Pre & Post Workout Nutrition 8 MIN READ 86 VIEWS August 31, 2021

Pre-workout: Benefits, Uses, Risks, and Dosage

Written By Jyoti Jaswal

pre workout
Types Of Pre Workout Supplements
Do You Need Pre Workout
Benefits Of Pre Workout
When To Take Pre Workout
Risks Of Consuming Pre Workouts
Dosage Of Pre Workout Supplements
Tips for Taking Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre workout supplements are formulas that you can consume before engaging in prolonged periods of physical exercise. They have been designed to make your workouts more effective by boosting your energy levels and improving the overall physical performance. Usually, you can find pre workouts in the form of powdered substances that can be mixed with either milk or water right before going into your exercise regimen. 

It is also vital to understand that there are virtually thousands of different pre workout supplements in the market, each with its own patented chemical composition. This means that there can never be the exact same guidelines of consumption for all of them. However, we can see that about 90% of the time, these supplements contain similar ingredients like creatine, caffeine, b vitamins, amino acids, etc. While these components may be similar on paper, there are drastic differences among them in terms of physical quantities and chemical composition. 

Pre workout supplements effectively work by targeting the flight or fight response in our body. They contain chemical compounds such as arginine, citrulline, and othinine which produce bodily effects such as an increased blood flow in the muscles and a temporary dilation of pupils. These factors have also been known to result in a temporary adrenaline increase among those who consumed it. There have also been rare cases wherein pre workouts were found to contain specific ingredients like deer antlers to significantly increase the body’s insulin growth factor. 

Types Of Pre Workout Supplements

Pre Workout supplements are primarily distinguished between depending on the type of ingredients on which they are primarily  based on, such as:

  • Beta-alanine:  Pre workout supplements that contain this compound have been designed to support your body while engaging in high intensity exercises that put an increased stress level on your muscles. These compounds primarily work towards putting your body in a state of recovery and prevent complications like fatigue. Ideally recommended to sprinters.
  • Creatine: Creatine supplements are one of the most commonly purchased pre workout products. These compounds help your muscles become stronger and work towards replenishing the body’s ATP reserves to ensure better muscle contraction. They are recommended for people who wish to get into professional bodybuilding . 
  • Amino Acids: Pre Workout drinks that contain branched chain amino acids are usually geared towards increasing lean body mass. This specific type of product is recommended for gym goers who are in their cutting phase or want to put on some muscle without looking too bulked up.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is one of the most concentrated pre workout substances available in the market. These compounds are geared towards improving the general overall performance of your body while putting your mind in a state of focus. Pre workout drinks do tend to have higher concentrations of caffeine, up to 300 mg per serving, which is why it is not ideal for those who are sensitive to it.  

Do You Need Pre Workout

People usually consume substances like pre workout protein shake to put their body in a compatible state, one that supports prolonged physical exertion. There have been debates as to whether or not you actually need this supplement to indulge in heavy exercise since there has been little to no evidence to support its existence in a traditional manner.
However, it has been found out that these supplements have been calculated taking various parameters such as the body’s exhaustion period, possible physical exertion, average human strength etc.
If you are someone who struggles with finishing their reps in their daily workouts due to complete burn out or lack of energy, pre-workouts are definitely a way to solve your situation. 

Benefits Of Pre Workout

Given below are some of the most effective pre workout benefits of including a pre workout mix to your daily physical routine: 

Boosts Muscle Gains

One of the primary pre workout benefits of consuming pre workout vitamins is that you typically experience a severe muscle gain. This is because a lot of pre workout drinks contain high amounts of branched chain amino acids such as valine and leucine which are major components of supporting your body;s protein synthesis. 

These substances are immediately absorbed by the body and do not need to be digested for long periods of time. 

Pre workouts are also a good source of citrulline, a specific type of amino acid that helps the proper flow of blood to and from the muscles. Not only is this useful for increasing the oxygen concentration in our body, but it also helps with elimination of stress and carrying nutrition to various cells in the body. As a combined result of all these pre workout uses, your muscles experience a steady growth in size.

Improves Strength

Another important use of consuming pre workout supplements is to improve the overall strength of your body. Pre workout supplements that contain creatine are designed to kick off certain chemical reactions in the body which set off a lot of stored energy cells. Not only does this make you significantly stronger, it also helps with boosting your body’s metabolic activity and improves the overall time that you are putting into your workout. 

Pre workout drinks also enhance your body’s nutrient absorption capabilities, meaning that you can store much more amino acids and essential nutrients within your muscles. Additionally, these supplements also contain nitrates which increase muscle mass and improve the concentration of branched chain amino acids within your system. 

Boosts Endurance 

One of the main reasons as to why pre workout protein shakes can be beneficial for you is the fact that they can help counter the fatigue you may experience just minutes into a fresh workout rep. Components such as caffeine help activate your brain and provide your body with a fresh surge of energy that can get you through the intense physical activity. 

