REAL + PRACTICAL: Pre-workout Supplements
Have you ever wanted to know more about pre-workout supplements? Or maybe you just want to know what’s in them and what they do for you? It’s important to know what they are and what brands are out there. You NEED to know what you are consuming! Some companies aren’t specific about where they get their ingredients. Others slap caffeine into their product and call it a pre-workout supplement, when in reality it’s just giving you energy without the important benefits of different ingredients. But, maybe you don’t need all those other ingredients. Doing research about the products you want to use is the best way to find out what you are consuming and if it is a reliable brand.
Here is a list of ingredients that are typically found in a pre-workout supplement:
Caffeine: This is where the energy comes from. Caffeine stimulates the brain's alertness and makes you feel less tired. People want caffeine specifically to get them motivated and awake before they hit the gym. It has been shown to increase power output during exercise. It also increases the ability to improve performance in long endurance events as well as short or intermittent activities.
People respond differently to caffeine. People who have ADHD for example respond with calming/focus. Some need higher doses to get the energy they need. Supplements will vary in amounts of caffeine. If you are new to pre-workout supplements and really feel strongly about trying one, do your research. Ask a reliable, educated source. Many people out there are selling things you really don’t need. Then, start out with small doses so you know what you can tolerate. There are unsafe doses of Caffeine which exceed 365 mg. Make sure you are using safe amounts. Caffeine is also habit forming, we can't let our bodies come to rely on it.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): These are a group of amino acids consisting of leucine, isoleucine and valine. While they are popular in the muscle-building realm for enhancing muscle growth, more research is saying that they help protect muscles when in a calorie-deficit. This applies to those who are really focused on a lean physique.
Beta-alanine: This is an amino acid that helps increase muscular endurance. It fights muscle fatigue by combating the acid that builds up in your body during exercise. It is most effective during short burst of energy that last from one to four minutes. A side effect to taking Beta-alanine is a tingling sensation or “pins and needles” feeling on the skin. This comes from taking a high dose, so be aware.
Creatine: This is the supplement that increases strength and power. It has been shown to safely increase muscle mass and performance. This is one of the most popular workout or weight lifting supplements for those focused on getting more powerful.
Citrulline: This is an amino acid produced naturally by the body. Taking it from supplements increases the amount in your body and has been shown to increase the blood flow to the body’s tissues. This means better blood circulation. It also reduces muscle fatigue and soreness after exercise.
We conducted a survey with several local personal trainers. We also asked them what they like to eat before a workout, if they think they are necessary, and what is the most common lifestyle component to address when it comes to energy. 75% do not recommend pre-workout supplements to their clients
37.5% sometimes take a pre-workout supplement
50% never take pre-workout supplements
When it comes to pre-workout supplements, which was the most important factor:
70% - ingredient quality
12.5% - caffeine amount and source
0% - price
0% - whatever has been promoted the most on social media
12.5% - other According to the data most of these personal trainers don’t use pre-workout supplements. They prefer to using other methods and foods for energy. When it comes to everyday energy take a look at your routine, schedule, hormones, and weight. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D or iron as well. Most importantly, are you getting enough sleep? Trust us, we know this is easier said than done. Another issue that we see with our clients and followers, is that their calorie deficit when trying to lose weight is too great. You need to eat enough food.
It’s really easy to get caught up in what your favorite instagram influencer is taking, selling, or promoting. And, it could really be benefiting them. We aren’t dogging that. We just want you to know that you are an individual and have different needs, goals, and body chemistry - not all supplements work well for us all. Really, we are just moms who exercise to stay sane and feel good about ourselves. We don’t have much higher goals than that at this point in our lives. Wah, wah.
In the end we wholeheartedly believe that you should spend your money on food before supplements. If you don’t want to take pre-workout supplements, you can still be fit without them. Promise.
Remember carbohydrates are essential for energy, we need them. All the trainers ranked carbohydrates as the most important pre-workout fuel. We don’t think you always HAVE to eat before a workout, but these are a few of our go tos:
Banana - usually just a half before an early morning
Apple - usually just a half before an early morning
Toast with PB - usually just a half before an early morning
For those of you who are interested in trying something extra for energy these are some ideas: