Pre workout supplements are extremely popular in sports nutrition and commonly used to give people an energy boost, dilate blood vessels and improve overall exercise performance. However it can be difficult to know what you are getting into when buying a pre-workout. In this article, we are going to dive into all things pre-workout-related. We hope to explain how to choose the best pre workout for each individual.
How Does Caffeine Work?
The most popular type of caffeine found in majority of stimulant based pre workouts is Caffeine Anhydrous. Caffeine Anhydrous without water is essentially the dehydrated form of caffeine. Due to the process of making caffeine anhydrous, it becomes a much more potent form of powdered caffein. This is why this is most brands go to choice of caffeine added to their pre-workout.
Caffeine Anhydrous works by stimulating the central nervous system which can clear drowsiness and give energy. It has also been shown to prolong exercise performance and improving overall mental cognition.
Di Caffeine Malate
Di Caffeine Malate is a patented ingredient(meaning trademarked) from Creative Compounds, also known to be called Infinergy. This is a form of caffeine which is buffered with the addition of malic acid being added to caffeine. This provides a longer lasting energy and helps to avoid the dreaded crash post workout. It has also been shown to be easier on the stomach as well.
Another difference between this form and caffeine anhydrous is due to a steadier release of energy. It will slowly be absorbed into the system instead of a big initial rush. It is also quite popular among pre workout products to use both caffeine anhydrous and di caffeine malate. They both work synergistically with each providing a good initial boost of energy plus the longer lasting energy.
What is a “Pre-Workout Crash”?
If you’ve been in and around the gym it’s probably nothing new to hear someone talk about “crashing”. The crash is a common side effect of pre-workouts, mainly due to the high single doses of caffeine. When caffeine enters the body, it almost instantly has an effect, with parts entering the bloodstream via the mouth and majority being absorbed via the small intestine, which then starts to increase heart rate and blood pressure.
Caffeine stimulates the body’s central nervous system (CNS) and with prolonged use, the tolerance towards some of the physiological effects will start to effect. A high tolerance means you are generally consuming too much caffeine. This then leads you to search for stronger products with higher doses so you get that “hit”. Unfortunatelly this will then lead to negative impacts on the body in the long run.
What causes a crash?
When we consume pre-workout, there are a number of things that start to happen as a result. The main effect is what we call the come up, or the kicking in of caffeine. Once the body starts to absorb and metabolise the drug, which takes about 45mins, it then utilises the remaining circulating caffeine by crossing the blood brain barrier. The caffeine molecule then binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain, increasing neural pathways. From here it releases small amounts of dopamine, reducing the impact in that adenosine has in the brain.
As you metabolise the drug over the course of a couple hours, its slowly released from the adenosine receptors. This causes the body to release a large amount of adenosine that has been built up. This feeling is generally known as “hitting a wall” or better known as “the crash”. When this happens you will feel sluggish, tired and quite honestly ready for a nap.
How to avoid a crash?
If your one of those people who simply cannot start the day without your morning coffee you are not alone! One thing we will recommend is to track your caffeine consumption throught the day. This will make the selection of pre workout much easier when selecting for your goal. If you choose a product with large doses of caffeine (300mg+) on top of other many other sources of caffeine, you greatly increase the chances of a crash. It is inevitable, just like a balloon, what goes up must come down.
The best way to avoid this is by being cautious of the amount of caffeine you consume during the day. We don’t want to be over doing your exposure to stimulants as this will leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Always be mindful of how much caffeine you are consuming over a 24 hour period is vital. This will ensure the effectiveness of the pre-workout in relation to exercise and so you dont crash!
An alternative option is to opt in for a pre workout that contains Infinergy (Di Caffeine Malate). This is a slow release and absorbing caffeine. When this is used in conjunction with caffeine anhydrous it will provide long lasting energy.
When is the best time to take a Pre workout?
It takes time! When you see that guy or even more commonly with girls now days dry scooping their pre workout before a gym session, are they actually decreasing the effectiveness of the product? Well, have you ever took the time to read the directions on the back of the label? Most pre workout supplements along with many other stimulant products take time to fully breakdown. Generally, 15-30mins prior to exercise is the most common recommended time to consume pre workout. Along with timing your pre-workout consumption, water content is another big factor when ingesting these types of products.
The reason for this is firstly dilution, all pre-workout, fat burning and protein supplements need water. This helps to start the activation process and the absorbtion of the product itself. you need to consume it with the recommended water serving suggestion, the more water you consume with the pre, the better the product travels throughout the body and the greater the effect of the ingredients. I mean our body is made up of 60-70% water right!
How long does Pre-Workout last?
The average half-life of caffeine (meaning how long it takes to clear your system) is said to be about 5 hours in regular healthy adults, it can however range between 1.5 and 9.5 hours. Something to definitely take into consideration when it comes down to when you are consuming pre workout in relation to your sleep.
What causes jitters?
Prior to exercise some individuals may experience what is known as ‘jitters’. The cause of jitters can be anxiety or stress related issues, pre workout however also plays a role.
Generally for most beginners or even adept fitness goers, we all to some extent have experienced some type of anxiety before getting into a workout at the gym. This can be due to stress and anxiety throughout the day which is then heightened before you head to the gym. In order to get past that initial anxiety, its best to take a step back for a couple of minutes and focus on your breathing.
Pre workout products can also contribute to that jittery feeling. Depending on your tolerance to caffeine and the amount of caffeine consumed, it can sometimes be too much for your adrenal system to handle, putting your adrenal glands into overdrive and directly increasing the circulating supply of cortisol. Once this happens, your body reacts further by activating its defence mechanism to compensate for the amount of work, releasing the chemical Adrenaline (fight or flight response) in some cases resulting in jitters as well as uncontrolled muscle twitching.
