Pre-workout is advertised to boost performance. You may have seen smaller, enticing, colorful containers or bottles in the store when browsing the supplement aisle. They can be sold in powder form to be mixed with water or can be purchased in the form of an energy drink. The most widely known contain caffeine, a stimulant, but there are also pre-workouts on the market that do not contain caffeine or a non-stimulant pre-workout. But what is actually in pre-workout, and can you take it every day?
You should not take pre-workout every day or you may experience side effects, such as insomnia and jitteriness. Pre-workout supplements aren’t currently regulated by the FDA so you can’t always guarantee the product’s safety. They work well to improve focus and aid muscle repair, and it’s best to take pre-workout early in the day to avoid side effects.
In this article, we’ll discuss the ingredients in pre-workout, the difference between non-stimulant and regular pre-workouts, as well as if you should consume pre-workout every day. Let’s dig in!
- What Does a Pre-Workout Contain?
- What is a Non-Stimulant Pre-Workout?
- How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?
- Is It Safe to Take Pre-Workout Daily?
- Side Effects of Pre-Workout
- Best Pre-Workout Supplements
What Does a Pre-Workout Contain?
- Caffeine is typically the number one ingredient in pre-workout supplements. Caffeine assists in providing energy. Depending on the brand, the caffeine content in a pre-workout can range from an average of 200-300mg per serving or even higher.
- Creatine is found mostly only powdered pre-workout, helps provide a quick burst of energy, especially in power athletes such as body builders. It is mostly stored in the muscle, and it is made in our body, and we also obtain it from our diet.
- Amino Acids, the building blocks of proteins, such as Beta Alanine, L-Citrulline, Taurine and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s).
- Beta Alanine can help fight fatigue during a workout.
- L-Citrulline produces nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide helps dilate blood vessels and arteries and improve blood flow.
- Taurine is studied to help with lipid metabolism, energy metabolism and boost energy for workouts.
- BCAA’s are considered essential amino acids which means they cannot be synthesized in your body and must be obtained from foods. BCAA’s may help muscle growth and decrease muscle soreness.
- B Vitamins, such as Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6 are occasionally found in pre-workout as well.
What is a Non-Stimulant Pre-Workout?
A stimulant is described as a substance which helps restore mental alertness when feeling tired or drowsy.
Caffeine is considered a stimulant, so a non-stimulant pre-workout does not contain any caffeine or other stimulants.
Instead, non-stimulant pre-workout will contain ingredients like amino acids, creatine, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Someone that is sensitive to caffeine may opt for a non-stimulant pre-workout to see if they can reap the benefits of the additional ingredients in the supplement for performance.
Believe it or not, beets and beetroot juice actually provide the nitrous oxide circulation benefits as L-Citrulline would.
How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?
If you choose to take pre-workout, you should take it 30 minutes before your workout.
It really depends on the ingredients and the amount of caffeine in your pre-workout. Generally, the effects will last two to three hours.
Is It Safe to Take Pre-Workout Daily?
After reviewing multiple pre-workouts on the market, the best thing to do is read the fine print on the back of the bottle. A number have claims that state to not use for greater that 8 weeks, or more that 5 days in a 7-day week.
While most pre-workouts are considered generally safe, this indicates that taking pre-workout daily might not be the safest option.
Because of the warnings, body builders or athletes may choose to cycle pre-workout supplements based on their performance and physique goals. Otherwise, they may choose to cycle between caffeine containing and non-caffeine containing pre workout.
For example, if someone typically does an afternoon workout but has to wake up for a 5 AM workout once, they may choose to use a pre-workout that day and not use another pre-workout supplement again for weeks.
If you have any medical conditions at all, especially if they impact your heart, liver, or kidneys, taking a pre-workout daily or at all is not recommended and should be discussed with a physician prior to starting.
Side Effects of Pre-Workout
One major side effect for a stimulant pre-workout has to do with the caffeine. If you’re a coffee drinker and also consume pre workout, you could ingest upwards of 500 + milligrams of caffeine (5+ cups of coffee!) which can cause heart palpitations, make you feel jittery, or cause long-term heart problems.
Beta-Alanine can cause a “tingling” sensation which may be uncomfortable some, so it may distract from and decrease athletic performance.
Other reported side effects include nausea/GI symptoms, headaches, energy crash. In this study, over half of users reported side effects from pre-workout.
Pre-workout may also contain artificial sweeteners which some users may want to avoid for health reasons.
It’s important to remember the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements and that include pre-workout. If you are interested in taking pre-workout, make sure the ingredients are third-party tested and try looking the NSF website.
A combination of carbohydrates and protein like an energy bar and coffee before a workout is a natural way to get a pre-workout boost in.
What Happens If You Take Pre-Workout Too Often?
If you take pre-workout too often, your body may become dependent on it. This is especially true if you are taking a stimulant pre-workout that contains high doses of caffeine.
You might feel like you need more doses because your body is budling a tolerance to caffeine. Those negative side effects above could become exacerbated if taken every day, and especially if taken more than directed.
Best Pre-Workout Supplements
- Has all the above ingredients without caffeine
- No artificial sweeteners, 3rd party tested
- $37.99 for 20 servings
- Priced at $37.97, this non stimulant pre workout made of beetroot powder is soy free, dairy free and vegan
While Klean Athlete does have products on Amazon, their pre-workout is not sold there currently.
- It is gluten free, vegan, contains beetroot extract and a smaller amount of caffeine than most pre-workouts, at 75mg
- They are also 3rd party tested
- Priced at $42.50
- Has a stellar ingredients list
- Contains 200mg of caffeine and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians
- No artificial sweeteners
- $44.99 for 50 servings