If you’re into your health and fitness, chances are you’ve heard of pre-workouts. Pre-workout supplements claim to make you stronger, faster and bigger, which all sound great, right? Who doesn’t want to maximise their workout and improve their results? However, have you ever wondered if pre-workouts actually lives up to its promises? Do the best pre-workout supplements actually work and more importantly, are they safe to consume? What is the deal with pre-workouts? In this article, we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about pre-workout supplements.
What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Typically, pre-workout supplements come in powdered form and claim to help you maximise your workout. Pre-workout supplements are usually single or multi-ingredient stimulants you take before or during a workout session, whether that be running, swimming, lifting or spinning.
What are the Typical Ingredients in Pre-Workouts?
Different pre-workout supplements contain different ingredients. However, there are four core ingredients you’ll find in most common pre-workout supplements. These are; beta-alanine, caffeine, creatine and BCAAs.
Caffeine is usually the main ingredient in a pre-workout supplement. There have been plenty of studies conducted that show caffeine affects your perceived exertion and can minimise fatigue. This is because caffeine blocks neurotransmitters and increases your heart rate, breathing and blood-pumping productivity. This is useful if you like to workout first thing in the morning or after a long day at the office.
Creatine is a common pre-workout ingredient and has been shown to increase lean body mass, power and strength. It is also said that creatine helps reduce fatigue and increases energy during HIIT (high-intensity interval training), resistance training and when weight-lifting.
B-alanine helps your body produce a protein called carsonine, which can increase fatigue resistance during high intensity-based exercises.
BCAAS or Branch Chain Amino Acids have been shown to positively impact body composition, support immune function and reduce muscle damage. However, studies have also shown that if you already eat a diet high in protein, it’s unlikely BCAAs will add much to your workout (but they won’t hurt it either!)
Is it Safe to Take Pre-Workout Supplements?
While pre-workouts have their benefits, they have been known to come with some risks. The biggest risk of pre-workout supplements is the inclusion of some dangerous substances. While caffeine, creatine, b-alanine and BCAAs are all safe in moderation, some pre -workout supplements on the market combine them with other harmful ingredients. That’s why it’s important to always read the label on pre-workout supplements.
One such harmful ingredient is the chemical dimethylamylamine (DMAA), which is found in a number of multi-ingredient workout supplements. DMAA has actually been banned by The Therapeutic Drugs Administration because of its associated risks, including high blood pressure, bleeding in the brain, stroke and psychiatric disorders. For this reason, we advise not buying any pre-workout supplement with DMAA.
Are There Any Side Effects with Pre-Workouts?
The only known side-effect of pre-workouts is a potential caffeine overdose. High levels of caffeine, no matter what form they come in, can negatively impact your performance by increasing your heart rate, causing shakiness, reducing fine motor control and causing stomach problems. Too much caffeine can also increase anxiety and affect the quality of your sleep. Different people react differently to caffeine, so there is no set or recommend dose. It’s important you monitor your caffeine intake and stop taking pre-workout supplements if you experience any of the above side-effects.
The Bottom Line and the Best Pre-Workout Supplements
The bottom line is pre-workout supplements can ultimately improve your workout and your results, but it’s essential you look at the ingredients list and know exactly what you’re consuming. When it comes to pre-workouts, the best pre-work supplements contain only natural, organic and superfood ingredients with no harmful additives, such as this pre-workout by Eden Health Foods. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing what you’re putting into your body and doing so in healthy moderation.
...and remember, qualified nutritionists at Healthy Being are available to offer further general advice to help guide you in selecting the right products. So please, feel free to contact us at any time!
Dr Peter Succar heads up the Product Research Team at Healthy Being and is an enthusiastic Health & Fitness Lifestyle Coach. He's passionate about helping others obtain optimum health, advocating realistic and achievable changes in diets and lifestyles that promote the body’s natural immunity, its ability to self-heal and achieve overall mental and physical well-being.