Welcome to the energised world of pre-workout supplements, a familiar stomping ground if you’re a gym enthusiast or you rub shoulders with fitness mavens. In essence, a pre-workout is any supplement you take before you hit the weights, the track, or the yoga mat.
Often, it’s a vibrant powder or a zippy liquid drop that you mix into your water pre-sweat session. Boosted with a cocktail of ingredients, pre-workouts feature a lineup of caffeine, a mix of amino acids like BCAAs, taurine and creatine, nitric oxide boosters, sugar, and B-vitamins. They may also contain exciting extras like guarana, electrolytes, and other variations. Keep reading to learn more about these gym buddies!
Choosing a pre-workout supplement can be a daunting task, especially with the vast array of options available in the market. However, understanding your body and fitness goals will make the decision easier.
So, Should You Be Adding Pre-Workout Supplements to Your Gym Bag?
Not everyone is a fan of pre-workout supplements. Take Carlos Bradley, an ex-NFL star and present-day certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He suggests a different approach to his clients. Bradley encourages a holistic focus on diet, rest, and a balanced intake of proteins, carbs, and fats. He’s not a fan of supplements rife with sugar and caffeine, warning that they could lead to a post-exercise crash, especially for those unaccustomed to such nutrients.
However, if you’re eager to try a pre-workout, Bradley suggests choosing one that’s low-calorie and includes minimal caffeine or guarana (a plant-based stimulant), along with vitamins B6 and B12. Still contemplating a pre-workout supplement? Let’s dive into the details of their typical ingredients.
Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients
No pre-workout supplement is complete without its star player: caffeine. The immediate benefits of these fitness enhancers are largely due to this particular component. Not just your regular cup of Joe, caffeine cranks up your cognitive function, endurance levels, power, and performance during your resistance workouts.
How much caffeine is just right? It depends on your weight. For folks hovering around the 150 lbs mark, a dose between 200 and 400 mg is the sweet spot. If you tip the scales at 200 lbs, aim for anywhere between 272 and 545 mg.
Before you start loading up on the caffeine powder, remember: an average cup of coffee only packs about 95 mg of caffeine. If you’re not a regular caffeine consumer, this might feel like a bit of a turbo boost. It’s always best to know your limits and listen to your body. After all, fitness is a marathon, not a sprint!
Ever heard of Guarana? This little gem often tags along with or steps in for caffeine in pre-workout mixes. It’s a peppy powerhouse filled with stimulants like caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. But Guarana isn’t just about the rush – it also brings along a host of antioxidants like tannins, saponins, and catechins. Much like its caffeine-only counterparts, pre-workout blends with Guarana can shave off fatigue and keep you going longer. Aim for a dose of about 50 to 75 mg to reap its benefits.
Let’s talk about another muscle-loving ingredient – amino acids. You’ll often find BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and taurine among the list. These aren’t just fancy words, but the building blocks that boost your workout performance and muscle recovery. They’re superstars in the world of fitness and a common ingredient in many pre-workout supplements.
In the world of pre-workout supplements, BCAAs and Taurine are something of a dynamic duo. Let’s get to know them better.
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are a trio of protein-producing amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They’re typically included in pre-workout formulas with the aim of boosting muscle protein synthesis, protecting against protein breakdown, and mitigating muscle damage during workouts.
Next on the list is Taurine, an amino sulfonic acid, which is a bit different from your typical amino acid. Taurine is produced in the body from other amino acids and is naturally found in animal proteins. Scientific research suggests that Taurine can boost endurance and reduce lactate accumulation, leading to less muscle fatigue. Now that’s what we call a workout warrior!
Let’s explore L-arginine, another player in the amino acid team that’s only labelled “essential” under specific conditions or times of bodily stress. For those not in the know, essential amino acids are those our bodies can’t produce on their own – we’ve got to get them from our grub.
Next on our supplement scavenger hunt is L-Citrulline, a non-essential amino acid that your body can produce, but getting a little extra doesn’t hurt. The magic of L-Citrulline lies in its ability to morph into L-arginine, another amino acid, in our kidneys.
Now why should you care? Well, this transformation leads to better vasodilation, essentially making your blood vessels wider and improving blood flow. As a result, it boosts your workout performance in a big way!
But here’s the catch – you need to be consistent. Taking 6-8 grams daily, not just sporadically sprinkled before your workouts, is key for getting the most out of it. So, go ahead and give your pre-workout routine a citrulline spin!
Meet Beta-alanine, a non-essential amino acid that’s not just hanging around for fun. When you invite this chap into your daily routine for at least a fortnight, it brings along the gift of enhanced high-intensity workout performance. Think sprinting, HIIT, and all those sweat-breaking, heart-pounding activities!
Say hello to Nitrate, a natural attendee in your diet, particularly if you’re a fan of beet juice or sodium nitrate. The magic happens when you consume nitrates in quantities of 300 milligrams or more, your endurance and performance get a major upgrade. At least, that’s what the lab coats tell us!
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is a naturally occurring derivative of the amino acid glycine and has some tricks up its sleeve. Betaine is believed to jazz up your workout performance by boosting creatine synthesis rates, upping your blood nitric oxide levels, and championing fluid and thermal homeostasis (that’s just a fancy term for your body’s balance). All in all, Betaine is a pretty great guest to invite to your workout party!
Say hello to the B-Vitamin family – a band that features eight different members: Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folate along with Folic Acid, and last but not least, Vitamin B12. These power-packed vitamins aren’t just for show. They play a pivotal role in ensuring our bodies function like a well-oiled machine, both physically and neurologically.
And that’s not all – when mixed with other nutrients, they’ve been shown to enhance exercise performance. However, the best time to introduce these vitamins into your routine for maximum impact – pre-workout, post-workout or a steady daily dose – is still a topic of hot debate.
Let’s dive into the realm of electrolytes, the unsung heroes of hydration. Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate these minerals are more than just fancy scientific names. They keep your cells well-hydrated, ensuring you stay at the peak of your performance throughout your workout. You’ll find them as a staple in the top-notch pre-workout supplements.
Sugars And Sugar Alcohols
Next up, sugars and carbs – yes, you heard that right! A modest dose (say around 15 grams each) before you pump some iron or hit the treadmill won’t hurt. However, let’s stick to snacks with a low glycemic index – think foods rich in carbs but not necessarily brimming with sugar, like your good old bread or rice cakes. But tread carefully – crossing the 15-gram sugar limit or including sugar alcohols might just upset your tummy mid-workout, and we wouldn’t want that!
Lastly, let’s shine the spotlight on Riboflavin – it seems workouts might increase our body’s craving for this particular nutrient. So popping it into your pre-workout supplement could be an ace move. But remember, it’s your body and your rules. Find out what suits you best, and remember to always stay hydrated.
Now that you have a good understanding of some popular ingredients found in pre-workout supplements, go forth and conquer your workouts with the support of science! Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your supplement routine, and listen to your body’s needs for optimal results.