If you’re a gym enthusiast then you’re probably well aware of the newest hype known as pre-workout. Exercise is all about endurance and stamina and the longer you’re able to spend time in the gym the easier it becomes to reach your goals. And pre-workout helps you do exactly that. However, some people have a few questions about pre-workout as well. For example, what really is pre-workout made of? Are the ingredients safe to consume? And when exactly should one drink pre-workout? There’s no need to look any further because we’ve got the answers you’re looking for.
What is pre-workout made of?
Although the most natural question one might ask, it is also the trickiest one to answer. The reason why it is so tricky to answer is the basic fact that no two formulas for pre-workout are the same. Each formula is unique and thus the answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d hope. Some pre-workout formulas include carbs in their ingredients while others boast being calorie-free. You’ll also find some supplements with contain caffeine. The range of ingredients is vast and some ingredients might even leave you scratching your head wondering “what in the world is this?”
Knowing what ingredients your pre-workout supplements contain is of utmost importance for two simple reasons:
- Whether the ingredients are safe to consume
- How soon the ingredients take to kick in and how much of the pre-workout I should take
For most of the part, pre-workout supplements are not FDA approved and a lot of companies in order to sell their product exaggerate while marketing and if you’re not careful you might end up falling for their tricks and consuming shady ingredients that might negatively affect your body in the long run. So if you are left scratching your head in confusion, it’s probably a good idea to walk away from that pre-workout powder mix!
What ingredients are safe then?
There are certain ingredients that are known to researchers who can safely say that this ingredient is safe to consume. More so, they can even tell you how much of that ingredient you should be taking to enhance your workout regime.
The first is caffeine. An established and well-known stimulant, caffeine basically works by blocking the adenosine molecules from reaching their receptors. These molecules are what send signals to your brain telling it that you’re tired or sleepy and so if they’re blocked you’ll feel more energized and as the caffeine builds up in your system you’ll have an adrenaline rush.
The second ingredient is Creatine. Very common in pre-workout supplements and is approved of in the sporting community. Creatine is a derivation of three amino acids that are naturally produced by our bodies and are stored in our muscles as a source of energy. It is also said to help in the increase of muscle mass. However, there is a divide in research where some suggest it should be taken before your workout while others suggest it should be taken post-workout when energy levels are low.
Then you have Beta-Alanine which is another amino acid that works in producing carnosine which in turn helps you work out longer and harder. A relatively newer ingredient in the sporting community, however, it is widely accepted as being safe.
When should I take the Pre-workout?
So now that you know which ingredients are safe you’ll also want to know how long it takes for them to kick in so that you can take your supplement accordingly. While the name clearly implies you need to drink before you start your workout, unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule to suggest just how long before your workout you should drink your supplements. That’s mainly because everyone’s body reacts to ingredients in a different way. Similarly, since everyone’s body is wired a different way, there are a number of factors that affect the effect on pre-workout on our bodies. The most common factors to take into consideration include:
- The ingredients present in your supplements and how strong they are
- How much of the supplement you have consumed
- Your bodies tolerance to certain ingredients
- Your age and weight
There is an ample amount of research to indicate how long certain ingredients stay in your body before their effect starts wearing off. Caffeine is said to last in your bloodstream for a good five hours. However, the effects don’t last that long. After 60 to 90 minutes the effect of caffeine wears off. Similarly, the energy boost that comes from Beta-Alanine only lasts 45 to 60 minutes at best. The jury is still out about the last effect of Carnitine mainly because it is also naturally produced in your body. However, the belief is that it doesn’t last longer than an hour.
A lot of gym-goers make the basic mistake of taking pre-workout as they enter the gym right before their workout. By that timeline, the energy boost will come halfway through your workout and will last much afterward, which in essence defeats the entire purpose of taking pre-workout. So ideally you should take your pre-workout at least 30 minutes before you hit the gym and no later than an hour before.
In case you’re confused about how to know if the pre-workout is working out for you there are three main telltale signs that the supplement is working. You’ll have an increased mental focus; you’ll feel an obvious energy boost and you’ll feel your skin begin to tingle.
There you have it, folks, your guide to pre-workout supplements. But like we’ve mentioned, everyone’s body is unique and they respond to ingredients in their own unique ways. So while these are general directions to help you out, we’d suggest always starting with small doses seeing how your body reacts. Also, be careful to not overdo taking the supplements because that has its own risks. If you’re still confused, make sure to ask your trainer for advice.