Pre-workout supplements are ever-popular with the fitness crowd. Essentially, they are a supplement you take prior to your workout with the hope of getting as much out of it as you can. Supplements advertise their abilities to make you perform better during training, both on a physical and on a mental level. There are actually only a few ingredients that are commonly used and those are usually aimed at providing extra energy and focus, pump, as well as increasing pain tolerance. Here are the 4 ingredients you'll usually find for the best pre-workout, and here's exactly what they're useful for:
What is Caffeine?
We all know caffeine as the active ingredient in coffee. It is a natural stimulant, meaning it functions by speeding up communication occurring within your brain and body. Caffeine has the strange power of jolting you awake when you are sleepy, of helping you keep your focus and making you feel "invincible" when consumed in larger quantities.
What does Caffeine do and what are its benefits?
Caffeine is easily one of the best pre workout ingredients out there and is rarely left out of powdered mixes. Among its many benefits, you'll find that it increases your energy levels and makes you more alert and aware of your surroundings, much like the caffeine in a regular cup of coffee would. What you may not know about caffeine is that it also has an array of health benefits. For example, caffeine helps burning fat, making it a good ingredient for those trying to lose weight.
Caffeine also functions as a sort of pain-killer and can significantly increase your resistance to pain, allowing you to work out harder, and for longer. Although it is advertised as a natural ingredient, you can still feel its effect after the workout too. For example, caffeine reduces muscle soreness.
How much Caffeine should I take for it to be effective?
It is hard to tell the amount of caffeine a person should take as it varies greatly depending on the individual. As you may have noticed if you've been drinking coffee for a while, your body develops a tolerance to caffeine. This means that a regular coffee drinker may need to take more to feel the benefits of caffeine on their alertness levels. However, even with a high caffeine tolerance, the benefits of caffeine that extend past the energy boost can still be felt. It would be wise to start at 100mg caffeine and increase your dose as your tolerance build-up. Although, keep in mind that if you want to stay safe, do not consume more than 400mg in a 24h period.
What is the best time to take Caffeine?
Caffeine is ideally taken shortly before a workout to give you a quick boost of energy. However, it's best to avoid taking caffeine at night to ensure it doesn't affect your sleep.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements out there. Although it is often a big part of a good pre workout supplement, its benefits do not actually depend on the time when it is taken.
Creatine is actually a substance found naturally in muscle cells or in foods such as seafood and red meats. It is similar to an amino acid, and your body produces it from the amino acids glycine and arginine. However, taking the creatine directly is a way to skip a step in the process.
What does Creatine do and what are its benefits?
Creatine helps your muscles function at the top of their capacities. In particular, it helps with energy production when your muscles are heavily solicited, such as during a workout. It works by increasing phosphocreatine in the body, which is essentially energy stored in the cells of your muscles. On those grounds, creatine helps with everything from increasing muscle mass to strength and recovery.
How much Creatine should I take for it to be effective?
If you never took creatine before, it is recommended that you take a higher dose at first to increase your body's creatine stores. After that 7 days phase in which you may be taking about 20 grams daily, you should decrease the dose. To maintain your creatine stores, you should take between 2 to 10 grams of creatine on a regular basis.
What is the best time to take Creatine?
There is not really a best time to take creatine. The main thing to remember with that ingredient is to take it consistently. If having creatine in your supplement helps you remember to take it every day, great. If not, then you can also take creatine after your workout, or every day at a regular hour.
3- Citrulline Malate
What is Citrulline Malate?
Citrulline Malate is a non-essential amino acid which works as a nitric oxide booster.
What does Citrulline Malate do and what are its benefits?
Citrulline Malate is a popular ingredient and one of the reason is that it boosts blood flow in the body, allowing more to reach the muscles. It works by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body, dilating the blood vessels and thus increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrient to the muscles. In that sense, citrulline malate works really well for high-rep lifting. One interesting fact about citrulline malate is that it's easy to get massive pumps from workouts. Sometimes it feels like our muscles want to rip through our skin and that's something I'll never get tired of.
Another benefit of citrulline malate is in helping remove ammonia from the body. With less ammonia present, your muscles recover faster and are less likely to be sore the day after.
How much Citrulline Malate should I take for it to be effective?
The recommended serving for citrulline malate is around 8 grams a day but can vary depending on the individual.
What is the best time to take Citrulline Malate?
Citrulline malate absorbs more easily when taken on an empty stomach, so we would recommend having it before breakfast the morning of a workout. Doses can be spread out during the day too. You may want to have another serving around 40 minutes before your workout for maximal benefits.
What is Beta-Alanine?
The final ingredient that we discuss here is beta-alanine, a key component of the best pre-workout supplements out there. Like citrulline malate, it is a non-essential amino acid.
What does Beta-Alanine do and what are its benefits?
Beta-Alanine helps the body to avoid the burning sensation that comes during heavy or prolonged exercise. As a result, the gym-goer is more likely to fit in more sets, or simply to have a more pleasant time at training.