Your body also begins to give up on training because it experiences extreme levels of muscle soreness, this can be due to several reasons such as lack of exercise for a long period of time or even the lack of a proper nutritional intake. The beta alamines present in your pre workout vitamins work towards reducing the buildup of lactic acid within your muscle. 

This reduces the stress exerted on them and temporarily combats muscle soreness. Additionally, there have been certain pre workout shakes that incorporate a chemical known as l-theanine, commonly found in sources like green tea. This compound can help counter some of the more negative effects of the caffeine found in your pre workout mix while making sure that your energy levels do not take a dip.

Improves Blood Flow

Most pre workout shakes are synthesised using chemicals like nitric oxide which can be useful in improving the concentration of oxygen within the muscles and increasing blood flow. 

Alternatively, there are also supplements that have been formulated using compounds like citrulline, l-arginine, and dietary nitrates which indirectly stimulate the production of nitric oxide within the body, making it an effective way to purify blood flow. 

These can lead to pre workout benefits such as the relaxing of blood vessels and putting your mind in a relaxed state as well. These simple changes within the body’s biochemistry can make your workout more enjoyable. 

When To Take Pre Workout

While pre-workouts are essential to getting a quick and easy workout in, not consuming them at the right time can have worse consequences than intended. The ideal time frame for consuming pre workout supplements would be around 40-60 minutes before you start off with your workout routine. The reason behind this is to let all of the components present in your pre workout mix to be completely saturated within your bloodstream. 

For pre workout supplements that are based on compounds such as creatine, you need to start consuming them well in advance. Supplements like these take a lot of time to be accumulated within the muscles and will only show their maximum potential if you let them do their job over a long period of time. 


You also need to make sure that you are not consuming your pre workout a bit too early either. Most of these supplements are based on sensitive ingredients like caffeine, which are designed to give short instances of controlled energy bursts to your body. Consuming your supplement way too early before your workout can probably result in your entire system shutting down or experiencing severe loss of energy right in the middle of exercise. 

Risks Of Consuming Pre Workouts

While pre workouts are generally designed using safe ingredients that do not have any unwanted consequences, there can always be certain aspects of it that may have side effects on your body, such as: 

  • Artificial sweeteners: A lot of pre workout supplements make use of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols as a way to provide a better flavour quality to their product without actually involving additional qualities. While you may not be consuming anything extra on paper, these substances could potentially trigger health complications such as intestinal distress and discomfort in some people.  In the same way, consuming compounds such as sugar alcohols can have unwanted side effects such as bloating, diarrhea,and gas, all of which can be detrimental to your workout routine.
  • Excess caffeine: While caffeine is a prominent part of most workout supplements, some of them go overboard with the chemical composition of it and end up exceeding the maximum recommended intake of caffeine. Consuming  such supplements can have side effects such as poor quality of sleep, unusually high blood pressure, and gradual development of anxiety.

Dosage Of Pre Workout Supplements

While there are several components to pre workout supplements with varying compositions according to the specific product , a general rule of thumb would be to limit your consumption of pre workout supplements to about 400 mg a day.

However, you also need to thoroughly monitor what is actually in those 400 mg of pre workout shakes before adding it to your routine. Always make sure to check the back of the label of the product that you are purchasing to identify the chemical composition of these substances and determine the effect that they are going to have on you.

Instead of directly jumping in to consume 400 mg of the pre workout, you can always start off with a smaller amount, such as 100 grams and slowly build up your body’s tolerance to the compound. Doing this will give your muscles more time to get acclimated to the various nutrients that you are introducing within them and hopefully prevent any unwanted circumstances as well.

Consuming too much supplements without monitoring the ingredients can have the following pre workout side effects: 

  • Nausea
  • Jitters/anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Digestive symptoms
  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Changes in blood sugar

Tips for Taking Pre-Workout Supplements

  • One of the most important things to do before supplementing your daily nutritional intake with any sort of supplement, pre workout or otherwise, is to consult your medical health practitioner so that they can analyse your body composition and state of health to determine whether or not that supplement is right for you.
  • Make sure to be consistent with your pre workout drinks intake. Start out small with tinier doses and always time your intake. Building a solid schedule for your pre workout intake and the actual workout itself will signal your body to be more active during that part of the day and actually give some serious development to the process.
  • Even if you do get in your pre workout supplement to drink, always consume a minimum of 15 grams of carbohydrates before jumping into your exercise as a rule of thumb. Consuming tiny snacks such as bread or half a banana not only help your fiber intake and slow down any potential gastrointestinal disorders that you could be facing by slowing down the process of digestion.  

If you are someone who does not want to consume too much caffeine but still wants a quick and energy filled workout, you can always get a cup of coffee about half an hour before your exercise to fuel you. 

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