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Pre-workout supplements have become a popular way to improve athletic performance in recent years. However, there are pros and cons of pre-workout supplements that need to be considered. There is some controversy around and the results have seen to vary from individual to individual. What may boost one person’s energy may not work the same for someone else and result in irritability or jittery feelings.
In this article we will dive into some of the most popular pre-workout ingredients, their benefits, and drawbacks to help you decide if pre-workout supplements are right for you.
What Is A Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout supplements, often referred to as pre-workout for short, are designed to give your body a boost before you work out. They usually contain caffeine, amino acids, and B vitamins. The purpose of a pre-workout supplement is to increase energy, improve endurance and performance, and enhance muscle recovery.
They are typically multi-ingredient and often come in powder form that you mix with water. Although this is the most common, there are pre-workout supplement options that come in a sports drink or pill form. With the difference in ingredients and delivery methods, it is safe to say there is not a standard pre-workout formula.
Pre-workouts are not necessary to see results from your workouts, but some people find them helpful. If you’re thinking about trying a pre-workout supplement, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects.
Details of What A Pre-Workout Is
To help you adapt and improve your athletic performance over time, pre-workout supplements, which are sometimes called “pre-workout,” are multi-ingredient dietary compositions. Powdered supplements can be mixed with water and consumed before going to the gym.
To put it another way, there is no “standard” pre-workout formula. It’s possible to find a pre-workout supplement from a variety of suppliers, with a variety of ingredients. In pre-workout supplements, you’ll often find creatine monohydrate, beta alanine, L-Tarurine, and L-Leucine, in addition to caffeine. There are others, but those are some of the most common ingredients.
There are also many pre-workouts on the market that are caffeine free to help with some of the downsides that we will talk about later.
Pre-Workout Supplements Common Ingredients
Most pre-workout supplements contain the same basic components. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent substances in pre-workout supplements before diving into the positives and negatives.
Creatine is one of the most commonly used pre-workout supplement ingredients. Creatine is produced by your body and stored in your muscles. It’s used to help produce energy during high-intensity activity. When you take creatine as a supplement, it can help you build muscle mass, improve lean muscle mass and improve your performance during short bursts of high-intensity activity, like weightlifting, cycling or sprinting.
One downside to creatine is that it can cause water weight gain. For some people, this can be a concern because it can make you look bloated. It’s also not recommended for people with kidney problems.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine. It’s generally considered safe, but there have been some reports of side effects like stomach pain and cramping. It is a natural amino acid produced by the human body, however, and is not known to cause long-term health problems.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can help you feel more alert and increase your energy levels. It’s the most common ingredient in pre-workout supplements. Caffeine can also help you burn fat (source), by increasing your metabolism and helping you to move more quickly during exercise.
Caffeine is generally considered safe in low to moderate doses, but there are some risks associated with it. Caffeine can cause side effects like anxiety, racing heartbeat, jitters, and sleeplessness. It’s also not recommended for people with heart conditions or high blood pressure.
Due to the potential side effects and some athletes sensitivity to caffeine, there are several low caffeine pre-workouts and caffeine-free pre-workouts now available.
Beta Alanine is another common pre-workout ingredient. It’s a nonessential amino acid that your body uses to produce energy. Beta alanine can help improve your performance during high-intensity exercise and can also help you build muscle mass.
Research has shown that Beta Alanine can delay the onset of fatigue, which can help you push yourself harder in the gym. It’s also considered safe, but there have been some reports of side effects like tingling and flushing.
L-Tarurine is an amino acid that helps your body produce energy. It’s sometimes called a “nitric oxide booster”. This is because it can help improve blood flow and increase oxygen delivery to your muscles. This boost in nitric oxide can improve your performance during exercise and help you recover from workouts more quickly.
L-Tarurine is generally considered safe, but there have been some reports of side effects like stomach upset and diarrhea.
