What Does Pre-Workout Do? Should You Consider Pre-Workout Supplements?

Nikhil Goswami
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Nowadays, people have become much more health conscious than ever before from the keto diet to gluten-free diets individuals try every possible way to stay fit. You probably have heard of pre-workout supplements if you are a fitness freak. You may also have seen people smash pre-workouts before starting their sweat sessions. Have you ever wondered why more and more people are relying on them? Are you sure you are not missing out on something your pre-workouts reliant friends are not? 

If taken correctly, pre-workouts can help you reach your fitness goals. From increasing stamina and bettering pumps to stimulating mood – they are of thousand utilities. A study from the Journal Of International Societal Sports Nutrition found that blending pre-workouts with HIIT workouts can significantly increase vo2 max, lean body mass, and training volume. Besides, they can also quicken the rate of losing body fat. Continue reading and find out why you should start taking pre-workout supplements.

What Does a Pre-workout Refer To?

Put simply, a pre-workout is a supplement that elevates energy levels, stimulates muscle growth and improves workout performance. Many sports people, especially weightlifters and athletes, rely on pre-workout supplements to stay energized throughout their workout sessions. You can consume pre-workouts by mixing them into drinks or soft foods. You can also mix them with your protein powders or simply grab them as pills or powders. 

What’s in a Pre-workout – The Most Common Ingredients

Why are pre-workouts that effective? What ingredients do they hold? The following are the 11 most common ingredients in any high-quality pre-workout product. 

  • Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is a natural source of energy that aids in muscle contraction. The term derives from the Greek word ‘Kreas,’ which refers to meat. It’s worth knowing that approximately 50% of the body’s creatine supply generates from a carnivorous diet. The other 50% is produced in the kidneys and liver. Then, they are sent to the skeletal muscles. The creatine that your skeletal muscle store fuels your body with the energy required for physical activities. A small amount of creatine is also present in the brain, heart, and other tissues. 

Though your body can produce creatine naturally, you should still keep up your levels to ensure better performance while doing heavy activities like workouts. Even professional sports associations like The International Olympic Committee and The National Collegiate Athletic Associations (NCAA) permit the consumption of creatine supplements. 

The human body converts creatine into ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate) during intense exercise. It is one of the primary energy sources to support high-intensity workouts. When you consume creatine-rich pre-workouts, it helps you improve muscle-building potential and holistic strength. 

  • B Vitamins

B vitamins contribute to making red blood cells and help in several body functions, including energy production. The B group includes eight different vitamins like thiamine or B1, riboflavin or B2, niacin or B3, pantothenic acid or B5, and pyridoxine or B6. The group also includes vitamin B7, biotin, B9 or folic acid/folate, B12 or Cylocobalamia. B group vitamins effectively improve the human body’s fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, making them helpful in elevating energy levels. 

  • β-Alanine

β-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid responsible for making some necessary chemicals in the body. It’s a part of carnosine and other chemicals that influence performance and muscle size. By boosting energy, β-Alanine helps increase the volume of exercises. Besides, it promotes physical performance. β-Alanine also delays muscle fatigue and inflammation like antioxidants.

  • BCAA

There are uncountable proteins in the human body, available in 20 different amino acids. 9 of these 20 amino acids are essential amino acids. Your body can’t make them, and you have no choice but to obtain them through your diet. Among these nine essential amino acids, isoleucine, valine, and leucine are called Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).

The Branched Chain points to the chemical structure of these three amino acids. You can find them in high-protein foods like meat, eggs, and dairy. Besides, BCCAs are one of the most common pre-workout ingredients. BCCAs offer a bunch of benefits. The BCCA leucine helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which helps in muscle growth. 

According to a study, people who took BCCA-enriched drinks after resistance workouts experienced 22% improvements in muscle protein synthesis. BCCAs also help in decreasing muscle soreness that you experience after a workout. In addition, BCCAs help prevents muscle wasting and reduce workout fatigue. 

