Considerations before taking preworkout supplements
About 3-4 years ago I took a popular pre workout for the first time, by time I got to the gym and was exercising, my heart felt as if it was going to explode and my arms and legs felt numb and tingly. This was a very scary experience for me. However, I noticed I was able to lift higher weight and workout longer than normal. Does this sound familiar? I share my story to bring awareness and insight concerning pre-workout supplements, with hopes we make decisions that will benefit our health and wellness. If you’re having to take a supplement to “power through” a workout are you functionally ready to be doing those exercises and does the risk out weigh the benefits?
There is an argument that adding pre-workouts to your body to improve its function is no different than taking vitamins or medicine to help you get better. I understand that people take vitamins and supplements to make up for nutrients lost throughout our diet or lifestyle but adding extra substances beyond the recommended serving may not be necessarily safe. Talking with a health care provider before using pre-workouts or supplements may provide further education and guidance to avoid any interactions with existing medications or health conditions.
I have noticed many of my friends wanting to take pre-workout supplements to speed up their progress in their fitness journey. Taking pre-workout supplements seem normal but should it be? The claim to fame of these supplements is that they improve your fitness and increase your energy levels so you’re able to make it through tough workouts. They are easy to access (GNC, Walmart etc.) and are advertised on every platform from stores to online or even on social media. When pre workouts first started trending they were somewhat unsafe and questionable about their benefits. The first official pre-workout “Ultimate Orange” was commonly used until there were lawsuits filed against the company. The lawsuits blamed heart attacks in both men and women on the pre-workout.(2) Another supplement made by Patrick Arnold has been banned multiple times because of an ingredient called DMAA, this is because side effects like high blood pressure, brain bleeding and strokes are associated with DMAA.(1)
There are some other known side effects of taking the pre-workouts. A friend shared with me that her pre-workout causes her to breakout in a rash, but she continues to take it because she can lift more and do harder workouts. A few people I know that take a variety of pre-workouts have all reported the similar effects of increase heart rate, jitteriness, etc. Some health care professionals may argue that pre-workouts are not only unsafe but also unnecessary. Pre-workouts are a mixture of different elements like vitamins, energy boosters, amino acids, caffeine, and sweeteners (just to name a few). This mixture is advertised as harmless which technically it is because most of them (amino acids and creatine) are substances found in your body already. An unsafe factor to consider is the amount of each substance in the mixture as well as the quality of each of the ingredients. Many pre-workout formulas are not regulated therefore the quality of the ingredients varies. Some can be organic whereas other may be made with GMOs and some mixtures may even contain fillers. An extremely popular ingredient is creatine, which is something your body makes naturally. Pre-workouts can have large amounts of creatine in it which speeds up the body’s recovery process, but how much is too much?
Maybe a solution is to make sure you understand the fundamentals with health and fitness. Having a support team, like the personal trainers at Ladies Super Fitness, provide a good base of knowledge to promote safety, encouragement, and proper progression in your exercise routine. As an intern here I have witnessed women improve and progress in their exercise routines. It is a reminder to me that if you are working out and fatiguing easily, with time you will increase your stamina and be able to do more challenging workouts. I have seen proof of this here. And the best part is that the members at LSF are being safe reducing risk of injury and having fun. If a supplement is the only thing allowing you to do harder more intense workouts, is this something your body is ready for? Is it safe for your body to do?
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Karlie Lehman, Exercise Science Student, LSF Intern
1. Australian Government Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. “The TGA Decision to Ban DMAA.” Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australian Government Department of Health, 2 Aug. 2012, www.tga.gov.au/behind-news/tga-decision-ban-dmaa.
2. Heffernan, Conor. “A History of Pre-Workout Supplements.” Physical Culture Study, 10 Apr. 2017, physicalculturestudy.com/2017/04/10/a-history-of-pre-workout-supplements/.