Everyone wants to get the most out of their workouts. This is especially true of anyone walking into a CrossFit gym week in week out.
Supplement manufacturers promise to help you do just that with a ridiculous array of products for you to ingest before you workout! “Increase blood flow! More Strength and power! Increase intensity! Better endurance!” Are among the countless promises on any pre-workout packaging…
But are these supplements helping you get results? The answer is yes and no. Countless studies on pre-workout drinks have shown that they do improve performance for 45-75 minutes, however they do NOT produce similar results long term.
Most studies done for 2 weeks or more show that groups who use pre-workout supplements actually make less progress over two weeks in terms of muscle gained, fat lost, and a whole host of other biometric markers like resting heart rate, and blood pressure.
The studies that companies like to push on you are most commonly studies done on a single workout session.
These results might still seem enticing if you are trying to best your buddy, or your personal best in the gym.. However, these studies are also most likely done on participants who have never taken the supplement before. Long term studies show that tolerance builds quickly and the results touted from studies don’t remain for a significant period of time.
One answer to this issue that I used in my previous life was to cycle the products I used, but at some point I began to realize my behavior resembled that of an addict more than an athlete.
By now, I hope you’re rethinking the efficacy of pre-workout supplements, but I’m just getting started!
A quick glance at even the cleanest of these supplements, the ones not even marketed for pre-workout, think about Advocare Spark, 5 Hour Energy (probably the least worst option), and other supposedly “healthy” supplements, will reveal massive amounts of caffeine, artificial sweeteners, artificial colorings and at lease a few other chemicals you likely know nothing about.
A quick google search of the popular pre-workout C4 gave me this image…
Vitamin B12 sounds harmless right….WAIT… in the form of METHYLcobalamin… that doesn’t sound right…. So let me google that for you, here are the side effects…
Serious side effects:
- Low levels of potassium in the blood
- Congestive heart failure
- Clots in the arms and legs
- Life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, in which you may have trouble breathing, your tongue swells and/or throat closes up, and your skin breaks out into hives
- Fluid building up in the lungs
Seriously! And the plan is to put that in my body and then push to my limits… It doesn’t take a doctor to see this is a recipe for disaster. There are probably more carcinogens in this stuff than a pack of Marlboro Reds!
Speaking of red, how about that Red 40? Yes Red 40 is recognized as one of the 4 most toxic food dyes and recognized by the FDA as a carcinogen. Other reputable sources describe Red 40 as “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen. We’re not talking about cancer in rates here… HUMANS!
A lot of this boils down to caffeine (and making money, but thats for another post), which is the most potent substance in any of these products.
Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug in the world, normally ingested while consuming chocolate, soda, and of course, coffee and tea.
In those forms, caffeine is mostly harmless.- Business Insider
I understand that drowsy, lifeless feeling that makes you think you need a boost… Whether you’re trying to wake up for an early morning workout, or trying to get going after a day at work, the alluring promise of pre-workout bliss is a tough one to pass up.
Here is a way to get off the sauce and reclaim ownership of your performance and intensity!
- Focus on hydration instead, this doesn’t just mean pounding water! Often your body needs some minerals to help absorb the fluids. Try NUUN tablets to give you water the mineral boost it needs to hydrate you properly >>>>Amazon link to purchase NUUN tablets<<<<
- Quality sleep – 6 hours should be enough for most adults if it is QUALITY sleep. That means no blue light for an hour before bed, no looking at your phone in the middle of the night, cold dark room, and good bed that doesn’t have you tossing and turning. (If you have young kids all bets are off, just try to get you caffeine from natural sources! hahahahaha I’m only half kidding)
- Nutrition – Properly fueling with the right macronutrients at the right time can make major impact on your energy levels and availability of energy substrates to draw on for your workouts.
- Find a pure caffeine source and ween yourself off! If you like coffee and your stomach can take it, you have it made start with a venti, then a grande, then a tall, then quit! I highly recommend Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew, its less acidic and easier to get down… and keep down before a workout. If you don’t like coffee I guess your next best option is a pure extract like these Guarana tabs produced by GNC, just be careful.. there is enough in a bottle to really be toxic to you, a kid, or a pet that gets into it (although not any worse than that candy flavored pre-workout) >>>>Amazon link to purchase caffeine tabs<<<<
Remember! The goal is to get OFF this stuff, not start a new habit with a different product!
Caffeine has a relatively low lethal dose (it may be around 3 grams for some people). Don’t be reckless with caffeine pills or powder. Caffeine powder is not recommended due to the possibility of human error when dosing.
This post is for entertainment purposes only! But, if it gets anyone thinking just a little harder about what they’re putting in their bodies to fuel their workouts, then it has served its purpose!