I’ve had tons of my readers asking me lately about NDS Cardio Cuts pre workout, and that’s how I knew that it deserved a shot at the top spot in the 2014 BPW4W rankings. Cardio Cuts from relative newcomer NDS Nutrition goes under the microscope in this complete in-depth review and official BPW write-up.
The official Review
The great thing about writing reviews within the supplement industry is that there is never a shortage of subject material. It seems you can go into a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, and then come back two weeks later, and there will be ALL new products! I actually love this because I that means new products to try and the opportunity to find the next big winner. While this aforementioned is how I often find new products to review- I actually was exposed to NDS Nutrition Cardio Cuts by several readers emailing me and asking if I have had any experience with the product. I’m guessing that all the new exposure is due to NDS Cardio Cuts becoming available in GNC. The thing to note about this product is that it is not marketed directly toward women. However, the fact that they named it pre-cardio weight-loss accelerant basically tells you all you need to know about who the product is targeting! I actually don’t mind that this product isn’t super gimmicky with stereo-typical messaging and graphics (cough Fitmiss, Chickpump, NLA Uplift cough). In any case, I was more than happy to grab a tub and give it a try. Without much further ado, let’s launch into it!
NDS Nutrition Cardio Cuts is a good tasting pre workout supplement. It’s not going to be one that you look forward to drinking every day- but it’s also not one that you have to choke down. The menu is actually quite expansive, which is a nice surprise. While flavors such as black cherry, or raspberry lemonade are not particularly innovative, NDS provides enough options that no matter what your palette prefers, you will be able to find something suitable. I chose the black cherry flavor, because I know that cherry can be an incredibly difficult flavor to nail. I was looking for primarily a good balance of tart and sweet- like a real authentic cherry flavor. Is that asking too much? The Cardio Cuts black cherry flavor skews more towards sweet than tart, and actually isn’t that bad. I would’ve preferred a little more sour and tart, just to make the experience more fun and in my opinion slightly more authentic-tasting, but overall it’s pretty good. I would expect as much from a product using sucralose (splenda) AND real sugar (not much though) to give the product it’s flavor. Even though the flavor was relatively pleasing- since NDS went with artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors, I couldn’t give them much more than a 7 in this category.
NDS Cardio Cuts Profile gets a respectable 8 from me and there are a few key things that I’m going to highlight that led me to this score. First of all, let’s dig into the serving size/ active ingredient ratio. The scoop size is a pretty sizable 12 grams, while the active ingredient ‘cardio cuts cross/over blend’ weighs in at just 8 grams. Now zip down to the bottom of the supplement facts panel and you can see that the product contains a slew of waxy maize, maltodextrin, and some other junk. That means that 33% of your serving- over a third of your pretty pre workout drink, is just crummy, artificially sweetened and flavored junk. Other negatives in this profile include an entire gram of the ‘active’ complex wasted on various forms of Arginine. The classic ‘pump’ ingredient still manages to find its way into 9/10 supplements which is mind-boggling. This stuff has no practical benefit and has been disproven numerous times at even giving a pump- the one thing it was supposed to do. Something else to note is how beta-alanine is the featured ingredient in this product. Beta-Alanine is used in almost every pre and intra workout these days because of it’s ability to increase muscle carnosine levels. The debate as of late has been over what the effective dosage of beta-alanine actually is. Most agree that it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 grams per day. As you know if you’ve ever had beta-alanine containing supplements is that it causes a pretty uncomfortable tingle a dosages exceeding 2 grams. This means that obviously you can’t just take your 12 grams of beta-alanine in one foul swoop- your face would like melt off! The point being that 1 gram of beta-alanine probably does nothing other than let you know that your pre-workout is ‘working’.
Those are the cons of NDS Cardio Cuts formula- but what about the bright spots? Well there are a few. NDS did cover the basics. They got caffeine in there- and they got the BCAA’s in there. I will always believe that the only things you need in a pre workout are caffeine, BCAAs, salt, and sugar. Ya I said it- SUGAR. The s-word. The new fat. Say what you will about sugar but it’s one of the best things you can feed your muscles prior to a rigorous workout. Of course whether or not you actually need it hinges on the intensity of your workout. You don’t need to drink a 32 oz hypoglycemia cocktail, I mean Gatorade, before a 2 mile walk! Anyways I’m getting off track. Other interesting additions to NDS Cardio Cuts are CLA in a pretty large dosage (questionable proof of effectiveness but at least they put a big shot of it in here), as well as raspberry ketone and resveratrol. Say what you will about resveratrol- but I pretend that it makes me healthier and I swear it does (probably only because I tell myself so). Despite the shortcomings of this pre workout formula for women, there are enough bright spots to justify me giving it a C plus.
