Nutrition is the base to achieve the best sport performance. We can support it by including certain elements that will enhance this aspect even further. As experienced athletes, Pre-Workout Supplements will provide a series of benefits such as: Strength, Develop muscle mass, Muscle Resistance or Focus.
- 1 Pre-Workout Supplements
- 2 Reasons to take Pre-Workout Supplements
- 3 Benefits of taking Pre-Workout Supplements
- 4 The Importance of Pre-Workout Supplementation
- 5 Which are the Pre-Workout Supplements?
- 6 Supplements for Strength and Power
- 7 Energy Supplements
- 8 Supplements for Muscle Growth
- 9 Stimulants
- 10 Focus
- 11 Resistance
- 12 When to take Pre-Workout Supplements?
- 13 Pre-Workout Shake for the Muscle Mass
- 14 Pre-Workout Stack for the Recovery
- 15 Pre-Workout Supplements on an empty stomach
- 16 Cycling Pre-Workout Supplementation
- 17 How to choose a Pre-Workout Supplement?
- 18 Frequently Asked Questions about Pre-Workout Supplements
- 19 Effects of pre-workout supplementation in women
- 20 Safety… but only half-term
- 21 Future research lines
- 22 Sources
- 23 Related Entries
Many studies combined with the experience from athletes are starting to focus on the benefits of supplementation protocols. They are becoming increasingly more relevant in the sport nutrition sector. In this sense, Pre-workout supplementation will be taken before training. Its purpose will be to improve our sport performance and even the post-workout recovery.
The concept of pre-workout supplementation is relatively new, since people usually just took the post-workout shake…
Reasons to take Pre-Workout Supplements
One of the most important points will be the nutrient availability. If we have a hectic lifestyle and we do not have time to eat before training, a pre-workout supplement may provide a valuable support.
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Some people train without eating, however, we should bear a series of factors in mind, such as the intensity of the activity.
Benefits of taking Pre-Workout Supplements
- Improving the performance
- Increasing the strength and resistance
- Reducing the muscle catabolism while training
- Enhancing the protein synthesis
- Energizing and improving the focus
- Optimizing the release, absorbability and absorption of nutrients
- Heightening the metabolic rate (increasing the fat burning)
- Creating a hormone environment conditioned for the anabolism
Obviously, we need to put all the pieces together: physical condition, workout and dietary plan, and rest.
The Importance of Pre-Workout Supplementation
We will make the most of our supplementation if we are thorough when it comes to our workout plan and diet. Anyone, from an experienced athlete to a beginner, will be able to benefit from this supplementation protocol.
You will be able to take advantage of pre-workout supplementation. It does not matter if you are a CrossFit competitor or you do weightlifting or running on the weekends…
Which are the Pre-Workout Supplements?
Here you have a series of supplements that you should take into account before training. Each one of them will focus on certain features that will enhance our performance.
Supplements for Strength and Power
Creatine will be your choice if you want to increase your strength and power to the fullest. It will help you lift more weight, run faster in a sprint and even recover better between sets.
Creatine may be the most scientifically supported supplement. It is one of the most effective supplements and the reason why is quite simple: creatine enhances our strength. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the energy source that allows the muscle to contract.
Unfortunately, the muscles only store enough ATP to perform a great effort for a few seconds and it needs to be recharged after being used. To do this, our body breaks down the creatine phosphate molecule (CP) to obtain more energy. This energy recharges the ATP reserves, which allows us to keep going with the exercise.
If the creatine deposits are almost empty, we will reach failure faster than if they were full. That is why creatine improves our strength. Taking creatine will keep our deposits full.
Any activity that requires a certain intensity will use the glycolytic system to perform that effort. So, we can take a supplement designed to increase the glucose levels progressively while training in order to have energy (glucose) and avoid glucose peaks.
This supplement is very important for athletes. If we want to understand why, we need to know the different ways in which the body uses energy during and between sets. The body uses ATP to perform muscle contractions, even though this system will only allow 8-12 seconds of maximum effort.
At this point, the body changes the energy source and uses stored muscle glycogen (glycolysis) and blood glucose to replace ATP. This process is repeated over and over in each set. Carbs come into play during the glycolysis, and the muscle cells will use this system until ATP is full again.
