When an exercise routine becomes too routine, staying motivated and energized can become increasingly challenging. One way to combat this is to incorporate a pre-workout supplement. Commonly found in a drink or powdered form, pre-workout supplements boost energy to improve workout performance.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements
Most pre-workouts on the market contain caffeine as the main ingredient. This performance-enhancing chemical can be found in plants, chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, tea, etc. However, the effects of taking a pre workout before an exercise session are very different compared to taking a shot of espresso.
Usually, caffeine provides an initial energy boost, which is shortly followed by an energy “crash.” This can lead to more significant fatigue, poor performance, and an increased risk of injury when coupled with exercise. In contrast, pre-workout differs from traditional caffeine drinks because they contain glucose, carbohydrates, and amino acids. In short, all natural pre workout mixes are formulated to sustain the initial energy boost of caffeine.
However, pre-workout offers more than just fuel for a workout. According to the experts at Legion Athletics, pre-workout “boosts strength, power, and endurance,” so it can even improve an athlete’s performance compared to fueling up on caffeine or carbs alone. The presence of vital amino acids also lowers lactic acid buildup in the muscles, preventing fatigue and promoting recovery. As a bonus, most pre-workout formulas are naturally low in calories, so they can easily be incorporated into any diet plan.
What Are the Ingredients in Pre-Workout?
Different brands will offer different sets of ingredients. In general, a natural pre-workout supplement may contain caffeine and some of the following:
Creatine is a chemical compound that the human body makes and stores in muscle cells. Consuming extra creatine from a pre-workout drink provides more energy for moving, repairing, and building muscle.
Nitric oxide is a molecular gas that increases blood flow. Like creatine, the human body creates nitric oxide on its own. Consuming additional nitric oxide improves circulation and blood flow to deliver oxygen to muscles during a workout rapidly.
Branch-chain amino acids, namely leucine, isoleucine, and valine, provide the building blocks for muscle growth, repair, and recovery. The best way to get adequate amino acids is by eating a healthy diet. However, a quality pre-workout mix contains the right combination of amino acids to get the most out of every workout.
Taurine is a sulfonic acid found in meat, fish, dairy products, and various supplemental forms. Supplemental taurine may help encourage the body to burn fat and support the muscles against oxidative stress, which improves overall performance.
Some pre-workout supplements may contain an artificial sweetener or two to help make the product more palatable. However, most experts recommend avoiding pre-workouts that contain artificial sweeteners, which don’t contribute any nutritional benefits and are linked to long-term health problems.
How to Take a Pre-Workout Supplement
In general, it’s good to take pre-workouts around 30 minutes before an exercise session. As always, it’s essential to consult with a physician before adding supplements to your diet plan.