With the advance in medical science, doctors are developing new and better ways to help us lead a healthy life. In the field of human health, a pre-workout supplement is one of them. These supplements can give you a boost during your workout, helping you to extract the most from it.
This article will answer all your questions and doubts regarding these supplements. So let’s find out.
What are these supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are dietary formulas specifically designed to boost your energy and performance during the workout.
These are generally a powdery substance that can be taken with milk or water.
Creatine, caffeine, amino acids and vitamin B are generally included in these supplements. Their quantity and taste vary from brand to brand.
Ingredients that can improve your workout
Nitric oxide precursors
Nitric oxide is needed for improved blood flow and relaxed blood vessels in the body. It can be produced by your body on its own.
Pre-workout supplements contain the same ingredients that your body uses to make nitric oxide. Some of these ingredients include L-citrulline, L-arginine, and some nitrates like beetroot juice.
These ingredients help transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which in turn improves your performance in the gym.
Caffeine is the most commonly used ingredient in pre-workout supplements. It increases focus and energy.
Caffeine improves memory, alertness, fat burning and exercise performance.
Caffeine can help you in weight training, sprinting and cycling. It can help you in all exercises where you have to exert great force.
However, it is best to take caffeine early in the day because it can affect your sleep.
Creatine is also produced in your body naturally. It is stored in skeletal muscle. It strengthens your muscles and aids in energy production.
Creatine is considered to be the best supplement for pre-workout. Studies have shown that it can improve muscle mass and performance in the gym.
Creatine is most famous pre-workout supplement among bodybuilders, weightlifters, and other power athletes.
You may experience 5 to 10 % increase in your weight if you use creatine as your pre-workout supplement. This is because creatine is a vital ingredient for energy production inside your cell.
If your muscle cells will have more energy while you exercise, you will be able to perform better in the gym.
This helps to improve muscle mass, the recovery time of muscles, exercise performance and strength.
If your aim is to increase body weight, then you must care about the creatine content in your supplement. Or else, you can also take only creatine as a supplement.
BCAA stands for branch chain amino acids. It helps to increase endurance during your workout. It also helps in protein synthesis and energy production in the cell. All these together contribute to increased strength during the workout.
It consists of three very important molecules, namely, isoleucine, leucine and valine.
These amino acids are found in high quantity in animal meat like poultry, mutton, beef or pork.
If you are adding muscle meat to your diet, you don’t have to worry about other amino acids. These meats provide you with all the amino acids you need on a daily basis.
BCAAs can help you increase endurance. It can also reduce physical and mental fatigue. It can also help with muscle soreness.
Sodium bicarbonate helps your body to fight against acid buildup in your body.
It can help reduce fatigue. Fatigue is an indication that the acid content in your body is increasing because of that intense training.
Studies have shown that this ingredient benefits the body during cycling, running and repeated sprints.
However, sodium carbonate may lead to an upset stomach.
You can avoid this by splitting your dosage to many small multiple dosages.
Taurine is actually a sulfonic acid. It is found in various animal meats, including pork and beef. It helps in the metabolism of fat.
How pre-workout works?
All pre-workout supplements contain ingredients like creatine, guarana, taurine, BCAAs, among others.
These ingredients increase the blood flow in your body. They also increase heart rate and focus. All these combined gives your body boost and more energy during the workout.
The pre-workout supplement does not make you bigger, faster or stronger.
Risks associated with pre-workout supplements
In spite of all the benefits, all pre-workout supplements are associated with some risks.
If you want to add them to your regular workout routine, you must know about the potential downsides.
Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners
Most pre-workout supplements available in the market contain sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners.
It is true that they improve the taste of the supplement, but some sugar alcohols can cause discomfort in you. They can even lead to intestinal distress.
High dosage of sugar intake, in particular, can cause symptoms such as gas, diarrhea and bloating – all of these can adversely affect your workout.
I would suggest that you should choose only those pre-workout supplements that have very low or no sugar at all.
First experiment with a small amount of pre-workout supplement and see how your body reacts to it.
Too much caffeine
Caffeine is very necessary to boost your energy during a workout. However, too much intake of caffeine can also have a negative side effect on your body. It can lead to increased blood pressure, anxiety and impaired sleep.
If your supplement has as much caffeine as you would get from 1-2 cups of coffee, then it is perfectly okay. But more than this can harm your body. Also, make sure that you are not in taking caffeine from any other source than this supplement.
Safety and quality of the supplement
In the United States and some other countries, we don’t have strict regulations regarding dietary supplements. Therefore, it is our responsibility to be careful while choosing supplements.
If you compromise with supplement safety and quality, you may eventually end up consuming banned substances. This can be very harmful to your body.
Before buying any supplement make sure that it is tested by some third party like USP or NSF International.
When to take a pre-workout supplement?
It is important to understand that just because the name suggests a pre – workout so you would take it pre-workout is not necessary. The optimum time to take a pre – workout supplement is 15 to 20 minutes before starting your training.
You may refer to the label of your pre-workout supplement for more information.
If you are regularly using a pre – workout supplement then your body will develop tolerance to its effects, this is why we advise you to cycle it.
It is best to experiment with it and see what suits you the best.
Who should take a pre-workout supplement?
A pre-workout supplement is not for everyone.
You should not start using pre-workout supplement just because you lack energy during a workout.
Adequate sleep, hydration, and proper diet are necessary for your body to respond to your exercise routine. Your body needs time to repair wear and tear of the muscles.
Moreover, pre-workout supplements are quite expensive and there is no study to suggest that they are any better than whole foods which can provide the same nutrition. For example, you can take a banana or two with a cup of milk in place of any expensive supplement.
Again, if you find that these supplement work for you, you must keep using it. Just observe how your body reacts to it. Your body knows what you need and what not.
Why go for chemical pre-workout when you have natural ingredients to help you with your workout!
Coffee contains a high level of caffeine in it, which helps you boost your energy during a workout.
Bananas contain glucose and fructose that can help you improve your performance in the gym. It has lots of starchy carbohydrates. It contains a high amount of magnesium and potassium. Each banana contains 20-27 gram of carbohydrates. All these combined make it an excellent source of energy.
Coconut water is also rich in potassium and magnesium, which acts as an electrolyte in the body. It can help you with muscle cramps, nausea, stiffness, fatigue and headaches. You can also ditch sports drink for coconut water. Each serving of coconut water contains more nutrients and fewer calories when compared to the market leader in a sports drink.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, most pre-workout supplements are not studied extensively. The individual ingredients have gone through many studies, but their combination as a product is still under study.
That being said, we have discussed in this article about the important ingredients in any pre-workout supplement. You must look for these in your pre-workout drink.
For long endurance training, you may consider using BCAAs, caffeine and nitrate.
For short intense training, look out for beta-alanine, citrulline, caffeine and sodium bicarbonate.
During weight training, you can opt-out for caffeine, creatine, and citrulline.
Pre-workout supplements can give you a head start towards your goal of a healthy and happy life.