Pre workout supplements have become synonymous with working out. The energizing, somewhat ‘edgy’ nature of these tasty, tangy drinks have captured the attention of most avid gym-goers at some point.
But how do you know if you need a pre workout? And how do you know if you should consider avoiding them altogether? Today we’ll explore both questions to help you make an informed choice!
Wait, What are Pre Workouts Again?
A pre-workout drink is a supplement taken before exercise intended to maximize your workouts and push you past your comfort zone.
They have been used for years to help people maximize their efforts in the gym, or on the field.
Most people take them 20-60 minutes before training, to help:
- Boost Energy
- Increase Endurance
- Maximize Athletic Performance
The effects of pre-workout can last anywhere between 1-3 hours, depending on the ingredients.
Pre-workouts come in the form of bottled (often canned) drinks known as ‘ready-to-drink’ products, or as powders that can be mixed into your favorite beverage.
NOTE: The powdered version of pre-workout drinks are often more effective than their canned counterparts, due to the greater amount of active ingredients in each dosage.
When to Consider a Pre Workout Booster
If you’ve ever had a time where you were super excited to work out, but then quickly lost stamina, you know how frustrating that can be! Loss of energy during workouts can make you feel defeated and more likely to skip your next workout.
If you’re motivated to exercise but want to be able to perform longer, more effective workouts without burning out, a pre-workout drink can give you that needed push.
Here are some clear examples of when you may need a pre-workout:
1. If You Workout First Thing in the Morning
If you’re a morning workout person, you are most likely exercising in a fasted state.
While this may work for some, most others will benefit from a pick-me-up when training on an empty stomach.²
If you don’t have the time or energy to eat first thing in the morning, a pre-workout drink can give you the perfect amount of fuel.
It’s also hard to know what is best to eat before working out, because everyone responds differently to certain foods.
A pre-workout can supply the energy needed that is also less likely to cause bloat or gas during your sweat session.
2. If You Are Fatiguing Quickly During Your Workouts
If you find yourself fatigued shortly into your workouts, chances are you’re not properly fueling yourself.
This fatigue can set in for several reasons –
- Low blood sugar
- Not having enough carb or fuel reserves
When this happens, you may need to cut your training session short, or push through when you’re not feeling your best.
This can result in a loss of motivation and put you at risk of injury.
Plus, you’re always not getting the most effective workout during that time when your stamina is subpar…and that’s frustrating because your time is valuable!
Consuming a pre-workout drink shortly before your workouts can provide hydration and essential nutrients such as carbs, proteins, and vitamins that can give you longer-lasting energy.³
3. If Your Performance is Not Improving
If you find yourself struggling to kick it up a notch with your workouts, you may not be reaping all the benefits you’d hoped for the effort you’re putting in.
While working out in any capacity has many surefire benefits, the real magic happens when you’re able to push yourself past the comfort zone.
If you truly want to improve your endurance, strength, and body composition, continuous performance improvement is essential.
The ingredients in a pre-workout drink can improve your performance so you get the biggest results from your hard work.
4. If You Don’t Like to Eat Before You Work Out
Not everyone likes to eat real food before a workout. If eating real food before a workout makes you want to gag, a pre-workout drink can provide that needed fuel in an readily absorbable manner.
Pre-workouts contain various ingredients such as caffeine, amino acids, natural sugars, and other ingredients to power you through your workouts without any digestive upset.
5. If You’re an Athlete
If you’re a competitive athlete, chances are your main goal is to perform at the highest level for yourself, and for your team.
However, long practices and grueling training sessions, require a tremendous amount of prolonged energy.
The absolute best way to ensure that your energy is optimized is to:
- Get enough quality sleep
- Eat plenty of whole foods (like green vegetables)
- Get enough protein
- Stay adequately hydrated
Often times the rigorous demands placed on athletes call for additional energy, even when all of these habits are adhered to.
In those cases, a high quality pre-workout supplement can help you achieve peak performance and meet your athletic goals.
