FORTAGEN is said to skyrocket muscle growth and to be the most anabolic protein on the planet. At least that's what Jaquish Biomedical says. Jaquish Biomedical, the company behind the wildly popular X3 Bar resistance training program has started selling its own line of dietary supplements. The Fortagen supplement is said to be 5x more usable by the body than standard protein. But is it? Is it better at building muscle than whey protein or other supplements? In this unbiased review, you'll learn about the research on this amino acid supplement including my list pros and cons.
What Is Fortagen?
It's an amino acid supplement by Jaquish Biomedical, the same company that makes the popular X3 Bar resistance training system. Fortagen contains the 8 essential amino acids needed to build muscle. About the name, my guess is it's derived from the word fortify. In other words, it fortifies the building of muscle. Take it for what it is.
Fortagen Clinical Research
No clinical studies on the Fortagen supplement -itself – can be located. This means it looks like nobody has taken this supplement into the lab yet and tested it against other protein or amino acid supplements. The supplement is said to be derived from a cancer treatment but it's unclear what that treatment was. Some studies are provided as proof and listed on the Jaquish Biomedical website. Here's a summary of two of them:
In this small investigation (8 people) researchers noted that the ingestion of 10 grams of leucine resulted in 33% greater protein synthesis. While impressive, this study involved cycling and not resistance training exercise. Also, the study did not compare leucine to whey protein or anything else. It just showed leucine improved muscle protein synthesis.
In this investigation, researchers describe the “master amino acid pattern” This combination is similar to the amino acid pattern used in Fortagen. In this study, 66 people were given 3 different diets:
- Diet A (master amino acid pattern)
- Diet B (amino acids from hen whole eggs)
- Diet C (whole egg hen protein)
Researchers noted greater anabolic effects with Diet A (Master Amino Acid Pattern or MAP) than either egg amino acids or whole egg protein. Specifically, 99% of the master amino acid pattern was found to be used anabolically. To contrast, The anabolic ability was:
- 72% for egg protein amino acids
- 68% for whole egg protein
From this study, it might seem the master amino acid pattern would be better at building muscle. But, there are some problems.
Problems with the study
- This was not an exercise study.
- We don't know if the people exercised or not during the study
- The study did not compare MAP to whey, casein or soy protein
Still, it's an interesting investigation, and it appears to show the amino acid pattern used may be better than either egg protein or amino acids from eggs.
The Jaquish website cites other studies too but the way they are listed (eg., Luca, et al, 1998) makes them difficult to locate.
Fortagen Supplement Facts
One scoop of Fortagen has 4 calories and 10 grams of the following amino acids:
Amino acids are listed in order as they appear on the label. Amino acids listed at the top make up most of the supplement. Those at the bottom make up the least.
The Branch Chain Amino Acids
The amino acid ratios are said to be “optimized for anabolic utility.” What does that even mean? What are the criteria by which these amino acids are optimized? This is marketing speak. The supplement does contain all 8 adult essential amino acids. That's good.
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the first 3 amino acids listed. Therefore these are the most important. They make up most of what you get when you take the supplement. There are 3 branch chain amino acids:
Since leucine is the first amino acid listed, it contributes most to the anabolic effects of the supplement.
Several studies have noted leucine has anabolic effects. How does it work? Leucine activates mTOR, a gene involved in muscle growth. The letters mTOR stands for the mammalian target of rapamycin. It's a cellular signaling pathway involved in cell growth in all mammal cells – including humans.
The activation of the mTOR pathway appears to be at the heart of BCAAs – and leucine's – anabolic effects.
The supplement also contains these other ingredients too:
- Malic acid
- Natural flavors
- Citric acid
These other ingredients don't play any role in the anabolic effects of the supplement.
As Good As 50 Grams of Protein?
One of the claims is that “one serving of Fortagen (10 g) provides as much usable protein for building muscle as 50 grams of ordinary protein from other sources.”
Also, it's not clear what is meant by “ordinary protein from other sources.” Do they mean protein from food? Are they saying Fortagen is better than chicken, turkey, etc? Given the lack of clinical studies comparing Fortagen to other supplements (or food), this question is wide open for researchers to investigate.
Where Is The Supplement Made
The label states the supplement is manufactured for Jaquish Biomedical. This tells us another company makes the supplement. The name of the company is not given but it is made in the US. That's good. The company tells me the amino acids are sourced from America too.
That's good as many companies obtain their raw ingredients from other countries such as India and China. This is true for many pharmaceutical drugs too.
The supplement is made in a cGMP facility. cGMP means that the lab meets current Good Manufacturing Practices. These are regulations enforced by the FDA to ensure the quality of supplements. This is good.
