You’ve likely heard about the benefits of pre-workout supplements or workout energy drinks, whether you're a gym regular, or you do at-home workouts.
What exactly does they do? What are the benefits of taking pre-workout supplements or workout energy drinks before you exercise?
These supplements are promoted to improve fitness and give you the energy you need to push through challenging exercises.
Here’s what you need to know to determine if taking pre-workout supplements or drinks is right for you.
What is a Pre-Workout?
A pre-workout supplement - sometimes called a pre-workout - is a dietary formula that boosts your energy levels and athletic performance.
They are typically powders you mix with water before working out.
While there are countless formulas available, ingredients rarely follow a consistent pattern. The most common ingredients are amino acids, beta-alanine, caffeine, creatine, and artificial sweeteners, though the amount depends on the brand.
Why Do People Take Pre-Workout?
Pre-workouts and workout energy drinks are popular because it helps individuals rev up so they can exercise harder, or it simply makes them feel better and less zonked during exercise. This pre-workout is designed to improve performance, mainly by boosting energy and focusing the mind.
It is possible to take pre-workouts and workout energy drinks before a variety of workouts, from an interval-heavy running workout to a HIIT class, from attempting to increase one-rep max on the back squat to simply having enough energy left over for the final burpee.
Benefits of a Pre-Workout
Pre-workout supplements and workout energy drinks have been the subject of very little research. There is, however, some evidence that some ingredients might be beneficial to athletes.
In general, carbs are great fuel for your body-they're your body's most dominant source of energy before a workout.
If you exercise intensely-especially in boot camps, indoor cycling classes, and lifting sessions-the body will use blood glucose and glycogen (stored carbs) as its primary energy source. Consequently, topping off your energy levels before exercising can help you perform better and have more energy available.
Research shows caffeine can help improve sports performance as well since it is a stimulant known for boosting energy and alertness. Studies on caffeine's ability to improve workout performance have generally been done on small sample sizes, but there's a lot of evidence backing this claim. Having reviewed 21 previously published meta-analyses on caffeine, a 2020 review concluded that supplemental consumption of it enhanced aerobic endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, jumping performance, and speed.
3. Beetroot Juice
A 2017 review of relevant studies found that beetroot juice consistently increases blood vessel expansion and increases blood flow and is also proven to improve cardiovascular performance.
Even though beet research is relatively new, and the majority of the studies have been small, all of them have shown promising results so far.
4. Creatine Monohydrate
Pre-workout supplements often contain creatine monohydrates. Created naturally in the body, creatine is an amino acid derivative stored in muscles for quick energy. By increasing your exertion during your workout, creatine can promote greater muscle growth, particularly for high-intensity intervals.
5. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)
The ingredient beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) has also been backed by research; your body naturally synthesizes it from the amino acid leucine found in protein-rich foods. Approximately 5% of the leucine you consume is used in the body to make HMB, so you need to supplement to obtain a substantial amount more of it.
To get the most out of HMB, you can't take it just once before working out. HMB is recommended for use by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) about an hour or two before working out, and it is recommended that you consume three grams each day (total) for at least two weeks to maximize its effects.