Our body, like many things we buy, needs to be taken care of for it to function as it should. Therefore, we do our best to eat healthy foods that contain all the vital nutrients that are required to keep the body in optimal shape. But eating good food is not all there is to keep the body healthy and active. According to science, regular exercise and workouts also play a big role in maintaining a fit body.
There are several health benefits that come with regular workouts and physical fitness exercises. They help with proper blood circulation around the body, muscle training, elimination of body aches, and many more physical benefits. It may interest you to know that physical exercise also helps sharpen our minds, build resilience, increase alertness, improve focus, and develop discipline. Overall, we stand to gain a lot from physically tasking our bodies
Many people work out, but some workout regimens and programs are more intense than others. Regular fitness enthusiasts spend less hours at the gym compared to athletes; typically, between one and three hours. Athletes, especially pro athletes, and bodybuilders can spend as long as six hours at the gym grinding and pushing their bodies to their limits. These types of workouts are designed to build strength and body mass.
It takes a lot to grow through these types of sessions, both physically and mentally. Most athletes are very disciplined, and they owe most of that to their regular intense workouts. After spending so much time working their muscles, athletes take quality time to allow their bodies to recover and prepare for their next session.
Most sportspeople have grown accustomed to the pain and understand that to be on top of their game, they need to train hard and train regularly. But there are times when motivation is low, and a little boost is needed to hit the gym again. At these moments, athletes rely on supplements and approved energy drinks to provide a quick burst of energy and get them fired up.
Most supplements are taken before workouts to allow the bones and muscles to endure harder sessions and tougher sets. These supplements are popularly known as pre-workout supplements. Although they are mostly taken by athletes, regular fitness enthusiasts can also use them.
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What are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are often shortened to pre-workouts by sportspeople. They are a range of products that are used by athletes and weightlifters to enhance sports performance. They work to increase energy, focus, and endurance during a workout. Pre-workout supplements contain a variety of ingredients such as creatine and caffeine that have been proven to enhance performance.
They are marketed in different forms including, powder, capsules, bars, tablets, soft gels, and liquids. The first of their kind named Ultimate Orange was recorded in 1982. It was formulated by Dan Duchaine in Venice, California, and since then, its popularity has soared greatly.
There are different brands of these products, and their quality varies significantly between brands. C4 Sport is one of the popular pre-workout supplements on the market today. You can find the benefits of C4 Sports online by running a simple Google search.
Some pre-workouts contain certain ingredients that have been linked to adverse effects. While these products are not banned, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers to exercise caution when purchasing and consuming these products.
What Exactly Do Pre-Workout Supplements Do?
Before every session, it is important for you to fuel yourself properly. Without doing so, you’d likely be weaker and less energized to perform as expected. A pre-workout is designed to prevent this. While they can be taken in different forms, including as meals, they are all designed to increase focus and boost energy levels. Some ingredients contained in these products have been deeply researched and found to be effective while the effectiveness of others remains unclear.
Ingredient in Pre-Workout Supplements
There are different brands that produce these supplements and each is believed to have a different mix of ingredients. That said, certain ingredients can be found in many of these products. Some of them include:
For people that are conscious about what they eat and their nutrition, this ingredient may be pretty obvious. Carbohydrates, also called carbs are the body’s go-to source of energy. It’s no surprise that many experts recommend they be eaten before a workout to fuel properly.
According to George Fear, a board-certified sports dietitian, evidence supports the use of carbohydrates in various athletic applications. During endurance events, they are taken in measures of 30 to 60 g per hour for quick energy boosts. The same is true for sprint events.
During workouts, high-intensity physical exercises, and lifting sessions, the body uses glycogen and blood glucose (stored carbs) as its primary energy source. So, by topping off your carbohydrate levels before a workout, you increase your energy supply which ultimately improves performance. Click here to learn more about this.
Creatine is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in the bone and certain foods. They are relied upon by sportspeople to increase strength and build lean muscle. Creatine nitrate is artificially produced and is more soluble and advanced than natural creatine. Creatine nitrate of NO3-T is effective with pumps and is included in some pre-workout supplements.
