Pre-Workout Supplements: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Ever since the first pre-workout hit the market in the early 80s, they have become a staple supplement for any serious gym goer. But, there’s a catch: some swear by sipping a pre-workout before their gym session, while others warn about their possible health risks. The truth is, some pre-workout supplements are cleaner and healthier than others and choosing the right one will make all the difference. Today, we’ll take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of pre-workout supplements and how to pick the right healthy pre-workout for you.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements
Certain ingredients within pre-workout supplements might be able to benefit your athletic performance. These include:
The caffeine in pre-workouts can help keep you focused, give you energy and improve your overall performance. Pre-workouts typically contain 150 mg to 300 mg of caffeine per serving. This is equal to three cups of coffee, which might be a bit much especially if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Creatine is a chemical compound naturally found in your body and stored in the skeletal muscle. It plays a role in energy production and muscular strength and is usually included in pre-workout formulas. It is popular among weightlifters, bodybuilders, and other power athletes. Some research suggests that supplementing creatine can help increase your body’s supply, which will help improve recovery time, muscle mass, strength and exercise performance.
Beta-alanine is meant to help you with high-intensity exercises and it can help buffer your muscles during intense workouts. It has been shown to lower fatigue and enhance recovery in sprinters.
The Bad Side of Pre-Workout
Although pre-workouts are typically safe, they are not without their risks. If you’re thinking about adding them to your routine, be sure to consider the following potential downsides.
Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners
Many pre-workout supplements contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. These can help enhance flavor without any added calories, although some sweeteners can cause intestinal distress and discomfort in some individuals. Consuming a high amount of sugar alcohols may trigger uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhea, which can disrupt a workout.
You may want to avoid pre-workouts that have large quantities of these sweeteners.
Too much caffeine
One of the major ingredients within most pre-workout supplements is caffeine. Excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to negative side effects like increased blood pressure, impaired sleep and even anxiety. Most pre-workouts contain enough caffeine for 2 to 3 cups of coffee. If you also consume caffeine during other parts of the day, then it’s easy to overdo it.
Supplement quality and safety
In certain countries, including the United States, dietary supplements are not very closely regulated. This means that product labels could be false or misleading. If your pre-workouts safety and quality are compromised without you knowing then you could be consuming banned ingredients or dangerous levels of certain compounds.
The Ugly Side of Pre-Workouts
Some pre-workouts contain an ingredient called ephedrine. This ingredient was increasingly popular when it first emerged, but it has since become linked with severe side effects and adverse reactions.
Ephedrine was found to be the cause of severe psychosis in one case where a woman in her late twenties was found by police looking disheveled and exhibiting bizarre behaviour. Once she was examined, it was discovered that she hadn’t slept for three days and had ingested ephedrine in the form of herbal pills which resulted in her paranoid and psychotic characteristics. Her medical check found her to have ephedrine-induced psychosis.
Another downside to ephedrine is that it can result in cardiovascular risk. It can cause breathing difficulties and a heart condition called myocarditis. This was found to be the case when a 39-year old man was admitted to the hospital who had been taking ephedrine supplements for 3 months.
In conclusion, there are certain risks involved with taking a pre-workout. If you plan to, then you should know your body and only do a little bit at a time to make sure that you don’t suffer from any adverse health conditions. There are also other options available, like going for a clean pre-workout or doing more research on what the best natural pre-workout is for your body.
This is why it’s also important to understand where your supplements are coming from, where their ingredients are sourced and manufactured. Our customers at Aila love our Energy + Focus superfood blend, it’s a stimulant free pre-workout that adds a daily boost of natural energy and nutrition to their diet. All without any harmful additives or ingredients. Plus stack this with our Energy + Immune blend for your active recovery days.