Pre-workout supplements help you stay amped up during a workout session. When you are feeling tired, and with low energy in your body, pre-workout changes how you feel. There are many supplement brands, such as Vega Sport or Cellucor C4 Original, formulated to help you boost your energy levels. The best way to pick one that meets your needs is to understand the ingredients. We will help you choose the safest pre-workout supplement for you.
When taken, pre-workout supplements, such as nitrate, give you an extra boost in energy on every exercise performed, allowing you to work out harder and longer. You should determine pre-workout supplementation by the types of exercise performed. Different ingredients offer different benefits during a workout. Most of the elements used typically to increase strength or power, while others promote endurance. Supplements need to be incorporated into an existing workout and nutrition routine for them to offer maximum benefits in terms of boosting energy levels and muscle building potential.
Top Safest Pre Workouts
Below are twelve safe supplements for added strength:
1. Creatine Monohydrate
Your body synthesizes creatine. However, when you engage in strenuous exercises, the creatine produced by your body is not enough to increase power and strength.
When taken, the supplement increases strength and performance during a workout. This way, you will exercise for longer and lift heavier weights to build muscle mass. When released in your cells, creatine triggers your body cells to start producing energy. The supplement is recommended for bodybuilders looking to generate enormous amounts of energy during exercise.
You only need to take 20 grams of creatine monohydrate powder during your loading period. After the loading period, which takes a few days, you can take between 3 and 5 grams of the powder in a day. Creatine is safe since it is all-natural and it is one of the most studied pre-workout supplements. You can buy the powder without any added artificial colors or flavorings.
You have probably taken caffeine for as long as you can remember. It is extracted from coffee berries, tea leaves, and is found in other beverages and foods. When taken, caffeine makes you feel less tired and more focused.
Caffeine can be taken as a beverage or as an ingredient in other supplements. The supplement increases power output during exercise, allowing you to lift heavier weights for longer. In turn, this makes it easier for you to build lean muscle mass. If you engage in long-duration exercises such as cycling, caffeine will improve performance.
The recommended dosage of caffeine is between 3 and 6 mg of body weight per day. High levels of caffeine in your system – anything more than 9mg per kg of body weight – may cause vomiting, tremors, anxiety, and profuse sweating. Higher levels of caffeine taken for more than a few days might cause an increase in blood presses and consequently, an irregular heartbeat.
If you choose caffeine natural pre-workout supplement, start with low doses. Caffeine reacts differently to people. With low doses increased gradually, you can tell how the caffeine affects your body. Again, take caffeine during the day since it might keep you alert at night when you want to sleep.
Beta-Alanine helps repair your muscles and reduce fatigue after a workout. During exercise, lactic acid starts building up in your muscles and later causes muscle cramps. Before the acid causes cramps, beta-alanine combats it.
Naturally, your body has beta-alanine. When you take the supplement, you are only increasing the concentration of the amino acid in your body. Without lactic acid and fatigue, you can exercise for longer to build muscle mass. The supplement comes in handy when you engage in strenuous moves that last up to four continuous minutes.
However, beta-alanine is not recommended when you are engaging in exercises that last less than a minute, such as single sets during weight training. If you need to improve endurance for long term benefits, this supplement offers that. You only need to take between 4 and 6 grams a day. Taking higher doses will cause tingling on your skin.
Just like beta-alanine, citrulline is an amino acid that the body naturally produces. When you take it as a supplement or take it in food, the levels of citrulline increases significantly to enhance performance during exercise.
The supplement increases blood flow through your blood vessels to body tissues to keep your muscles nourished. When the muscles are nourished, you perform better and for longer. According to a study, cyclists taking citrulline can bike 12 percent longer without exhaustion compared to those who don’t take it.
Another study found that taking citrulline allowed trainers to do 53 percent more repetitions compared to trainers who never took the supplement. Taking citrulline also reduces muscle soreness after exercise.
Citrulline is available either as L-citrulline or as Citrulline malates. Both these forms are excellent for increased blood flow during workout. The recommended dosage is 6 grams for L-citrulline and 8 grams for Citrulline malate per day.
