Monday, September 15, 2014

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-Workouts? Ever heard of them? I'm assuming you probably have. Depending on who you follow on Instagram, they're all over the place! And there's a million different kinds! I wanted to first tell you what they do, and then break them down for you and give you the 4-1-1 on each.

Pre-workout supplements were made to boost energy and focus, increase fuel and nutrient delivery and increase muscle fiber twitch. There are various forms of pre workouts:
  • The first is a caffeine focused one. Several studies support the use of caffeine before exercise because it stimulates the central nervous system. This increases alertness and focus. Caffeine also has a mild fat burning effect which can spare carbohydrates and enhance endurance performance. 
  • Next is L-arginine (Nitric oxide). The L-arginine is an essential amino acid for production of nitric oxide, which is released by the cells that line your blood vessels. When released, the nitric oxide causes a dilation of blood vessels which means increased blood flow. Increased blood flow means more oxygen to your muscles and more effective training. 
  • After that comes the Creatine focused pre-workouts. These are the most popular with guys! Well, guys take them both pre-workout and just as a regular supplement sometimes.  Every one wants bigger muscles, and that's what Creatine promises. And it delivers. Creatine phosphate performs a number of important functions in exercise including rapidly regenerating ATP. This is the most important fuel source for high intensity aerobic exercise. The creatine also also transports the ATP inside your cells so that they can utilize it. You can find creatine in natural sources like meats and eggs, which you'll need to keep creatine levels up even on rest days ( think of rest days as preparation for lift days). Then, when you take this pre-workout you're going to increase strength, power and muscle size. 
  • Finally, there's Beta-alanine. This pre-workout has studies to show that it fights muscle fatigue during high-intensity workouts. One study even showed that it increased the work during a strength training session by 20%! Both Beta-alanine and creatine are used in pre-workouts for more than just what's above. It's also perfect timing for these supplements to get distributed to your muscles because of the increased blood flow during workouts! 
Some other ingredients that you'll find in a pre-workout are taurine; tyrosine; carbohydrates and electrolytes. Taurine is another amino acid that may decrease oxidative stress on the muscles and help burn fat in overweight people. Key word: MAY. Tyrosine is again, an amino acid. Tyrosine is actually a precursor to norepinephrine (a hormone that acts in the brain to stimulate your metabolism). Tyrosine has been showed increase the levels of norepinephrine, which helps you stay focused during periods of long physical stress. Carbohydrates are your bodies fuel. A small amount of carbohydrates before a workout can give you the burst of energy you need. However, if you're working out for less than an hour---OR if you want to burn body fat, you probably should avoid ingesting a large amount of carbs before your workout. Finally, electrolytes are found in most pre-workouts too. These aren't critical to have, but helps replace the ones you lose while sweating!!

Do you NEED a pre-workout? Aboslutely not. While there has been research on these supplements, everything is pretty much a "may" help. Not a definite! Personally, I love my pre-workout. Especially in the early mornings. It helps me get focused and ready to burn calories. But beware, certain pre workouts may make you feel shaky because of the caffeine. Experiment on your own and find out what works for you! Here are the most popular kinds:


  • Cellucor C4 Extreme: Creatine - I'm trying to find a sample of this guy (since I don't want to spend money on a whole container before knowing whether I like it or not). I have heard really great things about it, especially from those who lift heavy weights (and do things like Cross Fit). 

  • BSN N.O.-Xplode: Creatine - My personal opinion, this one is way too sugary. It tasted like a pixie stick in liquid form. Not for me! I also missed my energy boost from caffeine!

  • NLA for Her Uplift: Beta-Alanine - I haven't been able to try this one yet, but I'm working on finding a sample! 

  • Energy and Endurance: Nitric Oxide (L-Arginine) - This is my first choice. It also has Green Tea in it and helps me to GET AWAKE in the morning for Insanity.

  • Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer: Caffeine - While I wanted to love this supplement, for a workout.. I definitely didn't. It tastes great, but I didn't feel an increase in energy.  




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  2. Any opinion on this pre workout supplement? It has no creatine so it's a little different than other. http://www.amazon.com/Neon-Sport-Creatine-Preworkout-Electric/dp/B00VAPR8YK I bought it because It does not make me jittery and crazy like the other ones!

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