Pre-workout supplements have always captivated the attention of fitness enthusiasts and youngsters who hit the gym regularly. These supplements are used before strenuous workout sessions and intensive physical activity. The additives increase your performance at a faster rate.
You can divide them into two broad categories: stimulant and stimulant-free pre-workout supplements.
Supplements come in different forms as well! These could be pills, ready-to-drink protein shakes or pre-exercise powders. You can have them with either a glass of water or milk.
Every ingredient in a supplement has a different effect on your metabolism depending on its chemical properties. Moreover, nutrition brands experiment with their composition to offer a specific benefit to end users.
For example, a higher amount of caffeine in a given pre-workout supplement will have a stimulatory effect on your concentration levels.
So, you need to be aware of the chemical composition of the supplement that you are planning to buy. Consuming these supplements blindly as per your gym instructor’s advice won’t be beneficial in the longer run.
In this article, I will highlight six ingredients that are used widely in most of the pre-workout supplements.
You will find caffeine in most supplements due to its public benefits.
At the molecular level, it acts on our nervous system, especially the Central Nervous System (CNS).
The benefits include – increasing the amount of energy that’s burned by your body, promoting muscle endurance and strength improvement. It also improves the anaerobic performance in your body.
There are specific stimulatory effects associated with caffeine such as increased alertness and better body coordination.
Side-effects of substance abuse: Mild anxiety, insomnia, increased sleep latency, and reduced coordination.
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that’s also naturally found in our bodies. Its primary function is to promote muscle strength by maintaining pH levels.
When performing a high-intensity exercise, muscles secrete lactic acid, which decreases pH levels and makes you feel fatigued.
Side-effects of substance abuse: Paraesthesia, an unusual sensation typically described as “tingling of the skin.”
It is a well-researched substance that is quite popular amongst professional bodybuilders. They use it to increase their muscle mass, strength, and overall performance.
It shares many chemical similarities with amino acids. Our body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine. By reducing protein breakdown and increasing cell hydration, it improves our workout performance significantly.
Some people might face difficulties in absorbing creatine into their muscle cells, due to genetic reasons.
Side-effects of substance abuse: No reports of harmful effects.
Isolated Amino Acids
Amino acids are integral components of protein and help in transporting nutrients to various cells and storing them.
As far as pre-workout supplements are concerned, they are very commonly taken as BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids). The primary difference between BCAAs and pure amino acids is their molecular structure.
Studies have shown that amino acids increase strength performance by reducing the catabolic effect that training and dieting have on your muscles. So they help you to build muscle mass and lose weight at the same time.
Side-effects of substance abuse: Fatigue, headaches, nausea, headaches, and increased insulin resistance (which can lead to Type 2 diabetes).
Citrulline is an amino acid that is produced naturally in our body.
By nature, it is a vasodilator and improves the blood flow in our human body.
If we talk about dietary or pre-workout supplements then there are two significant forms of citrulline:
L-citrulline: This refers to citrulline by itself, with nothing else attached to it.
Citrulline malate: It is the combination of citrulline and another compound called malate, which is essential for energy production.
It increases the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and improves the utilization of BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) in the human body. It also reduces blood ammonia levels and lactic acid formation.
- Side-effects of substance abuse: No reports of harmful effects.
You might have come across sodium bicarbonate as a common household ingredient. However, it is helpful in some of the best pre-workout supplements that are available in the market today.
When athletes perform intense activities for a shorter duration of time, they experience a burning sensation in their muscles. It is due to the buildup of lactic acid in the muscle cells.
Like beta-alanine, sodium bicarbonate has a buffering effect on our muscles. However, this benefit is limited only to intense exercises like sprints and is not applicable for more extended workout sessions.
- Side-effects of substance abuse: Upset stomach
A Final Word
Pre-workout supplements have long-lasting benefits on your fitness performance. However, it would help if you were cautious before consuming them. The recommended doses should not exceed. If you are a beginner, then you can take only half of the advised dosage. Read the ingredient label of the bottle, and choose the supplements accordingly.
Finally, be aware of fake brands and always buy supplements from authorized sellers.