Are pre-workout supplements mandatory in gymming? From knowing the basics of pre-workout supplements to their side effects, we’ve decoded everything about pre-workout. Read on to know more!
Hey there! Fitness has become an important part of our lives. In fact, exercising is no more only to stay fit but also to look good. Well, the latter is given more importance. In the quest of having a drool-worthy body, we’re ready to try anything that’s in the market. From supplements to energy drinks to pills, the market value of such products are increasing day by day. And pre-workout supplements are many gym-goers’ favorite.
People seem to be spending crazily over these supplements. And these companies claim many things and they also cost a bomb! For example, when you search for pre-workout supplements on Google, the very first result gives a number of products.
And one such famous one is Muscle Blaze pre-workout supplement and it costs around ₹1,799 for a 250g pack. Whaaaat?! Are you kidding me?! But well, most fitness enthusiasts are in awe of these products. So, do they really work? Are those muscles because of these supplements? Well, even I’m as curious as you are and so I researched and consulted our in-house trainer and nutritionist. We have compiled everything about pre-workout supplements. Let’s check out!
What is Pre-Workout?
Everyone wants to make the most out of their exercise regimen. Whether it’s gymming or running in the park, fitness enthusiasts want to ace them all! So, they want to make most out of the time they spend exercising. And pre-workout supplements promise to do the same.
Basically, a pre-workout meal is necessary before a workout to gain energy, avoid muscle spasm and to increase your muscle activities. So, when one can prepare and eat a meal, smoothie or a drink right at home, what’s the necessity to go for a supplement?! Pre-workout supplements, which generally come in the form of tablets, claim to provide that extra kick required to achieve the enviable body we all want.
Most pre-workout supplements claim that trying them before a workout increases your energy levels, muscle power and endurance during the workout. These supplements contain ingredients like caffeine, guarana, creatine and more. But are these supplements really helpful? Do they really work?!
Well, we have decoded the truth about pre workout supplements. From the facts, whether they really work to honest reviews on the internet to side effects, read on to know the truth about pre-workout supplements!
Benefits of Optimum Nutrition Pre-Workout
Companies that make pre-workout supplements and claim a lot of benefits. According to ON Gold Standard Pre-Workout, by using optimum nutrition pre-workout supplement, one can enjoy benefits such as:
1. Increased mental focus.
2. Enhanced pumps.
3. Boosted your physical endurance.
4. The caffeine present in these helps increase the energy levels and ensure that you have mental focus by the time you get to the gym.
5. They also claim that it contains creatine, which enhances the intra-cellular production. And it also helps to increase body’s natural ability to generate forceful muscular contractions.
6. They also contain beta-alanine, which acts as a buffer against lactic acid accumulation. According to the product description, this means, that the pH level in the muscles will be maintained at a higher level to prevent acidity from building up.
7. The product also alleges L-citrulline malate is included to enhance the muscle pumps.
However, all the benefits mentioned here are claimed by the companies and so far, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same. Some of these “benefits” seem unhealthy, unnecessary, counter-productive and even dangerous.
Caffeine & Other Side Effects
For example, why would I consume caffeine when I’m going to the gym to increase my heart rate. By consuming caffeine, my heart rate would have increased already and further by working out, it may lead to high blood pressure or in extreme cases a stroke.But read on to know more about why these benefits do not actually benefit anyone.
Also, according to Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance, caffeine can provide a physical boost before a workout. But too much caffeine can cause health risks. Even at the lower level of caffeine use, it may affect a person’s heart and may also lead to cardiac arrests. So, basically, these pre-workout supplement companies are asking you to go and exert yourself by putting you at the risk of heart diseases.
What Does Pre-Workout Do?
I’m sure most of us are curious to know how exactly these supplements work and why are they so popular. The most important thing they do is make you hyper-active with caffeine. They give you an increased amount of energy to lift weights. Also, they give you an adrenaline rush to workout.
We also discussed with our in-house trainer and nutritionist Surbhi Gandhi. With a masters degree in nutrition and diabetics, Surbhi is a gold medalist, she’s been an experienced professional at Fitness First gym in Gurgaon, and is also an online fitness influencer.
Surbhi says that these pre-workout supplements contain high levels of stimulants, which is a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body. She also says, “They contain high levels of caffeine, which is not good for health and can have negative effects on heart.” Honestly, she mentions, they are useless and scammy!
Pre-Workout Side Effects
Of course, you will face a few side effects when you’re consuming these supplements. Let’s check ’em out!
1. Diarrhea: The main reason to experience diarrhea is due to the usage of specific ingredients that can have a laxative effect. And if you have a sensitive stomach then for sure, you’ll experience diarrhea, especially after working out. And these ingredients include arginine, taurine, magnesium, sodium bicarbonate, Yohimbe, creatine, and caffeine.
2. Dehydration: A number of certain ingredients can pull water and excrete it causing dehydration. Excessive quantity of these ingredients will make you sensitive and dehydrated quickly after consuming. And dehydration is linked to headaches, too. So, if you’re consuming these supplements, make sure to mix them with enough water to stay hydrated the entire day.
3. Headaches: A few ingredients in these supplements may cause your blood vessels to expand, which causes a headache. So, as per one of the interviews by Jordan Moon, an exercise physiologist to LiveScience says, “You’ve got ingredients that are going to increase blood flow, increase heart rate, increase focus, increase blood flow to the skin and give you a little tingle.”
4. Nausea: Again this side effect is quite similar to diarrhea. You wouldn’t have diluted enough or you may allergic to a specific ingredient.