5. Sodium Bicarbonate
Maybe you have baking soda in your house already. This common household product acts as a sports supplement. Baking soda acts as a buffering agent when ingested. It reduces the buildup of lactic acid in the body, consequently reducing fatigue and allowing you to exercise for longer. When you do not get that burning feeling caused by lactic acid in your muscles, you work out more and build more muscles.
According to a study, sodium bicarbonate plays a crucial role when used during intense cycling, running or repeated sprints. On ingestion, baking soda increases energy output during strenuous exercises. You only need to take between 200 – 300mg per kg of body weight every day to get the benefits.
Baking soda might upset your stomach. To ensure this does not happen, take the dose slowly by splitting it into four or five mini doses to be taken throughout the day. If you are sensitive to salt, consult a professional before taking sodium bicarbonate. The recommended dose for exercise will provide a significant amount of sodium.
Proteins are recommended for muscle recovery and the formation of lean muscle mass. Branched-chain amino acids are available naturally in protein foods. However, you engage in strenuous exercise; the BCAAs in food is not enough to promote recovery and performance during exercise.
Proteins from foods such as eggs, dairy, and meat will give BCAAs enough to build muscles but not fast enough to promote endurance during exercise. When you take BCAAs as supplements, they increase strength during exercise, allowing you to ensure strenuous workout for long.
The amino acids are also great when you engage in less strenuous exercises such as slow running. It may also reduce physical and mental fatigue. It may also be used where you need to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. You should take between 5 and 20 grams per day. Supplements come with varying ratios of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The best ratio for gaining lean muscle issue using the the 3 supplements is 2 : 1 : 1 respectively.
Because people consume BCAAs every day from food, supplements are considered safe. The supplements may not provide significant benefits for muscle growth but they enhance endurance and reduce fatigue.
The three branch chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are by far the most important aminos for muscle growth. They also fight fatigue and are used by the muscles as a source of fuel.
BCAA’s are unique in the amino acid world because they bypass the liver and go directly to your small intestine. Here they are soaked up to go directly into the bloodstream and your muscles to build more muscle.
Of the three BCAA’s, leucine is the most important. That’s why the clinically recommended dose is to have twice as much leucine as iso-leucine and valine (a 2:1:1 ratio in favor of leucine). Some pre workout formulas will only include leucine. That’s ok, because it is powerful enough to instigate protein synthesis by itself.
When you take amino acids, such as BCAAs into your body while you are placing stress on your muscles through training, it is absorbed into your cells much faster than at any other time. That’s why timing is critical. Getting BCAA’s while you’re working out will halt the catabolic process and restart the rebuild of your muscle cells immediately.
BCAAs come in various forms. You can buy them as capsules, tablets or in powdered form. They also come in drink mixes, which is probably the smartest way to take them intra workout. They are micronized and instantized and all you have to do is stir them up with some water and then sip them into your system.
Nitrates are naturally found in vegetables such as beetroot and spinach. The body also synthesizes small amounts of nitrate. When ingested as a supplement, nitrate is converted into nitric oxide which enhances blood flow. Increased blood flow nourishes the muscles for more energy during a workout.
The nitrate used in sports supplements is extracted from beetroot juices. When taken the supplement ensures there is enough oxygen in your body muscles during exercise. Taking beetroot juice has been shown to increase running speed during a 5-km run. There are also studies that found nitrates make running feel less difficult.
A safe dosage is between 6 and 13 mg of body weight. Seeing that nitrates are naturally available in plants, they are considered safe supplements.
8. Yerba Mate
You can take Yerba Mate in place of coffee or tea. The supplement is preferred because it offers the health benefits of tea, the aroma, and strength of coffee, and the great taste of chocolate. Yerba is a South American herbal drink that gives the body a high amount of energy. It contains enough caffeine to keep you energized and focused, theobromine, and flavonoids. Better yet, the supplement offers seven of the nine essential amino acids. This way, it not only ensures you have energy enough during a workout session but also ensures your muscles are repaired.