  • Nitrate

Nitrate or nitric oxide is a vital signaling molecule in the body. It plays a crucial role in boosting athletic performance. Nitrate influences several factors. It widens blood vessels and facilitates better blood flow. This way, it improves muscle pumps. Scientifically, the entire process is called vasodilatation. 

Apart from that, it contributes to ATP production and skeletal muscle contraction. Moreover, nitric oxide aids in calcium and glucose hematosis and fatigue control. It’s worth knowing that nitrates are significantly unstable, and your body needs to produce or obtain them frequently. 

Though your body can produce nitric oxide, you should still consider keeping its supply intact. The best way to do so is by consuming nitrate salts. All good pre-workouts are enriched with nitrate salts, which are converted into nitric oxide upon ingestion. 

  • L-theanine 

L-theanine is a non-protein, water-soluble amino acid. Green tea, black tea, and Bey Bolete mushrooms hold L-theanine. This component is extremely efficient in boosting focus and promoting overall well-being. In addition, L-theanine is efficient in lowering stress and enhancing a feeling of relaxation. Often, your fitness goals and other stresses of life may make you feel anxious while working out. 

When you consume pre-workouts that are enriched with L-theanine, it aids in relieving anxiety and stress. L-theanine enhances the brain’s alpha wave activity and increases neurotransmitter levels. This aids in increasing the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, which render a calm and soothing feeling. L-theanine also keeps the blood pressure level under control. 

  • L-citrulline

L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid that aids in dilating blood vessels and detoxifying ammonia. A randomized, double-blind study (2010) found that citrulline helps decrease muscle soreness and increase performance. Another 2017 study discovered that citrulline modulates muscle blood flow during submaximal exercises. The same study also found that citrulline helps in lowering diastolic blood pressure. L-citrulline is an excellent vasodilator that helps expand your arteries and veins, facilitating improved blood flow and quicker delivery of nutrients. 

  • Taurine

Taurine is vital for various physiological and metabolic processes like lipid regulation and glucose control. It also renders anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant actions. Moreover, it aids in energy metabolism, making it ideal for improving athletic performance. Many effective pre-workouts contain taurine. Consuming them can help you improve muscular strength, muscle cell volume, and workout timing. Taurine also aids in muscle recovery, and it renders anti-catabolic effects. 

  • L-arginine

L-arginine is one of the crucial amino acids that helps your body to function properly. Like any other amino acid, L-arginine works as a building block of protein. The human body converts L-arginine into nitric oxide, making it eligible to open blood vessels. L-arginine also stimulates the release of insulin in the body. Including L-arginine in your pre-workout regime has many benefits like improving heart health, recovery, ease of inflammation, etc. It also helps improve athletic performance and muscle buildup. 

  • Caffeine 

Typically, every common pre-workout supplements contain a moderate dose of caffeine. Caffeine delivers incredible benefits if consumed while maintaining the suggested daily dose of 450mg. It effectively increases energy levels by binding to the adenosine receptors. Adenosine is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. When this neurotransmitter increases, fatigue kicks in. Caffeine helps prevent this, keeping you focused, alert, and energized throughout your training. 

  • TeaCrine

Theacrine or TeaCrine is a patented compound that you can find in a lot of pre-workout supplements. This interesting ingredient is extremely effective in increasing endurance and energy. Besides, it’s highly admired because of its ability to improve mental clarity and performance. Theacrine’s effects are best when it is blended with caffeine. 

How Do Pre-workout Supplements Help in Reaching Excercise Goals?

There are a number fo fair reasons to take pre-workout supplements. From losing weight to improved muscle mass, they help you significantly to move closer to your goals.

  • Helps Gaining More Muscle Pumps

Pre-workouts contain Nitrosigine or nitrates. This ingredient effectively improves blood flow, resulting in more muscle pumps. Pumped-up muscles are aesthetically pleasing. Besides, they have their own share of benefits. The increased blood flow in pumped-up muscle points to better muscle protein synthesis. The more blood is delivered to your muscles, the more oxygen and nutrients they absorb. Naturally, it aids in post-workout recovery by reducing muscle soreness. 

