Pre-Workout: The Facts

Many pre-workout supplements on the market advertise “unreal results,” “personal bests,” “amplified pumps,” “more power,” “true gains” and “intense focus.” Now that’s all good, but it can these products live up to their promises?

Most pre-workout supplements have heavy amounts of caffeine, some have 100 to 300 milligrams in just one serving. To put that in perspective, consider that a a medium-sized Coke has 39 milligrams and an 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams. Our bodies do not like caffeine, in fact, when we consume caffeine our body systems start working harder to get the substance out of our systems. That’s why you’ll experience an increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. Your kidneys will also be working harder and you might have to pee, a lot, and people who take caffeinated pre-workout get a mental buzz.

Many of the caffeinated pre-workout supplements on the market are banned by the United States Olympic Committee and the NCAA. So if these products are banned, are they really that good for you? And, consider that many pre-workout supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Harvard Medical School even published research in the journal of Drug Testing and Analysis stating that the popular pre-workout supplement Craze contained a banned substance derived from methamphetamine. It’s unclear if the product posed any serious health risks, but its makers took it off the market in 2013.

I’ve taken pre-workout before. However, most of the supplements that I took were plant-based. Even though the supplement that I was taking contained natural ingredients like coconut palm nectar, brown rice syrup, green tea, Asian ginseng and rhodiola it still contained caffeine. When I first started taking it, my mental focus was increased and I felt like I could go harder in the gym for longer periods of time. After a couple months of use it didn’t seem to be working anymore. I became desensitized to the effects of caffeine.

After a couple of weeks without the supplement I started it again. But, this time it wasn’t so good. After my workout I was nauseous, it was the worst feeling. My stomach was upset and I had to leave my workout early. I haven’t used the supplements since. Instead, I eat enough to keep me fueled throughout my workout. It’s best to eat two hours before you plan to workout. I also stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day and during my workout. Personally, after my experience, I think it’s best to do things naturally. That’s not to say I will never take a pre-workout supplement again, I’m just taking a break for now.


  • Increased mental focus.
  • More energy to push through.
  • Increased protein synthesis.
  • Rapid calorie burn and fat breakdown.
  • Increased oxygen flow.


  • Possible heart racing.
  • Possible nausea.
  • Unsettled stomach.
  • Adrenal fatigue.
  • Dehydration.

Predator Nutrition suggests taking a pre-workout supplement three times a week. Pre-workout is not very helpful to runners or people doing a lot of cardio. It’s best for serious or competitive lifters. Predator Nutrition also provides an extensive list of pre-workout supplements and the ingredients so you can make an informed choice if you decide to take a pre-workout supplement.

Photo courtesy of Nadia Martinez/Flickr


One thought on “Pre-Workout: The Facts

  1. Life Chap says:

    I personally don’t use pre-workout because I don’t want my body to become reliant on the effects. Coffee or tea sometimes if I’m really feeling groggy. Great post though, you should check out my blog, I think you’d like it!


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