Why does my body tingle after I take Pre-Workout?
That tingling sensation or pins and needle sensation, is a reaction to Beta Alanine. This is a harmless reactions called Paraesthesia. Beta alanine is a common ingredient formulated into a pre workout, your body produces small amounts of it naturally as it helps increase nitric oxide production by cells, which aids in the production of carnosine and is responsible for blood vasodilation having a positive effect on muscular endurance . Many gym goers enjoy this feeling and tend to opt choosing products that contain this ingredient. There are also products that dont containt Beta Alanine if this effect is not desired.
There has been much research conducted over the years to figure out how to incorporate beta alanine in more pre workout formulas but eliminating the paraesthesia effect. I’m happy to say its been done. The team at Ghost, an American supplement brand, have incorporated a tingle-reduced beta alanine into many of their products. Head down to your nearest PowerSupps and grab yourself a tub!
Struggle sleeping after taking pre workout?
The first and most important aspect of becoming better, faster and stronger is to optimize sleep. It affects so many things that improve or inhibit your training. There is a lot of great research out there, with sleep effecting fat loss (insulin resistance) etc. When sleep is sporadic and has no real consistent cycle your metabolism starts to slow down, your blood pressure increases, there is an increase in grelin (hunger hormone), increase in cortisol, decreases in testosterone as well as decreasing thyroid function.
Not getting enough sleep due to the effects of pre-workout will have negative results towards your body composition goals. When we sleep, this is our opportunity to recover and build lean muscle mass. There is a huge array of sleep formulas that can assist with improving the quality of sleep. This can be an absolute life saver for people who are bad sleepers!
You can also look into non-stimulant pre-workout or pump products that don’t have that stimulatory effect. These still provide a great array of ingredients that will benefit the workout.
How can I get the most out of Pre Workout?
In order to get the most out of a pre workout, you need to ask yourself, what is your goal. Is it to have more energy, increase stamina, have better performance, greater strength or just to boost mental focus? If you need a pre workout to get the most out of your performance, choose one specific to the goal. Keeping the body hydrated pre and post workout plays a pivotal role in the efficacy of the product. Optimal water intake promotes the circulation of ingredients through the bloodstream.
The most important factor is to listen to your body. Caffeine will give you that performance boost, but you have to be sensitive to it in order to notice the benefits. If you have caffeine everyday, then having it before you workout will take you from tired to baseline (normal). What you want to do, is use the pre-workout to take you from normal to a little bit higher, above baseline functionality. The way you do this is to take time off, or cycle the use of your pre workout. Instead of having it 6days/week for every session, reduce it to 3days/week on your high intensity days, this is how you not only optimize pre workout for improved performance, but reap the benefits of pre workout formulas when you train.
Categories – Pre Workout ingredients
Caffeine is one of the most commonly used stimulants within pre workout powder, used for its energy boosting effects and mental focus. Its formed from both natural plant processes and can be consumed through drinking coffee/green tea (Natural caffeine), on the other side, synthetic derived caffeine (Caffeine Anhydrous) is produced by urea and chloroacetic acid. Widely the dominant form, caffeine anhydrous is used in most pre workouts due to the rush of energy it delivers to the body, individuals start to experience the effects within about 5 minutes due to its bioavailability.
While not as common when compared with other stimulants, guarana is another naturally derived form of caffeine. Its use in mainly energy drinks, soft drinks and some energy powders have increased awareness dramatically. The seed of the guarana plant has been recorded to have nearly 3 to 5 times the amount of caffeine in it when compared to Arabica coffee beans. The plant is rich in antioxidants, great for cognitive function and has many antibacterial properties.
L-Citrulline Malate is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body. Taking it as a supplement can increase these levels in the body, which can help in various ways. One of the most well known benefits of L-Citrulline Malate in pre workout is that of blood flow enhancement, as well as supporting the body in maintaining and increasing muscle mass.
Beta Vularis also known as (Beetroot Extract), has been hailed in recent times as “the root of all pumps”. The natural high content of nitrates in the root makes conversion to nitric oxide a simple and highly beneficial way to enhance athletic performance by vasodilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow around the body. The key dosage of beetroot extract is around 500mg for best results.
This is a non essential amino acid commonly formulated into many pre workout products, your body produces small amounts of it naturally as it helps increase nitric oxide production by cells and helps the production of carnosine, a protein building block found in working muscles. Beta alanine is also responsible for blood vasodilation having a positive effect on better endurance performance.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that has many health advantages. The body produces it naturally in small amounts, however when the dosage is increased by raw powder form and/or pre workout, it can improve performance in many ways including, laser like focus, mood enhancement and aiding in stress reduction. L-tyrosine helps activate many neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, adrenaline and the release of dopamine which all work together to improve alertness, mood as well as boost energy.
The use of choline and the awareness of this essential nutrient is continuing to grow. This ingredient is used in pre workout formulas for its involvement in many different processes, such as cell structure and messaging, fat transport, metabolism, DNA synthesis and CNS maintenance.
From the information in this article, I hope it sheds light on not only how long pre workout lasts, but ways to find the best pre for you. We’ve outlined different means that either effect or increase the efficacy of products and the ideal times that you should consume them. In order to get the most out of your pre workout, you must ensure your getting plenty of sleep, eating the right foods and keeping hydrated not only throughout the day but during your workout also. If you want to take a further look into pre workout products to find the best one for you, head over to our website ‘PowerSupps’ or have a read through other articles on our blog.