Many people ask the question, “What pre-workout supplements should I take before my workout?”
To answer that question, we’ve touched on a few different options, some that work, and some that just don’t.
If you want real pre-workout nutrition what you really need is a good carb source that will be converted into a fuel source rather quickly and not too much of it so that it will be stored as fat. Sources like maltodextrin, waxy maize, rice powder, etc. How do you know the right amount? Trial and error, everyone is different and will have different requires for fueling energy just enough without storing the rest as fat. A general starting point would 20-40 grams.
Pre-Workout Protein and/or BCAA Consumption
There have been plenty of studies that have shown that protein consumption pre-workout will produce better results than those not using protein pre-workout at all. This is most likely because BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) and amino acids present in the protein will create an anti-catabolic state for the duration of your training. How do you obtain this anti-catabolic state during a workout? People often think that when your body runs out of a carbohydrate source for fuel that your body will switch to fat for an energy source. Unfortunately, that process is very slow and much too slow for high-intensity training and your body resorts to circulating amino acids in your blood stream for an energy source and if there is none readily available your body will pull them from your muscle stores. So, in a sense, if you don’t have proper pre-workout nutrition you may actually be doing more harm than good.
Another important note is that if you are on a calorie restricted diet, training for a competition, or any other type of regimen where you are calorie restricted and additional protein or carbohydrates cannot be consumed, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are your weapon of choice to preserve your muscle as their calorie total is minimal comparatively speaking and their benefits while in a caloric deficit while dieting is substantial.
If that wasn’t enough, pre-workout protein and amino acid consumption has also been shown to hinder cortisol release, which is another major player in staying anti-catabolic so without question, protein and/or BCAAs and amino acids should play a major role in your pre-workout nutrition.
There are all types of different products out there that toot their own horn and say that they are the best pre-workout product on the shelf. Here’s the thing, a lot of them contain so little active ingredients in them you might as well just buy a bottle of $5 caffeine because that’s the real reason why you actual feel any energy when you take it, or even if they do have a stimulant product in there like Hordenine or Phenythylamine (PEA) you’re still better off buying these separate as well because they are the only things you’re paying that work in their secret potion anyways.
Pre-Workout Supplements That Just Don’t Work
Here we go again, how many times have you looked at nutritional panels or the back of a container and seen 100+ ingredients, different amino acids, this, that, and every thing but the kitchen sink? Well, we have a question for you; do you really think that all of those ingredients that are in these products are included at effective amounts? If you have a product that has creatine, BCAAs, Tyrosine, and Beta-alanine in it and the serving size is 20 grams and there are still 30 more ingredients, how does that make any sense when the serving size for creatine, BCAAs, Tyrosine, and Beta-alanine in total at effective amounts is up near 20 grams and that’s not even taking into account the flavoring and sweetener. Even these “highly concentrated” pre-workout products containing 5 ingredients at only 5 grams serving size still don’t make any sense. Stop wasting your money because you’re only paying for caffeine and stimulants in these supplements.
Until you can find a supplement that has real world effective dosages of these products you’re better off buying them separate and making your own pre-workout product with ingredients that work and you know work because you can add and subtract ingredients as you wish and find out exactly what works for you! The alternative is keep paying ridiculous prices for nothing more than products that provide a caffeine and stimulant buzz, fancy labeling, and a pro bodybuilder who says he takes it but more than likely doesn’t.