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, but are pre workouts bad? Some of the benefits are getting an intense boost of energy, an awesome muscle pump, more strength, and increased motivation and focus.
However, over the years there has been a lot of debate on “is pre workout safe”. I hear the good and the bad from conversations in gym circles, stories from friends, as well as various articles and news feeds.
So I thought it may be helpful to clear up a few of the theories by doing some research on the topic. I will also throw in some of my “common sense” answers to these pre workout questions that I’ve learned from my experience, things that can not be learned in a scientific document.
Exercise supplements are not necessarily regulated by the FDA, so clarify this. We will be reviewing certain ingredients to look out for in pre workout powders, along with the ingredients that are beneficial. Lastly, I’ll review the do’s and don’ts to help in using pre workouts safely.
Are Pre Workouts Bad?
When it comes down to it, a good pre workout should contain only Caffeine and Amino Acids. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, and Amino Acids are proteins that come from the food we eat and are manufactured by our body.
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 bad ingredients to watch out for shortly.
However, if a pre workout supplement correctly it can come with a few temporary side effects. Take too much for one serving can cause vomiting, jitters, and nausea.
These side effects are caused primarily by user error from overdoing it. Someone may think that the more of a supplement taken, the better the effects. I’ve taken too much myself thinking I’m going to get an even more jacked up and have an even more intense workout.
The key to this is to start with the recommended serving and workout your way up. Especially the first time with a new product. Pre workouts are strong, and your body must get used to these ingredients. After getting acclimated to a new pre workout, it seems like I usually end up having my most effective workout with about one and a half servings.
If you have any questions on “are pre workouts bad”, please leave them in the comment box below and I will respond.
Benefits of Pre Workouts
The benefits of a good pre workout supplement far outweigh anything unsafe. Pre workouts are excellent for burning calories and weight loss. Its ability to help burn fat is better than any diet pill.
The motivation and energy that a pre workout gives is unsurpassed even by energy drinks or coffee. You would need to drink 2-4 cups of coffee depending on the pre workout and even then, coffee doesn’t contain those Amino Acids for endurance. They have a thermogenic effect to increase fat burn.
This the motivation created will keep you focused and enable you to get a lot more accomplished as well as going longer without fatigue. The ingredients in a pre workout will also help your muscles to recover faster between sets. This give you more strength between movements.
All of these factors lead to a better workout, which in turn help you accomplish your goals quicker and more easily.
The Good Ingredients: Unless You Over Do It
There is no such thing as an FDA approved pre workout. However, there is nothing to fear about this. The individual ingredients that are found in pre workouts are ok, and can be found on the FDA website. If there is ever any health problems related to a particular pre workout, the FDA will pull it from the shelves.
Vitamin B supplements
Pre Workout Supplements are safe, unless you overdo it. Pre workouts are loaded with nutrients and proteins. Most are also packed with Vitamin B1 through B12. You will see some of these B vitamins labeled as Niacin, Thiamine, and Folic Acid. They will have a daily allowance than your daily vitamin.
Pre workouts contain large amounts of Amino Acid proteins which are essential to muscle growth. This includes BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) which are not only good for you but enhance exercise performance.
One of the key Amino Acids found in a pre workout is Beta-Alanine. Beta-Alanine promotes exercise performance and building muscle mass. This ingredient can cause you to feel a tingling in your head and your body.
This is a normal effect from this Amino Acid. It is for a short time, and there is nothing wrong with this and many people even enjoy this feeling. You can’t take to much of this ingredient, so there is no need to be concerned about this one.
Creatine is an excellent Amino for muscle growth. It is proven to build muscle and improve strength. However, Creatine can increase water retention in a few. For this, there are Creatine Free Pre Workout alternatives.
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 well in a pre workout to make it taste better, just try to use everything in moderation and you will be fine. If you are trying to avoid artificial sugars you can try an Organic Pre Workout.
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 it can give some people 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 several great Caffeine-Free Pre Workout 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 out slow.
If you have any questions regarding these pre workout ingredients, please leave it in the comment box below and I will respond.
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 a 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 result in symptoms and complications.
It just so happens that I have had several brands in the past with proprietary blends and have never had any 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.
Such a small amount is probably not that bad, but if you are trying to stay away from food coloring I recommend trying an All Natural Pre Workout.
The Do’s and the Don’ts
> 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 Organic Pre Workout Alternative
The reason that I’m bringing this up is that these are regulated even stronger than the FDA ever could. The ingredients are overseen by USDA Organic. Any ingredients that can be considered USDA Organic cannot be grown with any pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers or anything else man-made.
This makes these Organic Pre Workouts one step safer for consumption. There are no artificial ingredients such as colors or flavors. The Caffeine and sugars are processed from a natural source. Pre workouts in this category sometimes have less Caffeine per serving and can cost a little more. However, you are getting the highest quality and purest ingredients.
The Pre Workout Safe Conclusion
The research for this post shows that the benefits of a healthy pre workout supplement far outweigh any possible negatives. Side effects can be caused by not being taken correctly. This supplement can be very rewarding for your exercise program at basically no risk.
Pre workouts provide energy, motivation, strength, and performance. We also talked about the benefits of pre workout for weight loss. This is one of the healthiest and most effective ways to burn fat to achieve your goals.
There is no such thing as an FDA approved pre workout since it is the individual ingredients that they review. If there is ever an unsafe pre workout, the FDA would take it off of the shelf. If you would like to further research your ingredients you can look them up at NSF International or USP.
I had also mentioned trying an Organic Pre Workout for an all-natural and chemical-free supplement.
Keep in mind this 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 when taking pre workouts. Start out with a smaller serving and work your way up from there.
Make sure that you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during your workout. This will continuously flush your body of toxins and help you stay focused. Best of luck in achieving your fitness goals.
If you have any further questions about pre workout safety, ingredients or anything else, please leave a comment below and I will respond.