When it comes to getting in shape, many people are willing to try all the tricks they need to reach their goals faster. For many years, protein shakes have been considered essential after a workout. But more recently, in addition to protein shakes, many are also turning to pre-workout supplements. These are marketed as being able to improve your workout by increasing energy, boosting metabolism and improving muscle growth. They are usually taken in pill form or consumed as a drink about 30-45 minutes before a workout.
But despite the high demand for pre-workout supplements, the lack of research, variations in products, and uncertainty about their content make it difficult for consumers to understand just how effective they really are — and whether they’re doing it. they claim.
Here we look at some of the most common pre-workout ingredients to see if there’s any evidence that they work.
Caffeine is commonly added to most pre-workout supplements as a stimulant to reduce fatigue and increase alertness. There is good evidence showing that consume caffeine about 30-60 minutes before exercise can improve endurance performance (such as running or cycling) typically by up to 20% during a 1-2 hour exercise. It can also make your workout a little less challenging.
The main disadvantage of caffeine is that high doses (between 5 and 13 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight, or about 375 mg to 975 mg for a 75 kg person) have reported side effects, such as headaches. stomach, confusion and poor sleep. For perspective, a single shot of espresso only contains about 75mg of caffeine. But small doses (about 3 mg per kg of body weight) have always been shown to be effective with little or no side effects. Most pre-workout supplements contain between 85mg and 300mg of caffeine.
It might seem easier to just drink coffee before you exercise, but depending on where your coffee comes from, the caffeine content can vary considerably. It can mean that you have too much or not enough, whereas a fixed dose of a supplement can be easily controlled.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that your body produces naturally. It works with other chemicals in the body to produce a substance called carnosine. Carnosine is stored in your muscles and is an important factor in maintaining muscle pH levels, which can be important in delaying fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
For this reason, beta-alanine is added to many pre-workout supplements to reduce fatigue. However, although there is some evidence that taking beta-alanine supplements may work, at least 3.6 grams should be taken daily up to six weeks to have an effect – and most pre-workout supplements only contain around 350mg to 3200mg. There is no evidence that taking small amounts before a workout has any effect, other than the tingling side effect that can occur in some people, which may trick them into believing it is working.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain amino acids (also known as BCAAs) are another common ingredient. We typically get them from foods like dairy, meat, and legumes, and they’re added to pre-workout supplements to promote muscle growth and reduce fatigue.
Most pre-workouts contain around 400mg to 1500mg of BCAAs. But at these levels, there is little evidence that they are effective in promoting muscle growth or reducing fatigue. In fact, BCAAs usually need to be taken in much higher doses (around 5000mg) after exercise to promote muscle growth and repair.
Creatine monohydrate is a chemical found naturally in our bodies, as well as in foods such as red meat and seafood. Many pre-workout products contain creatine because it is believed to increase size and muscle strength.
While much research shows that creatine is beneficial to improve many aspects of performance – like the number of sprints you can do, muscle strength and how quickly you can recover after a workout – at least 3-5g should be taken daily to be effective.
Evidence also shows that an initial intake of 20g of creatine for five days, followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5g per day, improve athletic performance. However, there is no benefit in taking small doses before exercise. Pre-exercise supplements contain around 1.5g to 5g per serving – so if you take a large amount initially, they may have some effectiveness later on.
Green tea extract is usually added to pre-workouts to reduce body fat. Pre-workout supplements that contain green tea usually contain around 100mg to 250mg.
B vitamins are usually found in foods such as fish, chicken, and dairy products. Many pre-workout supplements contain B vitamins because they help us produce energy, which of course can help us perform better during a workout.
But unless a person is deficient in these vitamins, taking a product containing them is unlikely to have any benefit – although exercise may increase the need for certain B vitamins, especially B2 and B6.
Most of the ingredients found in pre-workout supplements are shown to be safe at the low doses in which they are typically included. However, taking them late in the day can be a bad idea, as the caffeine they contain could disrupt sleep.
But some of the new ingredients included in some supplements are of great concern, as they often haven’t been researched or tested along with other ingredients. In some cases, they can even cause serious problems, such as liver damage. It is therefore a good idea to consult a sports nutritionist or registered dietician before taking any supplement.
Although pre-workout supplements are one of the fastest growing sports supplements, other than caffeine, there aren’t many ingredients that are consistently effective in improving athletic performance when taken. taken in small doses before a workout.