Do Preworkout Supplements Actually Work?
We all want to get the most out of our workouts, and sometimes our time in the gym is limited. Enter the appeal of preworkout supplements.
What are Preworkouts?
Preworkouts can be any combination of supplements, usually a powder that should be mixed with water, consumed prior to a workout with the promise of boosting energy and performance, and upping your results. Every company has their own formulation of ingredients that make up their ideal supplemental boost so it is important to remember no two preworkout brands will be the same. Popular ingredients include B vitamins, caffeine, antioxidants, amino acids, carbs, and natural/artificial flavoring.
Do They Work? Is There a Risk?
Some preworkouts are well studied and tested and do show a physiological response while others are not tested and may not have any impact on your body at all. The most effective ingredient in preworkouts is the caffeine. Caffeine alone can make you feel less fatigued, and more focused which in turn makes your training session a little easier. Other notable ingredients that do have some science to back them up is creatine (helps to regenerate ATP stores faster and helps you work out harder), beta-alanine (helps to improve high rep range performance by buffering lactate), nitrate (helps to increase blood flow). If choosing to use preworkout supplements, look for these ingredients with scientific backing.
The biggest concern with most supplements, including preworkouts, is that they are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. This means that the formulas could or could not contain the ingredients they list, and/or their safety could be called into question. Many ingredients in preworkout have not been tested for various side effects. Further, by consuming preworkouts with high doses of different micronutrients, you may be going over your daily allowance of one or more nutrients. Some people may experience some slightly annoying side effects from any number of combined ingredients including GI upset, headaches, trouble sleeping and/or concentrating, tingly feeling throughout body, or red skin that looks similar to a sunburn.
Fueling with Nutrition
It is essential to remember that every nutrient that is used by your body can be found in whole foods. This means you can fuel your workout with something natural rather than looking for something that comes in a tub. If you are getting ready for a tough workout consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates, eat a small amount of protein, and keep fiber and fat to a minimum. Preworkouts may be a good option for those who are working out on a non-ideal nutrition plan, but in general, it is best to skip the processed powder and reach for some food and cold brew before your gym session.
Preworkout supplements are a combination of many ingredients backed by the promise of more energy and a better workout. There is some proof that some common ingredients in preworkouts do provide the body with extra nutrients needed to combat the impact of exercise, but it is essential to remember that not all preworkouts are safe, and none are regulated. Whole foods can provide the nutrients needed to successfully boost your body prior to a workout without the harsh chemicals in some manufactured preworkouts. Preworkouts are a good alternative for those who may be running on a large caloric deficit but may not be the best choice for everyone. Source your supplements carefully but look for natural ways to get the most out of your workout if possible.