As fitness trends change and morph with the times, the use of “pre workout” appears to be on the rise. The purpose of this branch of supplements is to help you be more energized for your workout, without being bogged down by food in your stomach. Pre workout helps keep your body efficiently burning fat and/or building muscle while you exercise. That all sounds fine and dandy, but what’s in it that causes the body to respond in that way?
Common Pre Workout Ingredients
The popular fitness website Bodybuilding.com, saying there are four ingredients you should look for in your pre workout supplements; caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Does your head hurt? Except for caffeine, those are some pretty intimidating sounding names. It’s important to know what each is activating within your body.
Caffeine is a name we’re all very familiar with. We’ve encountered it in our coffee, our tea, and our chocolate. Caffeine has oftentimes been our good friend. What is it doing in a pre workout? The same thing it does in your morning coffee; giving you energy and endurance.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are a chain of amino acids that help repair damaged protein in your body. This is why they partner well with beta-alanine, allowing you to keep your intensity up for long periods of time.
While creatine sounds like it would be the name of a Disney villain (or maybe that’s just me), its main purpose is to help with low rep, heavy weight sets – essentially helping you turn “HULK MODE” on.
It saturates your muscles with direct energy, that gives you a large push to lift heavier. These all seem like a recipe for a more efficient workout, and in moderation and consumed wisely, they do show to have benefits. But every action has a repercussion, and the dangers of taking a pre workout are also something to consider.
Just as coffee is a diuretic, the caffeine in pre workout supplements can dehydrate you quickly, especially if you’re not properly hydrating prior to your workout. To build upon that, both caffeine and creatine are stimulants. If you’re planning on doing a high intensity workout, they could easily cause you to over extend yourself and cause you to pass out or shoot your blood pressure through the roof. It also just doesn’t sound safe to ingest a significant amount of caffeine and then do something that puts a lot of labor on your heart. This can lead to heart problems and damage later in life. This is why taking pre workout for cardio (like running, HIIT, etc.) is highly advised against.
There’s also the issue of your kidneys. Your kidneys function via filtering your blood and producing urine. Creatine is something your body produces naturally and is stored within your muscles. However, if there is too much in your system, it can lead your body to cease to produce it naturally. On the flip side, it could provoke your body to produce even more creatine, leading to renal failure.
Pre workout does have it’s benefits, if used correctly. Never start taking a pre workout supplement alone. Always consult a doctor, trainer, or nutritionist before you decide the type of supplement and appropriate dosage to use. You may not even need to be taking these supplements. But until then, fuel up with nutritious natural foods that have extra added vitamins and minerals that feed your body beyond your workout.