pre workout pros cons

Pros and cons of pre-workout

May 13. 2021

Pre-workout supplements used to be “reserved” for hardcore bodybuilders, advanced trainees, and serious athletes. However, they’re becoming increasingly popular among regular people looking to get in shape and build more muscle mass, even while doing exercises at home. Still, newbies can quickly get confused and eventually give up on the idea of using them. That’s entirely reasonable considering the number of different supplements out there, their ingredients, etc. To help you better understand this subject, we’ve listed and explained the pros and cons of pre-workout supplements.

What are pre-workout supplements?

Pre-workout supplements (also known as pre-workouts) are dietary formulas made of several different ingredients and used to boost your athletic performance and energy. They typically come in the form of powder so that you can dissolve them in water and take them before your workout.

Since many pre-workouts consist of several different ingredients that are most likely unknown to regular people, it’s essential to know the most common ones and understand each of their functions.
The most common pre-workouts ingredients include:

    • Caffeine is the main ingredient in nearly every pre-workout. It’s also probably the only one that doesn’t sound “exotic.” It’s well known that caffeine is a stimulant, so its primary role is to decrease subjective sensations of fatigue and promote wakefulness. It’s significantly more effective for speed and endurance activities and not so beneficial for weightlifting.
    • Nitric Oxide Precursors, such as L-citrulline and L-arginine, are essentially the compounds your body uses to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide then relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow. Therefore, by supplementing these precursors, you’ll ensure oxygen boosts and enhance nutrient transport to your muscles. 
    • Creatine is a compound already naturally produced in your body. It’s mainly stored in skeletal muscle, where it’s responsible for muscular strength and energy production. Although it’s often included in pre-workouts, it can also be found as a standalone supplement. It’s pretty popular among bodybuilders, weightlifters, and other power athletes. By supplementing with Creatine, you can improve your muscle mass, recovery time, exercise performance, and strength. 
    • L-Carnitine is an amino acid that’s often found in the form of acetyl-L-carnitine. It’s typically used to decrease muscle damage and fatigue while slightly increasing muscular work capacity. 
    • L-Tyrosine is also an amino acid and the essential precursor to dopamine and noradrenaline. It may increase your energy levels, reduce stress and potentiate the effects of other stimulants.
    • Taurine, once again an amino acid, may sound familiar to you, especially if you’ve read the ingredients label on Red Bull. However, this compound is not a stimulant. It mainly serves to reduce cramps caused by a high dose of stimulants. 
    • B Vitamins, mainly B6, B12, and niacin, all support alertness, and energy metabolism. B vitamins can also enhance motivation and energy levels. People who use peptides for weight loss are familiar with all the benefits this compound brings to the body. 
    • β-alanine is essentially a modified amino acid alanine. A few grams a day may increase your muscular endurance and decrease fatigue. 

Pros of pre-workout supplements

If you’ve considered using pre-workouts, here are the main benefits they can provide:

    • You’re likely to feel more energetic and alert. As we mentioned earlier, almost every pre-workout contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Stimulating your nervous system helps you stay alert and feel more energetic. 
    • The supplements can help you push it for longer. If you plan on performing high-intensity workouts for short periods, you’ll probably find Carnitine supplements helpful. They may help you utilize anaerobic energy systems (those that don’t require oxygen) and boost your endurance.
    • Your muscles will get more oxygen. The nitric oxide we mentioned earlier can help you stay strong during a tough session by widening your blood vessels. Your blood vessels will then bring more oxygen to your muscles and enable you to keep going. 
    • You can prevent muscle breakdown. All the amino acids we listed can reduce muscle breakdown and help you bounce back from a highly intense session. 

Cons of pre-workout supplements

Alongside the pros, we listed above, pre-workouts have certain cons. They include:

    • Artificial and dangerous ingredients. Frequently, pre-workouts are not explicitly regulated by government agencies. They’re not required to follow strict guidelines, so you may not always know what you’re exactly getting. When it comes to the ingredients, the dosage is crucial, so it’s best you learn more about it before purchasing a supplement. This is especially important for people who are diagnosed with certain medical conditions. 
    • Overstimulation. Although caffeine can be pretty beneficial, if delivered in high doses (or to sensitive people), it can cause overstimulation, a racing heart (tachycardia), shaky hands, or even lead to anxiety and trouble sleeping. 
    • Dehydration. Due to different ingredients, pre-workouts often act as diuretics, signaling your kidneys to release water. To prevent dehydration, you should drink more water and take electrolytes.
    • Excess sugar and sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are commonly used to add flavor to pre-workout supplements without adding extra calories. However, it’s essential to read the labels and stay away from them, as they can cause intestinal discomfort. On the other hand, pre-workouts that contain excess sugar or sugar alcohol can add some unwanted calories to your daily calorie intake and even lead to unwanted weight gain.

How to correctly use pre-workouts

Now that we’ve gone through the main pros and cons of pre-workout, you probably have an idea of how you should use them correctly. We strongly advise you to look for more natural versions of pre-workout supplements and avoid artificial ingredients. It would be best if you read labels on each product you choose to take and make sure the dose of each component is correct for you. We also advise you to take your pre-workouts somewhere between 20-30 minutes before starting a workout because if you take them too early (or too late), you won’t find them beneficial. 

Final thoughts 

It’s understandable that some people consider pre-workouts somewhat of a hardcore product and avoid using them to boost their performance. However, these supplements can be beneficial; they can help you stay alert, feel more energetic, and push through your high-intensity sessions a little longer. If you’re still unsure about using them, have additional questions about the ingredients, dosage, etc., feel free to contact our weight loss clinic Chicago. Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to answer your questions and provide additional advice regarding your personal case. People who have medical conditions should consult a specialist before taking supplements by themselves.

Nurse Walton

Author

Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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