Those are our top five most common scenarios when a pre workout is most beneficial.
And we should note that even if you don’t fall into one of those top five categories, you still might benefit from a pre workout pick-me-up.
Who Should Avoid Pre-Workout Drinks?
While most will benefit from pre workout supplementation, there are some who may want to steer clear.
1. If You Have Pre-Existing Heart Conditions
People with certain heart conditions, for example, should exercise caution when considering pre workouts or energy drinks.
Most pre workouts contain caffeine, and other stimulants that produce nor-epinephrine and elevate your heart rate.
Obviously, this is something to take into careful consideration when deciding whether a booster is appropriate.
2. If You Have Severe Food Allergies
Many supplement companies conduct rigorous testing on their products, but the reality is that not all of them do.
So if you have severe gluten, nut, shellfish, or other serious food allergies, you should use caution.
Even if the product you are considering does not explicitly state that it contains your allergen, keep in mind that the facility it was made in can still cause cross-contamination.
Look for products made by companies with formalized third-party testing protocols in place to minimize your risk.
3. If You Suffer From Anxiety or Other Mental Health Issues
The reason why people with cardiovascular issues should exercise caution is the same for people who are prone to GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), depression, or other mental health complications.
Caffeine can act as a trigger for people who are sensitive to subtle physical changes in their heart rate, rate of breathing rate, and/or other factors.
4. If You Are Nursing or Pregnant
IMPORTANT: As with any supplement, be sure to consult your primary care physician prior to use. He/she will have the most complete understanding of your health, and will be able to advise on whether or not you should or should not take a dietary supplement.
What is the Best Pre-Workout Drink?
When deciding which pre-workout to choose, it’s important to know what to look for.
Here are the ingredients with the most potential to bring you results:
Caffeine is found in almost all energy supplements to stimulate the nervous system and energize you.
This can be especially helpful for early risers or if you’re performing you are training without enough shut-eye.
Caffeine has been shown to be effective for increasing endurance as well as power in athletic individuals.⁴
For best results, it’s recommended to consume caffeine about 60 minutes before you exercise.⁵
These are ingredients that can boost mental performance and cognition.
One common nootropic added to pre-workouts is N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC).
NAC plays a role in increasing antioxidant levels and decreasing inflammation, which can lead to improved performance and less fatigue.⁶
Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAA’s, refer to 3 key amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
They are considered essential in the diet, meaning the body cannot make them on its own.
If gaining muscle is one of your goals, a pre-workout drink containing BCAA’s can help.
Since they are naturally found in muscle tissue, they are said to promote muscle growth and reduce muscle fatigue.
In one study, those who drank a supplement containing BCAA’s after resistance exercise experienced a 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to those who took a placebo.⁷
Nitric Oxide Boosters
Nitric oxide (NO) boosters are ingredients intended to increase blood flow and NO production in the body.
They are often added to pre-workout drinks to help facilitate increased blood flow to working muscles.
One common NO booster added to pre-workout drinks is beet extract.
Some studies have shown beetroot extract to improve performance in both endurance and more short-term higher intensity efforts as well.⁸
Which Pre Workout is Best for Women?
Pre-workout drinks have become increasingly popular, especially for women.
The best pre-workout drink for women is one that contains the above mentioned ingredients that power you through that last rep!
Whether you’re training for an endurance event or simply want to get the most out of your training, a quality pre-workout drink can support your goals and provide a much needed boost in stamina.
Our ATHENA Intense Pre-workout powder is specifically designed for women seeking to maximize performance and push past their usual threshold.
ATHENA Unleashed Pre Workout
ATHENA Intense Pre Workout
Reliable pre-workout performance with bold flavor! Featuring L-citrulline and beta-alanine.
Plus, there are absolutely no fillers, additives, or banned substances of any kind.
So the next time you’re prepping for your next workout, consider a pre-workout drink to boost your energy and bring bigger results.
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