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Is Pre-Workout Right for Me?

September 29, 2017

 

Chances are you’ve seen someone hit the gym with a brightly colored liquid in their shaker. Health and nutrition supplements can be a maze of confusing and even harmful potions and powders. One of these health trends is pre-workout. Pre-workout is considered by many to be a great addition to a workout supplementation routine, but is it really necessary? Here we will explore whether pre-workout is right for you.

 

Consider caffeine intake

One of the major ingredients in most pre-workouts is caffeine, which is a known performance booster. This is great if you don’t already intake a lot of caffeine form coffee, tea, or other beverages. But if you’re an avid coffee drinker, the added caffeine of a pre-workout might just make you jittery or ill. There are some pre-workouts without caffeine, but this is really the bulk of the supplement’s purpose- to increase energy for a more productive gym session. The same energy effects can be gained from drinking coffee.

 

Consider your workout routine

Chances are, if you’re just a casual gym-goer, there’s no reason to drink a pre-workout before your session. Many of the ingredients, like creatine and other amino acids, are only beneficial over the long-term in addition to intense training*. Otherwise, there’s really no benefit for the thirty-minute treadmill jogger or social gym-goer. If, however, you’re a competitive athlete or participate in truly intense training, a pre-workout with the added amino acids might help promote lean body mass and muscle recovery.

 

Consider additives

 If natural eating is important to you, pre-workouts are often not the option for you. Not only do pre-workouts and other supplements often host a handful of unknown, untested, or unfamiliar ingredients, but many of the ingredients are also not regulated by a government agency. Keep in mind that there is a lot of money to be made for corporations willing to tell you their supplement will make you a better athlete, without repercussions if the product doesn’t actually do anything. If you are set on having a pre-workout but don’t want the potentially dangerous additives, there are natural options out there so like anything else, do your research and read the nutrition labels.

 

 

My choice

Every now and then, I drink a pre-workout before a very intense workout session or long run. However, there is only one pre-workout that I really trust, enjoy drinking, and is free of side-effects for me. Whole Foods makes a great Energy Support Pre-Workout in Sweet Lemon. There are minimal ingredients and it contains 125 mg caffeine, BCAAs, and creatine. The mix lacks artificial coloring as it shakes out to be a pale whitish yellow color, and it’s low in calories and sugar. The test is very light, as it lacks that sweet artificial taste of most other pre-workouts.

The effects of a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, and amino acids during three weeks of high-intensity exercise on aerobic and anaerobic performance

 

*Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition20107:10

https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-10

©  Smith et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010

 

 

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