Fitness is not only about the physical strength and the muscular gains you get while working out.
Several factors align with what it takes to define actual fitness like your long-term energy stores, post-workout recovery, hydration levels, etc.
Even if you practice hard and dig deep into your fitness goals, there might be days when you may feel tired and exhausted, calling for a lack of motivation to continue further.
In situations like these, losing focus is not the option. The only solution is to look for something that brings your body back to the track, reenergized, recharged, and optimum hydrated.
Pre-workout energy drinks are your savior here.
These drinks have hit the market like crazy due to their claims and results helping in-
- Boosting energy
- Enhancing performance
- Building immunity
Now, whether all the pre-workout energy drinks you find in the market are beneficial or not is the real deal here. While some may seem safe enough, others might be detrimental to your health.
If you are in a dilemma, consider this article as your warm-up before you hit it off on the ground gulping down your pre-workout.
What is a pre-workout energy drink?
‘Pre-workout’ is any supplement, usually in a powdered form, that claims to boost workout performance if you consume it before starting your workout session.
It contains a mix of ingredients, mainly caffeine, amino acids, and vitamins, that collectively enhance performance and build up energy.
No two pre-workout energy drinks have the exact same composition in terms of ingredients and flavors. Thus, going through the nutrition label while you buy these drinks is extremely important.
Pre-workouts are mainly ergogenic ( stamina-boosting ) supplements. They exert their effects by delaying the onset of fatigue if taken regularly.
More on: Pre Workout Vs Energy Drink
This means that you can work out longer and harder without getting exhausted too soon. As a result of these more intense sessions, your muscle mass strengthens drastically.
What is in a pre-workout drink?
While numerous formulas exist in making different pre-workout energy drinks, some ingredients are consistent, varying in quantities incorporated in different brands.
The most common ingredients found in almost all the pre-workouts are-
It is one of the most popular and primary ingredients you can find in any energy drink. Caffeine is known to increase energy and focus.
It also enhances mental function, memory, performance, and aids in fat burning. However, caffeine, in most cases, is what turns out harmful for the body if consumed in excess or if you overdose on caffeine.
Thus, it is always advised to choose pre-workouts with a moderate or optimum amount of caffeine in them, the safe limits are considered as 400 mg caffeine per day.
BCAA or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are highly beneficial for the anabolic and catabolic metabolism taking place in muscles.
Leucine, one of the most useful amino acids, is a part of almost every other pre-workout due to its role in muscle protein synthesis which heals the damaged tissues.
B-Vitamins are important for energy production, so they can be helpful in enhancing your overall athletic performance, especially if you are B-vitamin deficient.
Vitamin B12 is known to be a major ingredient in many pre-workout energy drinks due to its function of boosting protein synthesis as well as aiding protein breakdown.
- Nitric oxide precursors
Nitric oxide is a compound your body naturally produces to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Pre-workout supplements are generally enriched with the compounds that the body uses to make nitric oxide, some of which include L-arginine, L-citrulline, sources of dietary nitrates, etc.
These compounds are known to boost oxygen levels and facilitate nutrient transport to muscles thus increasing energy.
Creatine is an amino acid, which promotes high-intensity exercises and post-workout recovery. It is said to enhance phosphocreatine stores within the muscles.
Another benefit of creatine is its association with lean body mass gains during resistance training. It’s particularly popular among weightlifters, bodybuilders, and other power athletes.
It is a non-essential amino acid so mainly it is produced by the body but under some physiological circumstances like high-intensity workouts or injury, you have a greater need for glutamine.
In such cases, a supplement is useful. Pre-workout energy drinks contain glutamine that plays a role in reducing muscle damage and inflammation caused by exercise.
The power of pre-workouts
The benefits of pre-workout energy drinks cannot be underestimated.
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming pre-workouts within the course of high-intensity workout sessions resulted in significant increases in VO2 max, training volume, and lean body mass.
With so many varied ingredients (which are just the core ingredients) in a pre-workout drink, there is no way you can get away without experiencing positive outcomes.
So, what does a pre-workout energy drink do for you?
- Boosts power
Pre-workout energy drinks are a great source of sudden energy bursts. High-intensity sports like sprinting require power and stamina and that’s what pre-workout does for you.
- Enhance mental ability
As well as physical effects, pre-workout enhances cognitive processes, such as alertness, focus, reaction time, perception of energy, and positive vibes.
Your mental health plays a very important role in accordance with your physical health. If your head is in the right place, your body will follow.
- Delay muscular fatigue
Pre-workout energy drinks help delay muscular fatigue by allowing you to train harder and longer. This effect is believed to be down to the caffeine present in pre-workouts.
- Aids in muscle gain
The main ingredients that benefit muscle gains are amino acids which are present in almost all the pre-workouts.
These amino acids directly help in muscle protein synthesis. BCAAs effectively bypass the digestive process and become immediately available for building muscle.
Should you be consuming pre-workout energy drinks?
Pre-workout formulas aren’t for everyone. These are formulated with a certain set of ingredients which might prove harmful if you are consuming these for a recreational purpose.
Pre-workouts are claimed to boost energy, enhance performance and improve muscle activity. These are usually consumed by sportspeople who are into heavy strenuous workouts.
Directly resorting to pre-workouts might be dangerous for your health. Adequate hydration, sleep, and diet are essential for any exercise routine before you hop on to supplements.
Moreover, the variability in ingredients of pre-workout supplements, mainly the caffeine makes it difficult to determine their effectiveness.
While we are also aware of the benefits a pre-workout energy drink provides, if these work for you, you can continue using them.
But make sure you are aware of the kind of ingredients in them and their quantities. Your total intake also matters a lot as excess consumption may cause a downfall in the long run.
What to know before using a pre-workout energy drink?
Before you dive in for your pre-workout dose for the day, make sure you are aware of the caffeine content in it. Preferably, consume caffeine-free pre-workout energy drinks.
Consume marketed pre-workouts only when it’s necessary. With mild to moderate workouts, you can also switch to natural energy drinks.
Also, starting new means starting small. Do not consume too much of it in one go. Remember, pre-workouts can be detrimental to you if you are careless with the intake and amount.
If it’s your first time starting a pre-workout supplement, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor beforehand and get their guidance on which pre-workout supplement will be beneficial and which to avoid.