What Are Pre-Workout Supplements—and Should You Try Them?

Most days it is very difficult to tie your shoes and go to the gym, let alone gain strength through it. Full exercise. If only there was a simple button – or at least something that would help you get started (and maybe even help you work a little harder and longer).

This is where the idea of ​​pre-workout supplements and drinks comes into play (you may have seen your best friend pour something into a water bottle before going to the studio). But what exactly is in them? SupplementsAnd do they work to help increase your workout?HealthTalk to experts – both dietitians and trainers – to cut down on pre-workout supplements and help you decide if you want to try them or skip them.

What exactly are pre-workout supplements?

Basically, these pre-workout supplements – which often come in powder form – are supplements to boost your workout if you take them in advance.

“The primary goal of pre-workout supplements is to enhance the feeling or perception of a well-charged workout, contrary to research-based but mostly pre-workout claims,” ​​says Jim White, RD. Jim White Fitness and Nutrition In Virginia Beach, “most pre-workout supplements use stimulants that increase blood flow, heart rate, energy and focus. This makes an individual feel that they are benefiting more from their training.” Can work harder and with more intensity.

FYI Only: No two pre-workout supplements are the same, but they do have some similar ingredients, such as carbohydrates and caffeine for fuel and energy. (Carbs are your body’s favorite source of fuel, say. Nancy ClarkRD, Author Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Pre-workout supplements may also include nitrates, which have been found to improve blood flow and work efficiency (ie you use less energy to do the same amount of work); Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, to help reduce lactic acid and improve short-term performance; Creatinine, to improve muscle strength and high intensity performance; And possibly beta-alanine, to help balance muscle pH, according to White.

Related:Do Supplements Cause Cancer? Here’s what a new study says.

Can Pre-Workout Supplements Help You Lose Weight?

Maybe, but don’t bank on it. Supplements that contain stimulants (again, like caffeine) and other energy boosters such as B vitamins can speed up your drive so that you get a better workout and, therefore, burn more calories. All you have to do is make sure you don’t burn those calories.

“I know a lot of people who jazz themselves off pre-workout supplements, burn 500 calories in their workouts, and then eat 700 to 800 calories at breakfast,” says Clark. “It doesn’t matter how much you burn in the workout, it doesn’t matter if you have a deficiency.” Translation: Even if you already work out more in the gym because of exercise, it does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight.

Also, if exercise makes you hungry or you think you deserve to eat more because of strenuous exercise, it’s easier to burn those calories and then some. “I separate exercise and weight,” Clark said. “Most weight loss is about staying away from the dining room table and eating less.” And that doesn’t include pre-workout supplements.

Related:3 Things People Get Totally Wrong About Vitamin Supplements

Are there any safety concerns with taking pre-workout supplements?

Most pre-workouts contain caffeine – that’s where you get that energy. But beware: some people may hide in more than four cups of stimulant coffee, according to a test by a third-party company. Lab Door. Check to see how much you are consuming, noting that a cup of coffee usually contains 95 mg of caffeine. USDA.

Keep in mind: “Supplements are not regulated the way food is,” says Jane Browning, RDN spokeswoman. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Finding a label from a testing organization is a good first step to make sure it’s included in your supplements.”

Experts recommend seeking approval stamps from companies such as Informed Sport, NSF Certified for Sport, BSCG Certified Drug Free, or US Pharmacopoeia. “No supplement can ever be considered 100% risk-free, however, these certifications help reduce the risk and keep it at a low level of probability,” White said.

Since you can never be 100% sure of what you are getting in a supplement, White warns against other ingredients that can cause problems such as heart conditions, including stimulants such as amphetamines (think). Ephedrine, banned by the FDA in 2004 for serious reasons (side effects) or testosterone-boosting hormone booster.

Also, keep in mind that if you ExtraWith pre-workout supplements, your diet can be much better. “Most people can see results from the right combination of foods and hydration, and no supplements are needed,” says Browning. “Excessive consumption of nutrients and other supplements can be wasteful – our bodies cannot always consume large amounts of nutrients which are sometimes found in supplements, shakes, mixes, etc. Some of the micronutrients or other ergogenic aids are too much. Use can be dangerous. Supplements can be expensive for the results you see, and these are only possible results for the price you pay.

Related:Supplements that can actually help with diet and weight loss – and those that can’t

So, should you try pre-workout supplements?

Honestly it depends. White says elite or competitive athletes, for example, will probably get the most out of pre-workout mixes, considering they need this little extra shot of performance benefits.

White added that pregnant or lactating women or children under the age of 18 should not take these supplements because of the high levels of stimulation, White added. People with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or pre-diabetes, or caffeine sensitivity may also be excluded.

If you have trouble sleeping, take blood pressure medication, have gastrointestinal problems, or you have random eating problems, you should also hesitate to take supplements before exercise, and before doing so. Talk to a doctor. “Pre-workout can upset you and lead to more training and injuries in some people, so it’s important to weigh all the risks with the benefits of taking a pre-workout supplement,” says White.

However, for the most part, pre-workout supplements can’t do anything that whole foods can’t. For example: While caffeine may work to boost your energy levels, a cup of coffee will do just that. And while many pre-workout powders pack a carb-protein combo that fuels your body for intense sweating, a banana with almonds will do the same. “I always rely on food more than I rely on any supplement. Most products have no magic, they are just simple," Says Clark.

Ultimately though, the decision depends on you and your needs and goals. But all the experts said you don’t need them.

If you want to try a supplement, just make sure you talk to your doctor first, especially if you have a basic health condition. And talk to a nutritionist who specializes in sports – they can help you find the right diet and other safety details.

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