Supplements that contain NO3-T are considered to be of higher quality having consistency in every dose. Consistency in the supply of creatine nitrate is the key to getting the best out of it and experiencing that wanted performance boost.
Beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate (HMB)
This is one pre-workout ingredient that has a lot of research backing its effectiveness. HMB is produced by the body out of amino acid leucine that is found in protein-packed foods. To make HMB, the body uses only about 5% of the leucine we get from the foods we eat. So, the only practical way of getting a more substantial amount is artificial, that is, through supplements.
It is worth noting that the strongest research done on HMB is on workout recovery and not pre-work effects. The research revealed that HMB is effective in recovering from long, intense workouts that can cause muscle damage. It helps to enhance muscle growth, improve muscle repair, and reduce muscle breakdown.
In 2018, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a review on HMB. The review suggests that the consumption of HMB contained supplements may have other benefits for the body during workouts. These benefits include improved aerobic performance and increased muscle power.
Caffeine is one of the key ingredients contained in most pre-workout supplements. Some athletes take it separately before their morning session to boost alertness and increase focus. Most supplements contain between 135 and 350 mg of caffeine per serving, way more than the 80 to 100 mg contained in standard coffee. This should help in case you’re wondering why they do not just take coffee.
Several studies have been carried out on caffeine and how it works in the body. They reveal that up to 99% of caffeine ingested orally is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract within forty-five minutes of them entering the body. This makes them perfect for pre-workouts as their effect doesn’t take long to kick in.
Another study done on experienced cyclist showed that those that were caffeine-stimulated performed better than those that weren’t. According to the study, they rode faster than the non-stimulated cyclist for about an hour at 75% peak power output under 9 Fahrenheit. Other studies showed improved mental clarity, reaction time, and focus. All of which can help to improve tolerance for pain.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps muscles endure tougher and longer workout sessions. You see, our muscles are made up of proteins, and proteins are built from amino acids. Our bodies already produce beta-alanine but in smaller quantities. So, it makes sense to supplement those already in our bodies to improve muscle performance. These amino acids can also be found in protein-rich foods like fish, pork, beef, and chicken.
A 2014 review published by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (IJSNEM) shed some light on some of the effects of beta-alanine. According to the review, research showed that amino acids may increase working capacity, improve power output, and decrease fatigue and exhaustion. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Journal_of_Sport_Nutrition_and_Exercise_Metabolism to learn more about IJSNEM.
Beta-alanine is one of the few ingredients in supplements that produce a physical feeling. New consumers may begin to panic once they begin to feel the tingling sensation that comes from consuming beta-alanine. However, this sensation is harmless and should not get you discouraged.
Should Pre-Workout Supplements be Taken Every day?
If you take pre-workouts every day, your body may eventually build a tolerance for it. Experts advise that they be taken in cycles to avoid this. Alternatively, athletes can stay off it for about six to eight weeks at a time to give their bodies enough time to reset.
Are Supplements Safe?
This is perhaps the most asked question when it comes to pre-workout supplements. In truth, the answer to this question depends on several factors. These include your own body’s metabolism, the ingredients contained in the supplement, the brand’s reputation, how often you take them, and your diet, among other things.
Based on clinical research, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) groups pre-workout supplements into the following categories:
- Apparently effective: Most studies suggest that the product is effective and safe for consumption.
- Possibly effective: Initial studies show good results, but more research must be carried out to prove the product’s effectiveness.
- Too early to tell: The supplements claim, and theory makes sense but due to a lack of sufficient evidence, its effectiveness and safety remains unclear.
- Apparently ineffective: Several studies suggest that the product is unsafe and/or ineffective.
According to the ISSN, only pre-workouts that fall into the first category (apparently effective) should be consumed. These brands have been tested and have been found to be both safe and effective.
Whether you’re an athlete, a bodybuilder, or just a regular fitness enthusiast, it is advised that you seek expert advice when choosing what brands to buy. Experts know more about these brands and can give you tips on how to get the best out of these products.
Going out to shop for supplements on your own may be unsafe as many brands use certain ingredients that have been banned for use by sportspeople. Even worse is the fact that some products not only contain banned ingredients, but some contain ingredients that have been proven to have adverse side effects.