A scroll through social media might have you worried that you’re missing a workout staple: a pre-workout supplement, commonly known as a pre-workout. In fact, there are 4.5 million posts on Instagram with the hashtag “pre-workout,” and the photos show capsules, canned drinks, powders, and colorful liquid in shaker bottles. But, what does it all mean, exactly?
First of all, it’s important to note that virtually every supplement and exercise nutrition brand out there has its own pre-workout formula, meaning that no two tubs contain the same ingredients. In fact, according to a 2019 study of the top 100 commercially available pre-workout supplements, nearly half of all ingredients were part of a “proprietary blend,” meaning the amounts of each ingredient were not disclosed. While some pre-workout supplements have carbs, many are carb- and calorie-free.
Carbohydrates, caffeine, beetroot juice, and creatine monohydrate are all common pre-workout supplement ingredients that have been shown to improve your fitness performance. The reason carbs help is pretty obvious, since they’re your body’s go-to source of energy and what experts recommend eating before a workout to properly fuel your body. Meanwhile, caffeine is a stimulant known for boosting energy and alertness, and research shows it can help improve sports performance, too.
On the other hand, beetroot juice has shown itself to increase the body’s levels of nitric oxide, a natural vasodilator that expands blood vessels and increases blood flow to improve cardiovascular performance. Last, but not least, creatine monohydrate is often included in pre-workout formulas. Creatine is a derivative of three amino acids that is naturally produced in the body and stored in the muscles as a source of quick energy.
Nutrition experts believe that pre-workout is nothing more than a buzzword, however, and suggest stopping thinking about nutrition as something that comes in a tub. Instead, you should start looking at natural fuel: food. Fuel up for tough workouts with roughly 15 grams of carbohydrates, which you can get in half of a banana or one slice of bread with some fresh jam. If you’re into caffeine, a cup of coffee about 30 minutes prior to your workout will give you some extra energy. Pre-workout nutrition can be that easy and affordable!
But, if you want to try out the pre-workout trend for yourself, you can give one of the options vetted by NSF or Informed-Choice a shot. Just make sure you stick to the serving size and check with your doctor about trying any new supplement, especially if you have any health conditions or take any medications.
Physical activity and nutrition are important parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At The Enclave at Woodbridge Apartments in Sugar Land, Texas, we do our best to provide our residents with resourceful tips, exercise routines, and even recipes to help them reach their fitness goals.