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Gym time is a great way of building strength and muscle, endurance, and confidence. If you feel sluggish or tired after a workout, a pre-workout supplement may be able to help. Are you looking for a pre-workout? What is a pre-workout and how can you find the best one for you?

What is a Pre-Workout?

Pre-workouts can be used as a supplement to your workouts and help you build muscle. Pre-workouts can help you focus better and get more out of your workout.

Although the term “pre-workout” can be used to refer to many things, they are usually products that have been formulated by mixing ingredients proven to increase athletic performance. They are best taken before you start your workout because they have a primary purpose to increase energy, focus, blood flow, and energy.

There are other options for pre-workout energy & focus

Do you need to do a pre-workout before starting a workout? It depends. It depends.

You don’t need to take a pre-workout supplement. There are many natural energy-boosting ingredients in foods. They may not be as concentrated as supplements, but that is the main difference.

You could also try these snacks before you go to the gym:

  • Smoothie is made with energy-boosting ingredients such as berries, bananas, leafy greens, and nut butter. Add a scoop of protein powder.
  • Slices of apple or pear with peanut butter or almond butter
  • Whole-grain crackers, or tortillas with hummus spread on them
  • Whole-grain toast with a hardboiled or fried egg.
  • With cottage cheese, berries

Check out my new book Fuel your Body for more ideas on how to fuel your workouts.

What to Look for in a Pre-Workout

You should look out for some ingredients in a pre-workout supplement. These ingredients can help you focus, recover, and increase energy.


Caffeine is a natural ergogenic agent that can enhance athletic performance. It can be found in tea, coffee, and cocoa. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Caffeine helps you get through tough workouts and gives you a boost of energy. The peak blood caffeine levels occur between 45-60 minutes and 60 minutes after consumption. Therefore, it is important to take the caffeine at least 45-60 minutes before you start your workout. An effective dose of 3 mg/kg is shown. You can read more about the benefits and research on caffeine in our supplement guide.


Beta-alanine, an amino acid, is a good example. It is non-essential. This means that your body makes it, and you don’t need to consume it. It is however the most important amino acid for carnosine synthesis. Supplementing it in a pre-workout can help increase your skeletal muscle carnosine levels. More carnosine makes it easier to endure prolonged, intense exercise. Although some studies have shown beta-alanine is beneficial in anaerobic exercise (e.g., for activities lasting between 2-4 minutes), others have not found conclusive evidence. Further research is required to establish the effects of beta-alanine on endurance and strength beyond 25 minutes. Beta-alanine is also available in supplementation form. It can also be found as a component of meat, poultry, and fish. For 8-12 weeks, the recommended daily intake is 2-5g.


Electrolytes, which include minerals such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, are lost when you sweat. Electrolyte imbalance may cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps. It is essential to replace them before and after a workout. These can be found in whole foods, such as potatoes with salt or coconut water with sodium, or they can be taken in sports drinks or powder form. You can find out more about electrolytes, their benefits, and their performance in our supplement manual.

Amino Acids

Amino acids help you recover from your workouts and are essential building blocks for protein and skeletal muscles. Pre-workouts may be able to reduce the severity of muscle soreness. Pre-workout supplements often contain the BCAAs leucine and valine. It is not clear that BCAA supplementation can increase performance for people who already consume adequate protein. BCAAs can be found in all forms of complete protein, including meat, poultry, and eggs as well as dairy products, soy products, and quinoa.


Creatine, a compound that is formed by protein metabolism, is naturally found in the body and plays an important role in providing energy to your muscles. Creatine is a common ingredient in pre-workouts because it can increase focus, strength, and muscle mass and improve muscle recovery. The recommended daily intake of creatine monohydrate is 5g. My Athlete’s Guide to Creatine provides more information about who should take creatine and how to use it.


Your body and brain prefer carbohydrates, namely glucose, as a source of energy. Pre-workouts often include glucose to prevent muscle fatigue. Pre-workout carbs can help optimize your body’s ability to tap into muscle glycogen stores for energy. This is especially true for activities that are shorter or more intense. Carb loading is the practice of eating higher-quality carbs in the days before a hard workout. This helps to replenish your glycogen stores for future use. You can also use simpler, more refined carbs before or during a workout to give your body more fuel.


L-Citrulline, an amino acid, is the precursor to Larginine. This is a key ingredient in nitric dioxide synthesis. The dilation of blood vessels, oxygen availability, and circulation to the muscles are improved by nitric oxide. Although research is mixed about the effects of citrulline on athletic performance and muscle soreness, current evidence shows citrulline malate to be beneficial for muscle soreness 24 hours and 48 hours after exercise. Healthy adult men who perform high-intensity anaerobic exercise have shown performance benefits. Supplementation may be recommended. Typically, citrulline malate is consumed between 4-8 grams 30-60 minutes before a workout. Citrulline is naturally found in some foods, including watermelon, cucumber, squash, and others.



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