When it comes to your pre workout supplements, it’s always best to check out the ingredients before you take it.
Now, one thing you do have to look out for, are things called proprietary blends. These are blends that are supposed to aid the supplement in some way, but doses or ingredients are never blatantly displayed. So be careful when purchasing a supplement that does not state all the ingredients as well as the doses of said ingredients per serving.
There are lots of different kinds of ingredients that are used in pre workout supplements. Each of them affect your body differently and varies depending on the dose taken.
A lot of people prefer all natural ingredients, because there is said to be a lower risk involved when taking supplements with naturally occurring material.
That does not mean that natural ingredients are necessarily more effective or safer, however with these kinds of ingredients you know exactly what you’re going to get, and you can find out whether it’s good for you or not.
Note, when choosing your supplement of choice, take care to consider your allergies or any medications that you may be taking at the time. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements regularly if that is the case, so you know whether it is safe for you to take.
Okay. Down to business. What exactly are the best natural ingredients that you should look out for when buying your pre workout supplements?
If this is not your first round’ the block, then I’m sure you’ve seen caffeine in many of the labels of pre workout supplements. There is a pretty good reason for that.
In fact, I’m sure you might know a bit about it yourself.
As I’m sure you know, caffeine is the main ingredient in the coffee that you (or maybe someone you know) drinks. People who drink coffee tend to naturally form a habit around drinking the beverage regularly.
This is because “…caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine does cause mild physical dependence.”
That doesn’t make a bad thing, the ‘addiction’ is fairly mild, but there are people I know, who ever so slowly drowns themselves more and more in coffee. The more of it they drink, the more they want.
It is not so bad that it ruins your life, but there is a dependence there that makes you want to drink more and more.
Now, this is not something that is likely to happen, so long as you don’t take more than the recommended doses of caffeine per day. This doesn’t just mean coffee, but sodas, candy, and even pre workout supplements.
Are there any side-effects involved?
Aside from the aforementioned ‘physical dependence,’ there are actually a couple more things that caffeine does to you body, that might not necessarily be a good thing.
Caffeine gives you an artificial high that boosts your energy and makes you feel like you can do anything! However these highs can lead to some seriously bad lows.
The thing about caffeine is that when it eventually loses its effects, there is a resulting ‘crash’ that makes you feel exhausted. Some people may decide to take more caffeine because of this, as they don’t feel like they can function outside of that caffeine rush.
This leads “…to daily fluctuations in energy and alertness, and possibly to eventual chronic adrenal exhaustion.” Which leads to “…intense or prolonged stress.”
That may seem scary to you, and it should. Because caffeine is something that you should take in moderation. Make sure you are not getting more than the recommended dose of caffeine in whatever supplement it is that you are taking. This way you won’t fall into the ‘crash’ zone.
So now that we’ve talked about the possible negative side effects, let’s talk about the…
Benefits that come with using Caffeine RESPONSIBLY.
The main reason people use caffeine as a pre workout ingredient is because it provides energy. It is said and has been proven to boost performance, whether it be in workouts that require endurance or quick bursts of energy.
The recommended dose is around 100-300 mg for the average person. More specifically however it is around 1.8 to 2.7mg per kilogram of your body weight.
Caffeine doesn’t affect people the same way. For example if you are a regular coffee drinker, and you drink high volumes of it everyday, then caffeine is not going to affect you as strongly as it will someone who does not consume caffeine on a regular basis.
Caffeine doesn’t just make you feel energetic, it’s also been said to take away fatigue. So that your mind and body remains alert throughout the exercise.
So long as you use caffeine responsibly, then you will be fine. It is an ingredient you have to look out for when buying your pre workout supplements. If caffeine is on the label, check the amount of milligrams of caffeine there is per dose, and whether or not that will be good for your body.
#2 Betaine Anhydrous
Betaine is something that is produced in your body, however you can also find it in beets, spinach, seafood, etc.
It does a lot for the body, but the main things to look out for involving Betaine as a pre workout ingredient is that is known as a “… pre-workout performance enhancer (for power and energy boosts) and also a possible adjunct for fat-loss regimens.”
Which basically means that it increases your energy levels and helps you burn fat at the same time. Taking Betaine before your workout is said to help you be able to lift more weight than normal as it supposedly increases your strength.
There was a study done in 2013, that supposedly ended up with the subjects being able to gain more lean muscle mass, just by taking 1.25 grams of betaine per day for 6 weeks.
That brings us to our recommended dose. Which is is 2g per day, to start. The dose can be safely doubled, however it must be done overtime and taking during separate times of the day.
