Force Factor 2 is a pre-workout supplement, which, according to the products website, was “created by biologists to help you build strength and power” as well as “help you achieve your muscle-building goals.” At the heart of the claims of Force Factor 2 is its effects on nitric oxide, a gas that expands blood vessels. The Force Factor website eludes that nitric oxide will help people “build lean muscle,” as well as “increase strength” and several other things. This sounds good, but is there any proof that Force Factor 2 (or nitric oxide) does this? This will be the focus of this review. Also see my review of the original Force Factor for more information.
Who Makes Force Factor 2?
The Force Factor company gives this address on their Contact Us page:
Force Factor – BP 3: 105 Commerce Dr Aston, PA 19014. According to Google, this address corresponds to a company called National Fulfillment Services. I believe this is the company that ships Force Factor 2, and processes orders, etc.
According to the Better Business Bureau, there are two addresses listed for the company (Force Factor LLC). One is the Aston PA address listed above. The other address is 24 School St Boston, MA 02108. This address appears to be the location of the Boston 5 Cent Savings Bank building. It's possible there is an office for the company within this
building. The Boston address is a BBB accredited business while the Aston PA address is not.
Force Factor 2 Ingredients
According to ForceFactor.com, two capsules of Force Factor 2 have these ingredients:
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||100 mg||167% DV|
|Calcium (calcium ascorbate)||16 mg||<1% DV|
|Folic acid||600 mcg||150% DV|
|Dual Stage Next-Gen NOXplosion||1285 mg||N?A|
|Stage 1 Substrate Input Regeneration Complex:||N/A|
|Lovage root (Rhizoma)|
|Stage 2 Dynamic NOX Enzyme Catalysis System:||N/A|
- DV = Daily Value
- Mcg= micrograms (1 millionth of a gram)
- NA = No Daily Value established
Each bottle has 60 capsules. If 2 capsules are taken per day, this is a 30 day supply.
Before we go further, let me try to make the label a bit more clear since some may find it confusing.
The “Dual Stage Next-Gen NOXplosion” formula is composed of both the:
- Stage 1 Substrate Input Regeneration Complex
- Stage 2 Dynamic NOX Enzyme Catalysis System
Even though these phrases sound very scientific, neither of these phrases can be found in any scientific textbook I have ever seen.
Force Factor 2 Research
On the Discover the Science page of the product website they say this:
” Factor 2's unique formula was created by biologists to help you build strength and power. Not pharmacists or university researchers – scientists serious about formulating the best products in the industry.”
Sounds impressive, but what I do not see anywhere on the website is any published ,peer-reviewed research on Force Factor 2 itself, to prove to that it really raises nitric oxide levels or builds strength or power. This is ironic because they say the product was created by :
“scientists serious about formulating the best products in the industry.”
In my opinion, any serious scientist would publish his or her research. If that research exists, I can't find it.
When I searched the National Library of Medicine for “Force Factor” and “Force Factor 2,” likewise, no studies showed up.
As such, I have to conclude that Force Factor 2 ―itself ―has no published research.
Since there appears to be no published, peer-reviewed research on Force Factor 2 itself, let's look at the ingredients in the product and see what can be determined.
I will focus on the nitric oxide (NO) research on each of the ingredients in Force Factor 2, in the order as they appear on the products label. Where I can find human exercise research, I will include that as well. For more info on NO, also see my review of SuperBeets.
Force factor 2 has 100 mg of vitamin C in 2 capsules. There is some research that intravenous vitamin C may help raise NO levels in people with high blood pressure. Vitamin C, taken orally might not have the same effect NO raising effects as seen when it is injected.
Vitamin C may play a role in helping protect blood vessels from free radical damage (and hence improve the effects of nitric oxide), but currently I feel the research is just not good enough to say how much might help. If anyone can find a human study showing oral vitamin C raises NO levels, let me know and I will gladly update this review.
Calcium (Calcium Ascorbate)
This is basically another form of vitamin C. It's vitamin C and calcium stuck together. It's vitamin C, buffered with calcium, hence, the other name for this form, buffered ascorbate. I believe the idea here is that this buffered version of vitamin C might cause less side effects (diarrhea, etc).
Calcium ascorbate is one of the main ingredients in the product called Ester C which you may have heard advertised on TV, radio etc. I am not aware of any evidence that calcium ascobate raises NO levels any better than regular ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Here is a good review of the different forms of vitamin C from the Linus Pauling Institute.
Force Factor 2 provides very little (16 mg) of vitamin C ascorbate and I am not sure if it adds anything to the other vitamin C that is present in the product.
Force Factor 2 has 600 micrograms in 2 capsules.
In a 2002 study titled Long-term improvement in homocysteine levels and arterial endothelial function after 1-year folic acid supplementation, 29 people with high levels of homocysteine ( a chemical that damages blood vessels and makes blood “sticky“) were given 10 mg of folic acid per day for a year. Researchers noted that folic acid improved blood vessel function and people also had reduced levels of homocysteine.
