If you are a fitness enthusiast, you must have heard of pre-workout supplements. These products have become increasingly popular, mostly because they improve power and endurance when training. That said, some people argue against them because of potential side effects.
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What is a Pre-workout Supplement?
A pre-workout supplement is a powdery substance that boosts performance and improves endurance if taken before training.
It is worth noting that each supplement has a unique formula. Most leading brands have a ‘proprietary blend,’ meaning that the ingredients’ concentration is not revealed.
Benefits of Pre-workout Supplements
While there’s little consistency in terms of ingredients, the nutrients found in most pre-workout supplements are amino acids, creatine, caffeine, and vitamin B. Most manufacturers add artificial sweeteners to make the supplements tasty.
The caffeine in pre-workout supplements improves your focus and energy during training. More specifically, it enhances aerobic and muscle endurance, jumping performance, and speed.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that increases muscular strength. Although it is often blended into pre-workout formulas, you can also purchase it as a standalone supplement.
When you take pre-workout supplements, the amount of creatine in your body increases. As a result, you increase muscle mass and strength, improve performance and recover faster. Creatine also improves cognition and reduces the risk of depression and heart disease.
Another benefit of pre-workout supplements is stimulating the production of nitric oxide. This natural compound dilates blood vessels to improve circulation.
Some supplements have L-Arginine and L-Citrulline, the two compounds that your body uses to produce nitric oxide. When you take them, you perform better at the gym because of the improved circulation.
Potential Side Effects
Supplements are generally safe, but the high concentrations of nutrients in them can hurt some users. For instance, excessive caffeine consumption can increase heart rate and cause diarrhea, jitters, and nausea in some people. Although every person has their tolerance level, it is advisable to avoid products that contain more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of a particular nutrient.
Additionally, prolonged supplementation with vitamin B6 and B12 increases the risk of lung cancer in men. On its part, excessive vitamin A damages your liver.
There’s no need to supplement beyond the recommended daily nutrient intake. Keep in mind that too much of these ingredients increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses.
What to Know Before Taking Pre-workout Supplements?
Always remember that you can get nutrients from food. For example, you can eat bread or whole grains if you want carbs for energy before hitting the gym. You can also take a cup of coffee to ramp up your caffeine levels.
Additionally, eat a few grams of protein and keep fibre and fat to a minimum. This is because the latter two slow down digestion, which is why you experience gastrointestinal discomfort when exercising.
Pre-workout supplements can push you to go for a workout, particularly when you feel hesitant. However, use them moderately and remember that they are not substitutes for food.