Much like caffeine there are mild risks involved in taking Betaine, however those are highly dependent on how much of it you are taking. The three known side-effects include: Nausea, Gastrointestinal upset and (rarely) diarrhea
This particularly ingredient is said to help you with muscle endurance. What that means, is that it allows you to keep up certain workouts for longer periods at a time. The way it does this is by keeping a certain pH level in your body. It is said to be found in pork, fish, chicken, etc.
The recommended dose is actually fairly low, so please be mindful about that when you check out the labels for the supplements that you are considering to take. Around 1.5 grams should be average, nothing too crazy.
It’s effects on your body are plain to see, that also means the side-effects are as well. Beta-alanine is said to cause a tingling sensation all over your body. This is not particularly harmful, however, a lot of people dislike the feeling.
If this is not something you want to experience yourself, all you have to do is break apart the doses you take throughout the day.
#4 Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Amino Acids help build up protein, the three main ones are involved in BCAAs. The main one is called leucine, this is a “… muscle building powerhouse.” The other two are called isoleucine and valine.
All three help out in making and metabolising protein. When it comes to BCAAs the ratio between the three different amino acids are important. Leucine are two parts to, isoleucine and valine one part. Making a 2:1:1 ratio.
This doesn’t just help you build muscle, but it also keeps muscle-soreness (that comes from working out) away, or at least tampering it down so you can heal faster and work out more. The recommended dose is 2 to 3 grams, to be taken throughout the day.
#5 L-Citrulline Di Malate
This is an ingredient that is sourced from watermelons, and it is a natural amino acid that is produced in your body from other amino acids.
Taking in extra L-Citrulline helps boost your energy level, leading to a higher level of performance. It also reduces the burning sensation that comes after an intense workout.
This is naturally found in your body, but taking in more via supplements shouldn’t do any more harm. This also leads to the creation of another amino acid called L-arginine and nitric oxide. Both of which are good for your heart and the health of your blood vessels.
The recommended dose is around 5000mg, which might seem a lot, but this is the amount needed for it to be effective.
#6 Creatine Monohydrate
If you want something that will help you push your workouts to the extreme, Creatine is the way to go. This not only helps you build muscle but it also increases your ability to lift more weights.
There haven’t been much studies done on Creatine, however the recommended dose is around 5 grams. You can multiply the dosage a couple of times and it will be okay, however if you’re just starting off stick with the recommended 5g.
L-Theanine is an ingredient that increases your focus and also helps keep you from crashing from the other ingredients in the supplement.
For example, it works very well with caffeine, as it dampens caffeine’s tendency to cause a crash when you take in too much. So in occasions where you see L-Theanine on a label, one of it’s greater uses is working together with the other ingredients and making them more effective.
The regular dose is around 150 milligrams, and it can be found in foods like: Halibut, Mackerel, Almonds, Bananas, Broccoli, etc. It can also be found in green tea. It actually is fairly effective when it comes to maintaining a healthy blood pressure and treating anxiety.
This is something that can be found in black pepper, and it is usually used as an ingredient that increases the absorption rate of other ingredients.
If you find this ingredient in your supplement it’s mostly to ensure that you will be getting the promised benefits that the other ingredients are said to give. The recommended dosage is around 5 mg per serving.
Whilst this is not something that directly affects muscle-building or fat burning, it does help the effectiveness of other ingredients.
Often found in red meat and dairy products, this ingredient is best known for it’s ability to reduce fatigue. It’s also been said to reduce muscle damage, helping you recover quicker and be able to work out more.
The recommended dose is around 500 milligrams, otherwise it won’t be very effective.
In the body it is found mostly in the heart and the skeletal tissue. It is sometimes called a “ferry” as it helps move fatty acids to where they need to go in order to produce more energy.
#10 Alpha GPC
It is proven to help you become more alert during workouts, but also helps increase your performance levels. It is produced naturally in the body, and is found in the brain. The recommended dose is around 300-600 milligrams per day.
Outside of the body-building and pre workout community, Alpha GPC is well known to help treat Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The lesson to take out of this is fairly simple, get to know the ingredients in your pre workout supplements and find out whether you’re getting enough or too much. Depending on the brands the dosages will differ, so chose carefully.
1. WebMD Brain and Nervous System https://www.webmd.com/brain/default.htm
2. Dani Veracity The hidden dangers of caffeine: How coffee causes exhaustion, fatigue and addiction https://www.naturalnews.com/012352_caffeine_coffee.html
3. Jacked Factory Betaine Anhydrous: An In-Depth Look at a Powerhouse ingredient https://www.jackedfactory.com/betaine-anhydrous/
4. Jason M. Cholewa Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-39
5. Chris Mohr PH.D R.D. Lift Weights? Here’s What you should know about taking BCAAs https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-39