Some days when you think about hitting the gym or going for a run you feel all pumped up. Other times, you need some extra incentive to get out the door, like seeing your friends in class or listening to your favorite workout playlist.
But if you could just drink a powder that makes you equally pumped to exercise and keeps you pumped up throughout the class, you probably would, right? Well, some people claim that taking "pre-workout" supplements can achieve this level of motivation. But the question is, are these supplements a good idea? That depends on what's in the supplement.
Below we will discuss some of the common names that you’ll frequently see on the label of a pre-workout supplement:
L-Arginine - Arginine is an amino acid that is involved in the formulation of nitric oxide, an important compound that helps increase blood flow and nutrient delivery to cells.
Caffeine - Almost everyone is familiar with caffeine, one of the most common stimulants known to man. Studies have linked it to increased focus and alertness. Caffeine can also reduce the effects of fatigue. Remember to keep a careful eye on the caffeine quantity in your pre-workout, especially if you also consume coffee or sodas frequently. You should not exceed 400 mg of caffeine per day.
Creatine - Commonly taken either in mixed pre-workout drinks or on its own, creatine is one of the most popular supplements for lifters because of its impact on the body’s production of ATP. By enhancing the body’s production and maintenance of ATP, creatine supports muscle strength, size, and recovery.
Beta-alanine - This ingredient is naturally found in our muscle cells, as part of the compound Carnosine. At least 3.2g of beta-alanine should be taken per day to increase Carnosine levels, which is a key compound for athletes and bodybuilders. Higher levels of muscle carnosine have been linked to helping to boost muscle performance when lifting, which is why it is an important pre-workout supplement.
Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B is one of the most important compounds in the body’s production of red blood cells. It is also very important for energy metabolism – by helping convert nutrients including amino acids into energy.
Other ingredients sometimes found in pre-workout drinks are proteins,carbohydrates, and betaines.
Choosing Your Pre-Workout Supplement:
Understanding what’s in a pre-workout is the first step in deciding on which one is best for you. From there, consider factors like:
Alignment with body composition goals. If you’re in a cutting cycle, be careful not to choose a pre-workout that is packed with excessive carbohydrates or sugars. Extra calories from your supplement stack can add up if you don’t monitor them. Similarly, if you are trying to add mass, look for a pre-workout that supports those goals with the right nutrients.
Exclusion of harmful substances. Unfortunately, some manufacturers put dangerous stimulants into their pre-workouts to give users a serious jolt of energy.
Presence of wholesome ingredients. Look for pre-workouts that keep it simple, with clear ingredients that you can understand quickly. If you’re finding lots of long, difficult-to-pronounce words on the label of your pre-workout, it might be time to seek some clarification on what you’re consuming - or switch to a new option.
It is important to know what you are putting in your body, so make sure that you read the labels and choose your pre workout supplements in a sensible manner. If you follow the recommended doses, then there is nothing to worry about and only to gain as you feel your body reach peak maximum with regularity.