  • Better Focus

A good pre-workout supplement effectively boosts your focus and lets you feel clear-headed while exercising. Ingredients like TeaCrine, L-theanine, and caffeine allow you to bypass both physical and mental fatigue. Besides, they stimulate your energy levels. Naturally, the blended effect of these two actions lets you focus on your sessions better, minimizing the chances of being distracted. 

  • Increased Energy

The key point of including pre-workouts in your diet is gaining the right energy, which motivates you to train. The caffeine content of pre-workout supplements works within a few minutes to increase your energy levels and focus. Apart from mental alertness, caffeine also helps in stimulating fat burning. Due to this reason, it’s recommended to look for a pre-work that contains approximately 175 grams of caffeine. However, ensure that the content is limited as too much caffeine has downsides. 

  • Sustained Energy

The role of pre-workout is not limited to boosting initial energy. It also helps increase endurance to stay energized and make a strong finish. The creatine and β-Alanine contents in pre-workouts combine to improve your athletic performance. Whether lifting heavier weights or carrying out the workout for a long, you will be able to sustain your energy with the help of pre-workouts. 

  • Aids in Muscle Gain

The Branched-Chain Amino Acid content of pre-workouts aids in muscle protein synthesis. They effectively bypass the digestive process and render immediate muscle-building effects. Apart from BCAAs, the citrulline content of pre-workouts makes the muscles ready to withstand the stress of training. 

As a result, the muscles can work harder and longer, allowing you to carry out productive and more intense workouts. It’s worth keeping in mind that the fusion of citrulline and BCAAs makes a powerful pre-workout that aids muscle growth. 

  • Improved Strength

Pre-workouts effectively improve strength by fortifying your metabolism. The ingredient that makes pre-workout effective strength enhancers is creatine. Creatine efficiently boosts the biochemical mechanism, which aids in enhancing your energy level. Besides enhancing strength, it also helps develop muscle mass and endurance. 

Apart from creatine, the presence of nitrates in pre-workouts prepares your body for carrying more nutrients and amino acids to your muscle. This allows your body to exert itself throughout the training. Moreover, nitrate efficiently feeds your muscles the essential nutrients, improving strength. 

  • Aids in Weight Loss

Almost every good pre-workout supplement contains stimulants that can help you reach your weight loss goals in multiple ways. For example, if your pre-workout supplement contains caffeine, it can help boost metabolism and increase the amount of fat your body burns as fuel. In addition, caffeine works as an excellent appetite suppressant. 

Therefore, consuming it through your pre-workout supplement indicates that you can burn more energy without eating a lot. However, you won’t feel hungry, nor will your body lack nutrients. 

Here it’s worth mentioning that every reliable pre workout supplement typically contains health-friendly and nutrition-rich ingredients, vitamin C, calcium, and most importantly, vitamin D. All of them promote a healthy metabolism. These micronutrients keep your body fueled without interfering with your weight loss goals. 

  • Boosted Workout Efficiency 

Now that you know pre-workouts can aid in weight loss, please don’t take a comfy seat on a couch and leave the responsibility of cutting out your pounds on them. The primary objective of taking pre-workout supplements is to increase the effectiveness and intensity of your workouts. 

When you take a pre-workout supplement before hitting the gym, its energy-boosting content causes you to push yourself harder. Naturally, this motivates you to reach your weight loss goals faster. 

Pre-workout Supplement Consumer Tips – Things That You Need To Know

Pre-workouts work the best when you consume them sensibly. There are particular sets of must-do and don’t-do that you need to keep in mind while consuming pre-workout supplements. 

