Already popular in the weightlifting world, pre-workout supplements have taken over mainstream fitness. But do they actually help us better our performance?
What are pre-workout supplements?
Pre-workout supplements supposedly increase your energy, focus and endurance. They usually come in capsules or powder that you can mix with a beverage. The most common ingredients are:
- Caffeine: in concentrations anywhere from the equivalent of a cup of coffee to 8.
- Creatine: this is an amino acid found in seafood and red meat. It aids in muscle recovery and growth but might cause water retention and other adverse effects.
- Nitric Oxide: Despite the fact that they help increase the blood flow to your muscles, this chemical has been linked to the occurrence of cancer and they are usually used to preserve processed meats and give them their red color.
- B-12: usually found in animal foods, is an essential nutrient for nerves and blood cells. It hasn’t been proved to help in workout performance yet.
- BCAA'S: Branched-chain amino acids are found in meat, beans, and nuts. They are an essential nutrient that boosts muscle growth and prevents fatigue.
- Beta-Alanine: This is a non-essential amino acid found in meat that has been shown to increase carnosine concentration when taken before workouts. Carnosine is important because it reduces lactic acid production and makes you exercise more effectively.
How can we profit prom pre-workout supplements?
Their main purpose is to boost your energy and minimize recovery so you can train again faster than you would if you hadn’t taken them. Its effectiveness depends largely on the amount and quality of the ingredients listed below. However, most supplements don’t state clearly what their ingredients are.
Side-effects of pre-workout
Some experts claim that if your diet is already well-balanced, these supplements might not be providing any additional benefit. What’s more, high caffeine consumption can make it impossible to sleep; creatine can damage your kidneys, liver or heart when taken in large doses; and nitrates have been linked to cancer, so the side effects are quite dangerous.
Other alternatives to supplements that can be healthier
- L-Carnitine: it is an amino acid that can help turn fat into energy.
- Snacks: you can try having a low glycemic option, such as jam and almond butter as a source of energy.
- Coffee: you can have a cup of coffee can help you stay more alert and concentrated and improve your athletic performance by increasing time to exhaustion and you’d be sparing your body from taking chemicals or additives.
- Carbohydrates and protein: this is the healthiest option to help you exercise better. It provides glucose, prevents hunger in the middle of your workout, promotes muscle protein synthesis and helps muscles recover.
If you are not a professional athlete, I would recommend taking a simple snack. Even though they have become trendy in social media, the side-effects may be actually worse than their benefits.
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