Different athletes and weightlifters use pre-workouts to amplify their athletic performance.
Pre-workouts refer to a generic term that includes a wide array of bodybuilding supplement products to bolster endurance, focus, and energy during a workout.
So if you are looking out to know whether pre-workouts work or not, then this article is meant for you. But before moving further, let’s know the meaning of pre-workout.
What Is Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout supplements, which may also be referred to as pre-workouts, are dietary formulas concocted with different ingredients to bolster athletic performance and energy levels.
Generally, pre-workouts may be in powdered form that could be mixed in water or any other drink and consumed before your exercise.
Though the Pre-workouts may be devised using a different formula, some of the ingredients remain the same.
These ingredients may include caffeine, amino acids like creatine and beta-alanine, and other artificial sweeteners.
However, the quantities of these ingredients in different pre-workout supplements may vary according to the specific brands.
Moreover, you should know that some of the pre-workouts may not even have been substantiated for their purity or quality.
Due to this, it becomes crucial for you to be very careful before you choose a pre-workout supplement for yourself.
However, a study conducted on 13 males in 2016 concluded that using a pre-workout had significant improvement on the anaerobic power performance.
What Does Pre-Workout Do?
Though the research on the efficacy of pre-workout supplements is limited yet it could be said that certain ingredients in pre-workout supplements may improve your athletic performance.
Hence, let’s have a look at the different ingredients that you may look out for in your pre-workout.
These ingredients could assist the pre-workouts to provide you several benefits which are as follows-
The major reason behind including caffeine in your pre-workout could be to amplify your focus and energy levels.
Other than this, this ingredient could also ameliorate your mental alertness, and memory and truncate your body fat.
Creatine is another ingredient that you could look out for in the pre-workouts. Generally, it is a chemical compound that may be naturally produced by your body.
Once the chemical compound is produced in the body, it is primarily stored in the skeleton muscles.
Hence this compound might help in ameliorating the muscular strength and energy production in the body.
Due to the same reason, it could be included in different pre-workout formulas. Moreover, creatine is even available as a standalone supplement.
Research shows that it could increase the supply of the chemical compound creatine produced in your body and hence may help in improving your exercise performance, muscle mass, and strength.
Nitric Oxide Precursors
The human body naturally produces nitric oxide, which could help in ameliorating the blood flow and relaxing the blood vessels in the human body.
Due to the same reason, different pre-workouts may include some common compounds that may be used by your body to produce nitric oxide.
These common compounds may include sources of dietary nitrates like beetroot juice, L arginine, or L citrulline.
One could also consume proper foods to increase blood flow.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids, when added to the pre-workout formulas might help to spur your muscle growth and reduce the soreness of the muscles before the workout, as suggested in this study.
Generally, these amino acids are even included in different sources of protein, so you might already be consuming them throughout your diet.
There are other BCAA benefits as well, that you might want to know.
Beta-alanine is another amino acid that may evade the acid buildup in your muscle tissue. Hence it may facilitate you to workout for longer time.
Consuming carbohydrates before your workout could help to fuel up your body for energy.
The reason behind this is that once you are involved in strenuous workouts, your body may use blood glucose and glycogen as a form of energy.
Glycogen refers to the stored carbs that could intensify the energy levels while you work out.
Thus, these are some of the ingredients you could look for in your pre-workouts before including them as part of your workout schedule.
The amount of these ingredients will help you analyze the benefits you can gain from a pre-workout.
Is Pre-Workout Bad For You?
Though the pre-workout supplements may be generally safe, you should always assess their pros and cons together.
This is because sometimes pre-workouts may not be risk-free and hence you should have an insight into their potential downsides before incorporating them into your workout regimen.
So, here are certain potential side effects that you need to consider before adding the pre-workouts to your workout schedules.
Sometimes the pre-workouts may result in mild reactions in your body. The reason behind this could be the presence of two ingredients named beta-alanine and niacin.
Though beta-alanine could improve your exercise performance and curtail fatigue during high-intensity exercises, it may cause paresthesia, or tingling, from prolonged extensive use, confirms the research.
Paresthesia is a tingling sensation in your feet and hands. Though it is a harmless reaction to the nervous system, it may be uncomfortable.
Another ingredient that could cause certain mild reactions is niacin. Niacin might result in red patches on the surface of your skin because it may cause an augmentation in your blood rush.
