The Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements

Many of us want an extra edge when hitting the gym, which is why so many people turn to pre-workout supplements. They get you pumped up for exercise while giving you a performance boost. What’s the real deal? Are pre-workout supps worth the hype?

Pre-workout” is a supplement you take before exercise so you can improve performance. They are available in many forms and “proprietary” formulas, which makes it tough to generalize in regards to pre-workouts. That being said, most include:

  • Caffeine
  • creatine
  • nitric oxide precursors

Research says these ingredients improve your workout results, but you do not have to obtain them from supplements. You can get them naturally from leafy greens, coffee and meat for a cheaper boost.

What does the research say about benefits of pre-workouts?

While these supplements are gaining in popularity, not a lot of research has been done on the safety and efficacy of specific formulas. Many companies do not disclose their formulas at all.

One research review says that while many studies look promising, a lot more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of pre-workout supplements. But that doesn’t mean they’re all hype. Many popular ingredients have some proven science behind them.

Creatine supports muscle power

Creatine, a compound found in skeletal muscle cells, shows evidence that it can boost strength, muscle recovery and lean muscle mass. This is why it’s such a popular ingredient in many pre-workouts.

Another research review says that consuming 30 grams of creatine a day for five years is effective and safe for anyone of any age. It could even protect against injury. One small study revealed that consuming 20 grams of creatine a day while engaging in strength training improved muscle strength while reducing muscle damage compared with a placebo group.

Caffeine improves performance

Research shows caffeine can elevate the capacity for mental and physical exertion on a consistent basis. It may also help you burn fat faster and speed up reaction time. This is because caffeine increases adrenaline and cortisol flow in and around your body.

But you don’t have to take your chances with a scoop of mystery supplement. One research review says an equivalent-sized cup of joe will give you the same results. The great majority of research has been done on men, though, and not women.

Nitric oxide precursors increase blood flow

All cells in your body make nitric oxide. This is a molecule that will relax your blood vessels so more blood can flow where it is needed, such as when you’re doing some squat reps).

Lots of pre-workout formulas contain nitric oxide precursors, which are compounds that make nitric oxide. Evidence says that exercise by itself boosts how much nitric oxide your body will produce. Chowing on some precursors prior to your workout may help turbocharge the benefits and effects.

But studies say you can get lots of other nitric oxide sources, such as leafy green vegetables or beetroot juice.

Can pre-workouts help me lose weight?

While lots of pre-workout brands say they can help with weight loss, supplements simply cannot replace the need for a healthy diet and exercise plan. But a pre-workout supplement for weight loss could provide the boost you need to achieve your movement and weight loss goals.

Downsides of pre-workouts

There aren’t really many downsides if you adhere to the recommended dose. But only you know your body and can determine what is and is not right for your specific routine. Check out these important things to remember prior to using a pre-workout.

Artificial sweeteners are not so sweet

Many pre-workout formulas have lots of artificial sweeteners as well as sugar alcohols. These components add extra sweetness and flavor with no extra calories; however, overall some are not good for your body.

That’s because your body does not process them in the same way it does regular sugar, making you feel hungrier or leave you with an upset stomach. To avoid those side effects, avoid these ingredients:

  • erythritol
  • Sorbitol
  • maltitol
  • xylitol

Too much caffeine

As you may be aware, too much caffeine can trigger headaches and mess with your sleep schedule. You may even experience other symptoms such as anxiety and higher blood pressure if you’re at risk.

Most pre-workouts typically have as much caffeine as two to three cups of coffee. So if you like to drink coffee throughout the day, as well as soda or energy drinks, you may go over the recommended daily limit of 400 milligrams if you also take a supplement.

Not all supplements are the same

The pre-workout market is a lot like the Wild West because these supps are not regulated in the same way that drugs and food are in this country. That’s why it’s critical to do your homework when researching brands and products before buying.

Check on accreditation from third-party testers such as NSF International. Organizations like these ensure products are what they say they are.

Alternatives to pre-workouts

Pre-workouts aren’t the only thing you can take to fuel your workout. You can get more of a natural boost with the following while saving money:

  • Chicken and rice
  • Orange smoothie
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Banana and protein powder
  • Coffee with sugar and milk

In Conclusion

Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that have been found to improve your performance, but they are not the sole source of creatine and nitric oxide.

Pre-workouts are not a magic potion. Determine your fitness goals first, and figure out the most effective way to reach them.


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