Whether you are working out in a gym, swimming, running, or power walking, it is natural to expect results out of your training efforts. So, when there is the option to safely have better results out of each workout with the help of pre-workout supplements, why wouldn’t you try it?
Given the potential benefits, it is tempting to try a pre-workout formula before you hit the gym or head out for a run. Pre-workout supplements are known to contain specifically selected ingredients that can help with more energy, stamina and endurance. In this post, we will have a look at pre-workout supplements and how they work.
What is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Pre-workout supplements are single-ingredient or multi-ingredient stimulants that are aimed at helping you exercise with more intensity and for longer periods of time. The majority of the pre-workout supplements on the market are available in powdered form. The pre-workout powder or formula is usually added to water and as the name implies, is consumed before your workout. Most of the ingredients contained in a pre-workout supplement are supposed to provide you with a supercharged training session. Jordan Moon – a sports nutritionist and an exercise physiologist from the United States Sports Academy & Concordia University Chicago – says in the combined effects of a pre-workout supplements, that in most of these supplements, you find high-end ingredients that make you feel energized and active within minutes.
What are the Ingredients in Pre-workouts?
Most of the pre-workout supplements are known to be formulated with a number of specific ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients that are found in pre-workouts are:
- Caffeine, at an optimal dose between 200mg to 500mg
- Beta-alanine, at an optimal dose of 1.5g to 5g
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), at an optimal dose of 5g in total
- Creatine monohydrate, at an optimal dose of 5g
Creatine is a compound that occurs naturally and is usually found in the brain and skeletal muscles. It is known to be involved in the processes of regulating energy levels as well as energy production in the body. It is also known to supply the body with ATP (adenosine triphosphate) also referred to as the fuel currency of the body.
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At the same time, beta-alanine is a non-essential type of amino acid that helps in producing carnosine, a compound responsible for reducing the production of lactic acid in the body and improving the overall exercise performance.
Are Pre-workouts Safe?
A study on caffeine content of pre-workout supplements commonly used by Australian consumers, that was conducted and published by an Associate Professor in Nutrition & Dietetics, along with his fellow staff, revealed that with most of the common pre-workouts available on the market currently, there are big differences as far as the caffeine content is concerned. This is directly associated with the brand and quality control practice established by each manufacturer. With such variations from product to product, there is a concern that excess consumption of pre-workouts could lead to symptoms like diarrhea, heart palpitations, anxiety, and in most serious cases, even death.
It is highly suggested when buying any pre-workout formula, choose products from well-known brands. You should also check the ingredients on the product’s label and make sure you don’t have any allergies or sensitivity to any of the ingredients.
Are some Pre-Workouts Better for Women?
There are certain pre-workout companies or brands out there promoting pre-workouts as best pre-workouts for women and are known to produce specific formulas catering for female athletes with adjustments to active ingredients and dosage. As far as the overall effectiveness of a pre-workout is concerned, this does not change even when you are a woman. Endurance, strength and energy, are just the same for women as they are for men. The same apply to other common ingredients like beta-alanine and citrulline malate found in pre-workouts for women.
When should I take a Pre-Workout?
You might have seen people in the gym consuming their pre-workout drink as they are changing in the locker room or when they are walking into the gym. However, if you want to optimize the effects of your pre-workout supplement, you should refrain from doing the same. Experts as well as athletes say that the active ingredients in a pre-workout formula take around 30-60 minutes to reach the acceptable levels in your body.
When you take the pre-workout earlier, 30-40 minutes prior to exercising, you will have the energy and stamina to complete a tough workout session. As most of the pre-workout supplements are known to contain caffeine, it is commonly known that if you consume in the evening, it will upset your sleep cycle as you will still be on a “high” after your training session is done. This is not a good practice as proper sleep is yet another factor that helps your body to recover from a hard day at the gym.
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What if I’m Sensitive to Stimulants?
Research reveals that sensitivity to caffeine (a common stimulant in pre-workouts) is significantly affected by genetics. While some people are highly affected by caffeine, there are some others who are not at all affected by the same as they have different tolerance levels to this stimulant. If you are highly sensitive to a particular stimulant or do not like the effect it has on your body, there is a plethora of stimulant free pre-workout supplements which can serve as alternatives.
Can I take other Supplements if I take Pre-Workouts?
Of course you can! The pre-workout supplements available out there are formulated for a specific purpose, giving your body extra energy and endurance during your grinding times at the gym. If you wish to add other supplements, such as protein, multivitamins, fish oil or amino acids, is perfectly safe. But be careful, if your pre-workout already contains caffeine, do not take any additional stimulants as this can create havoc in your body.
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Before you pick a pre-workout supplement for yourself, do some research and investigate the effects of each active ingredient. You also need to make sure that the product you select is a good match for your workout targets (heavy lifting doesn’t have the same demand on your body as a HIIT or high cardio session). And always stick with well-known brands!