In last month’s post of my personal supplement regimen, I mentioned that I began taking Universal Nutrition’s Animal M-Stak to try it out. This post contains my praise for this stack in the three weeks I’ve taken it, and for good reason. I think it lives up to its proposed goals, to help out those hardgainers out there.
The stack contains many great ingredients for increasing the appetite and ultimately increasing muscle mass, two things any so-called hardgainer would love to have. There was only one little thing I didn’t enjoy about it, but I will explain why I will most likely reorder this supplement stack again soon anyway, and why I am sure that many of you might enjoy this one as well.
What is the Animal M-Stak?
The Animal M-Stak is supposed to be a blend of anabolic but non-hormonal substances that can help you build muscle (and an appetite). Right on the container it says it’s aimed at “hardgainers,” those people who put in all the work at the gym but have little to show for it. (Really, I think it has a lot to do with not putting enough work in at the kitchen.) But really, I think it is good for us “hardgainers.”
The stack itself is actually a few tablets and capsules, some the size of horse pills. Considering the crazy amount of ingredients they’ve packed into this stack, it’s not surprising. Each daily stack serving comes sealed in its own tearable plastic pouch so you don’t have to hunt for individual tablets and sort them out yourself. It contains a preworkout capsule (the red pill) that can be removed if you don’t want all that caffeine. It’s pretty potent as I will explain later.
Inside the container, a collectible card of bodybuilder Jason Huh was included that featured a recipe for his “Get HUGE” Shake. I have not tried the shake yet, but I may very well soon.
How does the Animal M-Stak work?
You can peek at the detailed supplement facts on iHerb, but this stack contains the following:
- Flavone/Sterone Complex (Beta ecdysterone among others)
- Anti-Catabolic Amino Complex (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, ALCAR)
- Anabolic Adaptogen Complex (Muira puama, eleuthero among others)
- Insulin Potentiating Complex (Fenugreek, Cinnamon bark among others)
- M-Factor Complex (Ginger, grapefruit, black pepper extract)
- Energy Complex (A lot of caffeine — guarana extract and kola nut as well)
We’ll dig into the dirty details of these next.
The first ingredient that popped out to me was beta ecdysterone and turkesterone, which I had first read about through Examine.com’s page on ecdysteroids: 1 non-androgenic anabolic sterone compounds from plants.
That is, the ecdysteroids more or less have an anabolic muscle-building effect without the nastier hormonal side effects of anabolic steroids and are therefore considered far more safe and healthy to take.
Ecdysteroids can lower cholesterol and blood glucose, are seen as healthy for the liver and intestines by increasing protein synthesis rates, and may have protective effects on neural tissue. 2
As for the magnitude of their effect? After taking it for three weeks straight and hitting the gym, it’s not perceivable, at least not compared to the usual post-workout swoleage.
Keep this in mind: You’re not exactly going to wake up as a swole beast the next morning just by taking this stuff and doing nothing, but neither will you with traditional “gear” if you aren’t putting in the work at the gym (or doing your calisthenic homework). The effectiveness of your exercise regimen is the deciding factor in any case. So is diet.
Fortunately, this isn’t why I enjoy this stack.
Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These are the three that generally make up BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acid) formulas. To me it’s nothing too spectacular if you are already familiar with or taking BCAAs but I think it’s good that they threw this in the stack just short of the whole kitchen sink since I’m not currently taking any BCAAs on their own.
ALCAR is also included, which is always nice to have.
Anabolic Adaptogen Complex
The first two names that popped out to me on this list were muira puama and eleuthero.
Muira Puama is the bark from a tree native to Brazil which seems to have some adaptogenic and aphrodisiacal properties (and potentially some nootropic properties 3).
Eleuthero, short for eleutheroccocus senticosus, also known as Siberian ginseng, is a fairly well known adaptogen that has proven to bring anti-stress and endurance enhancing capabilities. 4
While taking this stack, my libido wasn’t exactly off the charts, at least compared to taking TestoJack 100 but after a couple days of taking this one, I found it easy to get to the gym, lift weights then go home and eat well. Physical fatigue wasn’t as much of an issue, even if I worked my ass off.
Speaking of eating well, this stuff really boosted my appetite, and the next section will explain why I think this happened.
Insulin Potentiating Complex
The Animal M-Stak’s “Insulin Potentiating Complex” contains fenugreek and cinnamon bark, which are both known for their effects on blood glucose, digestion and metabolism. My personal guess is that these are at least partly responsible for the increased appetite from taking this stack.
