Pre-Workout: Yay or Nay
Yesterday, I received my protein supplements in the mail and with the box came a free sample of C4, a pre-workout supplement. Pre-workout supplements have been controversial and are highly scrutinized. So, what is a pre-workout supplement and how does it help?
Pre-workout supplements are powders that contain ingredients such as:
Arginine: Changes into nitric oxide (NO) to improve circulation
Beta-alanine: An amino acid that combines with histidine to form carnosine
Betaine: (trimethylglycine); prevents buildup of amino acids that can harm blood vessels
Caffeine: Stimulant to make your body feel more “awake”
BCAAs: Increases blood flow, metabolism, and recovery
Citrulline Malate: Amino acid combination that removes ammonia from the body
Creatine: Generates ATP for quick energy, greater fluid absorption to muscles
Glycerol: A sugar alcohol/carbohydrate for energy and fatty acids
Taurine: An amino acid that digests fats, increases endurance and reduces muscle fatigue
Tyrosine: Component for the production of “feel good” hormones such as epinephrine and dopamine
The highlighted areas show positive reasons to use a pre-workout. Noted above, the ingredients found in pre-workout supplements can raise your heart rate, increase blood flow, and produce hormones.
However; the caffeine levels are greater than a cup of coffee and side effects may include nausea, headaches, and “tingly” sensations on your skin. Be careful with pre-workout supplements because of the change in heart rate and blood flow. If you take pre-workout and engage in aerobic strenuous activity, you may put too much strain on the heart and in severe cases, put yourself at risk for cardiac arrest.
Personally, I stay away from pre-workout supplements. The idea that my heart rate is altered through a non FDA-tested powder is enough to ward me away from pre-workout. Additionally, if you take pre-workout without proper cycling, going to the gym without it may make you realize you've developed a crutch. Some suggestions for alternative energy are:
Try green tea or coffee 20 min before the gym to get the same caffeine and energy boost.
Make a fruit smoothie before the gym for natural sugar and healthy vitamins.
Eat some light snacks before the gym. A fruit like banana or granola bar can give you that added energy.
Music. Everyone has a different style, but music can increase your heart rate and release dopamine similar to pre-workout. Find your jam and find the energy to keep working hard.
The Verdict: NAY
Of course, if you have used pre-workout properly and it is working for you, who am I to stop your gains? I believe you can do it without the pre-workout, and I hope I can make you believe as well. That being said, I would rather see you take the supplement, feel better about yourself, and be productive with your workouts if you need it. Later on, you can begin to wean from its use.
I do not own the images used in this article nor am I affiliated with the brands identified. All images were found using Google images and the rights to the images remain with their original owner. Consult your physician or health care provider before taking any supplements to see if they are right for you. Supplements are not intended to cure or prevent any diseases or injury. Results may vary.