Recent research has shone that L-Tarurine can improve the run time to exhaustion in athletes along with improved cognitive function.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that your body uses to produce energy. It’s also been shown to help improve cognitive function and memory.. L-Tyrosine is considered safe, but there have been some reports of side effects like headache and nausea.
L-Leucine is an amino acid that your body uses to produce energy. It’s also been shown to help you build muscle mass. L-Leucine is part of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAA is known for its ability to help you reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time due to it’s role in its role in muscle protein synthesis
L-Leucine is generally considered safe, but there have been some reports of side effects like nausea and vomiting.
Other common ingredients include DL-Malate leucine, isoleucine and L-Citrulline. All of the ingredients mentioned are BCAAs with the exception of L-Citrulline which is an amino acid shown to improve blood flow and therefore oxygen and nutrient delivery to working muscles.
BCAAs are important for athletes because they can help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time. BCAAs also play a role in muscle protein synthesis.
How to Choose A Pre-Workout That Is Right for You
Now that you know what ingredients are commonly found in pre-workout supplements, it’s important to choose one that is right for you.
Consider your goals for taking a pre-workout supplement. Are you looking to improve your performance during exercise? Are you looking to build muscle mass? Are you trying to lose weight? Depending on your goals, you may want a pre-workout supplement with different ingredients.
For instance, if you are looking to add lean muscle mass, you may want a pre-workout with L-Leucine. If you are looking to improve your performance during exercise, you may want a pre-workout with caffeine.
Remember that not all pre-workouts contain the same ingredients. Some may only have a few of the ingredients listed above, while others may have many more. It’s important to read the label on pre-workout supplements to see what ingredients they contain and in what amounts.
In addition, check the amount of each ingredient. Some supplements may have a high amount of caffeine, while others may have a high amount of L-Leucine. If you are sensitive to caffeine or any other ingredient, make sure to choose a supplement with lower levels of that ingredient.
Another important consideration when choosing a pre-workout supplement is price. Pre – workouts can range in price from a few dollars to more than $50. Consider how often you will be using the supplement and what ingredients are in it before deciding on a price.
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If you are looking for a pre-workout with many ingredients, including caffeine, L-Leucine, and other BCAAs, expect to pay a higher price. If you are looking for a pre-workout with only a few ingredients, you may be able to find one at a lower price.
Pre-workout supplements can be a helpful way to improve your performance during exercise. However, it’s important to choose one that is right for you. Consider your fitness goals, the ingredients in the supplement, and the price before making a decision.
Sensitivity to Caffeine and Other Stimulants
If you are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants, be sure to choose a pre-workout supplement that doesn’t contain high levels of these ingredients. There are now several low caffeine and caffeine-free pre-workout supplements available.
Other Health Conditions
If you have any other health conditions, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking a pre-workout supplement. This is especially important if you have heart conditions or high blood pressure.
Pre-workout supplements can be a great way to improve your performance during exercise. However, it’s important to choose a supplement that is right for you. Consider your fitness goals, the ingredients in the supplement, and the price before making a decision. If you are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants, be sure to choose a low-stimulant supplement. And if you have any other health conditions, talk to your doctor before taking a pre-workout supplement.
You have now learned about ingredients and what to look for, let’s jump into the pros and cons of taking a pre-workout supplement.
Pros and Cons of Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements have become popular because they offer several benefits. In the section below we will review the potential benefits as well as any negative side effects to help you determine if pre-workout is right for your fitness routine.
The Benefits (Pros) of Pre – Workout :
Potential Boost in Performance
This is the main reason most look to start adding supplements to their routine, the boost to get performance outcomes. Several of the ingredients assist in this and we will take a look at a few below.
The caffeine and other stimulants found in many pre-workouts can help improve your performance during exercise. This is because the doses of caffeine help to increase your energy levels and make you feel more alert. There is a variety of research supporting both a mental and physical performance boost with the use of caffeine in pre-workouts.
