Nutrition

Are Pre Workout Supplements Safe ? – Everything You Need To Know About Pre Workouts

bodybuilding creatine
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When it’s time to workout and your not feeling up for the gym it might be tempting to try a pre workout supplement in the hopes that it will increase your energy levels, endurance and concentration during your workout. After all many of us just want to get the most out of the time we spend exercising and if taking a pre workout supplement claims to help you do that then why not right ? There’s really is no question that a pre workout supplement can get you fired up for the gym, but there are downsides and risks that everyone taking a pre workout should know.

pre workout hype

The Ingredients Used

Pre workouts should contain ingredients that increase your heart rate, focus and blood flow to the skin. Here’s a list of the 5 must have ingredients and dosages that all pre workouts should contain to be safe, but also effective enough so that it actually works.

Caffeine: Taking caffeine promotes muscle endurance, improves strength and enhances anaerobic performance. For it to be effective a dosage of 3-6 mg per kg of body weight will be enough, but do not take any more than 6mg per kg of body weight.

coffee beans

Creatine Monohydrate: Taking creatine will directly increase the rate at which your muscle grows and it should increase your anaerobic endurance, improve overall strength and minimise muscle damage/soreness. For it to be effective a dosage of 5 grams a day will be enough.

creatine 5g

Citrulline: Taking citrulline stimulates nitric oxide production which has been shown to boost muscle endurance, enhance aerobic performance and minimise muscle soreness. For it to be effective a dosage of 6-8 grams a day will be enough.

Branched Chains Amino Acids (BCAAs): BCAAs are made up of 3 key amino acids known as valine, isoleucine and leucine. When taken BCAAs will help improve immune function, minimise muscle damage, enhance post workout muscle growth and diminish fatigue. For it to be effective a dosage of 5-10 grams a day will be enough.

bcaas powder

Beta Alanine: Taking beta alanine will make your intramuscular carnosyn levels rise which results in a reduction of fatigue during exercise, improve your anaerobic workout capacity and increase the ability to lift heavier weights. For it to be effective a dosage of 5 grams a day will be enough.

Betaine: (not a ingredient that must be in a pre workout, but it can be effective when added) Taking betaine can boost muscle endurance and increase strength. For it to be effective a dosage of 1.5-2.5 grams a day will be enough.

Now that you know what ingredients to look out for in a pre workout let’s take a look at the products available on the market.

Proprietary Blends

A proprietary blend is where the weight of the ingredients used are not included within the nutrition label of the supplement, but instead the weight of the entire blend is given. Now that is a big problem because you don’t know what you’re exactly buying, meaning the amounts of each ingredients used in the blend can vary a lot.

the curse pre workout ingredients

As you can see in the example above the Energizing Muscle Fuel Blend weighs 3 grams and contains creatine, beta alanine/citric acid, but 2 grams of it may come from creatine, 0.8 grams of it may be from beta alanine and the rest would be made up of 0.2 grams of citric acid. If you remember the dosages for these ingredients to be effective then you should know that the amounts used in that blend is basically useless. Even if you took 2 scoops of the pre workout both the beta alanine and citric acid would still be ineffective at best, there’s also a reason why creatine is the heaviest ingredient out of the three and that is because creatine is probably the cheapest ingredient out of all pre workout ingredients. The only explanation as to why supplement companies make proprietary blends is purely because of money, they want to lower there costs when making the supplement so that their profit margins can be higher.

All there is to say is that you should stay far far away from pre workouts that contain a proprietary blend.

Here’s What A Pre Workout Supplement Label Should Look Like:

pre workout good label

A list of each ingredient used and it’s dosages, no “blends”, “matrixes” etc. If you’re gonna get a pre workout then get one with a proper label with each ingredient used and its dosages.

Click Here For A List Of The 5 Best Pre Workout Supplements To Use

Be Aware Of The Risks

Some pre workouts can include illegal ingredients and dangerous substances. For instance a popular pre-workout called “Craze” contained a ingredient that was chemically similar to methamphetamine (meth). Furthermore, USPLabs recently made pre workouts called “Jack3d” and “OxyElite Pro” that contained a powerful stimulant know as DMAA and this has been linked to acute liver damage and multiple deaths.  This is also another reason why you should never take a pre workout with a proprietary blend because you really don’t know what it could contain…

jack3d banned

To sum up pre workouts supplements are safe as long as you take the ones with the list of the ingredients used and its dosages. However no supplement can ever trump the need for proper diet, training and rest. So once you have those fundamentals in place supplementation can give you a slight boost with your health and fitness goals.

If you have anymore questions about pre workouts supplements then please feel free to leave a comment down below.

8 thoughts on “Are Pre Workout Supplements Safe ? – Everything You Need To Know About Pre Workouts

  1. I used to take a scoop of pre-workout every morning before my workout. I tried so many products and I actually went for the ones that had proprietary blends. It was easier to read something like “Energizing Muscle Nitro Explosion Matrix – 40,000 mg” than to read through a boring list of ingredients and dosages. Pretty good marketing strategy I guess.

    I no longer take those though because I felt that they would do more harm to my body in the long run. Nowadays it’s just coffee or tea for me, but this is very useful info for folks that do get their boost from pre-workout supplements.

    1. Yep drinking just tea or coffee can be a good natural replacement for pre-workouts as your body can build a tolerance to it anyways if you don’t cycle on/off them regularly. 

  2. This is really cool. I’ve always wondered about pre-workout supplements and if they were safe. I go to the gym and lift weights often, so I’m always looking for new ways to make my time in the gym more efficient. They say pre workouts are good if you use the right ones and that’s the thing, there are so many to choose from. Which brand do you recommend Andrew ? Thanks, great article !

  3. Hi Andrew ! Love the content you are sharing with us. It is obvious that you have done your research and that you are able to help. I am curious about one thing and I am not sure if this is the right place to ask, but hear me out PLEASE. Some of the weight trainers around me tell me that energy drinks are OK to take as a pre workout, while the others tell me that they are not OK. What is your opinion ?

    1. Sure taking energy drinks are fine as a pre-workout, but they are no where near as effective as an actual pre-workout. Additionally, most energy drinks contain a lot of sugar so the boost of energy won’t last as long as a pre-workout and you might also have a crash afterwards. Instead you should drink coffee as it’s a better option than energy drinks if you don’t have any pre-workout available. 

  4. I always wondered about what a “Proprietary Blend” was and now it makes sense. Is there a way to contact the companies that use them and get the info on how much of everything is in them ? Or any laws that force them to record it in case consumers ask ? Workout supplements is a scary world to get into. There are fewer regulations on them than most people would expect.

    1. You could try to contact the companies and ask them, but I doubt they would tell the truth if they use proprietary blends. With the laws I’m not sure, so you’ll really just have to do some research on that. It’s true workout supplements don’t have many regulations and it can be scary to get into, but if you do a bit of research you’ll know what to get and what to avoid. 

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