It works by binding with histidine in your body to raise your levels of carnosine. In turn, higher carnosine means less acidity is able to form in your body during your workout, which decreases your muscle fatigue.
Even though I've listed 4 ingredients, beta-alanine and creatine alone combined together do wonder! One give you strength, the other gives you endurance.
How much Beta-Alanine should I take for it to be effective?
The proper dosage of beta-alanine should be somewhere between 4 and 6 grams per day, that can be taken in several doses.
There can be some side-effects to taking larger doses of beta-alanine however. For example, it may cause a feeling of tingling on the face known as 'paresthesia'. This is more common with people who take beta-alanine for the first few times and is only a harmless side-effect.
What is the best time to take Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is best taken in smaller doses throughout the day, rather than directly before a workout. That allows it to not cause as much of a tingling reaction. It's also important to note that beta-alanine may take a while to show results, and you may need to take it daily for up to 3 weeks before it truly shows its merits.
Store-Bought Pre-Workout Supplements VS Homemade
Having read about those wonderful ingredients, you'll no doubt want to figure out what is the best pre-workout supplement you can take that will give you all these benefits. The truth is, the best and healthiest pre workout are often the ones you make yourself. There are 3 main reasons for this.
The first reason is that a homemade, natural pre workout drink will end up giving you more nutrition than one of those you can usually find in stores. Most manufactured pre-workout supplements are significantly under-dosed. It forces you to consume more of the product whereas your homemade drinks would give you superior results for a cheaper price. A homemade drink is the best pre-workout supplement you can take, allowing you to adjust the dose of active ingredients to fit your body and your exercise regime.
The second reason is that not only it contains every ingredient you need in the optimal quantity, it also contains no unnecessary or harmful ingredients. Manufactured, and especially cheap pre workout supplements have an interest in making you buy more of the product by filling their powder with what is essentially fluff. Don't fall for their tricks and make your own, it'll guarantee you have the best pre-workout supplement available with only those active, effective ingredients that you want to include.
Finally, the third reason for choosing to make your own mix is that you'll receive the best value ingredients for your money spent. When buying these supplements from a store, don't forget that you are also paying for the marketing, the packaging, and the branding of the product. Once you understand the science behind a good pre workout supplement, you can make one yourself, paying only for what you truly need. But... what if you're too busy to make your own?
Here's The Top 5 Manufactured Pre-Workout Supplements For The Busy Gym-Goer
Although making your own supplement has a wealth of benefits, you may still find yourself too busy to dedicate the time necessary. Fear not, we have researched here the best pre-workout supplements available today! All the products that we mention contain those 4 crucial ingredients which we discussed above, and have the recommended dosage (or very close) to ensure you get maximum benefits out of taking them.
Pulse pre-workout mix is a natural pre workout supplement that combines great quality ingredients with perfect dosage of the 4 essential ingredients listed above: caffeine, creatine, citrulline malate and beta-alanine. They pride themselves in being one of the most natural pre workout supplements out there, and not using any artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings and other suspicious E... ingredients. It comes in a wide range of all-natural flavors including watermelon, grape, and sour candy and also has a caffeine-free version available for those who prefer to avoid it.
Pre JYM pre-workout is a powerful supplement which is sure to keep you awake and alert for the duration of your workout. It contains all the classic ingredients, creatine, citrulline malate and beta-alanine in the recommended dosage and even some novelty ingredients. The formula includes taurine for an extra boost, black pepper extract, and beetroot extract. With a staggering 300mg of caffeine, this one is sure to wake you up. In fact, it may be the best pre-workout supplement out there for those with a high caffeine tolerance. However, we would not recommend it for people who are sensitive to caffeine or like to work out at night, as this one may well keep you up for hours.
This exceptional pre-workout powder contains an impressive 8 grams of citrulline malate and 3.5 grams of beta-alanine. Be careful with this one if you don't want to stay up too long as it contains an impressive 325mg of caffeine. It makes the perfect morning pre-workout supplement, but less so advisable for night gym-goers. When using this mix as a pre-workout, we recommend that you supplement additional creatine during the day. One gram dose is on the lower end and you may need at least 2 to 10g per day to maintain your creatine stores.
Vintage Blast pre-workout powder is carefully designed to bring you the best ingredients necessary to push your muscles to the fullest during your workout. It contains all the recommended amounts of caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline malate, making it a very solid choice when looking for the best pre-workout powder mix out there. The only reason this one didn't make it to the top is that vintage blast's pre-workout powder does not contain any creatine. As discussed above, creatine is a necessary part of any workout supplement. However, the time at which you ingest creatine does not affect its effectiveness, meaning that it does not have any particular reason to be in your pre-workout supplement, as opposed to other supplements. Be careful to supplement creatine throughout the day or with your post-workout shake and you're all good to go with that one!
This is one contains good balance of active ingredients including an impressive 5g of creatine and 2.5g of beta-alanine per two scoops. This pre-workout mix presents itself as an all-around health supplement, adding vitamins and minerals such as calcium, and vitamins B6 and B12 to their mix. It comes in Blue Raspberry or Fruit Punch flavor and has excellent reviews on Amazon.