What To Look For In A Pre-Workout Supplement to Maximize Its Effectiveness

What To Look For In A Pre-Workout Supplement Blog Entry For Fitness Energy

Which Pre-Workout Is Better For You?

Pre-workout supplements are used to increase energy, stamina, and focus before workouts. They can be beneficial for those who spend hours at the gym each week, take fitness classes, cycling or have trouble motivating themselves to work out.

Let’s face it, waking up in the morning can be tough enough. It can be even harder if you have to work out first thing in the morning. On the flip side, if you’re busy working during the day and work out in the evening, your energy levels might not be high. The struggle is real, right?

While there are a variety of pre-workout supplements available on the market today, it can be difficult to find the best one that suits your needs. Before you make a purchase, here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a pre-workout supplement that will maximize its effect.

Should I take a pre-workout supplement?

If you’re not getting enough sleep, if you don’t eat well and your energy levels are low, or if you just can't seem to motivate yourself to work out, a pre-workout supplement might be the answer. It’s important that you first determine whether or not you need a pre-workout supplement before you make a purchase. Pre-workouts are not for everyone. For example, those with caffeine sensitivities may want to think twice about taking pre-workouts as they may cause heart palpitations and jitters.

How to choose the right pre-workout supplement

There are many different types of workouts and people who take them. Some workout routines require more energy than others or require a supplement that provides increased levels of focus and stamina.

If you have trouble motivating yourself to work out, then a pre-workout supplement with caffeine can help give you an extra push so that you'll feel more energized before working out.

Ultimately, finding the right pre-workout supplement is about finding one that suits your body's needs for the specific type of workouts that you do on any given day.

What should I look for in a pre-workout supplement?

When you are looking for a pre-workout supplement, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

The first thing you should ask is how much caffeine and amino acids are in the supplement. The best pre-workout supplements on the market have an equal balance of both, as too little or too many either can lead to a less than optimal workout experience.

A good start is looking for nutrients that improve your performance: beta-alanine (to reduce fatigue), creatine monohydrate (increase muscle mass), citrulline malate (improve blood flow).

Caffeine = Stimulant

A stimulant is a chemical that stimulates the central nervous system. Caffeine is the prime stimulant for almost all pre-workout supplements. Most pre-workouts contain caffeine and it is the ingredient responsible for giving you energy. Caffeine provides that energy by blocking the brain's adenosine receptors, which keeps the neurotransmitter adenosine levels low. High levels of adenosine are responsible for sleepiness so by blocking those receptors we can keep feeling energized and alert at all times.

Caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours, which means you will still have 50% of it in your system after 5 hours. Avoid taking stimulant-based pre-workouts close to bedtime to fall asleep on schedule. If you do consume caffeine in the evenings, try cutting the serving size of your pre-workout in half. This will shorten the half-life and help get you to bed on time. [R]

Non-stimulants = Amino Acids

Non-stimulant products also give you more energy but they don't have any caffeine in them, instead, they use other ingredients to improve blood flow like Beta-Alanine, TeaCrine or Nitrosigine [R] these increase your alertness and focus without making us feel jittery or nervous because there are no side effects like increased heart rate.

Stimulants vs Non-stimulants

If you are looking at purchasing a pre-workout supplement, be sure to check the label and the nutritional panel. Focus on the dosage, serving size, amount of each ingredient (including caffeine) per scoop, and artificial sweeteners.

If you consume caffeine and often don't feel good after taking it then the answer is simple - avoid a stimulant-based (or stimulant heavy) pre-workout!

Pro Tip: Many companies in the market use proprietary blends when it comes to their ingredients. If you are new to taking a pre-workout supplement, try and find a product that clearly labels each ingredient and its dosage. The ingredients should be clear and accurately dosed. This will help you figure out what product and its ingredients work best for you.

L-Citrulline = Pump & Blood Flow

What is L-Citrulline?

L-citrulline is an amino acid that the body uses to make L-arginine. The human body naturally produces this substance when it breaks down proteins and converts them into energy, such as during aerobic exercise. It’s also found in watermelons, grapefruits, and oranges.

Studies show that L-citrulline boosts nitric oxide in the body, which helps your arteries relax and work better. [R] This improves blood flow throughout your whole body. This simply means you'll feel a bigger "pump" in your muscles during a workout.

How much L-citrulline should I take daily?

Studies have shown that taking 6 grams per day of l-citrulline or approximately 8 grams per day of citrulline malate has the best effects on the body. Be sure to read the label to determine which form of citrulline is in the product to assure you're taking the correct dosage per serving.

L-citrulline is often under-dosed in pre-workout supplements. If this is your source for L-citrulline then be sure to hit the recommended dosage per day to maximize results.

Beta-Alanine Enhances Endurance

Beta-alanine is an amino acid naturally found in the human body and synthesized by plants, animals, and microorganisms. It provides a buffer for lactic acid inside muscles to promote greater muscle endurance during high-intensity exercise.

The purpose of beta-alanine is to provide muscles with additional energy by increasing their pH level. It works as an intermediate, meaning it must react with other molecules to create energy for the muscle cells. Some popular supplements are BCAA's (branched-chain amino acids) and CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine; these two types have been shown to improve performance during short bouts of high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting, cycling or sprinting.

Flavor and Pricing (per scoop)

The fun part is picking out a delicious flavor that best suits you. Because most people want their "pre" drink to be enjoyable to drink while they work out. The cost usually is not affected by any specific flavor - in most cases. 

Look at the price per serving size; some supplements may cost more but offer better overall value. The average cost per scoop is now around $1.00 - $1.85, depending on the types of ingredients that the pre-workout is made to include. 

Side effects of taking pre-workout supplements

The FDA has warned that some pre-workout supplements may have serious side effects. Some side effects of taking pre-workout supplements include:

  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack

Although these side effects are low, you need to still understand that consuming a pre-workout may have these risks. Consult with a physician if you are in doubt.

Before consuming a pre-workout supplement, read the label carefully to determine if it contains substances you are allergic to or sensitive to. These include artificial sweeteners and synthetic ingredients. Supplements with these substances should be avoided.

Now that you have a better understanding, are pre-workout supplements for you?

Many people also avoid pre-workout supplements because they don’t want to experience any side effects, but others can be more sensitive.

It’s important to note that not all pre-workout supplements are created equally. You want to find one that works best for you. With so many options available, it’s hard to know what to look for and what to avoid.

To recap, the three key things to look for in a pre-workout supplement to maximize its effectiveness:

1. Ingredients 

2. Dosage

3. Taste

A pre-workout supplement should have a dosage that is appropriate for your weight and activity level, as well as ingredients that contain no more than the recommended dosage of caffeine.

It should also come in different flavors as to not become too repetitive and taste like chalk - trust me, there have been plenty of those in the market. Get a pre-workout powder that you'll enjoy drinking each time you prepare to work out. Your taste buds won't regret it.

In general, pre-workout supplements are safe for most people. But since everyone’s physiology is different, some individuals may experience side effects from using these products. Some of the common side effects include dizziness and nausea as well as a racing heartbeat or increased blood pressure. If you have any health issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease it's important to consult your doctor before taking this type of product.

Our team is here to help. If you're not sure what the best pre-workout supplement is for you, send us a message using our contact form HERE. We can help guide you in the right direction by determining what type of workout routine you have and what would be beneficial for it.

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