Augment The Water Retention
Pre-workouts may even increase your water retention due to the presence of a popular ingredient known as creatine.
Some of the major side effects associated with creatine could include bloating, digestive issues, water retention, and weight gain.
Other potential downsides that may result due to the regular consumption of certain pre-workouts could include headaches, nausea, migraines, digestive issues, insomnia, amplified heart rate, drowsiness, restlessness, etc.
The pre-workout meal refers to the food eaten before the workout to overstate energy levels.
The pre-workout food should generally include a meal plan to build nutrients that could help you to perform better and reduce the recovery time after your workouts.
This means that pre-workout meals may enhance your workout efforts because it is an ideal whisk of proteins, carbs, and fats.
So let’s have a look at some of the meals you could eat before your workouts.
Greek Yogurt With Granola And Berries
The greek yogurt in this meal could provide you ample protein to evade any muscle breakdown.
On the other hand, granola and berries might provide quick digestive carbs that can improve energy levels.
However, make sure to choose a granola bar that could contain different wholesome carbs like nuts, seeds, quinoa, oats, etc.
As we all know, fruits are rich in simple sugars that are easy to digest.
Due to the same reason, adding fruit smoothies to your pre-workout meal could provide you with the required energy for a high-intensity workout.
All you have to do is to whisk the different fruits like bananas, apples, blueberries, or avocados with peanut butter, oats, flaxseed, and almond milk together to create this smoothie.
Peanut Butter And Honey With Banana
In times of hectic schedules, all you have to do is munch on some banana with honey and peanut butter before your workouts.
Bananas are a rich source of simple carbs and protein that could help to ameliorate your nerve and muscle function.
On the other hand, eating it with peanut butter and honey may help to release slow and steady levels of glucose in your bloodstream which can help in endurance workouts.
If you are looking out for snacks that you can munch on before your pre-workouts, then here’s a list.
If you need a quick pre-workout snack for times when you are occupied all you have to do is to grab a packet of instant oatmeal.
Instant oatmeal may provide you with just enough energy without filling you up a lot. You could receive plenty of carbs, approximately 19 to 27 grams per packet, depending upon the flavor you choose.
Moreover, it could take even less than two minutes to prepare.
As a pre-workout snack, you could munch on a piece of fresh fruit like bananas, apples, or oranges.
Fruits are easy to digest and full of energizing carbohydrates, and you could receive approximately 15 to 20 grams of carbs per piece.
Ricotta Cheese With Cinnamon Toast
The creamy ricotta cheese, when mixed with carbohydrate-rich cinnamon toast, could provide you with approximately 24 grams of carbohydrates.
Additionally, you will receive 20% of your daily calcium requirement, as per research.
How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?
The exact time that is needed for the pre-workouts to show their effects depends upon the type of ingredients used in your pre-workouts.
The amount of each ingredient, the number of servings you consume, your activity level, your body sensitivity to caffeine, and your body mass all play an important role in determining the lasting effect of the pre-workout.
Generally, two of the most popular ingredients in pre-workouts known as caffeine and arginine will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes to kick in, as per this study.
On the other hand, Caffeine may take anywhere near one hour to show its effect. Seeing the effects of different ingredients, overall a pre-workout may last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
As mentioned above, a pre-workout may not be entirely safe and so you may even opt for a natural pre-workout.
The natural pre-workouts could include different foods and drinks that could work the same way as the pre-workout supplements and help to fuel your workout.
Let’s have a look at these natural Pre-workouts.
Sweet potatoes serve as a great natural pre-workout because they are packed with certain micronutrients like magnesium and potassium.
According to a study, if you are looking out for simple sugars that are easy to digest, then fruits could serve as great natural pre-workouts for your workout regime.
You may munch on any fruits like canned peaches, fresh berries, bananas, apples, etc.
If you do not have any gluten sensitivity, then Bread could even offer you easy-to-digest carbs to fuel you up for your workout.
No matter if you work out at your home or the gym, you may have heard of the numerous benefits related to pre-workout supplements from your trainers, friends, or even advertisements.
Some sources claim that pre-workouts may ameliorate your fitness and amplify your energy levels.
On the other hand, other experts even claim that they could be potentially dangerous and unnecessary.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to find out all you need to know about pre-workouts.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.