9. Green Tea
Green tea improves your overall body health but it can also boost your energy during exercise. When ingested, green tea provides the body with antioxidants such as catechins. Catechins are great at boosting the body fat burning mechanism. Instead of using the glucose or the glycogen stored, green tea helps burn stored fat.
Dextrose is simply glucose, which is the simplest form of carbohydrate. Being in such a simple form, your body doesn’t have to go through the process of breaking the carbs down before using them. That makes it the ideal carb for intra workout supplementation.
Dextrose is a monosaccharide, which is about 70-80% as sweet as table sugar. The glycemic index rating of dextrose is 100, which makes it extremely bioavailable.
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate. The most common source material is corn and potato starch. Unlike most complex carbs, maltodextrin is able to break down rapidly. That means that it is easily digestible and is able to be readily absorbed for energy. The GI rating of maltodextrin is higher than dextrose, at 105.
12. Whey Protein Shakes
Taking whey protein shakes before your workout will provide your muscle tissue with the amino acids it needs to power you through your training session. You want the fastest acting form of protein you can get, which is why you should opt for whey over casein protein. This form of protein will immediately break down into amino acids and fast track it to your muscle tissue.
Have a whey protein shake that contains between 30-40 grams of protein about 30 minutes before heading to the gym. One of the best brands on the market is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard.
Buying vs. Making Supplements at Home
You can buy blend supplements that have a mix of ingredients. These are essential when you need a single supplement that offers multiple benefits. You can also buy the supplements above individually and mix them to meet your workout needs.
There are so many pre-workout supplements online, most of which have thousands of good reviews. When shopping for these ingredients, look at the ingredients and the dosages of each ingredient. The problem with most of the supplements is that their dosages are not formulated based on science.
However, pre-workout supplements bought online have the advantage of being ready-to-use. If a pre-workout disguises the amount of each ingredient, this is a proprietary blend, reconsider buying it. If you cannot see the quantities of each ingredient that makes up a pre-workout, you will not know what you are taking.
Labels on supplements will show whether a supplement has undergone testing by an independent laboratory. Some of the testing services available include NSF International, Banned Substances Control Group, and Informed Choice. Tested substances are safer. Ensure that the substance bears a logo of the testing laboratory.
Making a Pre-Workout Supplement at Home
Different ingredients have different benefits during a workout. If you need endurance, you can take Creatine Monohydrate and caffeine, among others. If you need less muscle soreness and fast recovery after exercise, you can take BCAAs and Citrulline. When you mix your supplements at home, you control the ingredients that go in and hence the benefits you reap. However, mixing ingredients at home can be intimidating.
To get started, pick ingredients that match the form of exercise you engage in. You can pick three or four ingredients and experiment until you find the perfect combination for maximum strength and endurance. There are packages of these ingredients online.
If you prefer already-formulated pre-workout supplements, check at their labels carefully for ingredients. Compare the quantities of ingredients in the supplement with scientifically proven sources (such as research papers).
Pre-workout supplements should not replace food. They should give you more strength and endurance during exercise but they are not here to replace food. During strenuous exercise, your body requires a lot of energy – that energy comes from the food you eat. As such, you need to eat more calories than your body is burning every day. The surplus calories provide the energy you need during exercise. Supplements only come in to ensure that the energy in your body is available when you need it.
You need to take proteins and fats for muscle repair and muscle growth and energy production, respectively. Most of the ingredients of the supplement above are naturally available in foods.
The ingredients listed above are extensively researched. However, proprietary blends and pre-packaged combinations are not scientifically evaluated. Whether you choose to combine your ingredients at home or to buy pre-packaged supplements, knowing the benefits of individual ingredients and the types of workouts you need to engage in will help you make the right choice.
Besides mixing ingredients, you can get supplements from natural foods such as green tea and beetroots juice. If you take a few cups of coffee, you get the same benefits you would get from caffeine pills. The benefit of taking these ingredients from food items that, you are sure of their safety. Supplements need to be taken at least 30 minutes before exercise. Some, such as caffeine, need to be taken at least an hour before your workout session to ensure absorption into the body muscles.