These days, there is a supplement for almost everything: joint pain, immunity, relaxation, sleep, gut health, and even post-workout. Pre-workout supplements are also steeping into the limelight as so many folks are beginning to turn their attention to these products.
These supplements widely known as “pre-workout” have sparked a sort of debate as to whether they are necessary or not. Hence, among folks in the fitness world, you will find those or who fall under pro-pre-workout and anti-pre-workout.
One of the reasons this product sparks a bit of controversy is the different kinds of products that are classified with the term “pre-workout supplements”: You will see things such as capsules, powders, chews, and even colorful liquids.
These products are said to provide a lot of benefits which is essential to ensure you have an effective workout session. For example, Cellucor C4 lasts for about 2-3 hours according to the marketing of the program. Hence, many are quick to jump on these products without proper findings even though a good number of them are indeed helpful.
Therefore, in this article, we will discuss these supplements from an unbiased stance to help you determine if you want to join the train of folks using pre-workout.
What Pre-workout is
The term refers to any supplement that is taken before a workout session to enable you to perform better. It could come in several forms such as powders, capsules, chews, etc.
You need to know that each product has its unique formula. Hence, even if you get two different supplements from the same brand, you should not expect that they will have the same ingredients or composition. Also, you need to be wary of the fact that some of these supplements including the ones that are highly rated are regarded as a “proprietary blend”. In other words, the ingredients’ amounts are not released to the public.
Hence, it makes it difficult to determine how good these products are. While the amount of the ingredients may not be disclosed, ingredients that are mostly found in these pre-workouts are carbs, B vitamins, and antioxidants.
Reasons for Taking Pre-workout
As we said, these supplements are taken to enable better performance. The idea is that they work on the physical and mental parts of a person. Hence, when they are taken, it is to boost energy and mental focus.
Therefore, it isn’t strange to find folks taking them before they start a routine to help them push through the workout or even go further than they usually get. This is especially the case for those that engage in HIIT routines.
How effectively these supplements depend on the particular product being used as we said that the formulas for each of these supplements vary. Hence, you could get one that will enhance your performance or you get one that does nothing. The worst-case scenario is taking one that will bring harm to your health.
Therefore, before you begin to use any pre-workout, you need to be extra careful. Another reason you should be careful what you take is that they aren’t regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) just like other types of supplements. Visit https://www.fda.gov/ to learn more about the Food and Drug Administration.
Benefits of Pre-workout
The benefits of these supplements are determined by the ingredients they contain. While we cannot outrightly state the benefits of these products as a whole, we can do that for each ingredient.
Hence, we will look at the benefits that these individual ingredients will provide to you:
It is no secret that caffeine is a stimulant that is known for its ability to boost alertness and energy. What many don’t know is that it also enhances performance in sports. Several studies have equally backed this claim of workout performance enhancement.
A review in 2021 surmised that when used as supplementation, caffeine can boost aerobic endurance, speed, muscle endurance, muscle strength, and jumping performance. Although the amounts varied in each study, the conclusion that they all agree on to a large extent is that you will need about 3 to 6 milligrams per bodyweight kilogram for the performance boost to be felt.
The studies focused majorly on men; hence, the results cannot be generalized for women as well as older folks. To get such results, further research will need to be carried out.
The inclusion of this ingredient should be no surprise since they are responsible for the body’s main energy source. This is why some experts advise that you eat before working out to provide your body with enough fuel to work with.
Different types of carbohydrates have been suggested by evidence to provide energy for different athletic activities. To ensure effectiveness, about 30 – 60 grams of carbohydrates should be taken every hour to maintain endurance during spring events or any other endurance events. Some of these products are simply carbohydrate solutions that have been proven to work well.
When you engage in certain activities such as cycling, lifting, etc. glucose as well as glycogen (which is stored carbohydrates) is used by your body to supply the required energy to carry out those activities.
Therefore, making use of a supplement that contains carbohydrates before you start such activities is a good way to top of your glucose and glycogen levels. This will prevent your body from using up the stored glycogen and glucose. As a result, you won’t feel drained since the energy is coming from an eternal source rather than from within you.
3. Creatine monohydrate
Another ingredient that is found in pre-workouts is creatine monohydrate which is derived from 3 amino acids that the body produces naturally and stored within the muscles. Hence, when your body requires a quick energy supply, this stored substance is released.
With creatine, you can afford to push beyond your normal limits. It is more efficient when you do this within intervals of high-intensity routines. Also, with such a process, muscle growth is supported to a greater degree.
If you are seeking to increase your muscle mass while enhancing your overall strength in the process, pre-workouts have been revealed to do so by studies when the dosage intake is high. However, it is not the product itself that is responsible for this, but the timing in which you take them. Allow us to explain better…
Experts recommend that you take creatine before your exercise, after it, and at night preferably before you go to bed. It has been suggested that the performance-boosting ability of this substance is more effective when taken after the exercise rather than before. This is because your body is designed to store it better when the amount in your body is low thereby allowing the intake of new creatine monohydrate.
When compared to other supplements used for sports activities, ceratine has been the most researched for the past twenty years. As a result, studies have revealed that taking a normal dose of 3 to 5 grams each day over a long period is safe for adults. Apart from the fact that it helps to improve sport’s performance, it also improves cognition, reduces heart disease risk, and depression.
The major side effect that is very common is weight gain. The reason for this side effect is because of the water the muscles store when they store creatine monohydrates. This could cause your muscle to look a bit bigger and even increase your weight a bit.
It is recommended that you don’t consume too much creatine at a go. You shouldn’t take it if your body is not well hydrated as well. Doing so could cause you to experience muscle cramps and gastrointestinal distress.
This shouldn’t scare you as studies have proven that folks who took this supplementation for a year didn’t experience any negative effects. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you see your doctor before you take creatine if you suffer from any kidney issues, diabetes, or other serious health issues.
4. Beetroot juice
Compared to creatine, beetroot juice has not been well researched. Nevertheless, the limited research that has been conducted has shown that it is can increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator capable of expanding the blood vessels and increasing blood flow. Click here to learn natural ways to increase nitric oxide levels in the body.
A study in 2021 also revealed that individuals who took beetroot before performing a test that involved all-out cycling within 30 seconds generated more power and experienced lesser exertion than the others who served as the control.
The Possible Health Dangers of Using Pre-workout
As we said easier, these supplements aren’t regulated and approved by the FDA; hence, there is a huge cause for concern. There is no way you can guarantee that the ingredients that are on the label are indeed contained within the product.
The lack of third-party testing for some of these products is another reason to worry. A few of them do which is why we recommend you stick to those as there is a form of safety. Look out for supplements certified by the Informed Choice of the NSF.
A product like Deer-antler velvet has caused edema and low blood sugar which has resulted in its ban from all professional athletic competition.
Apart from such dangerous products, harmless ingredients when formulated in high amounts could lead to possible side effects. A good example is caffeine when consumed in large amounts can lead to increase blood pressure and heart rate, jitters, diarrhea, and nausea.
The use of pre-workout supplements has garnered a lot of attention over the years. Hence, we have shed more light on this product to help you determine if you need to take them.