I'm not sure from the summary if researchers actually measured nitric oxide levels. I'll assume that they did, but the important thing in this study was that they used 10 mg of folic acid per day. This is MUCH MORE than the 600 micrograms that is in Force Factor 2.
Folic acid does appear to help production of nitric oxide but the research mostly appears to be conducted on people who have health issues ―not the healthy people that Force Factor 2 is marketed to. Having said that, the question then becomes, does folic acid help nitric oxide in healthy people? I think it does, but from the research I've seen, it appears to require more folic acid than is in this product.
For example, in this 2010 study, titled , Daily low-dose folic acid supplementation does not prevent nitroglycerin-induced nitric oxide synthase dysfunction and tolerance: a human in vivo study, researchers gave healthy men 1 mg of folic acid orally per day (or a placebo) for a week and tested how nitric oxide synthase (the enzyme that makes nitric oxide) reacted to nitroglycerin administration. Over time, nitroglycerin use can disrupt how effective the nitric oxide synthase enzyme works. Researchers noted that 1 mg of folic acid did not help the nitric oxide synthase enzyme work better.
Granted, because of the use of nitroglycerine, this is not the best study to use for this review, but I mention it because it involved only 1 mg of folic acid – which is more than is in the 600 micrograms contained in Force Factor 2.
If folic acid is used in this product because of its effects on nitric oxide, then I speculate the amount might be too low to have a significant effect. Again, this is pure speculation on my part and I welcome research to counter my speculation.
Dual Stage Next Gen NOXPlosion Ingredients
The whole Dual Stage Next Gen NOXplosion complex adds up to 1,285mg (about 1.3 grams) and is composed of the following ingredients listed below. How much each of the ingredients contributes to the total 1285 mg, we are not told. I'll assume ingredients listed first constitute the greatest levels, while those at the end of the list are present in the least amount.
Stage 1 Complex Ingredients:
The product website states that”
“The L-citrulline in Factor 2 has been shown to be even more effective than L-arginine itself at raising your body's L-arginine levels, stimulating your body's natural NO production as you conquer your toughest workouts.”
But, in a study published in 2006 titled L-citrulline reduces time to exhaustion and insulin response to a graded exercise test, healthy men who received L-citrulline actually pooped out faster during an aerobic exercise test, than those who received a placebo! Also, in this study, people received 9 grams of L-citrulline. That's a lot more citrulline than is in Force Factor 2.
To counter this, in a study published in 2010 titled Citrulline Malate Enhances Athletic Anaerobic Performance and Relieves Muscle Soreness, researchers noted that 8 grams of citrulline improved muscle endurance during heavy weight lifting and decreased muscle soreness by almost 40%.
Would lesser amounts of L-citrulline have the same effects? I'm not aware of any published evidence either way. Here is a brand of citrulline malate powder that has 6 grams per table spoon.
That said, based on these two studies, I believe the effects of L citrulline on exercise are still unknown. If citrulline it works, it might be best for anaerobic exercise (weight lifting, sprinting etc.) and it appears that more citrulline might be required than is in this product.
Scientific name Levisticum officinale. I searched the National Library of Medicine for
- “Lovage nitric oxide”
- “Levisticum officinale nitric oxide”
I also goggled these terms as well. I was not able to find any published research on lovage root helping nitric oxide levels. It's possible that lovage root is in the product for another reason. If anyone reading this knows the reason, let me know and I'll be glad to update this part of the review.
Also called Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol (because its said to be ubiquitous or everywhere). In a small study from 2010 titled The Effects Of Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation on Performance During Repeated Bouts of Supramaximal Exercise in Sedentary Men, researchers gave 15 healthy men, who did not regularly exercise either a placebo or 100 mg of CoQ10 per day for 8 weeks. Men underwent 5 high intensity bike tests used to determine muscle power with 2 minute rest periods between tests. CoQ10 supplementation appeared to increase average muscle power in the men.
How much CoQ10 is in Force Factor? We are not told but I'll assume it's 100 mg.
There are other studies of CoQ10 and exercise but most appear to involve older people who have heart disease or lab animals and as such I don’t feel they are relevant to the discussion of CoQ10 use by healthy people who exercise. This is not to say that CoQ10 does not help healthy people. I think it does, but I also feel that more research is needed to know how it helps exercise capacity in healthy people.
Tip. We appear to absorb CoQ10 best in amounts of 100 mg or less. Here is the brand of COQ10 I use for those who are interested.
Stage 2 Enzyme Catalyse System ingredients
Taurine is a non-essential amino acid that we naturally make all the time.
Most of the research I've seen on taurine helping exercise involves the energy drink, Red Bull, but not all of that research shows that it helps. For example, in this study from 2001, titled, The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood, Red Bull, improved aerobic endurance, reaction time and coordination.
