If you’re someone who frequents the gym, chances are you’ve heard of pre-workout supplements, and you may have wondered if you should use one.
Supporters of pre-workouts claim that these products help increase energy, stamina, and athletic performance, but what does the science say about these supplements?
Are they safe?
Are Pre-Workout Supplements Safe?
Pre-workout supplements are generally safe for healthy adults. Keep in mind, that the supplement industry is not tightly regulated, so product labels may be inaccurate or misleading. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) loosely regulates supplements like pre-workout as food, not drugs.
You may experience some side effects of taking a pre-workout, depending on the ingredients. Many pre-workouts contain a heavy dose of caffeine, which can cause jitteriness and headaches. Other formulas that contain beta-alanine may cause tingling or itchiness, but this is harmless.
Look for products that are third-party tested and certified to ensure you are using a safe and high-quality product.
Is It Ok To Take A Pre-Workout Everyday?
Taking a pre-workout daily is likely okay for most healthy adults.
Keep in mind, most pre-workouts contain between 200-350 mg of caffeine per serving. The FDA recommends limiting caffeine intake to about 400 mg per day. There seem to be no negative side effects associated with this daily dose.
If you’re taking a pre-workout supplement daily, be mindful of its amount of caffeine and the caffeine content of other beverages you drink.
How Long Before A Workout Should I Take A Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout supplements generally work best when consumed 20-30 minutes before a workout. One study showed that taking a caffeine-containing pre-workout 20 minutes before exercise significantly enhanced performance, strength, and power.
What Are The Benefits Of A Pre-workout Supplement?
Research on the benefits of multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements is very limited. However, some studies have found that certain ingredients may benefit athletic performance.
Many pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that increase endurance, strength, and performance while reducing fatigue.
What To Look For In A Pre-Workout?
There are several research-backed ingredients to look for in a pre-workout, and there are some you may want to avoid. Look for a pre-workout that contains quality ingredients and is free of fillers, like this clean pre-workout from Naked Nutrition.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of specific ingredients you want in your pre-workout supplement.
Nitric Oxide Precursors
Nitric oxide is a compound that your body naturally produces to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. Pre-workouts often contain some of the body’s compounds to make nitric oxide. These include L-arginine, L-citrulline, and sources of dietary nitrates.
Studies have shown that supplementing with these compounds can boost oxygen and nutrient transport to your muscles, improving athletic performance.
Creatine is another substance that is naturally produced in the body. Found mostly in skeletal muscle, it plays a significant role in producing energy and strength.
Creatine is used in pre-workout formulas, but is also sold by itself as an individual supplement. Many weightlifters, bodybuilders, and other power athletes routinely use creatine.
Studies suggest that taking creatine can increase the amount the body can store, which can help improve recovery time, increase muscle mass, strength, and physical performance.
Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid. This nonessential amino acid works together with histidine to produce carnosine. Carnosine is then stored in your skeletal muscles.
Carnosine helps reduce lactic acid buildup in your muscles during exercise, which means you get to go harder, better, faster, and stronger during your next workout.
Ingredients to Avoid
Some ingredients to avoid in your pre-workout include artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and excess caffeine.
Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are often added to pre-workouts, and some people do not tolerate these ingredients well. They may cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea, which can negatively impact your workout.
Avoid mega-doses of caffeine which can cause increased blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and stress.
Pre-Workout Slushie Recipe
Give this pre-workout slushie recipe a try on your next training day. Drink 20 minutes before the start of your workout and enjoy increased energy, focus, endurance, and performance.
2 scoops of Naked Energy
8 oz of your favorite sports drink
1 cup ice
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend to reach slushie-like consistency.
Pre-workouts are popular supplements in the fitness industry. Many claim to increase focus, performance, and strength. Pre-workout formulas are generally safe for healthy adults, but you should look for a third-party tested supplement for quality. There isn’t much research that supports the effects of pre-workout supplements as a whole, but studies do show that some of the ingredients included may increase athletic performance.