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A Comprehensive Guide to Pre-Workout Supplements

A Comprehensive Guide to Pre-Workout Supplements

A Comprehensive Guide to Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplementation is popular among gym-goers, but what are the benefits, and should you be taking it? Let’s dive in.

What is pre-workout and what does pre-workout do?

Pre-workout contains several different ingredients that are designed to reduce fatigue, enhance focus and improve performance. While these ingredients can be found naturally in foods, they may not be in high concentrations so taking a pre-workout can increase the dose in an efficient manner.

What is in a pre-workout supplement?

There are several common ingredients found in pre-workout supplements. While these ingredients can be taken separately or are found in food, pre-workout supplements often combine them into one product which can reduce the need to purchase other supplements. Each pre-workout is slightly different, so you will want to pay attention to the dosage of each ingredient to make sure it is the appropriate amount for you based on your needs. Regardless of the supplement brand, most pre-workouts include:


Caffeine is one of the most widely studied ergogenic aids that have been proven to enhance performance and provide a powerful stimulant effect on the central nervous system. Caffeine is generally safe for most people if used within the recommended amounts (up to 400 mg per day in a healthy adult, or up to 200 mg in a single dose). Research has shown that doses of 3-6mg/kg body mass are optimal to enhance exercise performance. Additionally, there is an upper limit with doses greater than 9mg/kg leading to various negative side effects such as insomnia or gastrointestinal discomfort and have no increased benefit regarding performance.


If you’ve ever felt that tingling sensation after taking a pre-workout supplement, you can attribute that to a high dose of beta alanine – a pH buffer that can extend the ability of muscles to function under high intensities. The recommended dose of beta alanine is 3-6g/day which can commonly be found in pre-workout supplements


BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids. They are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot produce on its own, so they must be obtained through diet or supplementation.

BCAAs are popular among athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts because they play a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis and energy production during exercise. Leucine is known for its ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. BCAAs, when consumed before or after exercise, can help reduce muscle soreness and promote faster recovery.


Electrolytes are minerals in the body that are responsible for maintaining fluid balance, balancing the body's pH level, moving nutrients in cells, pushing waste out of cells and maintaining the normal function of all our nerves and muscles.

When we lose too many electrolytes through sweat, we can often experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramping. Not ideal if we're in the middle of a workout! Choosing a pre-workout with a small concentration of electrolytes can help increase fluid availability in your body to keep you from fatiguing too early — especially if you sweat excessively.


Creatine has been shown to increase strength, power, muscle mass and improve recovery in various populations. Along with caffeine, it is another supplement that has been heavily researched in a variety of populations. The recommended dose of creatine is 3-5g/day.

Types of Pre-Workout Supplements

There are several types of pre-workout options to choose from, including powders that mix into water (most common), pre-mixed drinks, capsules and gummies. When it comes to types of pre-workout, the method you choose to ingest pre-workout can depend on your personal preference, how long you have before your workout and the types of ingredients you would like it to include.

Possible Side Effects of Pre-workout Supplements

You may be wondering “Is pre-workout bad for you?” Before adding a dietary supplement to your routine, check with your physician. Generally, pre-workout supplements are safe for most people, but it would still be best practice to seek confirmation from your personal doctor.

As with any supplement, there are sometimes unwanted side effects from ingesting a pre-workout such as workout nausea, dizziness or tingling/numbness. This can happen for various reasons but can be related to a reaction from a particular ingredient, a strenuous workout or meal timing surrounding the ingestion of the pre-workout. Not all pre-workout supplements contain the same dosage of all the ingredients. If you take a pre-workout that has a higher dose of caffeine or beta alanine than you are used to taking, for example, it could negatively affect your experience.

Can You Use Pre-Workout Every Day?

As with many supplements, the frequency of pre-workout use may vary quite a bit depending on the individual, their workout routine and their tolerance for certain ingredients. Typically, pre-workout supplements would only be used on days when an exercise session is taking place. For most people, this will not be every day. It is not recommended to consume pre-workout supplements every day, especially not on non-training days. However, certain ingredients in pre-workout may need to be consumed daily to maximize effectiveness (such as creatine monohydrate).


If you are considering adding a pre-workout supplement or any dietary supplements to your routine, we highly recommend consulting with your physician or medical care team to ensure the best and safest options. When evaluating a product, always carefully read the ingredients list to ensure it aligns with your health and individual needs. While pre-work supplements can boost energy and focus, they’re not

suitable for everyone. Moderation is key, and they should complement a balanced diet and exercise routine. With care, pre-workout supplements can enhance workouts and help achieve fitness goals.


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