Things To Do for Consuming Pre-workout Supplements Correctly

Right timing: If you want to make the most of your pre-working supplements, you should essentially time them right. Pre-workouts typically take 40-60 minutes to kick in. Due to this reason, almost every pre-workout products come with a label that suggests you consume them at least 30 minutes before your training whether it’s a forearm workout or aerobic training. By taking pre-workouts at the right time, you will enjoy the true energy rush. Besides, you won’t experience a frustrating caffeine crash halfway. 

Check for caffeine: While caffeine is a crucial ingredient in pre-workout supplements, excessive caffeine can do more harm than good. Thus, check if your pre-workout supplement contains less than the safer upper limit of the ingredient (400mg per day). Besides, calculate how much caffeine is in each scoop of your pre-workout formulas. When you check the caffeine factor carefully, it eliminates the chances of overdosing, ensuring safe consumption. 

Get a dietician’s recommendation: If you are allergic to some ingredients of pre-workout supplements, you may experience severe side effects. Besides, pre-workout supplements affect every individual differently. Thus, it’s worth being aware of the potential effects of pre-workout products, and to do that, you should visit a doctor or consult a dietician before including pre-workouts in your wellness regime. 

Pre-workout Mistakes That You Need To Avoid

Taking pre-workouts on an empty stomach: If you habitually consume coffee or tea on an empty stomach, you can’t deny how pathetic it may feel at times. From lightheadedness, and nausea, to drowsiness – you feel down and less energized. Now, the same feeling will bother you if you take a pre-workout supplement containing a modest dose of caffeine on an empty stomach. 

Thus, grabbing a little milk at least 30 minutes before consuming pre-workout formulas is recommended. To ensure that your milk doesn’t reduce the potency of your pre-workout, avoid consuming fibers like whole grain, nuts and seeds, raw veggies, and raw fruit. Focus more on protein-rich meals. 

Ignoring checking the pre-workout ingredients list: Don’t buy pre-workouts under the influence of superficial factors. Don’t get impressed by nice packaging or enticing claims. Instead, check if your pre-workout supplement contains scientifically backed performance-boosting ingredients like creatine, caffeine, Beta-alanine, L-citrulline, etc.

It’s crucial to remember that your pre-workout supplement should essentially hold a label that includes a detailed list of ingredients. If you find something like a proprietary blend, don’t even consider consuming it when you don’t know what that so-called ‘proprietary blend’ actually contains.

Avoiding measurement: If you are not making the extra effort of measuring out a scoop when making your pre-workout drinks and haphazardly throwing the powder into a shaker, don’t expect much. If you are not maintaining the dosage, consuming pre-workouts is useless. You are simply wasting your money. Therefore, use a scoop and properly measure out your pre-workout and consume it in the right way. 

Types of Pre-workout

Pre-workout supplements come in a few different types. Find out what suits you the best! 

Pre-workout food: A pre-workout food contains the right stimulants to keep you energized throughout your exercise session. Many people often wonder “what to eat before a workout”? The best pre-workout snacks include protein bars, gummies, and more. Apart from them, an array of natural foods work great as pre-workouts. The list includes yogurt, almonds, smoothies, bananas, etc. However, they don’t contain stimulant. 

Pre-workout powders: There’s an array of pre-workout formulas or powders available on the market. You can simply measure out a scoop of powder and mix it with water to make flavored sports drinks. You can even blend this powder with smoothies or even food. This allows you to absorb the food or smoothie’s extra nutrients, helping you enjoy the best effects of pre-workouts. Pre-workout powders often come in bottled form as well. You can also find readymade pre-workout drinks, which come in various flavors.

How Long Does Pre-workout Last?

How long your pre-workout will last significantly depends on the half-life of the ingredients. Typically, pre-workout ingredients have a half-life of 4-6 hours. It indicates that the pre-workout meal stays in your system for about four hours. However, the effects are prominent for an hour or two. 