We need to know the type of carbohydrate in order to avoid an insulin peak before we even begin. That is why the best carb supplements are Cyclodextrins or Amylopectin. We can even combine them with Palatinose which is a carb that has a very sustained release.
Supplements for Muscle Growth
If you have ever done weightlifting, your goal was probably to develop your muscle mass. Weightlifting increases the muscle tissue and our objective will be to enhance this process. Luckily, there are supplements that improve the protein synthesis response from the stimulus produced when we train. Here is a list with all of them:
The three branched chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine. One of their main features is that they are metabolized by the muscle tissue without going through the liver. This means that our body can use them whenever it needs a quick energy boost. The key from BCAA supplements is that they can be easily taken while training to:
- Decrease the fatigue
- Shorten the recovery
- Relieve the pain and muscle soreness
- Improve the use of fat as energy
If you want to purchase BCAA’s by HSN, click here to access our online store.
Protein powder is a supplement that should be taken after training only. There are only a few times where it could be used just before training. This type of protein called Whey Protein is a high quality supplement with a high biological value. Unlike other sources, this means that it can be absorbed almost completely. It contains many branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) and it is digested very quickly, unlike solid food.
Nevertheless, taking protein just before training has other important effects:
Some studies have proven that taking protein within a peri-workout supplementation protocol is more effective than taking it afterwards. On the other hand, taking a protein with the entire amino acid spectrum increases the insulin levels even more than with BCAA’s. Higher insulin levels increase the “protection” for the muscle tissue when doing physical exercise.
Caffeine could be regarded as the best supplement when it comes to stimulating the sport performance. It affects the nervous system while activating the metabolism. Caffeine is a metabolic stimulant that releases fatty acids in the blood stream which are used are energy. Therefore, taking caffeine before training will produce an excellent fat burning effect.
The effects of caffeine are:
- Mental focus
- Better joint coordination and fluid movements
- Thermogenic effect
- Delayed fatigue
- Mental clarity and alertness
Guarana is another caffeine source. Therefore, it will provide the same benefits in terms of the cognitive and physical performance. However, there is a small difference: guarana is slowly discharged in the bloodstream, which provides a more sustained energy release. Consequently, we will obtain its benefits when we already training. This happens with anhydrous caffeine even before we start training. Like caffeine, guarana also triggers the lipolysis, a process that releases fat in the bloodstream to obtain energy during the workout.
When was the last time you saw someone yawning between sets? The best workouts are those when you feel active from the very beginning, you feel motivated even during rest periods. You are so focused on training that you do not even talk to your partner…
This amino acid performs several physiological tasks. Its benefits seem to be due to the fact that it is a neurotransmitter precursor of norepinephrine and dopamine. Therefore, it increases the catecholamine release. That is why tyrosine is an important element to calm the effects of overtraining. In addition, it can enhance the focus during very stressful moments, such as an intense workout.
It is an acronym for Acetyl L-Carnitine which is the form in which this substance reaches the brain. There, it produces several cognitive benefits such as improving the mood or the memory. Moreover, it is an important antioxidant that protects the brain cells under stressful periods. The main reason why it is used is because it helps with mental clarity and focus.
It is a nootropic substance, precursor from of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Above all, it is responsible for the memory, learning ability and attention. Some of the effects of DMAE are increasing the attention, the feeling of well being, reducing the irritability and stay focused for longer. Its main purpose while training would be to keep the focus and enhance the mind-muscle connection.
This feature has different applications when we train. Improving this ability will allow us to lift the same weight more times or to train harder for a longer time. Consequently, this strong stimulus will results in more development. Regardless of the sport discipline, either if you are a runner or bodybuilder, resistance will be the best feature when it comes to reaching the goals of each athlete.
It is an amino acid that is capable of increasing the carnosine levels inside the muscle tissue. Therefore, it will increase the resistance through the antioxidant pathway since it has several properties that work as a muscle buffer. The anti-oxidation decreases the fatigue caused by physical exercise. Training also reduces the muscle pH, producing fatigue. Beta Alanine is recommended for intense activities that last 40 seconds at least:
It supports the body by improving the blood flow. Moreover, it can become the amino acid arginine and work as a precursor form of nitric oxide (NO). Said phenomenon is the most important process to obtain aerobic energy inside the cells, in the mitochondria. It can decrease the fatigue while increasing the the ATP production (cell energy). In addition, it can also reduce the blood acidity.
