Whether you’re new to working out or a seasoned athlete, you’ve probably heard of pre-workout supplements as they’ve risen in popularity over the past few years.
Advocates of pre-workout supplements claim that they can enhance your fitness, providing you with the energy required to power through strenuous workouts. However, others argue that they’re unnecessary and even potentially dangerous. So, if you’ve been wondering if you should take pre-workout supplements, this article will dive into what exactly they are, if they’re necessary, and the benefits and risks of workout supplements.
What Are Pre-workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements, sometimes referred to as pre-workouts, are designed to enhance energy levels and athletic performance with vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients. They usually come in powder form, which can be added to water to create a pre-workout drink.
There are countless pre-workout supplements available with little consistency between ingredient lists. Generally, formulas include caffeine, creatine, amino acids, beta-alanine, and artificial sweeteners, but the quantities and the exact ingredients list vary by brand.
What Are the Benefits of Pre-workout Supplements?
Researchers have found several benefits to taking pre-workout supplements. For example, a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that pre-workouts could significantly improve anaerobic performance. They’re also particularly beneficial to those who are already active and regularly exercise.
Pre-workout supplements almost always include caffeine, which has been shown to enhance cognition. In addition, research has shown that caffeine can increase concentration and mood.
In addition, research in the Journal of Sport and Health Science has shown that citrulline added to pre-workout supplements can effectively reduce soreness and recovery time between training sessions.
Why Shouldn’t You Take Pre-workout Supplements?
While caffeine can help you to concentrate and focus on your workout, there are also side effects associated with overconsumption of caffeine, such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Jitteriness or restlessness
In addition, caffeine and several other ingredients, such as sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, and creatine, can cause digestive issues. So, if you’re already sensitive to caffeine, the levels of it in pre-workout supplements could impact you.
Is a Pre-workout Supplement Necessary?
Pre-workouts aren’t for everyone. If you frequently lack energy or struggle to push through your workout, consider other lifestyle factors such as sleep quality, diet, and hydration. Alternatively, you may speak to your doctor or primary healthcare provider.
As we said above, pre-workout ingredients can vary by brand, making it challenging to evaluate their effectiveness. However, you may find that whole food can provide the same nutrients and help to fuel you for your workout as a “natural” pre-workout supplement.
Eating natural pre-workout supplements like fresh berries, bananas, oats, and sweet potatoes before you hit the gym can boost your energy levels and enhance your workout.
Are Pre-workout Supplements Healthy to Take Every Day?
It’s considered safe to take pre-workout supplements regularly and follow a manufacturer’s instructions. However, some pre-workouts contain pretty high levels of caffeine, and as mentioned above, that can have some adverse side effects. According to the CDC, emergency department visits increased almost 14 times between 2005 and 2011 for problems related to caffeine-containing energy drinks, and some pre-workout supplements have similar levels of caffeine to energy drinks.
The FDA recommends that healthy adults limit their caffeine intake to 400 milligrams daily, roughly the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee. However, we all have different levels of sensitivity to the effects of caffeine, so it’s essential to be mindful of how much caffeine any pre-workout supplements may contain.
If you can pre-workout supplements later, your body can build a tolerance. But, eventually, you’ll find the impact isn’t as strong because your body has become immune, requiring higher doses for the same results.
5 Ingredients to Look for in Pre-workout Supplements
As mentioned above, what goes into workout supplements can vary by brand. However, there are energy-boosting ingredients that you can look for, such as the ones below.
Found in meat, fish, and dairy products, taurine is a sulfonic acid that contributes to the metabolism of fats. It also fights oxidative stress while exercising.
2. Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs have been found to improve endurance in workouts and increase strength by supporting protein synthesis and maintaining cellular energy.
3. B Vitamins
Vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6 contribute to energy production and efficiency. In addition, vitamin B12 supports blood production, and vitamin B3 promotes healthy skin and enhances DNA repair.
4. Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine is one of the most popular workout supplements among gymgoers. Why? Because creatine has the potential to enhance performance and muscle strength during exercise.
5. NO2 Boosters
NO2 boosters like citrulline may enhance muscle recovery between workouts.
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When Should You Take a Pre-workout Supplement?
Typically, you want the workout supplement to be in your system by the time you start your workout so you can hit the ground running. For most people, the ideal time to take your pre-workout is around 30-60 minutes before your training.
If you have any questions about pre-workout supplements or you’re feeling fatigued and need extra energy to get through your workouts, consider speaking with a men’s health physician.
At Opt Health, our specialized men’s health doctors can provide treatment and test results from the comfort of your home. We want to help you feel like you again by increasing men’s vitality through longevity medicine.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to book an appointment.