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What To Look For In A Pre Workout Supplement

by Lily Morgen
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Pre Workout Supplement

If you’re trying to improve your workout goals, you might be wondering if a pre-workout supplement is right for you. Generally, pre-workout supplements can help support increased energy, focus and endurance during your workouts. 

When you’re looking for a pre-workout supplement, it’s important to keep in mind if a pre-workout supplement really works for you, how to find a quality one, and what ingredients you should look for.

1. Should You Use Pre-Workout Supplement?

Pre-workouts don’t actually help you gain muscle; instead, they offer you the energy to have more effective workouts.

If you feel like you need an extra edge to help push through your workouts, then a pre-workout supplement might be right for you. If you find that you’re struggling with fatigue or lack of motivation to work out, a quality pre-workout can help give you the boost you need.

2. What Ingredients Should You Look for in a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Why are pre-workout supplements so popular, and how exactly do they function? While different ingredients have varied advantages, they all eventually operate toward the same objective—encouraging you to exercise longer and harder. 

The following are common substances in pre-workout supplements and their functions in enhancing performance.


Creatine is a substance naturally found in our muscles. It helps muscles generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is responsible for providing energy to our cells. Without ATP, our muscles would quickly tire and we would not be able to train as intensely or for as long.

Creatine is the most effective sports performance supplement available and has been extensively studied. In fact, there are over 500 studies that have looked at the effects of creatine on exercise performance.

It’s mostly used for energy during high-intensity activities like weightlifting or sprinting. When we supplement with creatine, it allows us to store more phosphocreatine in our muscles, which leads to increased power output and improved performance.


Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can improve mental alertness and wakefulness. It’s also a thermogenic substance, meaning it can help the body burn more calories. When used in conjunction with exercise, caffeine can help you work out harder and longer.

The exact mechanisms by which caffeine enhances exercise performance are not fully understood. But it’s believed that caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline, which in turn increases heart rate and blood pressure. 

Caffeine also seems to block a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which can lead to increased levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. These changes result in improved mental focus and increased energy.

While caffeine can certainly improve exercise performance, it’s important to remember that it is a stimulant. This means that it can also have side effects, such as anxiety, jitters, and increased heart rate. Therefore, it’s important to start with small doses and increase gradually as needed.


It is a non-essential amino acid that is synthesized in the liver from the essential amino acids L-histidine and L-alanine. Beta alanine is used by muscles to make carnosine, which acts as a buffer against lactic acid buildup, delaying muscle fatigue and enhancing physical performance.


L-citrulline is an amino acid that’s involved in the urea cycle, which is the process by which your body eliminates ammonia. Ammonia is a waste product that’s produced when you exercise, and it can build up to levels that are toxic to your cells. L-citrulline helps to remove ammonia from your cells so that it can be eliminated from your body.

L-citrulline is also a precursor to nitric oxide, which is a gas that helps to relax your blood vessels and improve blood flow. Nitric oxide is important for improving blood flow to your muscles during exercise, and it has been shown to improve exercise performance.

L-citrulline is found in many pre-workout supplements, and it’s often combined with other ingredients like caffeine and beta-alanine.


The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are comprised of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They’re called “essential” because your body can’t make them; you have to get them from food or supplements.

BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis and help prevent protein breakdown, making them essential for helping you build muscle. Meanwhile, BCAAs can help improve your performance during workouts by reducing fatigue and increasing endurance.

When it comes to finding the best BCAA supplement for your needs, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, look for a supplement that contains all three BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio. This is the most effective ratio for stimulating protein synthesis.

In addition, look for a BCAA supplement that is free of artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. And finally, make sure the supplement you choose is third-party tested and certified to ensure quality and safety.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that plays an important role in bone health, immunity, and muscle function. When muscles are exposed to vitamin D, they’re able to better absorb calcium and phosphate, two minerals essential for strong bones and muscles. Additionally, vitamin D helps regulate immune function and may help reduce inflammation.

Several studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of muscle weakness and bone fractures. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D if you’re interested in optimizing your workout performance.


Magnesium is an essential mineral for many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, heart health, blood sugar regulation, and bone health. It’s also involved in energy production and protein synthesis. 

Most people get enough magnesium from their diet, but some groups of people are at risk for magnesium deficiency. These include older adults, people with gastrointestinal disorders, and people who take certain medications.

Magnesium is often touted as a natural performance-enhancing supplement for athletes. This is because magnesium plays a role in energy production and muscle function. 

Beetroot Extract

Beetroot extract is a source of dietary nitrate. When we consume foods high in nitrates, our body converts them into nitrites. Once in the bloodstream, nitrites are converted into nitrogen oxide (NO).

NO is a gas that relaxes and widens blood vessels, which improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles. This increased blood flow can result in improved exercise performance, as well as reduced inflammation and blood pressure.

Beetroot extract is often taken as a pre-workout supplement to help improve exercise performance. It may also be used to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure.

3. When Ingredients to Avoid?

As with any supplement, it’s important to research the ingredients before taking it. Some ingredients may not be safe for everyone, and some may interact with medications or other supplements you’re taking. 

Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.

Soy Lecithin and Carrageenan

Soy lecithin and carrageenan are also two ingredients commonly found in pre-workout supplements. Both of these ingredients can have negative effects on your health, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.

Soy lecithin is a processed ingredient made from soybeans. It’s often used as an emulsifier, meaning it helps keep other ingredients combined and prevents them from separating. It has been linked to gastrointestinal problems and allergies.

Carrageenan is a type of seaweed that’s often used as a thickener or emulsifier in food products. It’s been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and other health problems. 

Artificial Sweeteners and Flavors

Many pre-workout supplements contain artificial sweeteners and flavors. These ingredients are added to make the supplement look and taste more appealing. However, they offer no nutritional value and may even be harmful to your health.

Pre-workout supplements often contain artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. These ingredients are added to make the supplement taste sweeter without adding calories. However, artificial sweeteners have been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. 

Glucose Syrup, Refined sugars and Maltodextrin

Glucose syrup, maltodextrin, and refined sugars are all types of sugar that are added to pre-workout supplements to make them taste sweeter. However, these ingredients can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to energy crashes and cravings.

4. How to Find a Quality Pre-Workout Supplement

When you’re looking for a pre-workout supplement, it’s important to find one that is high quality and has ingredients that are backed by science. Here are a few tips for finding a quality pre-workout supplement:

Check the Label

Make sure you recognize and understand all of the ingredients in the supplement. Avoid supplements that contain stimulants if you are sensitive to them.

Look for Third-party Testing

Quality supplement companies will have their products third-party tested to ensure they meet label claims and don’t contain harmful contaminants. Look for supplements that have been third-party tested and certified by organizations like NSF International or ConsumerLab. 

These organizations test supplements to ensure that they contain the ingredients listed on the label and that they are free of contaminants.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you have any health conditions or take medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking a pre-workout supplement. This is because some ingredients in pre-workout supplements can interact with medication or aggravate certain health conditions.

5. Does A Pre-Workout Supplement Really Work?

The answer is that it depends on the person. Some people may feel more energized and focused after taking a pre-workout supplement, while others may not notice a difference. If you’re considering taking a pre-workout supplement, it might be helpful to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if it’s right for you.

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