What’s In Your Pre-Workout Supplement?
By supplying your body with energy-boosting compounds and performance-sustaining nutrients, a pre-workout supplement can give you the extra oomph you need to not only tackle a tough gym session, but also squeeze a bit more out of every rep.
The main purpose behind a pre-workout supplement is to help you get more out of your workout by increasing your energy and blood flow to the extremities – this means ingesting substances that will have an effect on your cardiovascular system.
Common Ingredients In Pre-Workout Drinks
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula. Ultimately, the best formula for you depends on your fitness goals, training program, and unique physiology. But most pre-workout drinks contain a combination of the following substances.
Caffeine: Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It blocks the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, allowing for increased activity. Studies have shown that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function.
Creatine: Along with caffeine, creatine is a proven ergogenic aid. Research shows that regular supplementation can not only help delay fatigue and prolong peak strength and power, but also reduce recovery time between sets. “The increases in muscle mass and strength associated with creatine supplementation are likely because of the increased training load that can be achieved during high intensity, repetitive forms of resistance training.
Arginine (L-Arginine): Arginine is an amino acid normally made by the body, found in many foods that have protein. Arginine becomes nitric oxide (a blood vessel-widening agent called a vasodilator) in the body. Early evidence suggests that arginine may help treat medical conditions that improve with increased vasodilation. These conditions include chest pain, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), heart disease, heart failure, erectile dysfunction, peripheral vascular disease, and headaches from blood vessel swelling). Regarding risks with Arginine, “caution is warranted. Arginine use was associated with death in some people with heart conditions.”
Beta-Alanine: So this is the nonessential amino acid that reduces fatigue in the body by buffering the pH levels. As you know when you working out your muscle cells are excreting lactic acid that’s the build up of what occurs with muscle contraction. Build up of lactic acid will limit the number of reps you plan to do or cause you to burn out a little faster. This is where beta alanine comes in to play. Beta Alanine helps buffer lactic acid that translates to better performance and increased stamina at the gym.
Niacin (Vitamin B3): Human research has shown that niacin is effective and relatively safe for treating high cholesterol levels. Limited evidence shows that niacin may help with clogged arteries and heart disease. The question du jour is “What is niacin doing in pre-workout?” Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it is regulated by the body, so overdosing is rare when ingested naturally, via foods. Supplementation in high doses could be what’s responsible for the increased flush in your face that people report having when they take pre-workout supplements – side effects commonly related to higher doses of niacin are itching, flushing, and stomach upset. Niacin may also cause liver problems, increased blood sugar, and hormone changes.The average healthy adult should include Niacin in their diet, which you can naturally get from a serving of fish, turkey or chicken. The daily recommended dose for adults is 35g. The average serving of pre-workout contains anywhere between 5g to upwards of 60 g.
When Should You Take Your Pre-Workout Drink?
To get the most out of the caffeine and other energy or performance enhancing ingredients, take it 30 to 45 minutes before you start to exercise. If your supplement contains beta-alanine, you might experience a temporary, tingling “pins and needles” sensation throughout your body. This harmless condition is known as “paresthesia,” and most often occurs with higher doses (i.e., above 1,600mg), although some people occasionally experience it with doses as low as 800 mg.
Total Nutrition: What’s In Your Pre-Workout Supplement?