Pre workout supplements have been held in high regard by the fitness community since nutritional supplements first started to catch on. The rewards for taking a pre workout is high. You get a great boost of energy, you can feel your muscles pumping, your blood flows stronger and your have more motivated and focus.
However, over the years there has been a lot of debate regarding whether pre workout is safe or not. I’ve heard both good and bad things from conversations in gym circles, stories from that one friend that knows nothing about supplements except for hearsay, and articles and news feeds that I read online.
So I thought that I would clarify a few theories by doing some research on the topic. I will also throw in some of my “common sense” answers to pre workout questions that I have learned from my experience, that can not be learned in a scientific document.
We will be reviewing certain chemicals to look out for in pre workout powders and the ingredients that are beneficial to look for. It makes sense to also review the do’s and don’ts that will help keep you safe when taking pre workout supplements. And of course, let’s find out if pre workout is safe.
If you would like to know more about pre workout ingredients, check out my C4 Pre Workout Ingredient Review.
Are Pre Workouts Bad?
When it comes down to it, pre workout if taken in proper doses can be safe and well worth the energy boost and other positive effects that it provides. Most pre workouts do not have any harmful ingredients or an excess of anything that will harm you. We will get into any possible ingredients shortly.
However, if it is not used correctly it can come with a multitude of side effects. You could see vomiting, jitters, cramps, high blood pressure and cardiac arrest in rare cases.
What I am stating is that the side effects or medical issues that can be caused by pre workout are generally do to user error. This is primarily by taking too much.
Of course, you want to over indulge to get jacked up on your first time with a new pre workout supplement, but it is important to start out slowly with the recommended serving. Avoid over doing it, since this is when the side effects come in to play.
The Good Ingredients; Unless You Over Do It
Pre Workout Supplements are safe, unless you over do it. Pre workouts are loaded with nutrients and protein. Most are packed with Vitamin B1 though B12. You will see some of these vitamins labeled as Niacin, Thiamine and Folic Acid. Some have as much as your daily vitamin pill.
They also carry large amounts of Amino Acids with are essential to muscle growth. This includes BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) which are not only good for you, but enhance exercise performance.
There are other ingredients such as Beta Alanine which is another naturally found protein. Beta Alanine with exercise performance and building muscle mass. This ingredient can cause you to feel a tingling in your head and your body.
This tingling effect is normal and there is nothing wrong with it, and will subside shortly. Many gym goers enjoy this feeling. Pre workout companies don’t seem to over do this ingredient, so you don’t need to be concerned about watching the label for quantities.
Creatine is another protein that works well with some. For more information on this, I have a Post on Pre Workout and Creatine.
Pre workout supplements frequently contain artificial sweeteners. I’ve mainly seen Sucralose in both my pre workout and my post workout supplements.
This and other artificial sweeteners used in pre workouts have not been proven to be bad for your health. However, with large quantities of these sweeteners will give some people intestinal discomfort.
Sucralose works good in a pre workout to make it taste better, just try to use everything in moderation and you will be fine.
Caffeine can also be good for you, but once again in moderation. Some pre workout supplements contain up to 400mg of caffeine in a single serving. This is added to the cup(or cups) of the Coffee that you already drank this morning.
Caffeine is the most effective ingredient in pre workouts, but some can get anxiety, nervousness and impaired sleep if they are not used to it or take to much. Try to monitor your quantity. The other options can be to either find a brand with less caffeine, or there are many Caffeine-Free alternatives available.
One last reminder to watch your serving size. You may want to start out the first time with a little less than one serving(one scoop) to possibly avoid any of these side effects. The key to taking pre workout safely is to start slow.
The Bad Ingredients
Watch out for DMAA or dimethylamylamine. This is an amphetamine sometimes found in weight loss products and pre workout supplements. DMAA can raise your blood pressure and can lead to cardiovascular problems that range from shortness of breath, to tightening in the chest, to heart attack.
Proprietary blends. These enable companies to hide the dosages of each ingredient and avoid listing the ingredients on the label. Therefore, it enables companies to hide dosages of each ingredient or will avoid listing ingredients on the label. Sometimes they will fill this line item with cheaper ingredients that results in symptoms and complications.
It just so happens that I have had several brands in the past with proprietary blends with no side effects, but this may not always be the case.
Now on to food coloring. It seems that most of the food we eat contains this. In fact, it’s very hard to get away from eating food coloring completely. However, there really is not too much food coloring in one scoop or one serving of pre workout to be concerned about, but that’s just my opinion.
I just thought that I would mention this since some people frown on artificial coloring. Once again, you will only be taking such a small amount that I don’t think that it is a factor.
> Check for the amount of Caffeine if you are more sensitive to it than most
> Use the proper serving size, then work your way up in small increments
> Drink lots of water, since some ingredients can dehydrate you
> Check the label for the few “bad ingredients” that we discussed
> Overdo your quantity!!
> Decide on a pre workout without reading the ingredients
> Buy your pre workout without reading reviews
> Buy caffeine if you are sensitive to it, they even have Caffeine-Free alternatives
The Pre Workout Conclusion
The research for this post shows that the health and fitness benefits of pre workout supplements far outweigh the negatives or side effects, as long as it is taken correctly. You get a lot of healthy rewards for basically no risk.
Anything this easy to take and for such a reasonable price that will help you get closer to your physical goals seems well worth it. To answer the question of our topic, pre workouts are not bad.
he FDA does not approve pre workout powders or other supplements. Nutritional and workout supplements are one of the only unregulated food industry. However, if you would like to further research your ingredients you can look them up at NSF International or USP. The FDA won’t have this kind of information information on supplements.
Keep in mind the cardinal rule, everything in moderation. If you are like me, you go through life with the “more is better theory”. This is far from good with taking pre workouts. Make sure that you drink plenty of water with your pre workout and during your workout. This will continuously flush your body of toxins and help to keep you focused. Good luck achieving your fitness goals.
I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about pre workout and the pros and cons or would llike to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below.