It has become common practice for those who exercise to down a pre-workout supplement before their routine. The objective is to obtain a boost of energy that can power you through your workout and help you push yourself harder than you might be able to without the extra edge these supplements provide. However, despite the benefits many people experience when using pre-workout products, there may be some dangers to their use as well, depending on the type of supplement you choose. For this reason, people often ask whether a pre-workout supplement is bad for you; to find out, keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL® discuss the different types of pre-workouts and whether these products are harmful.
Why Some Pre-Workout Supplements Might Be Bad for Your Health
A number of different kinds of pre-workout supplements are available on the market today, and some of these products are better for you than others. Below, we’ll look at a few of the more harmful aspects of some pre-workout supplements.
Too Much Caffeine
Among the most popular pre-workouts are those that contain significant amounts of caffeine, a common stimulant. Although the benefits of caffeine use before a workout are clear – the boost in energy alone probably seems like reason enough to add this substance to your routine – it should also be noted that there is evidence that consistent use of high doses of caffeine may cause health issues down the road.
One study1 published in the journal Oncotarget in 2018 found that consistently consuming the amount of caffeine contained 3-4 cups of coffee “significantly increased” the risk of a heart attack in men, though smaller amounts seem safe. Meanwhile, a 2013 study2 from the journal BMC Medicine found that the consumption of caffeine by pregnant women was “consistently associated” with a lower birth weight. At higher doses, caffeine has been known to cause3 anxiety, muscle tremors, heightened blood pressure, and a rapid heartbeat, all of which could make your workout very unpleasant.
The amount of caffeine found in pre-workout supplements can vary widely, but some contain three or four times the caffeine found in a cup of coffee; if you use one of these products, you could wind up facing some unwanted side effects, especially if you also drink caffeinated beverages during the day.
While the reduction in calories that comes with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners may be welcome, their side effects probably are not. Many pre-workout supplements use these sugar substitutes to improve the taste of their products, but they tend to cause discomfort when consumed in significant amounts, thanks to side effects like bloating, diarrhea, and gas. Other artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, have been reported to cause similar symptoms as well, so frequently using a pre-workout supplement that contains them may not be ideal.
Are All Pre-Workout Supplements Bad for You?
Just because some pre-workout products come with downsides doesn’t mean that they’re all bad. Ultimately, the safety of a given supplement will depend on several factors – the type and quality of ingredients used, the dose of each ingredient, and the overall health of the user – so with those points in mind, let’s discuss some pre-workout supplements that are not bad for you.
BCAA Pre-Workout Supplements
Among the many types of pre-workout supplements on the market, BCAAs stand out for a number of reasons. Free-form amino acids can take effect very quickly, for one thing (up to three times faster than whey), thanks to the fact that they require very little digestion before being released into the bloodstream for use by the muscles. In addition, they come with few calories and are almost entirely sugar-free; instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, the BCAA supplements from aminoVITAL® use stevia leaf extract. And because these pre-workouts fuel your exercise through the natural oxidation of amino acids, not with stimulants like caffeine, they won’t give you the jitters or cause you to crash, either.
Another popular kind of pre-workout supplement is creatine, a compound used in the body to, among other things, produce energy. This substance may be included as just one ingredient in a larger pre-workout, or it could be found as its own supplement. The use of creatine often involves a process known as “loading,” in which large amounts are ingested when someone first starts taking it to increase the body’s supply. Because it naturally facilitates the body’s energy production processes, creatine can be useful as a pre-workout without a need for caffeine.
Nitric Oxide Supplements
For those who don’t recall their last chemistry class, nitric oxide (NO) is a compound produced in the body to open up the blood vessels and increase blood flow. This helps the body transport oxygen more efficiently, which is thought to improve performance during exercise, but it’s worth noting that this compound hasn’t been studied as extensively as those mentioned above.
Amino Acid Pre-Workout Supplements for Improved Performance and Gains
In addition to the benefits outlined above, BCAA supplements have much to offer when used as a pre-, mid-, or post-workout supplement. Not only do they provide energy and kick in quickly, but the effects of the three BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – have been shown5 to help limit muscle damage, fight fatigue, and fuel the synthesis of new muscle tissue after exercise. To learn more about BCAA pre-workout supplements and other amino acid-based products, visit the aminoVITAL® website today or call (888) 264-6673.