In addition to caffeine, Creatine can potentially improve performance. Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in the body and helps to provide energy to your muscles. When you take a pre-workout supplement that contains Creatine, you are providing your muscles with more energy, which can lead to improved performance.
A pre-workout may be the right addition to your fitness routine if you are looking for a performance boost.
Many pre-workouts also contain ingredients that can help to improve your endurance. Beta Alanine, for example, is an amino acid that has been shown to increase endurance and reduce muscle fatigue. When taken in conjunction with Creatine, it can help you exercise for a longer period of time.
Improved Muscle Recovery Time
The amino acids L-Leucine and BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are often found in pre-workouts and have been shown to help with muscle recovery. L-Leucine is an amino acid that helps to stimulate protein synthesis, which is the process that helps your muscles to recover and grow. BCAA’s help to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, which can lead to a quicker recovery time.
Many pre-workouts also contain ingredients like beta-alanine that can help improve your endurance and create less fatigue. This is because they help to buffer the build-up of lactate in your muscles, which is what causes fatigue. This means you can keep going longer during your workout without feeling as tired resulting in increased muscle strength.
Improved Cognitive Ability and Alertness
The caffeine and other stimulants in pre-workouts can also help to improve your cognitive ability and alertness. This is because they help to increase your focus, mental clarity, and energy. If you are looking for an edge in your workouts, a pre-workout supplement with caffeine may be the right choice for you.
The enhancement in your mood may also help with motivation to keep pushing through your workouts.
The Cons (Negatives) of Pre-Workout
Possible Negative Side Effects
Although pre-workouts are generally safe, there is the potential for negative effects. The most common side effects include jitters, anxiety, increased heart rate, and headaches. These side effects are usually mild and go away after a short time.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are taking medication, it is best to consult with your doctor before taking a pre-workout supplement. This is because there is the potential for interactions with medications or other health conditions.
Some people also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when taking pre-workouts. This is usually due to the stimulants, so it is best to start with a low dose and increase slowly to avoid these side effects. The recommended dose of caffeine according to the FDA is about 400 mg per day, so be aware of the caffeine content in your pre-workout supplement. This amounts to around 4 cups of coffee.
May Not Be Right for Everyone
Pre-workouts are not right for everyone. If you are someone who does not like to feel jittery or have an increased heart rate, then a pre-workout may not be right for you. In addition, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are taking medication, you should consult with your doctor before taking a blend of ingredients found in pre-workout supplement.
Like with anything, there are a wide range of prices for pre-workout supplements. You can find them for as low as $10 per bottle or as high as $50 per bottle. It is important to do your research before purchasing a pre-workout supplement to make sure you are getting a quality product.
This increased expense might not be worth it if you are only going to use it occasionally. If you are someone who works out regularly, a pre-workout supplement can be a beneficial addition to your routine.
When it comes to pre-workouts, you generally get what you pay for. The more expensive pre-workouts tend to have higher quality ingredients that are more effective. However, there are some lower priced pre-workouts that are just as good as the more expensive ones. It is important to do your research and read reviews before purchasing a pre-workout supplement.
Pre-workouts can be addictive because of the stimulants they contain. If you find that you need to take more and more to get the same effect, it is best to stop taking them. Stimulant addiction can lead to side effects such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and tremors.
Additional Potential Cons of Pre-Workout
In addition to the drawbacks mentioned above, additional areas of concern may include irritability, increased blood pressure, insomnia, racing heart and adrenal fatigue. These tend to occur when an individual takes pre-workouts irresponsibly or without understanding the ingredients and how they can interact with other supplements, medications and medical conditions.
Some Pre-Workout Alternatives
If you are on the fence about multi – ingredient pre – workout supplements, do note there are some alternative pre-workout foods and drinks that can help give you a boost of energy. Below we will review some common pre-workout alternatives.
A cup of black coffee is a popular pre-workout drink because it contains caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can help improve your athletic performance by increasing your alertness and focus. Coffee also has other benefits such as improving your mood and cognitive function.
