Supplement Review Editor
Deer antler spray received its fair share of media attention. Ever since retired football star Ray Lewis tested positive for the stuff in 2013, the once popular supplement has lost some of its luster. That is, until I came across Bucked Up, a pre-workout powder by DAS Labs.
SO what exactly is deer antler velvet? Well it’s not just some clever marketing name, it’s actually derived from the antlers of large bucks who grow these grand majestic antlers in the months leading up to mating season. Before they finally harden into a wooden crown, they sprout as small velvety structures. Each year, these antlers quickly grow anew, leading scientists to begin research on their incredible healing properties. Scientists have found that Insulin-like growth factor (or IGF-1) is secreted from the velvety antlers, aiding in speedy regeneration. When this IGF-1 is harnessed and utilized by humans, the rate of muscular recovery is greatly enhanced.
In addition to elevating IGF-1, certain deer antler velvet supplements have been found to boost testosterone levels, which in turn has the potential to cure erectile dysfunction and increase sexual performance.
You might be asking yourself what all this has to do with a pre-workout? DAS Labs theorizes that supplementing with the compound will elicit an IGF response and thus increase recovery prior to and during bouts of intense training.
Let’s look at the label;
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) 100mcg
Citrulline Malate 6g
Caffeine Anhydrous 200mg
So far so good, right? These are all pretty standard, effective dosages of the amino acids that yield vasodilating factors and energy properties. Let’s keep going down the label.
Himalayan Rock Salt 100mg
AlphaSize® Alpha-GPC 200mg
ActiGin® 25mg (“increase VO2 MAX & boost athletic performance”)
Deer Antler Velvet Extract 50g
Himalayan Rock Salt is the pink stuff found in your local Whole Foods. I have never seen it used in a dietary supplement but sodium is known for cell swelling and water retention properties so I’m fine with its incorporation here. Then we have a few manufactured compounds, which if you follow my articles, you know I am not a fan of; AlphaSize® (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline), AstraGin®, and ActiGin®. These ingredients claim to be cognitive enhancers, increase Citrulline absorption by up to 25-50%*, and increase uptake of muscle glycogen and VO2 Max** respectively. Having received their respective patents within the past year, however, we are still unsure regarding efficacy.
Finally, the “pièce de résistance” – 50mg of deer antler velvet extract. We discussed what deer antler extract claims to do earlier in the article, so now we should talk about the dosage. The recommended dosage of deer antler velvet varies from 1-3g in subjects seeking an improvement in athletic performance, leaving DAS Labs’ product severely underdosed.
There has not been a great deal of testing on the product, which makes it difficult to evaluate, so I decided to self-experiment. All I can say is the energy this product yields is among the elite and the taste of Blood Raz is unparalleled! When it comes to muscle building properties, it sadly falls short.
Safety of Product: The jury is still out on the safety of deer antler velvet. Some believe it to be a performance enhancer while others consider it just another supplement for recovery. Deer antler velvet is no longer banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but then again this is an authority responsible for the banning of caffeine, which should tell you all you need to know about WADA. Having said that, there are no known side effects associated with deer antler velvet supplementation, although some might be allergic to deer antler velvet. Deer antler extract aside, we know very little about 30% of the total ingredients in the product (AlphaSize®, AstraGin®, and ActiGin®). 18/25.
Quality of Ingredients: The compounds we can speak of in this product are top shelf. Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Caffeine, and Taurine are all dosed properly and effectively. However I will do my best to avoid beating a dead horse, telling you that most of the ingredients in this pre-workout are a mystery. 15/25.
Effectiveness: Bucked Up is an effective pre-workout formula providing users with delicious energy, but fails to meet the muscle-building claims made by its manufacturers. 18/25.
Price: Available in Blood Raz, Blue Raz, and Watermelon flavors, 30 servings of the product can be purchased for $50. This is one of the highest priced pre-workouts on the market, and for what? The absolute minimum dosage of deer antler velvet? 15/25.
Overall: As a pre-workout, Bucked Up earns it’s antlers. But as an IGF booster and mass gainer, it acts more like Bambi’s mom. 66/100.
* – AstraGin®, https://getastragin.com/research/ ** – ActiGin®, https://actigin.com
Is there a “controversial” supplement on the market you are weary to try? Shoot me a Facebook post, tweet, email, etc. and let me know! I just might be willing to be your guinea pig and give my unbiased (critical) opinion.
Editor’s Note: As with any of the supplement reviews found on DigitalMuscle.com, this review is not an endorsement nor does it replace the guidance of a medical professional. This and all reviews found on DigitalMuscle.com are solely the opinion of the reviewer. Always consult with a medical or nutrition professional before beginning any supplement program.
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After a series of concussions ended his high school wrestling career, Matt discovered bodybuilding, quickly immersing himself in the world of fitness, nutrition and supplementation. A National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Trainer, Matt founded UFit Sports Performance and Nutrition and has helped dozens of clients achieve their fitness goals. Having tried and tested countless supplements, Matt is highly regarded as a credible evaluator of nutritional products.