DMAA (1,3-Dimethylamylamine) once ruled the playground of pre-workouts. It all came to a halt when the Food and Drug Administration determined it was unsafe and banned it from the market.

The ban happened several years ago, but I still get asked questions about if DMAA is as bad as it seems.

I did some research, and here is what I found about the effects of DMAA, why it’s not on the market anymore, and what you can use instead.

What Is DMAA (1,3-Dimethylamylamine)?

molecules

DMAA (1,3-Dimethylamylamine) is a stimulant initially made as a nasal decongestant.

It eventually found its way to dietary supplements as DMAA became famous for its adrenaline-boosting energy.

Despite the boost in energy levels, the side effects eventually caused concern.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration started issuing warnings to companies that had a dietary product containing DMAA.

They considered it a health risk to consumers and have actively been working to remove DMAA products [1].

Is DMAA Illegal?

DMAA became illegal to use in a dietary product in April 2013 [2]. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) argued that DMAA led to an increase in blood pressure and cause other cardiovascular problems like shortness of breath or cause a heart attack.

The potential adverse effects of DMAA became a more significant health risk when combined with other stimulants.

Caffeine is often in pre-workout products, which is a potentially dangerous situation in combination with DMAA stimulants.

Even though DMAA is illegal in dietary supplements, it’s possible to find them on the market still. They are either marketed illegally or are made abroad with different standards.

What Does DMAA Do To The Body?

The FDA lists the following as potential side effects of supplements containing DMAA (1,3-Dimethylamylamine):

  • Narrow blood vessels and arteries
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Arrhythmias (Irregular heartbeat or increased/decreased heart rate)
  • Tightening in the chest
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath

Watch the video for more DMAA information.

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Why Is DMAA In Pre-Workouts?

man drinking

Once upon a time, DMAA was labeled as a “natural stimulant.” The effects of DMAA included results like improved focus, increased energy levels, and better gym performance.

There were also claims it could be a weight loss supplement. The increase in heart rate and blood pressure caused the body temperature to warm, which could lead to fat loss.

DMAA also sounds a lot like other ingredients you might find in pre-workouts. Over time, it started creating problems.

Reports came in of severe side effects with DMAA supplements. The stimulant was linked to causing poor cardiovascular effects in people and was possibly fatal.

The reports were enough to make the FDA concerned about the safety of DMAA. The federal agency banned any dietary supplement containing DMAA.

Currently, commercial supplements are already completely DMAA-free. They contain specific ingredients that are safe to consume as pump-inducing pre-workouts.

Before marketing products containing DMAA, manufacturers and distributors have a responsibility under the law to provide evidence of the safety of their products. They haven’t done that, and that makes the products adulterated
- Daniel Fabricant Director of FDA’s Dietary Supplement Program

What Are DMAA Alternatives?

The good news is that several DMAA alternatives have the same positive results but without the negative health consequences. Let’s take a look at popular ingredients in available pre-workouts:

Caffeine

caffeine

Caffeine is the holy grail for boosting your energy and performance levels. Even though you might get your caffeine dosage from an espresso, you’ll get a much higher amount by opting for a pre-workout drink instead of coffee.

Caffeine has an impact on brain function, including memory, mood, and reaction times.

If you’re looking for weight loss, then caffeine can help with that too. It can boost your metabolism rates and burn fat faster [3].

On the other hand, if your body reacts negatively to caffeine, there are caffeine-free options that you can take advantage of. Check out our recommendations on this page.

Synephrine

Synephrine is in plants like bitter orange. It has the potential to increase your metabolic rate and fat burning.

Research shows that the combination of caffeine and synephrine allows higher chances of fat burning even while at rest [4].

Theacrine

Theacrine is a stimulant that has recently gained popularity in pre-workout and fat burner supplements. The more potent version is known as “TeaCrine.”

Theacrine has limited studies supporting its health benefits, but so far, it’s been positive. Research shows it could help improve energy, focus, and motivation [5].

What Should I Look For In A Pre-Workout?

I have a few tips on what you should look for in a pre-workout. Here’s what I learned about protecting yourself from potentially harmful supplements.

1. Always Investigate The Ingredient List

magnifying glass on ingredients

When I research supplements, the first item I look at is the ingredient list in my pre-workout. Even when the names are long and intimidating, I take the time to figure out what I’m consuming.

I also check to see what artificial ingredients exist. I’m personally not a fan of anything that contains artificial sweeteners or dyes, which is an unfortunately common ingredient.

Finally, I look for filler ingredients. Sometimes companies add an extract that they swear is magic, but it often doesn’t do anything for the body.

2. Avoid Proprietary Blends

There’s not a lot of regulation surrounding formula transparency. Proprietary blends don’t require companies the exact ingredient amount, so I get left in the dark about if I’m getting the correct dosage or not.

A proprietary blend could have the best and highest-quality ingredients, but if it’s not at the correct dosage, then I won’t get the results.

I tend to avoid brands with proprietary blends due to the lack of transparency.

3. Check The Dosage

Measuring wright in a cup

The third item I look for is that I’m getting the correct dosage of ingredients.

It may sound super impressive to get a massive amount of creatine in your pre-workout, but if you only need a small amount, then it’s a waste of money.

The same goes for under-dosed ingredients. If I’m not getting the correct amount to make a difference, then there’s no point in buying the product.

FAQ

Will DMAA Fail A Drug Test?

DMAA could cause you to fail a drug test. Research shows that DMAA could lead to false positives for amphetamines [6].

Athletic organizations have banned amphetamines. If you’re an athlete or anyone who gets subjected to drug testing, then you will want to avoid DMAA.

What Ingredients Should I Look Out For To Avoid DMAA?

There are multiple ingredient variations that you should look out for to avoid DMAA. Here are some possible name variations:

  • Geranamine
  • Methylhexanamine
  • Methylhexaneamine
  • Geranium Extract
  • 1,3-DMAA
  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine
  • 1,3-Dimethylpentylamine
  • 2-Amino-4-methylhexane
  • 2-Hexanamine, 4-methyl- (9CI)
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexanamine
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexylamine
  • Dimethylamylamine

I know it’s not fun to investigate every ingredient in a workout supplement, but it’s worth the effort to avoid potentially harmful components.

Just Avoid It, OK?

A dietary supplement containing DMAA is not considered safe. The adverse effects of blood pressure and cardiovascular issues are hard to ignore.

You should take extra precautions to avoid consuming it and check the label for ingredients.

There are plenty of other alternatives that you can use that don’t have such severe adverse effects. Pre-workout products can help boost your energy and support your muscles without needing DMAA.

What is your favorite pre-workout product?

Do you have any tips to ensure that you are getting what you need from supplementation?

We would love to hear from you in the comments!

References:

  1. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplement-products-ingredients/dmaa-products-marketed-dietary-supplements
  2. https://www.opss.org/article/dmaa-prohibited-stimulant
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7369170
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21448304
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27164220
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21439156

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