Pre-workout supplements have grown in popularity among athletes, bodybuilders, and trainers who want to enhance their athletic performance and obtain an extra boost during workouts. Many fitness experts have started to question whether the best pre-workout supplements are truly effective after sales of sports nutrition pills increased dramatically. Is it possible that they’re all just a lot of hot air?
The Supplements Industry
Although the best pre-workout supplements, such as vitamins, diet pills, and other nutriceuticals, are largely unregulated by the FDA in the United States, they are tightly controlled by organizations like WADA. Because of their small size and ease of dispensing, homeopathic medicines are not held to the same high standards as pharmaceutical drugs.
Even the most basic aspirin, which you may purchase over-the-counter at any pharmacy or grocery store, has gone through (and continues to go through) extensive testing to determine how safe and effective it is in a variety of patient groups and medical situations. This is not necessary for nutritional supplements, which are not classified as drugs but rather fall into a distinct food category.
The FDA only steps in when a product’s label or advertising claims something that is far outside the bounds of objective reality. Only the most outrageous claims are typically disputed by regulators. In general, the claims for health benefits—including how well a supplement will help you maintain or improve your health, mood, or performance—are seldom questioned, even if there is little evidence to back up the claims.
This isn’t to suggest that over-the-counter pills aren’t beneficial; many of them are. However, it is critical to do your homework and not accept a manufacturer’s claim at face value.
The Best Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients
The best pre-workout supplements usually contain a unique combination of compounds. While manufacturers claim that their special blend is responsible for the energy boost, there’s almost always just one component behind the buzz: caffeine.
It’s no surprise that pre-workout supplements are high in this mineral. In fact, certain best-selling brands have 400 milligrams (mg) per serving. That’s equivalent to drinking four cups of coffee. Many top names offer 150 mg to 300 mg per dose on average.
Other components that are present in pre-workouts include creatine, L-arginine, β-alanine, taurine, and betaine. Guarana is a plant-based stimulant that has twice the caffeine per gram as coffee beans. While there is evidence that some substances work, others are based on only personal experience.
Caffeine has been shown to raise metabolic rate, enhance endurance, and decrease tiredness whether you’re active or not. It also activates the central nervous system, improving brain function and promoting a more productive and successful workout.
Creatine is one of the most commonly used bodybuilding supplements, and there’s a lot of evidence to support it. creatine is produced from amino acids and concentrated in muscle cells for bursts of energy such as sprinting or powerlifting.
Creatine supplementation helped with muscular growth, strength, and performance during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN).
As a branch-chained amino acid, L-arginine is required for protein synthesis. L-arginine also plays a key role in the formation of nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes your blood vessels and allows better blood flow and oxygen exchange. Despite these metabolic functions, there is scant scientific evidence to support the idea that supplementation can boost athletic performance.
The primary ingredient in most non-prescription supplements is beta-alanine, also known as beta-alanine. It promotes nerve signal function by being a naturally occurring amino acid produced in your liver. Supplementation has been shown to delay the development of neuromuscular tiredness and improve sports performance in some studies.
The product can, on occasion, overstimulate nerve cells, resulting in tingling feelings known as paresthesia. Because this adverse effect is dependent on dosage, it’s usually preferable to take a specific supplement to limit intake more precisely.
Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in the brain, muscles, and organ tissues. It acts as a neurotransmitter, maintaining cell membranes and transporting nutrients throughout the body.
Taurine is important for metabolic function, but there’s conflicting evidence about the impact supplementation has on athletic performance. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, taurine combined with caffeine may actually boost rather than delay muscular tiredness.
Betaine is an amino acid that aids in the metabolism of fat and normal liver function. In a small trial conducted in 2013, betaine supplementation improved body composition, muscular size, and work capacity in 23 individuals who completed a six-week program of bench press and back squat training. Although betaine supplementation improved power, it didn’t seem to improve strength.
Effectiveness of Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements simply improve performance by putting you in a caffeine state. There is no evidence that combining the components will better physical or medical outcomes.
According to studies, the goods do not only lack scientific evidence, but they may also be hazardous to one’s health. These dangers are greater for people with high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, diabetes, or pre-diabetes.
The best pre-workout supplements, according to research, can improve blood flow in the muscles during high-intensity workouts (greater than 80% exercise load), but there was no evidence of enhanced body composition or strength compared to a matched set of individuals who didn’t take the pills.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are present in some pre-workout supplements. There is evidence that they aid in recovery, but whether they work better as a pre-workout supplement to increase performance or build muscle remains to be seen.
While it may appear to be a good idea to put all of your workout supplements in one scoop, you can frequently save money and have more control by buying them separately. When it comes to coffee, enjoy it in moderation. While it may help you push through a workout, it can also contribute to fluid loss and dehydration. It’s wise to consult your doctor when using any supplement because the benefits and risks should be evaluated carefully.