Preparing with pre-workout

April 10, 2023

Pre-workout supplements are popular among both recreational and professional athletes. These powders are meant to be taken prior to exercise and generally contain a mix of ingredients such as caffeine, creatine and amino acids. Although a mix of various pre-workout supplements are typically popular among athletes, those who wish to focus on a particular muscle group take individual supplements. 

Caffeine is a primary ingredient in a varying number of pre-workout supplements, as it is quickly absorbed and peaks in the bloodstream within 60 minutes of ingestion. Caffeine boosts mental alertness and sharpens cognition, ultimately improving one’s performance during endurance, power and resistance exercises. 

“I use caffeine in the form of energy drinks,” junior Manasa Gudapati said. “Celsius energy drinks give me extra energy boosts that help me power through my workouts.” 

When taken in doses between 100 and 400 milligrams, caffeine has thermogenic properties, meaning it boosts metabolism and allows one’s body to burn maximum calories during a workout or throughout the day. The FDA recommends less than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day for adults; excessively high dosages may lead to side effects which can affect day-to-day living and lead to health problems. 

There are 20 different amino acids which aid the growth and repairing of muscles, decrease muscle soreness and help in energy production. Beta-alanine, a popular supplement, is an amino acid which one can obtain through consumption of foods such as poultry or meat. This amino acid is used to synthesize carnosine, a molecule that is stored in muscles and helps improve athletic performance. 

“Performance improvement is seen with these supplements, but not as much as you would see with caffeine or creatine monohydrate.” said Sebastian Zorn, Director of Sports Nutrition with football at Stanford University. “Even those have at best 5-8% performance improvement when dosed correctly.”

Athletes, especially weightlifters, use creatine monohydrate, a supplement that reduces recovery time and increases energy. It is formed of three amino acids: L-arginine, L-methionine and glycine. Creatine increases water retention in muscles, making them appear bigger, explaining its popularity among bodybuilders. It also helps with increasing power and short bursts of energy.

“Creatine has helped make my workouts feel more fluent and cut down my recovery time by a lot,” junior Shaumik Kalwit said. 

 Creatine is meant to be taken while drinking a gallon of water a day or else it may negatively affect one’s digestive system. 

“Some people claim that you have to cycle on and off creatine because it’s bad for your kidneys,” said Dr. Matthew Kaufman, a physical medicine and rehabilitation resident at Stanford University. “That’s actually not true — studies have shown that you can take creatine indefinitely and nothing too bad with the kidneys is going to happen, unless you have a pre-existing kidney disease.”

These ingredients in pre-workout supplements have been scientifically proven to support athletic performance. However, these supplements are not completely risk free. For example, pre-workout frequently contains artificial sweeteners, which should be taken in moderation to avoid digestive problems. Excessive intake of caffeine can also lead to side effects, such as increased blood pressure, impaired sleep and stress. If one has existing health conditions, it is crucial to consult with a medical professional before using pre-workout supplements. Pre-workout supplements are not recommended for daily use, as one may build up a tolerance to the ingredients, lessening the effectiveness. It’s suggested to take these supplements only before an especially tough workout where one may need an extra boost of energy. 

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Samiya Anwar, Staffer

(she/her) Samiya is a junior and a second year staffer on the Epic this year. Outside of journalism, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending...

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    Anton ZhouApr 12, 2023 at 9:32 am

    This is awesome ! ! !