What Is Pre Workout & Should I Take Them?
You can find a supplement claiming to help with just about anything these days: sleep, relaxation, immunity, weight loss, post-workout recovery… the list goes on. Lately, though, it's pre-workout supplements that have been getting a whole lot of attention — and it's easy to see why.
Known colloquially as a "pre-workout," these popular supplements are designed to improve your athletic performance and provide an extra boost to power through challenging workouts —but what exactly are they, and should you be taking them? Are they safe?
You have questions, and we have answers. Read on as we explore pre-workout to discover everything you need to know about these popular supplements. Are you ready?
Let's dive in!
Everything You Need To Know About Pre-Workout
First, things first — what exactly is pre-workout, anyway?
Instead of chugging a cup of java or noshing on a banana before hitting the gym, these popular pre-sweat sesh supplements claim to give you a little extra pep in your step and focus to crush a challenging workout.
The most common form of pre-workout comes in powder that is easily mixed into liquid, usually water. You can also find pre-packaged pre-workout drinks or even edible kinds in the form of a bar, trail mix, or gummy.
While countless formulas exist, there's very little consistency when it boils down to the ingredients. Caffeine, amino acids, beta-alanine, and creatine are often included in the mix, but quantities of these tend to vary quite a bit from brand to brand.
So, What Ingredients Should You Look For?
Before purchasing a pre-workout supplement, it's important to examine the label and look for clinically-studied ingredients that can support your fitness journey.
One of the most common ingredients found in pre-workout is caffeine. This beloved stimulant increases metabolic rate, improves endurance, and enhances brain function for a more productive and effective workout.
Ah, the King of performance ingredients, creatine. Arguably the most popular supplement among bodybuilders and fitness fanatics everywhere, creatine is made of three amino acids that are naturally produced in the body and stored in the muscles as a quick energy source.
That being said, studies have shown that supplementing your creatine intake promotes muscle growth, strength, and performance, which is why it's commonly found in pre-workout.
When working out, your body works hard to pump enough oxygen to your muscles to make energy. Vasodilators — like nitric oxide — cause blood vessels to widen, which means more blood flow to the muscles, providing them with more of the energizing nutrients they need to keep you moving. The longer it takes for you to tire during your workout, the harder you can push and the greater changes you can make.
The evidence around the benefits of vasodilators is small; however, they show the potential for enhanced athletic performance. In other words, the future for vasodilators in the fitness industry is looking bright!
What Ingredients Should You Avoid?
Although there are a lot of great ingredients commonly found in pre-workout supplements, there are also a few questionable ingredients that are best to be avoided, such as:
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
- Excess caffeine
- Food dyes
- DMAE — aka dimethylaminoethanol
- Fillers (ex: maltodextrin)
In addition, be sure to steer clear of proprietary blends. With minimal federal regulation on formula transparency, brands are not required to disclose actual ingredient dosages, allowing them to hide under-dosed ingredients with a "proprietary blend."
This is deceptive for companies to cut costs and boost margins while potentially hiding a poorly made and likely ineffective product.
Always purchase from an honest and reputable company that is transparent about the ingredients they use in their products — like BioHealth.
What Are the Benefits of Pre-Workout?
These popular supplements have become a staple in many athletes’ and fitness fanatics' workout routines by utilizing the many performance-enhancing ingredients in pre-workout to activate muscles and boost energy.
From increasing focus to enhancing strength, here are some of the top benefits you may reap by implementing a pre-workout supplement into your fitness regime:
Benefit #1: Increased Concentration and Focus
From the social butterfly who exercises their jaw more than their biceps to the daunting list of tasks that you need to get done before the end of the day, it's not hard to get distracted when trying to complete a workout.
Thankfully, the caffeine in your pre-workout can help you to concentrate on the task at hand so you can slay your workout and get on with your day.
Benefit #2: Boosted Energy
There's arguably nothing worse than finally making it to the gym after a grueling day at the office only to find that you have nothing left in the tank to give it your all. This is where pre-workout supplements come in handy. The caffeine content will help you to kick exhaustion to the curb while giving your energy levels a much-needed boost.
Benefit #3: Enhanced Athletic Performance
And thanks to that added burst of energy, you'll be better prepared to train faster, harder, and longer than you would without pre-workout. Better athletic performance in the gym means more calories torched and more muscle mass gained, helping you reach your health and fitness goals much more efficiently.
Are Pre-Workout Supplements Safe?
Yes, pre-workouts are generally safe if you follow the supplement's directions on the label. If you take it as directed, the side effects are relatively minimal. Typically, caffeine and other energy-boosting compounds could temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate, but there's been no evidence of widespread negative effects.
That being said, too much caffeine can result in uncomfortable side effects like heart palpitations and nausea, so it's important to be mindful of the timing of your pre-workout — especially if you've recently enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea.
Additionally, if you're sensitive to stimulants, be sure to pay extra close attention to the caffeine content. Some supplements contain 400mg in a single serving which can be way too much for someone with a caffeine sensitivity.
Pre-workout supplements are designed to help increase your athletic performance by boosting energy, power, and stamina. They're generally taken about 30 minutes before working out, and the benefits include improved focus, cognition, and muscle gains.
When searching for a great pre-workout supplement to add to your fitness routine, it's best to purchase from an honest and reputable company that is transparent about the ingredients used in its products. Avoid proprietary blends and steer clear from artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, ultimately doing more harm than good.
Not sure where to look? Check out CreActive — a premium quality pre-workout supplement made with clean ingredients to support you under the bar, on the field, across the court, in the ring, or anywhere that you find your happy place! Masterfully crafted with the best creatine, nitric oxide enhancer, and nootropic, this is a new personal record in a bottle.
Here at BioHealth, we take pride in creating some of the cleanest products on the market and having some of the most advanced (and tastiest) flavors in the industry. We remove artificial ingredients and offer better, natural alternatives to the status quo.
Whether your goal is to build lean muscle, torch calories, or set a new PR, you can always count on us to have premium quality products that are second to none.
International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine | Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition | JISSN