Like coffee, green tea contains caffeine. Green tea also has other antioxidants that can help improve your health. One study showed that green tea can improve fat burning during exercise.
Fruit and Yogurt
Fruit and yogurt is a great pre-workout snack because it contains complex carbohydrates, simple sugars and protein. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Protein helps repair and build muscle. This snack will give you sustained energy throughout your workout.
Greek yogurt is a good pre-workout snack because it is high in protein. Protein helps repair and build muscle. Greek yogurt also contains probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health.
Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates, which is the main fuel your body uses for energy. They also contain potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramps.
Oatmeal is another great pre-workout food because it is high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Oatmeal also contains fiber, which can help improve your digestion. Oatmeal is one of our top Superfoods to Boost Your Health this year.
Coconut water is a good pre-workout drink because it contains electrolytes. Electrolytes help prevent dehydration and muscle cramps. Coconut water also has other benefits such as being low in calories and carbohydrates.
Working out on an empty stomach can help you burn more fat. When you exercise, your body uses both glycogen and fat for energy. Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrates. When you have a full stomach, your body will use the glycogen first before turning to the fat. By working out on an empty stomach, you are more likely to use the fat for energy.
Incorporate Yoga, Meditation and Stretching
If you are looking for a more holistic approach to pre-workout, consider incorporating yoga, meditation and stretching into your routine. Yoga is a form of exercise that combines stretching and meditation. Yoga can help improve your flexibility, strength and mood. Meditation can help you focus and relax. Stretching can help improve your range of motion and prevent injuries.
The Bottom Line
Pre-workout supplements have become a popular way to improve athletic performance. However, there are pros and cons to using these supplements. The pros include increased energy, improved endurance and performance, and enhanced muscle recovery. The cons include the possibility of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
When considering using a supplement, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of pre-workout to see if the benefits outweigh the risks. It’s also important to speak with a doctor or registered dietitian if you have any medical conditions or take any medications that could interact with the ingredients in pre-workout supplements.
We have come up with some FAQs below that may help you in your decision-making process.
Q: What are the side effects of pre-workout supplements?
A: The most common side effects of pre-workout supplements and energy drinks are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other potential side effects include jitters, headache, fatigue, and dizziness.
Q: Can I take pre-workout supplements if I have a medical condition?
A: Speak with your doctor or registered dietitian before taking pre-workout supplements if you have a medical condition. Some ingredients in pre-workout supplements can interact with medications.
Q: What should I eat before my workout?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on your goals, the type of workout you are doing, and your individual preferences. Some people prefer to eat a light snack such as fruit and yogurt before their workout. Others prefer to workout on an empty stomach.
Q: What are the benefits of pre-workout supplements?
A: The benefits of pre-workout supplements include increased energy, muscle growth, improved endurance and performance, and enhanced muscle recovery.
Q: Are there any natural alternatives to pre-workout supplements?
A: Some natural alternatives to pre – workout supplements include caffeine, protein, and carbohydrates.
Q: If I have high blood pressure, can I take pre-workout supplements?
A: Speak with your doctor before taking pre-workout supplements if you have high blood pressure. Some ingredients in pre-workout supplements can raise blood pressure.
Q: Are there ingredients I should avoid in a pre-workout?
A: Yes. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a medical condition, speak with your doctor before taking a pre-workout supplement. Some ingredients in pre-workout supplements can be harmful if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a medical condition.
Q: What is the Best Time to Take Pre-workout?
A: It depends on your individual preferences. Some people prefer to take pre-workout supplements 30 minutes before their workout. Others prefer to take them an hour or two before their workout.
Q: How long after taking does pre-workout start working?
A: It depends on the ingredients in the pre-workout supplement. Some people may start to feel the effects within 30 minutes, while others may not feel the effects until after their workout. On average though, expect pre-workout to kick in 30 minutes after taking it.