Updated: Aug 1, 2020
You may have considered nutritional supplementation before, such as multi-vitamins, superfoods, protein powder or even pre-workout, post-workout & creatine.
In this blog, we are going to deep-dive into the world of pre-workout supplements. We'll cover the red flags to look out for, including the correct dosages of ingredients, and how each of these ingredients plays a key role in helping you train harder and longer.
Commonly known for enhancing energy and boosting endurance during an exercise routine, pre-workout is a great way to help you push through your workout, even when you feel like throwing in the towel.
A formula that will motivate you even more to power through your workout? You may be wondering, what exactly is in this stuff? Sure, most pre-workout supplements seem as though they can boost performance and benefit all of your fitness needs, but how do you know which one is right for you?
In this post, we’re going to deep-dive into the world of pre-workout supplements, and the red flags you should look out for, so that you can be able to choose the right formula and get the best results!
We'll start by chatting through the benefits of each of these ingredients on your workout performance, their recommended dosages, and side-effects of improper dosages, so that you can make an informed decision on your workout supplementation.
The majority of these formulas hold Beta-alanine as their key ingredient. What exactly is Beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be created by your body from other essential amino acids without the use of food. It is one of the most popular ingredients featured in workout supplements and widely used among fitness experts and athletes. Athletes choose to use supplements with beta-alanine because it has been shown to improve cognitive performance and increase resilience to stress.
Our bodies use beta-alanine to produce carnosine, a necessary amino acid used to reduce fatigue and regulate acidity.
The production of carnosine, an essential amino acid, plays a significant role in muscle pH regulation. Muscle pH regulation reduces acid build-up and fatigue, helping restore muscle tissue and gives you the ability and capacity to train longer.
While working out, your muscles contract, increasing acid levels. When you begin to feel tired during your workout, that is because the muscle tissue energy source, known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is running low. ATP is this is the fuel used for short, rigorous movements like sprinting or strength training. This acid build-up, in turn, starts to impair the ability of your muscles to continue contracting.
Supplementing the appropriate amounts of beta-alanine along with carnosine been shown to be an effective method when increasing muscle carnosine levels and heightening ATP levels, giving you the endurance necessary to achieve your best possible workout, while greatly reducing fatigue in high intensity exercise.
Research has shown excellent results. For example, a study found that rowers who supplemented with beta-alanine for seven weeks were 4.3 seconds faster than the placebo group in a 2,000 meter race, lasting over six minutes.
Now that we know how beta-alanine can help give you a kick-start to your workout, the next question is how much should you take?
According to Healthline, the standard dosage of Beta-alanine is 2-5 grams daily.
Pre-workout formulas with the appropriate dosage of Beta-alanine are a great way to get most out of your workout. However, many common pre-workout formulas on the market have issues regarding their dosage, as well as the other ingredients included, which can result in some bothersome side effects, such as excessive tingling of the skin.
Be cautious of supplement brands that advise on their packaging that ½ a scoop is equivalent to 2.5 g, encouraging one full scoop per serving.
With the appropriate dosage of 2-5 grams that can be split into 1-2 servings to minimize tingling/flushing, beta-alanine paired with creatine can work wonders, from increased strength, training volume, and leaner body mass. Popular formulas on the market with the appropriate dosage of beta-alanine are Pre Jym Pre Workout Powder (2g) and Overkill V2 Pre Workout Powder (3g). Even with subtle dosages, mild tingling may still occur after ingesting beta-alanine, but that is a healthy side effect and just means that it is doing its job.
The familiar blaring of your iPhone alarm sounds off in the distance, forcing your eyes to slowly peel open as a cue to start the day. You roll out of bed, still half-asleep, when you remember the magnificent invention of coffee. Nothing quite compares to a freshly brewed latte in the morning to kick start your day.
Caffeine, the most widely used stimulant in the modern-day population, has been shown to also pair well with Beta-alanine as a primary ingredient in several pre-workout supplements. A study examining eight resistance-training athletes that consumed a supplement 10 minutes prior to the workout, combining about 2.05g of caffeine and 2.5 g of beta-alanine, enhanced their total number of repetitions, increased average power outputs significantly, and overall improved quality of the workout when compared to the placebo.
However, there is always a matter too much caffeine.
No one likes that jittery, anxious feeling after consuming too much coffee in the morning. The same goes when ingesting a pre-workout supplement -- many popular formulas contain high doses of caffeine.
