making that decision.

It appears an effective daily dose is anywhere from 2.4 to 6.4grams. We decided to push forward with a 2 gram dose to replicate the studies and reduce the effects of the histamine response. We recommend taking another 2g at some point during the day.

We personally take another 2 gram serving of NOW Foods Beta-alanine after training sessions. (link here)

It is also noteworthy that there is a “loading” period with beta-alanine. It can take up to a month of supplementation in increase skeletal muscle levels of carnosine to the point of seeing a performance increase. Like with creatine, to see the benefit you should be supplementing on off days. 
For further reading on the numerous studies on Beta-Alanine here is a decent research review. 


Ah good ol’ caffeine. From an energy, alertness, focus, and just combating sleepiness perspective I think most of us have a pretty good understanding of what caffeine does. We love it – we find that it gives us the extra boost to train with the intensity we like.
Instead of posting every single study we read when formulating Tier 1 – here is a position stand from the ISSN that examines caffeine’s effect on sport performance.  It is worthy to note that these position stands are not the end all be all (Alan Aragon exposed many deficiencies on their nutrient timing stand in the October 2008 RR) but we felt that it was a pretty good summary of the research available on caffeine and also consistent with what we’ve read elsewhere.
From a dosage perspective it appears the sweet spot is 3-5 mg / kg. Due to that recommendation, the fact that tyrosine is in the mix, and the differing sensitivities to caffeine – we decided on 200mg. It is worthwhile to note that it is impossible to formulate a preworkout dosed perfectly for every individual. The 275lb man may require a different dose of caffeine than the 150lb man, and factors such as caffeine use and sensitivity to stimulants may also come into play.
Before moving on we also want to mention that caffeine’s link to strength/power performance has not been established and more studies are needed. Some studies show a benefit and other studies show no significant advantage. It would be a disservice to try to say that there is a link and only post the studies showing a benefit. This is touched on in the ISSN position stand and also in the June 2011 AA Research Review.



Alright. So Tyrosine is a precursor substrate for adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine in the brain (catecholamines). This study helped us understand it better (click here). As far as we could tell, Tyrosine by itself does not appear to have any major impact on sports performance.

Human studies examining its effect with caffeine vs. caffeine vs. placebo are nil from what we could find. The reason it is in the mix is because empirical evidence suggests that it works synergistically with caffeine. Simply put – it has an impact as a pre-workout stimulant when combined with caffeine. We have found this to be the case as well. Since tyrosine can increase catecholamine production and caffeine can increase catecholamine release – these two compounds should work together to increase the energy effect.

Although there are not numerous studies examining its effect when paired just with caffeine – from an expert review and empirical evidence standpoint its use when paired with caffeine is well supported. We relied heavily on research by Lyle Mcdonald in his Stubborn Fat Loss, Ultimate Diet 2.0, and specifically the Protein Book when including and dosing this ingredient. The common recommendation from the literature we’ve read is 1-3 grams of l-tyrosine with 200mg of caffeine. 



Okay here is the ingredient that we went back and forth with the most. Yes, we know if you are eating a healthy diet that it is not needed. Those particularly at risk of being deficient are vegetarians/vegans/malabsorption/bad diet. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, depression, headaches, etc.

These are the studies we referenced for inclusion/dosing of Tier 1:

We knew our target market would most likely be eating a balanced diet – but the biggest factor swaying us to include them was the relatively low cost to include and how little of the mix it constitutes (less than 1%).  Couple with the fact that they are water soluble so if you are not deficient it would just be pissed out – we decided to put them in the mix.

Okay. That’s it.

p.s. Many of the full text studies are available but for some of the others you have to pay $25 to $30 for the full text. If you have any specific questions about the studies that require payment let us know. Although we can’t send you the full text we can cite specific sections or answer any questions you may have.

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3 comments on “Tier 1 – Analysis of Ingredients and Doses

  1. Now I know the “why” about the “what”! Good information – well written :)

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