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Have you used pre-workout supplements? If the answer is yes, you may have already experienced great concentration, intense wakefulness and sometimes even a tingling sensation on your face. If this is all new to you, pre-workout supplements are mostly powders that are mixed with water to create an explosive sweet drink. They awaken your senses and improve physical abilities during a workout. Here are 5 statements to set the record straight about pre-workouts!
🥤 Pre-workout mixes aren’t bad for you
Pre-workout doesn’t guarantee what’s inside the box. In fact, companies create their own distinctive blend, often using the same ingredients! Here’s an overview of the main active ingredients found in classic pre-workout supplements.
  • Creatine monohydrate is a well-known supplement that increases workout muscle power. It’s naturally found in the human body.
  •  Amino acid chains are often present in pre-workout formulas even though there is no scientific consensus on its effectiveness as a supplement. These are basic protein elements that are said to improve workout muscular endurance.
  •  Taurine is a stimulant that can be found in certain supplements and is said to help increase metabolism.
  •  Citrulline or arginine serve as blood vessel dilators. Once the blood vessels are dilated, nutrients reach the muscles more easily.
  •  Beta alanine reduces muscle fatigue and is responsible for the tingling sensation in the face.
Last but not least, caffeine is often the most important ingredient in these formulas. This well-known stimulant has been shown to improve strength and endurance performances as well as concentration.

🥤 Pre-workout supplements really work
Scientific evidence shows that pre-workout supplements work well in the short term. According to some researchers, athletes who took pre-workout supplements showed a better maximum repetition bench press performance. Moreover, these supplement mixes are not only suitable for athletes. During resistance training (such as weight training), pre-workouts are said to improve body composition by increasing muscle mass and/or decreasing body fat.
However, it hasn’t been effectively demonstrated whether these results are beneficial in the long term. Also, it’s still unclear which ingredient/component stands out. The prestigious International Society of Sports Nutrition doesn’t comment on the effectiveness of pre-workout formulas but supports the scientific evidence behind the use of caffeine to improve endurance and power performance.

🥤 Pre-workouts are not always safe
Health Canada guarantees the safety, effectiveness and quality of products bearing a Natural Product Number (NPN). Products without this number can sometimes be dangerous to your health due to the lack of further testing and analysis, proper dosage, effectiveness and safety. Some products are available in the United States but not in Canada, based on different regulations regarding the sale of dietary supplements on both sides of the border. For this reason, the use of imported supplements is not recommended.

🥤 Pre-workouts may cause side effects
According to one group of researchers, 54% of pre-workout users experience side effects such as skin reactions, heart abnormalities or gastrointestinal problems. In addition, the body can become used to this type of stimulant when consumed regularly. You may develop resistance to these products, causing you to increase the dose, which isn’t always a good thing.

🥤 You probably don’t need pre-workouts
Unless you’re an athlete or compete in an elite sport, taking a pre-workout is probably not for you. Nowadays, the use of supplements is commonplace in some gyms but isn’t recommended for the majority of members. In addition to being extremely expensive, these products can be harmful to your health if used incorrectly. Pre-workouts shouldn’t be used as a wake-up solution. Instead, prioritize sleeping and postpone your workout to the following day. In fact, several lifestyle habits can be improved before taking supplements (for example getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated).
Before you spend $60-$90 on pre-workout supplements, make sure you know what your goals are and if there’s another, healthier way to achieve them. Pssst, a banana and coffee combo will do the trick!

  • Jagim, A. R., Camic, C. L. & Harty, P. S. (2019). Common habits, adverse events, and opinions regarding pre-workout supplement use among regular consumers. Nutrients11(4), 855.

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