5. High Blood Pressure: All stimulants will increase your blood pressure like caffeine. And you may be in further trouble if you already have high blood pressure. So, don’t consume supplements without consulting your doctor and, do not try high-intensity workouts. This is because pre-workout supplements will raise your heart rate and when you attempt a high intense workout then it may lead to severe heart-related problems.
Pre-Workout for Weight Loss
Pre-workout drinks helping in weight loss is a debatable topic. However, one cannot confirm if one can really lose weight with their usage or not. But a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that consuming caffeine together with exercising burned 60 calories more compared to exercising alone. Plus, the participants rated the session as more enjoyable when they were powered by caffeine.
So, maybe there will be increased energy levels that help to put in the extra effort to the workout session that’ll help to lose weight. But this shouldn’t be made a habit since such high caffeine-intake is quite dangerous in the long run.
Our in-house nutritionist expert, Surbhi says “Hormones are released when one consumes supplements and this leads to an urge to exercise. Along with blood pressure, sweating also increases. These supplements are over-stimulating, making them very unhealthy.”
Organic and Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplements
PreSeries Stim Free by Transparent Lab claims to be caffeine free and helpful for people who workout at night or sensitive to caffeine. While Organic Stamina Booster By Cleanenergy says that their supplements are made organically and GMO-free. GMO means genetically modified organisms that are not organically prepared.
So, are these supplements good enough only because they are caffeine free or organically prepared? Well, read on to know the conclusion we have drawn!
Just because pre-workout supplements don’t have caffeine or other harmful ingredients, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily helpful. Overall, there is no proof that these supplements are bad. But they are not good either. So, it’s important to research the ingredients before trying them.
The companies claim they’re helpful to build muscles, too. But no research has shown them to significantly affect one’s muscles. They don’t make people bigger, stronger or faster. Also, as quoted by Jordan Moon, an exercise physiologist to health.com, “Although some of these supplements’ ingredients — such as caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine — have been shown to modestly enhance performance in extreme athletes and bodybuilders, they only give people an edge if they are pushing themselves to the limit.”
As per The Athletic Build, supplements with ingredients called “proprietary blend” should be avoided. A proprietary blend is where the manufacturer mixes several ingredients into what it calls a blend. And the problem with these blends is that they tell what ingredients are used but do not mention the quantity.
Also, try to avoid an ingredient known as DMAA that is a powerful neurological stimulant that pre-workout manufacturers put in a lot of their products. This ingredient is linked to high blood pressure, heart palpitations, mood swings, depression and energy crashed.
So if pre-workout supplements are not contributing to good health then why are we spending so much money on them, considering how expensive they are. With all these facts and science, we can conclude that pre-workout-supplements are indeed a scam in the fitness world.
The Right Way to Take Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements need not be in the form of pills or powder, you can prepare pre-workout supplements right at home. Yes, you can indulge in home-cooked pre-workout meals and drinks. A pre-workout supplement is not the necessary item in your fitness journey at all. But if you need an external source of energy to hit the gym then it’s better to try homemade natural ones over the others. It’s better to avoid supplements completely as they’re not good in the long run since some of these synthetic ingredients are related to high blood pressure.
How to Take Pre-Workout | All Natural Pre-Workout Supplements
It’s always better to stick to natural ways to stay healthy and fit. And what’s better than home cooked food? Atleast you’ll know what’s going in your food, unlike the supplements. So, we’ve listed all the food and drinks to try. Let’s check ’em out!
What’s a Good Pre-Workout Meal?
It’s always important to fuel your body before a workout. I have noticed a few people try high-intensity cardio sessions in the gym without eating anything. This will make you feel sick, dizzy and will eventually lead you to quit gym. Imagine your body as a car, and you will fuel your car before driving it, right? Similarly, you need to eat a power meal before a workout.
Bananas, chicken, rice, vegetables, Greek yogurt, porridge, oatmeal, smoothies, sweet potatoes, omelet and protein shakes are great pre-workout foods.
Natural Homemade Pre-Workout
Pre-workout supplements need not leave you with a hole in your pocket. You can try preparing them right at home. Of course, you can customize them, too. Here’s a basic and easy recipe to try!
Banana Wheatgrass Smoothie: Wheatgrass is rich in protein and also contains potassium, magnesium and B complex. Blend 3 large bananas with 2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of wheatgrass powder.
Consuming pre-workout drinks will make you feel energetic and makes your workout go great. The pre-workout drinks should contain BCCAs (branched chain amino acids, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine), caffeine, taurine, carbohydrates, beta-alanine, creatine monohydrate and vitamin E. So, make sure your drink contains most of these ingredients.
Orange flax, apple cider, banana and wheatgrass, coconut water, blueberry and Greek yogurt smoothie are some of the best natural pre-workout drinks.
One needs to stretch before a workout to avoid injuries, muscle spasm and to increase flexibility. Pre-workout stretches help you move better. For example, regular stretches help to keep your hips and hamstrings more flexible in the long run. Here are a set of stretches that you can try before a workout:
- Shoulder stretch
- Stretch your triceps
- Biceps stretch
- Stretch your quadriceps
- Calves stretch
- Stretch your hamstrings
- Stretch your hips
- Finally, stretch your upper back and neck
So, are you convinced about pre-workout supplements scam? Or you still wanna try ’em?! Lol. I’m sure smart women like you will research and then go ahead. Tweet us your thoughts @shilpa1ahuja!
Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17