What do you get when you combine an average tasting formula with average supplement facts/ingredients? You’re probably thinking ‘average performance’. But here you would be wrong. While the ingredients themselves are simply un-imaginative and borderline pre-historic, I came into the performance test with a totally cynical mindset. And if you’re anything like me, when you go into something thinking it’s going to ‘suck’ (for lack of a better word), it usually does. That was not the case when I tested NDS Cardio Cuts pre workout for a particularly horrid treadmill and body-weight resistance training session. This workout, which I do at my gym, is modeled after the workout that I did at Barry’s Bootcamp. I love Barry’s, but learned pretty quickly that I can do that workout anywhere- and for a lot less money. Anyways the workout itself is a rotation of uphill treadmill intervals, combined with a circuit of push-ups, bodyweight squats, sit-ups, v-twists, wood-chops, and military pressing. There are 4 rounds of the intervals and bodyweight resistance, with minimal rest between. This workout actually probably needed a pre-crossfit type product as oppose to a pre-cardio product! I don’t even know what a pre-crossfit product would have it it. Anyways. I took a scoop and a half of NDS Cardio Cuts about 25 minutes prior to my workout, on an empty stomach. It’s not a great idea to do this workout completely fasted because it is fairly rigorous- but I had had a good night’s sleep and felt up to the task.
I felt Cardio Cuts’ stiff dose of beta alanine kick in almost immediately, and by the time I was done drinking it down, my face was pretty flushed and felt itchy and bad.I’ve had enough bA in my day to know that this is normal and ok- but I’ve never enjoyed the sensation. Luckily, the initial beta alanine tingles settled down and were replaced by a pretty nice sense of focus and preparedness as the caffeine and synephrine hit my bloodstream. As you know reading my other posts, citrus uranium (synephrine) is NCAA banned, and can make you a little jittery, but I’ve found it to be a great addition to the product when done right. This is one such case. I absolutely crushed my first set of treadmill uphill sprints, and carried that momentum through the squats, pushups, and ab exercises right after. I felt unreal during the pushups. My brain usually starts telling me to quit like after 15, but no-joke I did 25 with really good form, and then even roughed out 5 more to get to 30! I was really strong through the next set of uphill sprints, although I definitely felt the synephrine working my heart rate up pretty high. I don’t like that jittery fluttery feeling so I actually eased off the gas for the rest of the second round of sprints, but was able to regain the intensity for the resistance circuit. The third round went really quickly, much to my delight because usually at this point I’m dragging behind pretty good. The fourth and final round finally caught up to me and I have to admit that I felt like NDS Cardio Cuts started to let me down a little bit at this point. The product was amazing for like 35 minutes but then it was as it someone pulled the plug on me, and I literally battled through that last round. But the first rush of energy was more than I had expected, and because of that I gave NDS a strong score in terms of actual performance.
As I mentioned before, this product actually doesn’t call out that it’s for women only on the packaging. My hunch is that the product was developed with women in mind, but it also doesn’t alienate a male user which I think is pretty smart. The Label itself is really catchy- with a deep red background fronted by neon/streaky lightning graphics. The label had some shininess to it that made it stand out from the others, without coming across as either dangerous or gimmicky. I think one of the strongest elements of NDS Cardio Cuts is actually it’s terrific packaging. Other things that I like about the package are how easy to read and clear the purpose is- like you can tell right away 1. What the product is called? 2. What it’s for? 3. Who makes it? 4. What it’s supposed to do? And 5. What flavor is it? It never ceases to amaze me how seldom a supplement label FAILS to do at least two of those 5. I’m giving NDS an A for their efforts on packaging.
Value and FINAL SCORE: 8.6
The final grade has to take the value of the product into account. At the end of the day- I need to relate to you if this pre workout is worth your hard-earned money. You can have the really great product, but if it’s priced ludicrously, like some of them are, I’m never going to recommend that you spend like 80 bucks on a powdered supplement mix- it just isn’t worth it. Cardio Cuts is priced just high enough to make me hesitate in giving it that great of a score-especially considering it’s short-comings in terms of the formula. But at $42.99, it’s also just low enough to make me think you should give it a try. NDS Cardio Cuts has an interesting story. On paper, it isn’t all that impressive. I would compare it to a good athlete who lacks physical prowess and an impressive presence. You just don’t go into the experience expecting to be impressed- but like you know now, you actually will be. NDS Cardio Cuts is a solid product that I actually do recommend if you’ve tried some of the ‘greats’ and are sick of them, or if you just want to try something new- because after all that’s the fun part about supplements right?