Grow Muscle While Cutting Calories?
It's claimed that using the supplement permits users to aggressively grow muscle mass while at a caloric deficit. Is that really true? There's no proof either way. The supplement has not been tested in humans who are fasting or limiting calories to see if they build muscle faster than people who are not restricting calories. It may or may not. This claim needs to be tested in a few clinical studies.
How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle?
Dr. Jaquish has stated that we need about 1 gram of protein per pound to build muscle. Here's the video:
So, if you weighed 180 pounds, you'd require 180 grams of protein.
The math is pretty easy but, is this always true?
In one review of 49 previous protein /exercise studies of healthy people who worked out, researchers concluded 0.7 grams per pound was optimal. When it came to protein supplements, the researchers stated “intakes greater than 0.7 grams per pound (about 1.6 g/kg) per day do not promote further strength training gains in fat-free mass (muscle).
This 0.7 grams per pound amount is just a little bit more than the protein RDA which is 0.4 grams per pound. If you want to make your protein intake math calculation easy and use the 1 gram per pound dose, you can do that. Just know that it may be overkill for some people.
In another study, researchers concluded that for beginners, “consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training.” So, if you're a beginner, they are saying you don't need to worry so much about how much protein you eat.
What Does All This Mean?
Several studies have shown gains in muscle strength and size can be obtained by eating less than 1 gram per pound. Amounts used in various studies have ranged from 0.6 to 0.9 grams per pound. Some studies have used more than 1 grams per pound. That said, stressing the muscles with resistance is what's really important. You can do this using free weights, machines – and with the X3 Bar too.
Fortagen And Muscle Recovery
The supplement contains branch chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. In some circles, these amino acids are thought to reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery after exercise. In theory that might mean Fortagen would too – but it would take research to prove this.
Some research hints that BCAAs might reduce muscle soreness after exercise but the effect on muscle recovery might be negligible in those who consumed enough protein (0.5 grams per pound).
How Do You Use Fortagen?
It's recommended to use the supplement once a day, preferably one hour before bedtime. Also, take the supplement at least one hour before or after consuming other types of protein.
How Much Does Fortagen Cost?
This supplement isn't cheap. Here are prices listed on the Jaquish Biomedical website:
- One time purchase :$104.99 (45 servings)
- Auto-shipment: $92.99
Add another $60 if you also want their pre-workout supplement In-Perium.
If you sign up for automatic shipments you save $12 per container. Either way, you slice it, that's a lot to pay for an amino acid supplement.
For those looking for a bargain, the price will make some want to search for alternatives like this one.
Unopened bottles have a 30-day return policy. Remember the guarantee is for unopened bottles only. The company does not accept returns on opened or partially used bottles.
Fortagen Side Effects
Side effects in most people are probably minimal. The supplement contains all 8 essential amino acids which are also found naturally in food. Each serving has only 10 grams of these amino acids. Here are some things to consider when taking this supplement. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week
- Stop taking at least 2 weeks before surgery
- BCAAs might cause insulin resistance. Diabetics should talk to their doctor.
- Talk to your doctor if you have kidney or liver problems
- If pregnant/breastfeeding talk to your doctor
- Ask your doctor first if you have cancer or a history of cancer
Some say BCAAs are bad for exercise because they raise ammonia levels, which can reduce exercise performance. But, all the amino acids in this supplement add up to only 10 grams. That's less than 1/2 oz. Issues with ammonia are not likely to occur in healthy people.
BCAAs and in particular leucine are thought to be anabolic because they activate the mTOR pathway. Some have wondered if activating mTOR might have negative consequences. Remember, mTOR causes cell growth – all cells. Is it possible mTOR may be involved in cancer growth? In support of this, some research finds cutting back on leucine inhibits the spread of breast cancer. Other preliminary research finds leucine supplementation might spread cancer.
On the flipside however preliminary research hints that BCAAs might reduce liver cancer. What does all this mean? Obviously cancer biology is complicated. For those with a history of cancer, talk to your doctor.
Fortagen Protein Pro and Con
Here are some opinions on the good and not so good about the supplement. Your thoughts may be different.
|Has all 8 essential amino acids||Expensive|
|No artificial sweeteners or colors or flavors||Bold claims|
|No sugar||No research on the supplement itself|
|Low in calories|
Does Fortagen Protein Work?
No doubt the supplement has a lot of fans. But, where is the clinical proof that it's better at building muscle than whey protein – or eating food? No research on Fortagen -itself- can be located. While it's quality made, to me, Fortagen looks like an expensive essential amino acid. supplement.