Fenugreek in particular is known to increase insulin sensitivity 5, which is important for overall health and in my opinion may be important for maintaining a low-fat body composition.
Cinnamon bark is also known to help reduce blood sugar by slowing its uptake. 6
Banaba leaf extract is known to reduce blood sugar by slowing its uptake. 7
Because of the effects of these herbs, I have no problem throwing down some hefty servings of potatoes, rice or even the occasional Ben and Jerry’s when the post-workout munchies kick in. Fasting while taking this stuff was almost out of the question. I could feel the hunger.
I believe this part of the stack is intended to help absorption of the stack and to aid in digestion of your meals through the day. It may also be useful for anti-inflammatory effects and improving recovery thanks to the ginger.
Ginger is included and is already well known for its pro-testosterone, anti-inflammatory and digestive effects. 8 I’ve written about its testosterone enhancing effects as well as its ability to reduce nausea from taking kratom. Being a relative of my personal favorite turmeric, the anti-inflammatory effects help keep mild pain and inflammation at bay.
The included grapefruit peel extract, assuming it has the same effects as whole grapefruit, increases insulin sensitivity 9, which is pretty much always good, especially if you end up getting post-workout munchies like me.
The “Energy Complex” comes in the red pill. Just like Morpheus in The Matrix, The Animal M-Stak says on its tin that you can choose to take the red pill or not, and this is a great option because for me, all the caffeine in this pill is far more than I would normally take.
For some people, the ~300 mg combination of the guarana extract, kola nut and caffeine might be great for them as a preworkout because they are used to taking all these stimulants all the time, or they want to get super pumped up. For me however, this is not good — it’s way too much caffeine for me. And this is why I am glad the M-Stak’s energy complex is in one little red pill that you can choose not to take.
The one time I tried the Energy Complex was completely by mistake. One day I was leaving my home in a hurry and took the M-Stak without remembering to remove the red pill on top of a usual dose of kratom. After about 30 minutes, I felt a strong sense of dread, anxiety and nausea. My first instinct was to blame the kratom for being stronger than usual, but I thought this was unlikely because I had taken the same dose before on an empty stomach with no problems.
When I got home later that evening, I counted the red pills in my supplement drawer compared to the number of stack packs left, and sure enough, one red pill short.
Is this pill bad? No. Bear in mind that I personally think that I had this poor reaction because it was in combination with the kratom (which already has some stimulant properties), and not because of one or the other. It was an entirely preventable and stupid mistake due to being in a hurry. Long story short: don’t combine kratom with a ton of caffeine.
Why I’ll get Animal M-Stak again
Reliably, with each day that I took the stack, my appetite was greatly increased, even more so on workout days. Personally I’ve always had a hard time working up an appetite. The usual advice of just forcing food down when I wasn’t hungry just didn’t work and made me sick and tired.
When taking this stack however, I get very hungry and feel great after eating a bigger meal than I would normally. Eating was a breeze for once. This stack is aimed at “hardgainers” who, realistically, have low appetites and probably just don’t work hard enough. In my experience, this stack helped increase my appetite fairly well, and I would definitely recommend to anyone else who would label themselves a “hardgainer” yet has a solid workout regimen for building muscle.
Just one thing: watch out for the red pill. There’s a good deal of caffeine in there, and if you’re not a caffeine junkie and/or are just sensitive like me, you would do well to avoid it, especially if you’ve taken kratom and on an empty stomach.
Ultimately, I will be purchasing the Animal M-Stak again because I enjoyed the appetite boosting effects and what I believe helped a lot with recovery after a hard workout. (Mostly thanks to Body of A Spartan.)
I won’t attribute the M-Stak for my physique that is slowly changing, but I believe it has been helpful. I’ll be checking out more of Universal Nutrition’s products after this since I think there may be other worthwhile ones for me in their collection.
References [ + ]
|1, 2.||↑||Examine.com — Ecdysteroids|
|3.||↑||Examine.com — Muira puama|
|4.||↑||Examine.com — Eleuthero|
|5.||↑||Examine.com — Fenugreek|
|6.||↑||Examine.com — Cinnamon|
|7.||↑||Examine.com — Banaba leaf|
|8.||↑||Examine.com — Ginger|
|9.||↑||Examine.com — Grapefruit|