The supplement industry has been growing every year, as more and more people turn to pre-workouts, whey proteins, and other supplements, to build muscle faster.
Just what does the science say, however? Well, according to most researchers, they’re generally considered to be safe when taken within the recommended dosages.
What is A Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout supplements, sometimes referred to as “pre-workouts,” are multi-ingredient dietary formulas designed to boost energy and athletic performance, according to Healthline.
They contain ingredients such as creatine, beta alanine, and caffeine, which science shows can help improve athletic performance.
For many people, a pre-workout is an essential part of their workout routine. It typically comes in powdered form, is mixed with water, and then chugged down in a blender bottle.
According to most research, they’re generally safe – although as we’ve seen before, numerous pre-workout supplements such as Jack3d have been banned by the FDA.
What Does the Science Say?
Most studies agree that the ingredients found in pre-workout supplements are not only safe, but also effective at improving overall athletic performance.
One common ingredient, known as beta alanine, has been found to drastically improve endurance, which is especially helpful to bodybuilders and athletes.
In this study, conducted at the Biomedical, Life, and Health Sciences Research Center at Nottingham Trent University, researchers concluded the following:
“From the data available to date, it can be concluded that β-alanine supplementation elicits a significant ergogenic effect on high-intensity exercise, particularly in exercise capacity tests and measures, and where the exercise lasts between 1 and 4 min.”
In layman’s terms, beta alanine is most effective at helping athletes with tasks which require endurance, and doesn’t seem to show much of an effect on strength.
Other ingredients in pre-workout supplements however, such as creatine, have been shown to have a very powerful effect on strength, however.
Creatine is theorized to work by enhancing ATP production in the body, a chemical necessary for exerting energy. This helps athletes increase energy output, AKA strength, in the gym.
In one study, for example, conducted at the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University, Texas, researchers reported the following:
“For example, short-term creatine supplementation has been reported to improve maximal power/strength (5-15%), work performed during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions (5-15%), single-effort sprint performance (1-5%), and work performed during repetitive sprint performance (5-15%).”
When it comes to supplements, increasing an athlete’s performance by just 5-15% might not seem like a lot, but it can mean the difference between a world champion and second place.
Overall, the research seems to conclude that not only are pre-workout supplements safe, but can actually help enhance athletic performance.
How to Find Good Pre-Workouts
Most experts agree that you should avoid pre-workout supplements containing DMAA, which was banned by the FDA due to potentially serious side effects.
Look for a pre-workout supplement with under 300mg of caffeine, such as GAT Nitraflex, Cellucor’s C4 Pre-Workout, or Gold Standard’s Pre-Workout.
Overall, pre-workouts are generally safe when taken using the recommended dosages, but you may experience side effects if you take more than is recommended.