All of this delays the onset of fatigue during high intensity activities. Probably, one of the most important benefits of citrulline malate is its ability to deal with endotoxins. Like lactic acid, endotoxins are produced when we train and they produce fatigue.
It is an amino acid that is present in the body and it is obtained from cysteine. Taurine is different from most amino acids because it is not used as protein. Rather, it is involved in a wide range of physiological processes. Some of these are: muscle contraction, hydric balance support and fluid control, support for the cell membrane structure as well as an antioxidant effect.
When it comes to training, taurine provides a series of qualities such as regulating the muscle tissue contractile function. Physical exercise reduces the taurine muscle concentration. That is why taurine is essential to perform this process. If the muscle is not capable of contracting properly, the performance and strength will be compromised. This is an interesting fact from the point of view of endurance sports.
When to take Pre-Workout Supplements?
Logically, they have to be taken before training, usually around 30 minutes before. However, this will depend on the type of training and when did we eat the previous meal. From my point of view, training after eating can cause discomfort while we train.
Tip: Wait 3 hours before training after eating a meal made up of the 3 macronutrients. Take pre-workout supplements according to your objective, which will usually be connected to the Focus and Punch…
Pre-Workout Shake for the Muscle Mass
Providing essential nutrients that will be used while training. They are meant to increase the energy and intensity, apart from improving the muscle recovery. Although it is advised to take them around 60 minutes before training, you can take them instead of a previous meal.
Which Supplements and How much?
- Protein (we suggest the Isolate, but you can take Vegan Proteins) -> 20-40g
- Carbs -> (we suggest a Cyclodextrin and Palatinose blend) -> 2:1 Ratio (50g and 25g)
Pre-Workout Stack for the Recovery
This supplement pack has been designed to improve and shorten the recovery while relieving the post-workout muscle soreness (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Sometimes, we can recover between sets which will allow us to increase the amount of work in a single day. In addition, it will relieve the pain while reducing the muscle damage biomarkers.
Which Supplements and How much?
- HMB -> 3g
- Citrulline Malate -> 8g
- L-Carnitine L-Tartrate -> 2-4g
Pre-Workout Supplements on an empty stomach
Once again, the supplement choice will be focused on enhancing our objective. According to this, there are two clear options:
We will focus on the performance if we train just after waking up and with a short period of time to eat anything. Moreover, this aspect will be specially important if we do Weightlifting, CrossFit or HIIT. Knowing this, we can combine a Pre-Workout Supplement and Amylopectin.
If we want to enhance the use of fatty acids, our training routine will have to meet that end. In this sense, aerobic exercises of a medium intensity will be the best ones. Use a pre-workout that will enhance the fatty acid transport and its use.
Cycling Pre-Workout Supplementation
Some ingredients have to be taken for certain periods. However, the body ends up adapting to then, which is why we have to stop taking them. Thus, cycling them ensures that our body is still receptive to the effects of these different ingredients.
Caffeine would be one of the elements that have to be cycle. This is due to the fact that we can easily develop a high tolerance. Therefore, we will eventually need to take more in order to experience the sames effects.
One of the ways of performing these cycles would be taking supplements for 3-4 weeks (ON phase) and rest for 2-3 weeks (OFF Phase). When you go back to the On phase, you will experience an “overload”, that is, it is as if you have never take them before.
However, resting and using other is not enough when we are dealing with stimulants. We suggest resting completely, even if we use different substances, such as caffeine and green tea extract.
How to choose a Pre-Workout Supplement?
This will depend on the subject and the objective. There are literally thousands of products available. However, there are ways of finding out which supplement better suits your needs. You can look for information about the ingredients and their possible combinations by:
Reading Product Reviews
It is one of the most effective ways of comparing opinions about a product thanks to the experience of those who have used it. Read the reviews before purchasing a new products. Even better if the review comes from experienced athletes.
Searching for the Most Sold Products
Another smart way of choosing a product will be to check the sale list. There must be a reason why some products are more purchased than others, right? Check which products are on top of the list, since people will buy a product again if they like it.
