Pre-workout supplements are supposed to give you a helpful boost of energy that also boost athletic performance. A long day in the office or in one classroom after another can leave you feeling drained enough to negatively impact a workout routine. Pre-workouts perk you up and help prevent muscle glycogen depletion.
Your body stores glycogen for energy for muscles. You can run out of glycogen stores due to poor diet, not enough food, or too much intense exercise. The challenge is that the process of glycogen breakdown impedes glucose uptake, which means your muscles don’t get enough energy. You want all that glycogen to be available for every last rep and lap.
Ample evidence makes it clear that pre-workouts make sure energy levels get and stay up. The real question is whether or not they’re good for you.
The answer? Depends on what’s in them.
Ingredients Make or Break a Supplement
With the end goal being an energy boost, athletes and fitness enthusiasts want a pre-workout that tastes good, too. Here’s the problem: to keep production costs down and make their product visually look more appealing, companies will use synthetic caffeine, dyes, and tons of sugar or synthetic sweeteners. These are all ingredients you want to avoid. Here’s why...
Synthetic Caffeine - Natural or synthetic aside, some products contain way too much caffeine. Take too much and not only are you going to end up crashing, you’re going to hinder your gains.
Your body only needs anywhere between 75 and 200mg of natural caffeine at one time to benefit. If you take more than that, you’ll wear out your adrenal glands, which means putting your body in a stressed state that packs on the fat. You know you’re having too much when you develop jitters, upset stomach, and/or high blood pressure.
Instead, take natural caffeine like that found in green tea leaves. It works just as well without the negative side effects because your body can digest and use it with ease. Caffeine is listed as an ergogenic aid in the journals which basically means it is proven to boost performance in both endurance and anaerobic (short bursts) of exercise. Literature shows it can increase workload which in turn means more volume and more gains for you.
Dyes and other additives - Artificial dyes derived from petroleum are found in thousands of foods and supplements. “Even some fresh oranges are dipped in dye to brighten them and provide uniform color,” says Michael Jacobson, executive director at CSPI.
Man-made food dyes appear in ingredient lists as a name of a color with a number following it: Blue 1 and 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Red 3 and 40, Yellow 5 and 6.The three most widely used dyes--Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40--contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has linked with cancer. They are all carcinogenic in nature.
There are natural colorants, like beets and annatto, but overall they’re cosmetic and do nothing to enhance energy, performance or overall health. At least natural colorants have not been proven harmful. We humans shop with our eyes. We like visually appealing products.
Sugar - The right kind of sugar helps your workouts, but the wrong kind robs you of your gains.
Refined sugar--the wrong kind--has snuck its way into virtually every packaged, boxed and bagged food product in a grocery store. It’s also crammed into protein powders and countless supplements, including pre-workout ones.
Refined sugar is classified as an additive, instead of an ingredient, and has no known health benefits. They spike your blood sugar levels, which causes them to crash as well. Sugar increases your risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, create nutrient deficiencies, and so much more.
Artificial sweeteners aren’t any safer. They have been shown to be carcinogenic, just as addictive as cane sugar, and just as harmful. They have been shown to numb your taste buds to sweetness, which tricks your taste buds into hating fruits and vegetables while convincing you that you need more sweets.
You want natural sugars in a pre-workout for maximum benefit. Whole food sugars are nutrients your body recognizes and can benefit from. They actually have nutritional value and are packed with antioxidants, which means helping you recover from workouts faster. They’re an easily digestible source of quick energy.
The Perfect Blend of Safe, Effective Pre-Workout Nutrients
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) came out with a statement about which supplements have the most benefits for elite athletes and are not banned by any sports.
The ingredients they list for boosting athletic performance are:
This is why we believe N-O Chews is the most advanced pre-workout combining the most research-proven nutrients for strength, energy, blood flow and athletic performance. N.O. Chews’ formula contains the ingredients you need to help you power through your workout, while leaving the jittery, over-caffeinated feeling at the door.
These unique chewable tablets (“candies” as our athletes call them) is an all-in-one preworkout that contains 1 gram of pure creatine-nitrate, 30mg of natural caffeine, and a potent antioxidant/phytonutrient punch from over 35 fruits and vegetables in each chew.
Even with all this information, there’s a bunch of information we want to cover. Here are answers to some burning questions you might have:
What’s the best time to take a pre-workout supplement?
It varies from person to person and how their body works, but 20-30 minutes before exercise is the median sweet spot.
What should be in my pre-workout supplement?
Natural caffeine for energy, antioxidants for overall health, natural nitrates for maximum blood flow, and creatine for size and power.
Anything else I should make sure is NOT in my pre-workout supplement?
We highly recommend any supplement, pre-workout or otherwise, not contain any banned substances, synthetic ingredients, fillers, additives, artificial ingredients, and the likes. Every last ingredient should serve a nutritious purpose purely for your health benefit.
Are there vegan-friendly pre-workout supplements?
Yes, and N-O Chews is one of them!
Do pre-workout supplements have any negative side effects?
N-O Chews have yet to reveal any negative side effects. However, products with unhealthy ingredients covered in this post have been shown to cause jitters, caffeine crashes, adrenal fatigue, elevated blood pressure and more. Stick with natural, whole food ingredients if you want to stay away from negative side effects.
Are there any specific pre-workout supplements women should take?
Although what men and women should take pre-workout is the same, women’s daily nutrient needs are much different and we recommend checking out our Female Performance Pack which was specifically formulated to cover all the essential supplement needs for active women. Check it out Here