Pre-workout supplements help you power through intense workout sessions. Formulated with multiple ingredients, they are designed to boost your energy levels and enhance athletic performance.
There are countless brands of pre workouts in the market, each having its own combination of ingredients. Each ingredient plays a specific role in improving workout performance.
The effectiveness and safety of pre-workout supplements depend on the quantity and quality of the ingredients used in their formula.
Natural low stimulant pre-workout formulas have many advantages over high stimulant/artificial pre-workout supplements.
PROS OF PRE WORKOUT PRE WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS - THE BENEFITS
- Increases Energy Levels
- Improves Cognitive Functions
- Improves Athletic Performance
- Increases Fat Loss
An effective pre-workout supplement with the right combination of natural ingredients offers you many benefits.
Green tea, Yerba mate, Panax ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, etc. are natural ingredients found in low-stimulant pre-workout supplements.
They sustain your energy levels, increase fat loss, enhance mental cognition, and improve exercise performance.
INCREASES ENERGY LEVELS
Pre-workout supplements can offer you that extra boost of energy needed to complete challenging workout sessions. Natural energy-boosting ingredients in pre-workouts include green tea and yerba mate.
Green tea contains caffeine, L-theanine, and many powerful antioxidants. Yerba Mate can also be used for making herbal teas. It has even more antioxidants and caffeine than green tea.
Caffeine is scientifically proven to boost concentration, and memory. It helps you stay energetic, focused, and alert during your workout.
Green tea has much less caffeine than coffee. Yerba Mate, on the other hand, has almost as much caffeine as coffee.
But with these ingredients, you needn’t worry about those jittery side effects associated with excess caffeine intake.
IMPROVES COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS
Cognitive functions refer to mental processes involved in learning and reasoning. This includes decision-making, memory, and focus.
For an effective workout, we need to be decisive, determined and focused on our tasks.
Plants such as Panax ginseng and Rhodiola rosea have adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are herbal supplements that improve cognition functions. They help us deal with stress more effectively. They protect neurological health, increase longevity and improve our quality of life.
Studies have noted that Panax ginseng reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammatory responses.
Rhodiola rosea improves endurance and exercise performance by decreasing perceived exertion. When you feel less tired, you are able to work out longer.
The caffeine content in Green tea and Yerba mate have a positive impact on cognitive functioning. Caffeine is scientifically proven to boost concentration, and memory. It helps you stay energetic and alert during your workout. Green tea has both L-theanine and caffeine and this potent duo increases your attention span.
This helps you stay focused on your performance even during long-duration workouts.
IMPROVES ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Adaptogens such as Cordyceps and Ginseng help improve your VO2max, endurance, and oxygen utilization.
The maximum amount of oxygen that a person is able to utilize during intense workouts is called VO2max. This maximal oxygen consumption rate of an individual is considered the best indicator of aerobic endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
Improving your VO2max results in better oxygen utilization. The better you get at using oxygen, the faster and longer you’ll be able to work out.
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecules are the energy currency of our body. They deliver energy to every cell in your body, including the muscle cells.
Cordyceps, found in pre-workout supplements, help increase the production of ATP molecules. Cordyceps increases VO2max by improving the way oxygen is utilized during exercise.
Yerba mate and Green tea also enhance the overall workout performance. When taken 60 minutes before a workout, Yerba mate was found to increase exercise effectiveness and sports performance.
Researchers have found that Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a component of Green tea, increased VO2max during exercise.
INCREASES FAT LOSS
Pre-workout supplements increase overall fat loss, helping you achieve that lean, toned physique you have been dreaming of. Pre-workouts are formulated with special ingredients that specifically boost your metabolism and increase fat burning.
Look for these natural ingredients to aid in fat loss:
- Green Tea
- Yerba Mate
Many studies have noted the positive effects of Green tea extracts on fat metabolism, both at rest and during exercise. Green tea increases the production of fat-burning hormones such as norepinephrine.
The antioxidant EGCG in Green tea inhibits the enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine. The resulting increase in norepinephrine leads to fat oxidation and weight loss.
The combination of EGCG and caffeine in Green tea is a powerful combination that increases thermogenesis in the body. As more fat cells break down, more energy becomes available to the muscle cells.
Other ingredients such as Yerba mate also boost metabolism, promote weight loss, and helps burn excess body fat, especially belly fat.
Ginseng is an adaptogen that has long been used as a weight-loss aid. It works in multiple ways to create an anti-obesity effect.
Ginsenosides, the active compound in Ginseng suppresses appetite, inhibits lipid synthesis (the production of fat cells), and stimulates energy usage in muscle cells.
CONS OF PRE WORKOUT - THE SIDE EFFECTS
- Insomnia/Restless Sleep
- Upset Stomach/Irregular Bowel Movements
Some brands of pre-workout supplements use high quantities of stimulants to give you a quick rush. But these can also cause you to crash and burn in no time. From a racing heart and headaches to jitteriness and even paranoia, high-stimulant pre-workout supplements can cause many undesirable side effects.
