Throughout this website's existence, I've discussed nutrition ad-nauseum. In our society, it's important that people know the RIGHT types of foods they should eat given the high quantity of low quality options we encounter a daily basis. However, the questions I get asked regularly pertain to supplements, particularly pre-workouts. Should you take them? Are they safe? What pre-workout do I recommend?
Let's break down the above questions:
1) Should you take pre-workout supplements?
The answer to this depends on your daily energy levels, what time of day you work out, what you ingest 30-120 minutes prior to workouts and how you mentally approach exercise. People who maintain a proper diet and eating schedule and are well-rested tend to NOT need a preworkout to get a good workout in. If you're physically prepared (via proper rest, diet and exercise) and can motivate yourself mentally, then it is not a necessity that you take a pre-workout supplement.
On the contrary, we all have days where we're stressed for time, didn't sleep well the night before and probably haven't eaten as well or as much as we should have. On these particular days, we often feel aloof and are in no way, shape or form prepared to put the proper amount of work in during exercise. If this is the case, a GOOD pre-workout supplement can give you that extra jolt of energy and alertness you need to push yourself as hard as you need to continue to see results.
Think about the above: if you feel that you have days throughout the week where your workouts suffer due to fatigue or mental cloudiness, or you find you skip certain workout days because you don't feel like moving, a pre-workout may be right for you.
Are pre-workouts safe?
That depends on the pre-workout, as well as your health. There are many great products on the market, but there are far more unsafe and untested products. Because the FDA doesn't regulate the supplement industry effectively, many supplement companies make unfounded provocative claims about their highly untested products. This type of false advertising can not only contribute to your purchase and use of an ineffective product, but can put your life in danger.
Ever hear of the pre-workout 'Craze?' About a year ago, this supplement was found to have a meth-like compound in it, and was taken off of store shelves. The reason this wasn't tested or found sooner was because the meth-like ingredient wasn't listed on the label. Ever hear of a proprietary blend? That essentially means that while an ingredient is listed on a label, you don't quite know how much of that ingredient is actually within the product you're using. It also means that not all ingredients used to make that particular product are being listed on the label. Does that sound like something you'd want to put into your body? I didn't think so.
Lastly, be sure to consult your physician before deciding to take a pre-workout supplement. If you have a heart condition, it may not be a good idea to take one, even if it's a good one.
3) What pre-workout do I recommend?
As you know if you've read any of my previous blog posts, I am very particular about what goes into my body. I make sure that my clients are also aware of what they eat on a daily basis, and what they need to eat to continue to see results. That being said, I DO use a pre-workout supplement. I feel it aids in my performance during exercise or competition, and has been beneficial for me.
It's important that you purchase a pre-workout that's both gluten and aspartame-free. These two chemicals are terrible for you to ingest, and are found on the nutritional labels of many pre-workout supplements on the market today. Additionally, it's important that you know exactly what you're ingesting. If a supplement has a proprietary blend, I am NOT even going to go there.
My pre-workout of choice is Pre-Jym by Dr. Jim Stoppani. Dr. Stoppani is a well-respected scientist in the field of exercise and diet, and this product was very well-researched. Every ingredient is listed on the label with the proper doses necessary to boost your performance to the next level. This product works for me, and if you're interested in trying it out, feel free to search for it on BodyBuilding.com.
I will be reviewing the benefits of protein powder, fish oil and other commonly used supplements throughout the week. Stay tuned for my next post!
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