Recently, pre-workout supplements have become popular, especially on social media. A lot of people have been posting about these products on their accounts with the hashtag “pre-workout”. Moreover, pre-workout supplements tend to come in the form of canned drinks, chews, capsules, colorful liquids in shaker bottles, and powders, all promising to help you improve your workout performance.
Pre-workout Supplements: What Are They Exactly?
As mentioned, pre-workout supplements come in a variety of forms. Pre-workout supplements are any supplement that claims to boost your workout performance if you take it beforehand. Furthermore, it is vital to know that the ingredients incorporated in these supplements vary by brand.
Several pre-workout supplements tend to have carbs in the ingredients. However, many are calorie- and carb-free. Moreover, other pre-workout supplements might contain beet juice, caffeine, creatine monohydrate, or amino acids like ornithine, citrulline, and arginine.
Reasons Why People Take Pre-Workout Supplements
Most people tend to take pre-workout supplements for performance reasons. This is because these products have been shown to boost your endurance, power, and strength during an exercise. Not only that, but it also promises to reduce fatigue.
However, the real question is, do pre-workout supplements do what they really claim to be? To answer the question, it would be best to know that some pre-workout supplements have well-studied ingredients while others do not. Hence, it would be best to do more research.
The Benefits Of Consuming Pre-workout Supplements
Caffeine, carbohydrates, beetroot juice, and creatine monohydrate (one of the most popular muscle-building supplements) are all common ingredients pre-workout supplements typically contain. These ingredients have been shown to improve your exercise performance.
Obviously, caffeine is commonly included in the ingredients since it is a popular stimulant known for improving your alertness and energy. Not only that, but it can also help you boost your sports performance. Moreover, it is essential to know that many studies back up caffeine’s ability to improve your workout performance.
On the other hand, carbohydrates are your body’s go-to source of energy. Since experts suggest that you eat before working out to get proper fuel, it would be best to consume carbohydrates (either through food or supplements). Furthermore, you should note that your body uses glycogen (stored carbs) and blood glucose as its main energy source when exercising.
Beetroot juice can help increase your body’s levels of nitric oxide. This compound is a natural vasodilator that increases blood flow and expands blood vessels. Moreover, beetroot juice is also believed to improve your cardiovascular performance.
Pre-workout supplements usually contain creatine monohydrate. This compound is a derivative of three amino acids that your body naturally produces and stores in your muscles as a quick energy source. Although many studies suggest that supplementing with high doses of creatine monohydrate helps increase strength and build muscle mass, you can take this supplement pre-workout or post-workout.
For the past 20 years, creatine has been one of the most well-researched supplements for sports. The studies show that taking creatine in average doses (3 to 5 grams per day) is safe for healthy adults. Moreover, creatine has also been associated with a decreased risk of depression, improved cognition, and lower risk of heart disease.
Potential Harms of Taking Pre-workout Supplements
Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including pre-workout supplements. This means products might be stocked and sold until the FDA finds any reason to pull these products away from the consumers.
The only way you can guarantee its safety is to find a pre-workout supplement certified by a third-party regulatory body. This includes the Informed-Choice or the National Science Foundation (NSF). Furthermore, these organizations typically follow a vetting process to verify the purity and quality of supplements.
It is vital to know that some of the ingredients in a pre-workout supplement might be safe in average amounts but can also be harmful if consumed in high concentrations. And since these supplements are not regulated, it might be challenging to know if the concentration used was tested for different potential side effects. For example, some might experience jitters, increased blood pressure and heart rate, nausea, and diarrhea when taking high amounts of caffeine.
The Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study in 2017 that suggests that long-term supplementation of excessive vitamin B12 and B6 intake might increase the risk of lung cancer in men; other studies have also linked taking high doses of vitamin A to liver damage and excess beta-carotene to cancer. In rare cases, taking too much caffeine all at once may lead to some fatal cardiac issues.
In other words, although a nutrient is healthy in moderate amounts, it doesn’t mean that it is better to consume them in high doses. Hence, you should monitor what you consume. Also, it would help if you know how much you can tolerate.
Other Facts You Should Know Before Taking A Pre-workout Supplement
The alternative way you can benefit from the ingredients that show a performance boost is through real food. You can start fueling your body for a challenging workout by consuming 15 grams of carbohydrates, which you can finish in one slice of bread with jam on it or in half of a banana.
Experts might also suggest keeping fat and fiber to a minimum and eating a few grams of protein. Furthermore, if you are into caffeine, you can get a cup of coffee before you start your exercise. Doing so will give you extra energy to last your entire workout routine.
Pre-workout through ingesting real food can be easy. However, if you plan to take a pre-workout supplement, you can choose the ones that are certified as safe. Taking these supplements might help you get the energy boost you are looking for during your low and dragging days. This might help you get the push you need to start a challenging workout.
Although the popularity of pre-workout supplements is on the rise, this doesn’t mean you need them. You can get enough energy you need to survive any workout through a proper diet, enough water intake, and adequate sleep. However, you cannot deny that pre-workout supplements can help boost your workout performance. Hence, there is no harm in taking one as long as you make sure you find the safe pre-workout supplement that perfectly fits you.