Take a good look at the ingredient list of the pre-workout supplement you are considering buying. Note the quantity of these ingredients as well. Here are some of the common side effects observed while using high-stimulant/ artificial pre-workout supplements.
JITTERS AND PARANOIA
Drinking a cup or two of coffee is rejuvenating. But if you're sensitive to caffeine and indulge in more than a few cups, you may end up feeling restless, anxious, and jittery.
A cup of coffee has just 80 to 100 mg of caffeine in it. Low-stimulant natural pre-workout supplements typically contain 100mg of caffeine, or less, per serving.
Caffeine is evidently a great addition to a pre-workout formula. But there are supplements that add large amounts of caffeine into their formulas - as high as 300 to 500mg per serving.
This can lead to side effects such as increased heart rate, nausea, and headaches. It can even cause paranoia.
TINGLING AND ITCHINESS
Are you worried about tingling and the "itch" that comes from some pre-workout formulas -- it comes from ingredients such as beta-alanine and Niacin or vitamin B3.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is often added in pre-workout formulas to enhance exercise performance, reduce fatigue, and increase stamina, but a side effect is the unwanted itch and tingling that comes with it.
Paraesthesia or tingling is a noted as a side effect of pre-workouts that contain beta-alanine and Niacin.
Niacin or vitamin B3 is required for energy metabolism in our body. Taking high doses of niacin causes a side effect known as the niacin flush. Your skin may feel reddish and itchy.
These side effects are usually harmless. But if it makes you uncomfortable, then try taking smaller doses of the supplement or switch to another brand without the problem ingredient.
HEADACHES AND DEHYDRATION
If you're prone to headaches, here are some ingredients to be on the lookout for:
- Citrulline Malate
- High Amounts of Caffeine
About 6 to 8 grams of citrulline malate can be found in some pre-workout supplements.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator. It causes blood vessels to widen, thus increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Increased blood flow to muscles during workout ensures faster delivery of nutrients and energy for muscle building and workout performance.
But as the blood flow to the brain also increases, it may trigger headaches or migraines in some people.
HIGH AMOUNTS OF CAFFEINE
Caffeine, on the other hand, is ‘vasoconstrictive. It causes blood vessels to narrow, restricting the blood flow.
That's why a cup of coffee may reduce the severity of a headache, however high amounts of caffeine may trigger a ‘caffeine-rebound headache’. This can occur to those who regularly consume too much caffeine.
Caffeinated products tend to have a diuretic effect. They may increase your need to urinate. A moderate caffeine intake is safe enough, but combining high caffeine intake with strenuous exercise can lead to dehydration. So make sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids.
INSOMNIA AND RESTLESS SLEEP
Considering our busy schedules, many of us prefer to work out later in the evening or even at night. But taking a high stimulant pre-workout supplement late in the day, can cause restless sleep or even insomnia.
The stimulants, such as caffeine in pre-workout supplements, can leave you feeling alert and active.
Unless you want to spend half the night staring at the ceiling, make sure to choose a low stimulant pre-workout formula with natural caffeine sources such as green tea or yerba mate.
If you're planning on getting a late night session in, but need that extra motivation, reach for a low-stimulant pre-workout formula that will give you the boost you need, but won't affect your sleep.
UPSET STOMACH AND IRREGULAR BOWEL MOVEMENTS
Some pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that cause digestive discomforts, irregular bowel movements, and/or diarrhea.
If you have a sensitive stomach, steer clear from these ingredients:
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Sodium Bicarbonate
Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, and neotame, are toxic to gut bacteria and cause digestive issues.
High concentrations of magnesium, sodium bicarbonate, and caffeine can also cause unwanted stomach and digestive issues.
Although proven to boost energy levels and workout performance, too much magnesium can cause issues like diarrhea and no one needs to be worrying about shitting their pants while exercising.
Magnesium is known to have laxative effects.
Laxatives are used for relieving constipation and increasing bowel movements. They work by stimulating the nerves in the large intestine, causing intestinal muscles to contract and push the stool out.
Sodium bicarbonate combined with caffeine can improve fatigue resistance when taken 70 to 90 minutes before high-intensity workouts.
But over the range of 91 to 227 mg per pound of body weight, sodium bicarbonate can cause gastrointestinal distress.
How you take your pre-workout supplement matters too.
If you do not use adequate amounts of water (or juice/milk or any other liquid), this can result in a higher concentration of ingredients. If your pre-workout drink is too concentrated, you can end up with indigestion and stomach issues.
Pre-workout supplements are becoming quite popular these days. They offer you the extra energy you need to crush challenging workouts.
But you need to choose your pre-workout supplement carefully to ensure the product is beneficial to your health and performance.
Take the time to read the label and check the ingredients.
Low-stimulant natural pre-workout supplements offer you many benefits while high-stimulant/artificial ones tend to have undesirable side effects.
Unwanted side effects can also occur from overdosing on pre-workout supplements. Too much of a good thing can also be harmful. So do not take more than the recommended dosage given on the product label.