In a 2004 study titled, Role of taurine supplementation to prevent exercise-induced oxidative stress in healthy young men, taurine reduced free radical damage to white blood cells in men who rode a bike till exhaustion. Free radical damage was measured via analysis of TBARS.
For more on this see my review of the anti-aging supplement Protandim.
Contrasting these results are other studies showing no effect by taurine. For example, In a 2010 study titled Acute ingestion of sugar-free red bull energy drink has no effect on upper body strength and muscular endurance in resistance trained men, sugar free Red Bull – which has 2000 mg of taurine ―did not improve muscle endurance or upper body strength in 17 college-age healthy men, compared to caffeine alone or a placebo.
This study used more taurine than is in Force Factor 2.
In a 2013, study titled Do the noncaffeine ingredients of energy drinks affect metabolic responses to heavy exercise? researchers basically noted that, other than caffeine, the ingredients in Red Bull (taurine included) did not raise resting metabolic rate after weight lifting.
This study used more taurine than is in Force Factor 2.
Because Red Bull has so many ingredients, it's difficult to equate these results to what taurine itself might do. Does taurine raise nitric oxide in people? There is some evidence for this but how much and whether this improves exercise performance, I think is open to speculation until better studies are done.
The chemical name is 2-Aminopentanoic acid. Norvaline is an amino acid. Chemically, it looks like the branch chain amino acid valine but, as reported by the website, Drugs.com it is not a component of proteins. I'm guessing that norvaline is used because of research noting that it appears to inhibit the enzyme arginase. Arginase is the enzyme that breaks down the amino acid, arginine. Since arginine is involved in the production of nitric oxide, if we inhibit this enzyme, then, theoretically, nitric oxide may be raised because there would be more arginine available.
Sounds good, but is there any evidence that L norvaline raises NO levels in humans? I am not aware of any human studies at this time.
Here is a norvaline product on Amazon for those who are interested and want to compare prices.
Vitamin C and Calcium
Vitamin C and calcium are listed at the top of the ingredients list of Force Factor 2 and they are also listed separately as ingredients in the Stage 2 Enzyme Catalyase System. I won't cover them again here as I already did above.
Ingredients That Might Raise NO Levels
Looking at the research I could locate as I wrote this review, I find that the ingredients in Force Factor 2 that seem most logical to have an effect on nitric oxide levels are these:
How much they might work ―or if they work―I do not know. I have linked to products on Amazon for those who want to compare these prices to Force Factor 2.
Force Factor 2 Side Effects
Since Force Factor 2 itself has not been tested in published human trials, I don’t know what its side effects might be but looking at the ingredients, I feel it's safe in healthy people.
If Force Factor 2 raises nitric oxide levels, then there is a possibility that this product might reduce blood pressure. I don’t know if this effect would be significant or noticed by healthy people, but its possible that it might be noticed by those who take medications for high blood pressure or heart disease. This might cause dizziness in some people. When in doubt, those who take medications or who are not “healthy” should talk to a doctor or pharmacist.
Lovage root. As is reported by WebMd.com, there is some speculation that lovage root might be a problem for people with high blood pressure.
Free Trial Of Force Factor 2
The ForceFactor.com site mentions that people can get a free 14 day trial of the product. If people do nothing, at the 14th day, they will automatically receive a month's supply of Force Factor for $69.99 plus $4.99 shipping and handling. This will continue each month until the auto shipments are cancelled. Force Factor gives a 30 day money-back guarantee on products shipped after the free trial, no questions asked.
How To Return Force Factor 2
To return Force Factor 2, people need to call 1-877-492-7243 and obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA #) before they send the product back to the company. This can be avoided by getting the product directly from a health food store. Here is Force Factor 2 on Amazon also.
Does Force Factor 2 Raise Nitric Oxide?
This is really the big question. I am unable to locate any published research on Force Factor 2 itself showing that it raises nitric oxide levels in humans or lab animals. Having said that, I know lack of proof does not mean it doesn’t work. It possible that the ingredients (especially the ingredients I listed above) in Force Factor 2 do this, but without actual published research on the product, we can't know for sure.
That said, I believe the bigger question is if Force Factor 2 (or its ingredients), does raise nitric oxide levels, will this make people bigger, stronger or faster?
Does Force Factor 2 Work?
Despite the claim that “serious scientists” created Force Factor 2, a fact that cannot be denied is that there is no published ,peer-reviewed proof that Force Factor 2 ―itself―raises nitric oxide levels in humans. That said, looking at the ingredients, I think it is logical that might cause, at the least, a temporary rise in NO.. The larger question ,though, is: Does Force Factor 2 (or its ingredients) make people bigger or stronger? I can't find any published, peer reviewed proof that ANY nitric oxide supplement improves strength or power in humans. Just because people feel more “pumped” does not mean that these supplements will make people stronger or improve athletic performance. Here is Force Factor 2 on Amazon for those who want to read the comments of others who have tried it.