Last Update: September 6, 2023
We’ve all been there: you pack your sneakers in your gym bag for a post-office workout, but as the day winds down, you’re already planning on skipping to stay home with a new Netflix series and your favorite snacks.
On those days when you just can’t muster the energy to really give that pilates class your all or hit your PR on your morning run, pre-workout supplements may give you that extra edge to get going. But what, exactly, are pre-workout supplements? Are they safe? What’s the best pre-workout supplement for your routine?
Let’s explore the wide world of pre-workout supplements, from creatine to caffeine and everything in between.
“Pre-workout” refers to a category of supplements meant to boost energy levels and enhance athletic performance. These may come in the form of powders, capsules, or liquids, and they contain a number of different ingredients to target common issues many people face before a workout, from lack of energy to dehydration to muscle fatigue.
If you take a look at the label on a pre-workout supplement, you may see common ingredients, like caffeine, vitamins, and minerals, as well as some ingredients you’ve never heard of.
Here’s a guide to some of the more complex ingredients in pre-workout supplements.
Electrolytes are commonly included in pre- and post-workout supplements because they support nerve and muscular function and maintain the amount of water in your cells. They are found naturally in your blood and other bodily fluids but may diminish during a workout, so many believe in supplementing with additional electrolytes. Some of the most common electrolytes are:
Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body, specifically in your kidneys, liver, and pancreas. It’s also found in animal protein and other food sources. Studies show that creatine supplements may be beneficial for athletic performance (particularly things like high-intensity weight lifting and short sprints) because it may increase muscular mass and strength. Creatine is also shown to aid in athletic recovery.
Beta-alanine is another amino acid that occurs naturally in the liver. It’s also found in food sources like animal proteins. Studies show that beta-alanine supplements may help to improve athletic performance and decrease muscle fatigue.
Glucose is a type of simple carbohydrate, or monosaccharide, and when ingested in food or supplement form, is one of the body’s main energy sources. Some pre-workout supplements contain glucose to give you a fast-release jolt of energy before exercise, and may help to aid in recovery when combined with protein.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to taking pre-workout supplements, there are studies that show positive results of pre-workout supplementation on athletic performance. For example, one particular study showed that taking a pre-workout over time helped test subjects to improve their running performance and body composition; another study showed that caffeinated pre-workout supplements helped test subjects, over time, to exhibit significantly greater muscular strength and endurance.
Like any supplement, you should check with your doctor before adding a pre-workout supplement to your routine. Some anecdotal risks of pre-workout supplements may include:
This powdered pre-workout supplement contains no GMOs, artificial ingredients, gluten, or soy, just beneficial ingredients like electrolytes, L-theanine, caffeine, and amino acids to help aid in performance and recovery.
If you’re not a fan of powders or capsules, these fruity gummies contain energy-boosting ingredients like beta-alanine, niacin, BCAA, L-citrulline, and caffeine.
Mix this powder into your water for a dose of amino acids to help support muscle mass and energy production.
This pure powder contains just one ingredient: creatine monohydrate, an essential amino acid.
Relying on the power of whole food ingredients like garcinia, bitter melon, cordyceps mushrooms, and goji berries, this botanical powder may help to boost mental clarity and energy before challenging workouts.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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