Too much caffeine taken for physical activity can cause several negative side effects, such as drowsiness, headaches, nausea, and uncontrollable jitters.
Popular supplements such as Cellucor C4, containing low dosages of beta-alanine and creatine (1.5 grams vs the suggested 2-5 grams) and high levels of caffeine (135mg vs 70 mg in a cup of coffee), can result in negative effects such as increased levels of dopamine in the brain, which disrupts your brains balance of neurotransmitters, and in turn reduces serotonin levels. Such high levels of caffeine have also caused reported side effects such as headaches, vomiting and nausea.
These all can interfere with your workout, causing shakiness in your hands and feet, disrupting your balance mid-workout. The anxiety that comes with too much caffeine can also interrupt your focus, resulting in a more unpleasant workout. Ingesting high levels of caffeine regularly over long periods of time can also lead to withdrawal symptoms when your body doesn’t receive it, such as irritability and sluggishness.
3. Artificial flavors/dyes
Many pre-workout supplements contain artificial sweeteners and alcohols to enhance flavor while avoiding caloric intake. However, these chemicals have been shown to trigger uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and overall discomfort.
If you spot a pre-workout with “Blue 1” or “Red 40” as one of the ingredients, that is not a great sign. These are known as “azo-dyes”, and are typically cheaper than natural alternatives, however they hold several underlying health risks.
While pleasing to the eye and typically used to give products a more 'aesthetic' appearance, artificial dyes are notoriously known to be detrimental to your health. Synthetic dyes and additives have been linked to a variety of health issues and metabolic disorders, from increased risk of diabetes, brain tumors, chronic fatigue, weight gain, bladder cancer, the list goes on. A study found that these food additives are what trigger the development of inflammatory molecules -- the tissue that is known to be involved with these conditions and diseases..
To avoid these nasty health troubles, a healthier and more natural alternative are products that contain natural sweeteners, such as stevia and erythritol.
Another ingredient to keep an eye out for when searching for the right supplement is creatine. Creatine consists of the three amino acids -- glycine, arginine, and methionine, that are naturally produced in the body.
It can be maintained and found in one’s diet through animal products such as beef, chicken, fish, and pork. The dietary suggested dosage is 1-2 grams a day.
Creatine is one of the most effective ergogenic nutrient supplements currently available to athletes, used for high-intensity workouts. It is a popular muscle-building supplement that serves the purpose of improving strength and lean body mass during exercise, as well as to positively enhance your overall workout.
While creatine is proven to be exceptionally safe, it can lead to mild side effects such as bloating, weight gain, and digestive problems, due to the water retention stored in your muscles. For example, a study analyzing the use of a supplement with 10 grams of creatine per serving led to belching, diarrhea, and upset stomach. The study then compared a different supplement with only 2-5 grams of creatine, where none of these side effects were reported.
Medline Plus, the world's largest medical library, suggests that the appropriate dose of creatine to reduce side effects such as bloating and stomach discomfort is 2-5 grams a day, accompanied with 64 ounces of water.
Now that we’ve covered all of our bases with what to watch out for when searching for a pre-workout supplement, let’s take a look at the Performance Energize line. No matter how hard you push yourself at the gym, there’s always room for that extra boost of endurance, strength, and reduced recovery time, so you can set bigger goals for yourself. There's no better feeling than reaching that peak during your workout, which means getting a little bit out of your comfort zone.
However, it isn't always easy, and sometimes requires a slight boost of support. Performance Energize is a great option that can be used as the key to get there.
How does the Energize work, you may ask? Check out this video describing how Energize contains the recommended dosage levels, while containing only the best-suited ingredients,
Performance Energize is a pre-workout formula created by Harvard scientists, focused on the most up-to-date sports science and nutritional research. Energize uses 800 mg of beta-alanine, a much more subtle amount compared to its competitor products, which have a whopping 3000mg or more, shown to cause excessive flushing and tingling.
Concerned about too much caffeine? Energize contains just low dosage, coming from a natural source of green tea.
The bright yellow color of Energize comes from its high level of purity and potency, so don’t be steered away by its vibrance! Its formula contains no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
So the real question is, what are you waiting for? Super-charge your workout routine and order Performance Energize now!
*We are not licensed nutritionists. Content in this blog is based on extensive research and opinion. Prior to taking any nutritional supplements, individuals should consult their primary physician or a licensed professional.