Pre-workout drinks are just what they sound like - a quick-to-digest beverage taken before exercise to help your body prepare for vigorous activity. Sounds good, right?
But you should know a few things before adding pre-workout supplements to your routine - like what pre-workout drinks are and what they do for your body (so that you can best fuel for your workout) and what precautions you need to take with certain pre-workout drinks.
5 Key Benefits of Pre-Workout Drinks
Here are five key things pre-workout drinks can do for you.
1. Increased energy and endurance
Designed to help you work out harder and have more energy and endurance, pre-workout drinks allow you to exercise more intensely for a longer period of time. This does not mean you SHOULD work out for an extended period. In fact, at Momsanity, we are fans of quick, intense workouts.
2. Improved muscle performance
Pre-workout drinks also improve muscle performance during a workout due to increased energy. When our bodies have abundant energy, our brains tell our muscles that they can work harder, allowing us to lift weights more effectively and efficiently.
3. Enhanced mental focus and alertness
Sometimes our biggest hurdle is between our ears when we exercise. Pre-workout drinks can be great for helping us stay mentally focused on our workouts. Watch out for stimulants, though, because these can cause a big crash and burn later.
4. Reduced fatigue
A quality pre-workout drink will help reduce fatigue during and after exercise, assist in recovery, and help you to finish strong.
5. Increased hydration
Pre-workouts that are water-based, non-caffeinated, and non-carbonated can be great for improving hydration during and after exercise.
But not all pre-workout drinks are created equal. So it’s essential to check the ingredients!
Common Ingredients in Pre-Workout Drinks
When it comes to ingredients, our philosophy is to stick with all-natural, safe, and scientifically proven ingredients that have been third-party tested for safety, quality, and performance. That’s why it’s essential to check the ingredients before taking any supplement - especially with pre-workout drinks. And you’ll see why in the ingredient list below.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It aids in carnosine production, a compound that plays a role in muscle endurance. However, studies of beta-alanine supplementation are inconclusive and don’t show a direct correlation with increased endurance. Additionally, beta-alanine supplements can cause skin tingling and are unsafe to use with some medications. So this is an ingredient you probably want to avoid.
Caffeine is the most prevalent stimulant used in our culture, and many people love to drink coffee and energy drinks daily (we don’t recommend the latter).
While a little caffeine can be helpful before exercise, many pre-workout drinks have three times the caffeine of a cup of coffee! Excessive caffeine can lead to dependence, jitters, headaches, nausea, and dangerously increased heart rate. That’s why we recommend against caffeine in your pre-workout drink.
Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid known for increasing blood flow, muscle endurance, and strength. It also assists in workout recovery. Interestingly, most research shows that only men and NOT women benefit from Citrulline supplementation. So why pay for and consume an ingredient that provides no health benefit?
Tyrosine is a popular dietary supplement that improves alertness, attention, and focus. While these qualities can be helpful during exercise, multiple clinical trials have been unable to show that using Tyrosine supplements enhance physical performance conclusively.
In addition, certain individuals should avoid Tyrosine supplements altogether - such as women who are pregnant or nursing, individuals with thyroid disorders, or those taking certain other medications. And WebMD recommends only short-term use (3 months or less) of Tyrosine supplements in healthy adults. For these reasons, we recommend avoiding pre-workout drinks that contain this ingredient.
Taurine is an amino acid known for increasing muscle contraction, reducing fatigue, and potentially assisting with fat burning during exercise. However, research is limited - with no study conducted on women - and the impacts on these gains are quite small. As a result, this is another ingredient women may want to avoid.
An amino acid responsible for high-demand energy activities, creatine is well-studied in women. One study showed a 15% increase in exercise performance after supplementing with creatine for 10 weeks. It also increases muscle mass and strength, boosts mood, and can help battle muscle loss that comes with menopause. In addition, Creatine has limited side effects when taken in appropriate doses.
Precautions When Using Pre-Workout Drinks
Possible side effects
Many pre-workout drinks simply combine too many ingredients in doses that are too high, leading to jitters, increased heart rate, headaches, nausea, and overstimulation of the brain. Restlessness, water retention, and other side effects are also possible.
Interactions with other medications
Since pre-workouts can increase blood pressure and heart rate, they can interact with medications causing dangerous side effects.
Importance of consulting with a doctor before use
Pre-workouts often include multiple ingredients to which some individuals might be sensitive. Therefore, it’s best to consult your doctor about your unique medical situation before taking pre-workouts that may potentially be dangerous for you, especially when taking medications.
How to Choose the Right Pre-Workout Drink
Research ingredients and their effects
Most common pre-workout drinks contain ingredients that quite simply aren’t healthy and often result in a post-workout crash.
At Momsanity, we believe that moms and all women should be able to naturally enhance their workouts without side effects, dangerous ingredients, stimulants, artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives. That’s why we created Momsanity BCAAs - to naturally boost your workouts, assist in battling fatigue, and help jumpstart your recovery.
Rather than the workout high followed by the crash and burn, we love producing steady energy and mental clarity with BCAAs.
BCAAs are incredibly well-researched for both safety and effectiveness in women. We always recommend doing your own research for any product you might consider trying. Sometimes nutrition labels can feel overwhelming, but knowing what’s going into your body is essential for your health! Women can be particularly sensitive to certain ingredients and should be cautious, especially if pregnancy or breastfeeding is a possibility.
Find out more about all the benefits of BCAAs for pre-workout HERE.
Check for allergens (like dairy and gluten) and sensitivities.
Many pre-workouts include lots of ingredients, preservatives, artificial dyes, other allergens, and additives that are problematic for individuals with sensitivities. So be sure to check the ingredients closely.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, artificial sweeteners, and other harmful ingredients.
Most pre-workout supplements include high levels of caffeine and other stimulants that can be dangerous, causing an increased heart rate.
Additionally, it’s hard to find a pre-workout that does not include artificial colors like Red-40 and Yellow-5 and artificial sweeteners like sucralose.
Look for products like Momsanity BCAAs that are caffeine-free, stimulant-free, and free from artificial sweeteners and colors.
Choose a brand that has been 3rd party tested for purity.
As we’ve noted, high levels of potentially harmful ingredients in pre-workouts can make them dangerous for some individuals. And if the actual levels in the product are higher than stated on the label, side effects can be worse than anticipated.
Read customer reviews and do a taste test.
Your pre-workout should taste good and mix well, even without gross ingredients. Check reviews and ingredients to ensure the product you choose will satisfy you. At Momsanity, we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee - make sure your brand is similar.
Let’s do a quick recap!
Pre-workout drinks can offer a nice boost to your workout and recovery. But remember, more is not better when it comes to ingredients, and harmful side effects are possible. The more ingredients, the more likely that unwanted side effects may happen.
Read labels carefully to ensure you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. Also, choose simple products with few ingredients that you actually understand. Unfortunately, there are no “magic pills” for exercise effectiveness, and while pre-workouts can be helpful, making good choices for your unique situation is vital.
And as noted above, be sure to speak with your physician before adding a pre-workout supplement.
Here's a free treat to spice up your pre-workout routine! Try our BCAA Mocktails Recipes.