If you’re a gym enthusiast, you’ve likely experienced the surge of energy that comes from taking a pre-workout supplement. But have you ever found yourself crashing after that initial boost? It’s a common issue, but there are ways to prevent it.
Is it possible for pre-workout to cause crashing?
Absolutely. While pre-workouts are designed to increase your energy and focus during workouts, some people may experience a ‘crash’ afterwards. This can be due to several factors, including the types of ingredients used in the pre-workout, your individual body chemistry, and your habits before, during, and after your workout.
What are some ingredients that may cause pre-workout crashes?
Understanding the pre-workout ingredients is crucial to understanding why you might be experiencing a crash. Let’s delve into a few key ingredients:
Caffeine intake is the most common cause of a pre-workout crash. It’s included in many pre-workouts to boost energy and exercise performance. However, too much caffeine can lead to a caffeine crash once its effects wear off. If you regularly drink coffee or energy drinks outside of your training sessions, you might also be consuming more caffeine than you realise, exacerbating the crash (1).
Some pre-workout supplements contain sugar or artificial sweeteners to improve their taste. While these can provide a quick energy boost, they can also cause a rapid drop in blood sugar levels after your workout, leading to a crash. Moreover, the insulin spike upregulates the transport of the amino acid tryptophan to the brain which results in increased serotonin and melatonin synthesis, ultimately leading to sleepiness (2).
Yohimbe is a stimulant that can increase fat-burning and weight loss. However, it can also cause side effects like rapid heart rate, anxiety, and high blood pressure, which can all lead to a post-workout crash.
Other factors that can cause pre-workout crashes
Your pre, during, and post-workout habits also play a significant role in how you feel after taking a pre-workout. For example, if you’re not eating enough, your body might run out of fuel during your workout, leading to a crash. Similarly, dehydration can also cause fatigue and crashing, so it’s important to stay well-hydrated during your workout.
- Inadequate Nutrition: If you hit the gym on an empty stomach or fail to consume food that provides sustainable energy, you’re setting yourself up for a crash. Make sure to have a healthy meal a couple of hours before your workout to fuel your body properly.
- Overconsumption of Stimulants: Downing an energy drink or too much coffee right before your training sessions can give you an initial boost, but it can also lead to a severe drop in energy levels once their effects wear off. Try to limit your caffeine intake and consider caffeine-free pre-workout ingredients.
- Lack of Hydration: Water plays a crucial role in maintaining energy levels. Not drinking enough water before your workout can lead to dehydration, which often results in fatigue and a crash (3).
- Overexertion: Pushing yourself too hard during an intense workout without taking adequate breaks can deplete your energy reserves quickly, leading to a crash. Listen to your body and take rest periods when needed.
- Neglecting Hydration: Just as before your workout, failing to stay hydrated during your workout can cause a drop in energy levels. Keep a water bottle handy and sip regularly.
- Skipping Post-Workout Nutrition: Your body needs nutrients to kickstart the recovery process after a workout routine. Skipping your post-workout meal or not consuming enough protein and carbohydrates can leave you feeling drained and sluggish.
- Inadequate Rest: Your body recovers and rebuilds itself while you sleep. Not getting enough rest after an intense workout can hinder this recovery process and lead to tiredness and a lack of energy the next day.
Remember, your pre-workout crash feel doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of your workout routine. By paying attention to these factors and making necessary adjustments, you can help prevent crashes and make the most of your training sessions.
What are some tips for helping prevent crashing while taking pre-workout?
1. Monitor Your Caffeine Consumption
This is especially important if you’re a regular coffee drinker or if you consume other caffeinated products. Knowing how much caffeine you’re ingesting can help you avoid a pre-workout crash when the caffeine wears off a few hours after your workout.
2. Opt for Non-Stim Pre Workouts
Many pre workout products contain stimulants, but there are also plenty of stim-free options available. These can be a great choice if you’re sensitive to caffeine or prefer to get your energy from other ingredients.
3. Hydrate Properly
Water is essential for maintaining your energy level during and after your workout. Make sure you’re drinking enough before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated.
4. Don’t Skip Meals
You need a steady supply of nutrients to fuel your workouts and restore energy afterwards. Try to eat a balanced meal a few hours before your workout that includes complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein.
5. Ensure Adequate Sleep
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes getting enough sleep. Adequate rest is crucial for recovery and can help prevent feelings of fatigue after a workout.
6. Take it Easy on the Dosage
If you’re new to pre-workout supplements or have recently switched brands, start with a smaller dosage and gradually increase it as your body adapts. This can help prevent any adverse reactions, including crashing.
7. Refuel Post-Workout
Once your workout is complete and the caffeine wears off, you might feel tired and dizzy. A protein shake or a meal rich in complex carbohydrates can help restore energy levels and prevent post-workout crashes.
Can taking a pre-workout supplement cause crashing? Our final wrap-up
While pre-workout supplements can sometimes lead to a crash, it’s often due to consuming too much, not hydrating properly, or not having adequate nutrition.
By understanding the ingredients in your pre-workout and adjusting your habits, you can enjoy the benefits of your pre-workout supplement without the crash. As always, listen to your body and adjust as needed. Happy exercising!
- Sajadi-Ernazarova KR, Anderson J, Dhakal A, et al. Caffeine Withdrawal. [Updated 2022 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430790/
- Spring B. (1984). Recent research on the behavioral effects of tryptophan and carbohydrate. Nutrition and health, 3(1-2), 55–67. https://doi.org/10.1177/026010608400300204
- Zhang, N., Du, S. M., Zhang, J. F., & Ma, G. S. (2019). Effects of Dehydration and Rehydration on Cognitive Performance and Mood among Male College Students in Cangzhou, China: A Self-Controlled Trial. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(11), 1891. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111891