Pre-workout supplements often contain a mystery blend of ingredients ranging from caffeine to guarana to creatine. But do these supplements work, and are they safe to take? It turns out that these supplements may just change the way you feel while you’re working out. Many of the ingredients in pre-workout supplements are intended to give you the perception that your workout is supercharged. When you want to get the most out of your workout, you make sure every rep, step and weight really counts. Of course, dragging yourself out of bed first thing for a workout can be less than inspiring. Enter the pre-workout supplement, designed to help amp you up for a better, more effective workout. But before you down that caffeine laced drink, make sure you know how it’s going to affect your body during exercise, you may find that a natural alternative is a healthier choice. You don’t need pre-workout supplements to have an effective exercise session. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way it does medicine, which could mean that the proper studies have not been completed to predict how a supplement will affect your performance or your health. Instead, focus on healthy nutrition as a way to fuel your workout. When fueling up for longer workouts, make sure to consume a small amount of protein, soluble fiber, and fat. This will help slow the rate at which carbohydrate will be released into the bloodstream, thereby allowing its energy to be spread over a longer period of time. The ideal ratio of carbohydrate to protein to ensure optimal energy release for a longer workout is about 3:1. Meaning that pre workout snacks should contain three grams of carbohydrate for every gram of protein. The best sources of simple carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose are fruit and sprouted seeds.
Ultimately, while most pre-workout supplements are probably not dangerous, there’s little scientific backing for some of their more overblown claims. In the supplement industry, it’s about marketing; it’s not about what’s in the product. Supplements don’t really do that much unless you’re already doing a lot on your own.