At one time, a pre-workout supplement was something that only body-builders or pros would use. Now, it has become common for regular gym goers, with everyone claiming the need for an extra boost before starting their workout.
There are those who swear by pre-workout supplements, saying it helps them improve performance as well as endurance while working out. However, the question is whether you should use them. Here is what you need to know before you start taking pre-workout supplements.
What is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Any supplement, that boosts performance when consume prior to a workout can be termed a pre-workout supplement. These supplements usually come in powdered form and need to be mixed with water to be ingested. However, you do get pills and energy drinks that also qualify as pre-workout supplements.
Are All Pre-Workout Supplements the Same?
No. It is important to realize that almost every pre-workout supplement in the markets today has its own proprietary formula, so that no two brands contain the same ingredients.
While there are some, such as the Cellucor C4 pre-workout supplement, that are actually effective and relatively safe, most of the so-called supplements in the market not worth the money.
What are in Common Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplements
The ingredients that commonly used to make pre-workout supplements are caffeine, carbohydrates, creatine and even beetroot juice.
You body uses glycogen (stored carbohydrates) and blood glucose as a fuel source when you exercise, especially when you are doing high intensity workouts such as cycling, cardio, and lifting.
So, it makes sense that the number one ingredient in a pre-workout supplement would be carbs.
Caffeine is another obvious choice because it is known as an energy booster and also helps increase mental alertness. Science has shown that it also helps increase sports performance. While there is no research done around this, it is also believed that caffeine helps burn fat rather than carbs, which means that you will be able to work harder longer.
Creatine is basically derived from 3 different amino acids that are naturally produced by our bodies and are a source of instant energy.
The rest of the ingredients that different pre-workout supplements contain don’t really make too much of a difference in boosting your performance.
Are Pre-Workout Supplements Safe?
The first thing you need to understand is that most of these supplements are approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration, Department of Health, Australia). All products regulated by the TGA will have a number on its label that starts with the code AUST.
The ingredients used in most supplements, while safe in small amounts, are actually dangerous in more concentrated forms. Thus, many people who take pre-workout supplements end up with side-effects such as nausea, diarrhea, the jitters, increased heart rates, high blood pressure, nosebleeds, gastrointestinal distress, and so on.
In some cases, the ingestion of these pre-workout supplements can lead to the development of chronic diseases.
In case you have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, kidney problems or even heart problems, it is best to consult a doctor before you start taking any pre-workout supplements.