The pre-workout supplement, Craze, is intended to give people an intense boost of energy to operate at peak performance during workouts. Recent tests conducted by multiple labs both in the United States and in South Korea show, however, that the product might have more to it than the caffeine, creatine, and nitric oxide listed on its label.
Recent tests ran on the supplement came back positive for containing amphetamines and multiple forms of methylphenethylamine, a chemical found in adrenaline.
Craze is Bodybuilding.com’s “2012 New Supplement of the Year” winner, but is also now on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s dietary supplement high-risk list. The agency cites the quasi-meth substances in the supplement as potentially dangerous and harmful to athletes.
While athletes get added energy from pre-workout supplements such as Craze, some see results with isolated ingredients of pre-workouts, such as creatine, an ingredient in Craze, minus the designer-drug aspect associated with taking stimulants.
“I gained like 20 pounds of muscle using creatine,” Colton Stremel, former K-State student, said. “My bench press increased, but that might have been because of how much bigger I was getting.”
While pre-workouts, including Craze, are widely used by weightlifters, Stremel said he believes that health is a higher priority than an edge at the gym.
“It’s not good for you, obviously, to use pre-workout [supplements],” Stremel said. “You’re trying to help your body, but you’re probably hurting it instead.”
The military blacklisted Craze after the supplement caused service members to fail drug tests. Furthermore, the supplement has decreased in availability, with retailers such as Walmart and Bodybuilding.com pulling it from their markets after the allegations against the supplement and its maker, Driven Sports.
Dylan Fosdick, sales associate at Nutrition Zone, explained the science behind pre-workout supplements and what makes Craze different.
“Any pre-workout is very high stimulant based and also has nitric oxide, creatine and beta-alanine in it — increasing blood flow,” Fosdick said. “[Craze] uses a different form of stimulants, giving [users] more intensity.”
Not listed on Craze’s label are the alleged amphetamine-like substances that it has been tested to contain. These cousins to meth, however, could also provide the power during a workout that gave the product its initial success.
“It’s gonna make you more explosive, and you’ll be able to do more reps,” Fosdick said. “Definitely for weight lifting, that would give you an edge. I wouldn’t recommend it for cardio, because of the increased heart rate.”
Despite labels that take a chemistry degree to decipher and ingredients such as creatine and nitric oxide, the main purpose of pre-workout stimulants are much simpler.
“The main reason people use them is motivation,” Fosdick said. “They need a little bit of a boost, especially for an early morning workout or if they go after a long day of work. They let you work out at a slightly higher intensity.”
Driven Sports, the company that formulated Craze, conducted their own tests for the alleged ingredients. Contrary to other lab studies, theirs found that the pre-workout was void of any meth-like compounds.
On their blog, Driven Sports said, “Craze is a legal supplement that provides people with a tool to enhance their workouts, by combining natural extracts to increase their energy. Craze conforms to all U.S. federal regulatory requirements and is proven safe when used as directed.”
No tests involving Craze have ever been done on humans, making it impossible to reach a conclusion about the safety of the supplement and its effectiveness. The supplement is not FDA approved.
Matt Cahill, the designer of Craze and many other scrutinized supplements, has faced federal charges for creating weight loss supplements that contained a toxic pesticide, and ultimately led to the death of a teenage girl. He also has been behind several other allegedly dangerous supplements and served two years in federal prison for the accusations.
Driven Sports pulled Craze off the market for a while to test it for safety. According to an article by Alison Young from USA Today from Oct. 16, Driven Sports has suspended the production of the product as a direct result of the media frenzy surrounding the supplement’s components.
Their website lists the pre-workout powder as “out of stock” currently, and warns those subjected to drug testing to be extremely cautious in their use of the supplement. Driven Sports claims to have extensively tested Craze and is “saddened” by the media attention and controversy surrounding the product.
Even Fosdick, who sells supplements, cites that natural and cheaper alternatives still might be effective and much safer.
“Coffee or something like that gives you the caffeine,” Fosdick said. “Even beet juice, which contains natural nitrates, can give you a boost before a workout.”