Pre Workout : Should You Indulge or Stay Clear
Edited by: Luxshmi Nageswaran
The pre-workout industry is an intricate and abundant one. From the online ads on Instagram to the in-person flyers at local gyms and stores, information about pre-workout is always in front of us. For those that workout or those longing to gain more motivation to show up to a gym, finding the extra energy to hit a personal recordor simply get out of the door sounds ideal. According to the Reporter Link, the global pre-workout supplements market size is expected to reach $21.2 billion by 2026, rising at a market growth of 10.7% (1). Pre workout is described as a supplement designed to increase energy and athletic performance (2). While several formulas exist, most of the common ingredients include: caffeine, creatinine, and BCAA (branched chained amino acids). But does it work? And is it even worth it?
Boost of Energy
The main positive effect of pre workout is to boosts energy (2). With caffeine being a major ingredient in pre-workout, one serving is approximately equal to 1-3 cups of coffee. Caffeine is a “stimulant” that improves alertness. It acts as an adenosine receptor antagonist and has been shown to acutely improve cognition as well as performance during endurance, power, and resistance exercise (3). With the increased energy, fatigue has shown to be decreased during exercise, specifically in endurance exercise. For individuals who need that extra boost of energy when waking up and or after a long day of work, pre-workout can act as a great aid.
Sticking to a Routine
While the physical benefits of pre-workout exists, the act of having a ritual can improve the ability to form habits and be motivated to keep exercising. The mental preparedness that comes with taking pre-workout may provide users the opportunity to disconnect from tasks/obligations that may be overtaking their time and energy. Once exercise becomes an enjoyable habit in life, you are able to stick to it for the long term. With the variety of flavours that come with pre-workout, this routine may also act as a treat for those who need the extra push.
Resistance training, in addition to BCAA ingestion, has shown to increase muscle synthesis and inhibit muscle breakdown (2). BCAA’s are amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. BCAA’s are found in foods such as eggs and meat, but supplementary protein has been shown to increase muscle size and strength. This increase is heightened when combined with resistance training (4). Resistance training is recommended twice weekly by the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. Benefits of resistance training beyond gaining muscle mass include increased strength, increased balance and increased bone density/ reduced osteoporosis risk (5).
Other than protein and caffeine, pre-workout contains ingredients such as magnesium and sugars alcohols (sorbitol), which can have an osmotic effect in the gut causing water to move out of the body and into the intestines (6). This may lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Symptoms include tiredness, increased thirst, headaches, dry mouth and reduced ability to complete workouts. It is vital that those who use pre-workout identify an appropriate serving to mitigate the risks associated with overconsumption.
Caffeine, which acts as the major energy boosting ingredient in pre workout, may cause enhanced stimulation and illicit feelings of anxiousness, agitation or nervousness (6). With each individual having different caffeine sensitivities, determining the right amount of pre-workout to use is essential. Recall that one serving is up to three cups of coffee. Some users often describe that they experience reduced sleep, irritability and/or jitters when consuming pre-workout7.
Just like many substances that go into our bodies, pre workout tolerance can increase over time. By increasing the amount of pre-workout used over time to compensate for this tolerance, one may be dependent on large amounts of pre-workout to achieve desired effects (7). If/when users that are dependent try cut out pre-workout/ caffeine, side effects such as reduced performance, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and changes in one’s mood may occur.
In Enayble Health fashion, it is vital to examine the cost associated with pre-workout. Pre workout just like many other supplements can be costly. For many individuals, spending additional costs on supplements may not be feasible and may pose a barrier to achieving fitness goals for those who rely on them. In conclusion, those who need a boost of energy, want to form habits or desire to optimize muscle growth when working out may see benefits with pre-workout. On the other hand it is essential that users monitor intake for side effects. With pre-workout becoming more popular within the mainstream fitness industry, it is also important that regulations can come into place to ensure that consumers are protected from unwanted/ harmful ingredients. Users should also do their diligence to read the ingredients. Thanks for reading. Summary
Pre-workout is described as a supplement designed to increase energy and athletic performance. Common ingredients include: caffeine, creatinine, and BCAA (branched chained amino acids).
Boost of Energy
With caffeine being a major ingredient in pre-workout, one serving is approximately equal to 1-3 cups of coffee.
Resistance training in addition to BCAA ingestion has shown to increase muscle synthesis and inhibit muscle breakdown.
Sticking to a Routine
While the physical benefits of pre- workout exists, the act of having a ritual can improve one’s ability to form habits and be motivated to keep exercising.
Pre-workout also contains ingredients such as magnesium and sugars alcohols (sorbitol) that can have an osmotic effect in the gut, causing water to move out of the body
By increasing the amount of pre-workout used over time to compensate for tolerance, one may be dependent on large amounts of pre-workout to achieve desired results.
Caffeine, which acts as the major energy boosting ingredient, may cause enhanced stimulation and illicit feelings of anxiousness, agitation or nervousness.