Put simply, pre-workout are supplements that increase your performance during a workout. Much like protein power bars, pre-workout has taken the fitness world by storm with some of the most dedicated fitness fanatics becoming fans. But what is really in those solutions? And are they really necessary for that workout pump?
It’s important to note that there are a plethora of supplements on offer, so before taking any, you should fully research the ingredients list to check what’s inside. However, there are some generalisations that can be made. Each supplement will usually combine a variety of vitamins, minerals, and herbs in order to enhance strength, muscle building, and/or stamina.
Strength building is a particularly celebrated attribute of pre-workout and is the reason most gym goers guzzle the stuff down.
Solutions are able to increase strength due to creatine, nitric oxide, beta-alanine, and caffeine. Being very similar to ATP, the molecular energy that our cells use, creatine is able to increase the amount of energy that we have. Nitric oxide enables our blood vessels to dilate, which encourages the circulation of blood and oxygen around the body during exercise. Beta-alanine acts as a buffer in muscle tissue. There is a certain pH that our body performs best at; however, the lactic acid created during exercise lowers the body’s pH, veering from this optimum. So beta-alanine increases pH, allowing the body to work more efficiently.
Although there are obviously some great benefits, owing to the chemical composition of these ingredients, there are also some aspects to be wary of. For example, beta-alanine causes you to feel itchy and have tingly sensations. Whilst this could boost your adrenaline, it may lead to increased anxiety and other side effects.
Likewise, the amount of caffeine incorporated into pre-workout often causes controversy by itself. Some argue that pre-workout is just a simulated cup of coffee, which has been severely marked up and marketed as trendy. Although pre-workouts do vary, caffeine is pretty much constant in all of them, barring those which claim to be stimulant-free. The reason for this is because caffeine is such a unique enhancer. Living in a world where many protest about even going to work without their morning coffee, we are all aware of the energy kick that caffeine provides. It’s been supported with a magnitude of scientific research too; caffeine really does increase our mental activity, in turn allowing us to push our bodies harder.
Nevertheless, caffeine must be taken with caution. Caffeine overdose is actually more common than you may suspect. Another thing to consider when taking pre-workout or caffeinated substances is when you are actually taking them. If you like to work out in the evening, an increase in caffeine may be detrimental to your rest and recovery. Sure, you might feel energized during your exercise, but it’s just as important to ensure that you’re fully resting afterwards to protect future developments. And if you have to compromise your sleep, you’re certainly not recovering properly, and this will likely impact your whole mood and energy levels for the next day.
Although pre-workout can be a really useful enhancer, it’s worth considering other ways to fuel your workouts. Most nutritionists and trainers would recommend eating well and wholesome foods to energise yourself throughout the day and your training. Obviously, supplements can be great if you are following a regime or have particular goals. But for the majority of us, pre-workout is not always necessary and can be an unwelcome expense. So, it’s well worth speaking to a specialist about the specific results you’re after, as well as creating a nutritional plan before you consider pre-workout.
Words: Steph Ryan
Hashtags: #preworkout #nutrition