To clarify, caffeine, for example, reaches its peak in 1-1.5 hours. On the other hand, Beta-alanine and creatine take around 30-45 minutes to show their effects. Considering the given half-life of the ingredients, you can expect to feel the effects of pre-workout for approximately an hour or two. However, it will stay in your system for around four hours. 

FAQs About What Does Pre-Workout Do? 

  • Is it ok to consume pre-workout supplements every day? 

Generally, there is nothing bad in consuming your pre-workouts daily. However, there are a few influencing factors, like the quality of the supplement you are using and your medical history. It doesn’t matter if you take your pre-workout once a month, once a day, or once a week; it’s vital to ensure that they contain pure, clean, and quality ingredients. They should not come with any adverse additives. 

This becomes even more crucial when you consume pre-workouts regularly. Taking a pre-workout that you are skeptical about just once may not affect your body severely. However, if you keep on consuming it regularly, it can lead to serious health issues. Apart from content, medical circumstances may also work as a barrier to pre-workout consumption. For example, if caffeine sensitivity or your pre-workout interferes with your daily medications, you may need to stop consuming them. If you have any medical condition, consult your dietician or doctor before starting a pre-workout. 

  • When should I change my pre-workout?

Put simply, when you start receiving a few warning signs after consuming pre-workout, you should immediately stop its consumption and change your supplement. For example, if you become extremely dependent on your pre-workout, it has become more like an addiction. In fact, you might feel that you can’t even start your day unless you consume your supplement. Remember, getting a boost is fine. 

However, when dependency kicks in, you should positively hit the brake. The addiction may indicate the presence of damaging additives, so be careful. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable after consuming your supplements, reconsider checking their ingredients. Especially keep an eye on the caffeine content. You should also avoid taking these supplements if they are loaded with sugar and start affecting your sleep. 

  • Which pre-workout supplement is best?

It depends on individualistic and personal choices; however, a few factors can help you choose the best supplement. For example, the content of the supplement matters a lot. They shouldn’t be stuffed with artificial additives and harmful ingredients. They should contain nutrients and ingredients which aid in achieving fitness goals. 

  • Can you take pre-workout when breastfeeding?

Ideally, yes. However, you should watch your caffeine intake. The ideal caffeine dosage for breastfeeding women is 200-300 mg per day. If you are taking more than that, it may affect your baby as some babies are more sensitive to caffeine. Thus, if you are consuming a pre-workout that contains caffeine, you should minutely notice your baby’s behavior. If you find out that it’s impacting your baby’s health somehow, you should stop consuming the pre workout immediately and talk to your doctor. The best way out is using a decaffeinated pre-workout. 

  • What if you consume pre-workouts too early?

As you know, pre-workouts take 30-60 minutes to kick in. This makes you extra conscious, and you jump into consuming it 6-8 hours before your training. This may satisfy you as you think your pre-workout will do an excellent job because you have consumed it very early. However, reality differs. When you take pre-workout supplements too early, it peters out before even you get into your workout. So, be very particular with this. Take pre-workout supplements only 15-30 minutes before you hit the exercise floor. 

  • How does an unhealthy lifestyle distract the effect of pre-workout?

Even the best pre-workout supplements worldwide will fail to work precisely if you don’t prioritize healthy habits. For example, if you are skipping your meals, sleeping for 4-5 hours a day, and consuming a lot of cigarettes and alcohol. All of these will deliver suboptimal results after consuming pre-workouts. Thus, focus on fine-tuning your lifestyle factors before your start putting yourself on pre-workouts. If you can’t do it, don’t let expectations bother you, and be prepared to lose your hard-earned money. 

Conclusion: Pre Workout Supplements Help You Reach Your Goals? 

From aiding in weight loss to boosting exercise performance and keeping you energized throughout your exercise, the benefits of pre-workout supplements are tangible and undeniable. However, make sure that you are consuming them in the right way and that you are consuming the right one. This will help you ensure safe consumption. Besides, you will enjoy a justified investment when you see the changes in your workout sessions. Let the fitness mania thrive! 

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