Cost per Serving
Another key factor is the price. If you find two products which are similar in terms of ingredients, you may discard one due to the cost per serving.
Reading the product label as well as reviews are two useful ways of starting out
Frequently Asked Questions about Pre-Workout Supplements
Do I have to take my pre-workout with food?
Most of this type of supplements should be taken on an empty stomach to experience their effects. However, there are exceptions, if you are sensitive to caffeine, you can eat a little snack in order to lower its effect.
Can I combine products?
It is not the best thing to do, since many products have a lot of stimulants. Combining them would only increase their levels even more, which can be dangerous.
If my goal is to lose fat, should I use these products?
Yes, in fact, many ingredients enhance the metabolism, which produces a fat burning effect.
Should I take these supplements when I do not train?
No, since their purpose is to improve our physical performance during the workout.
If I train in the evening-night, should I take these supplements?
This is subjective and it is related to the person’s sensibility to stimulants and ability to fall asleep. There are people who take stimulants, train and fall asleep immediately. We suggest you try, the only thing that can happen is that it will take you some time to fall asleep as you get used to it. Nevertheless, training so late will activate the sympathetic system and you will probably still be active when you go to sleep…
Should I drink my post-workout protein shake if I have already taken one for the pre-workout?
Yes, but it is always a choice depending on your diet. Sport nutrition starts before the workout and stops during its execution. Then it starts once again after the workout.
Effects of pre-workout supplementation in women
Each day, there are more and more pre-workout supplements created and sold in the market. The manufacturers look for innovative formulas and “proprietary blends” of the active ingredients. But, do these supplements have the same effect on men and women?
Within these proprietary blends, the most backed up ingredients are creatine and caffeine, as well as beta alanine. Others have less evidence such as nitric oxide supplements, but they are usually included in these formulas.
There are few studies that exclusively deal with the female population in spite of the existing literature regarding pharmacokinetics and the physiological effects of these ingredients. That is why we believe it is necessary to obtain more information. Women also work out and due to the differences in terms of metabolism, hormones… they deserve to know about the specific guidelines that they should follow in terms of pre-workout supplementation.
Safety… but only half-term
For example, let’s take a pre-workout supplement made of caffeine, beta-alanine and nitrates (Fitmiss Ignite™) for 28 days. Physically active women do not experience abnormal changes in hematology and chemical safety metabolic markers, not in their vital signs while resting.
This does not mean that there are changes associated with its use, rather, all the values that may change remain in an acceptable physiological range. Therefore, there are no significant clinical alterations.
For example, the total amount of monocytes (present in the immune system as antigen response) can drop; Meanwhile, the overall cholesterol can increase, although not significantly; Therefore, we could say this is a more natural change in these workout biochemical markers than being necessarily connected to their intake.
When it comes to the tolerance, the most common side effects tend to be a tingling sensation and itchiness, caused by beta-alanine. Sometimes, people experience nausea and diarrhea, but most of these effects go away with time. So the supplements containing these ingredients are safe until now (which does not mean that they are more effective than caffeine + beta-alanine, without other ingredients).
Future research lines
We must pay attention to the advice and specific strategies for women, including nutrient timing and supplementation. For instance, there could be a special label including the specific dose for both sexes based on the mg of supplement per kg of body weight. Instead of generalizing the scoops or recommended servings.
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- 2. Song-Gyu Ra, Teruo Miyazaki, Keisuke Ishikura, Hisashi Nagayama, Shoichi Komine, Yoshio Nakata, Seiji Maeda, Yasushi Matsuzaki, and Hajime Ohmoricorresponding. Combined effect of branched-chain amino acids and taurine supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle damage in high-intensity eccentric exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 51.
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- Peri-Workout Supplementation
- Citrulline Malate: What is it, Properties, Benefits, Dose, How does it improve the Performance
- Benefits of Beta-Alanine for Athletes
- Green Tea - All you need to know about this antioxidant
- What is HMB and what are its benefits?
- All about BCAA's
- Effects of BCAA's on Long Duration Sports
- Alpha GPC enhances the Focus while Training
- Palatinose™, long-lasting energy