Pre-Workout Supplements: Are They Healthy?
Pre-workout supplements are different than staple sports supplements like protein powders and BCAAs. They are combination products with no specific recipe or formula. The variation in ingredients can naturally lead to lots of questions like:
- Is pre-workout necessary?
- Are there pre-workout side effects?
Let’s do a deep dive into pre-workout supplements and answer these common questions.
Answering the Question: Is Pre-Workout Necessary?
The answer to this question and any other question regarding the necessity of dietary supplements is no, and it would be irresponsible to advise you otherwise. The only person that should advise you on the necessity of sports supplements is your primary care physician or a registered dietician. You do not need pre-workout to get an effective workout.
It wasn’t until 1982 that bodybuilders got their hands on the first pre-workout supplement, Ultimate Orange. It was hit with several lawsuits when healthy men and women began having heart attacks. This start is likely why people still ask the question, is pre-workout necessary? and worry about the potentially scary pre-workout side-effects.
Despite their start, pre-workout supplements have come a long way. While they are unnecessary, many people enjoy using them to enhance their workouts and motivate themselves to push their bodies harder during a workout.
Some of the positive pre-workout side effects include:
- increased energy
- more motivation
- a better workout pump
- improved performance
- extended endurance
As with any sports supplement, reading the ingredients and finding trustworthy supplement brands is key to having a positive experience with pre-workout supplements. Even then, switching formulas might be necessary to find a product you enjoy, as sometimes individuals can experience adverse pre-workout side effects, even with perfectly safe and legal ingredients.
What are the Healthiest Pre-Workouts?
As we mentioned, the healthiest pre-workout supplements are somewhat subjective. Many contain caffeine, and while this ingredient is excellent for some, others might experience some unpleasant pre-workout side effects from it.
We’ve broken down the safest, healthiest pre-workouts by whether they have a stimulant or not and if you prefer a multi-ingredient formula or a single ingredient.
Healthiest Pre-Workout with StimulantsAlani Nu Pre-Workout Supplement: The pre-workout supplement by Alani Nu provides energy for an excellent workout without the crash. It is formulated without fillers or unnecessary ingredients. What makes this one of the healthiest pre-workouts? Its ingredients include:
L-Citrulline Malate: an amino acid that helps to synthesize proteins and open blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
Beta-Alanine: an amino acid that synthesizes other chemicals within the body, improves athletic performance, and builds lean muscle mass.
L-Tyrosine: an amino acid that’s involved in improving mental alertness.
Caffeine from coffee: caffeine is a substance that is scientifically proven to increase endurance and improve athletic performance.
L-Theanine: an amino acid that helps transmit nerves in the brain to reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxation.
Turmeric root: a spice from the turmeric plant and a common ingredient in Asian food. It is the main ingredient in curry. Turmeric root contains a chemical known as curcumin, which decreases inflammation.
These scientifically proven, safe, and effective ingredients are what lends Alani Nu’s Pre-Workout supplement our title for the healthiest pre-workout with stimulants.
Healthiest Pre-Workout without Stimulants
People who don’t do well with caffeine or simply choose to avoid stimulants for any reason will prefer a stimulant-free pre-workout formula. Stimulants are not what makes pre-workout supplements potentially unhealthy, so keep in mind that being stim-free does not mean it’s automatically healthy. Our healthiest pre-workout without stimulants is:
ANS Performance Dilate: ANS’s pre-workout supplement gives you an excellent pump without annoying pre-workout side effects like tingles, jitters, or nausea. A good pump is essential for the body to get the most out of a workout, and these ingredients simultaneously delay the feeling of fatigue as well. The ingredients are:
- Vitamin C: a well-known antioxidant that plays a role in the health of the skin, cartilage, teeth, bone, and blood vessels.
- L-Citrulline: an amino acid we mentioned under the Alani Nu pre-workout ingredients—it improves blood flow.
- Glycerol powder: a naturally occurring chemical that improves hydration, athletic performance, and endurance.
- Agmatine sulfate: a naturally occurring chemical in the human body that is made from the amino acid arginine. It manages chemical pathways in the brain and improves athletic performance and mood.
- Camellia sinensis leaf extract: an extract from tea leaves, also known as green tea extract. Green tea extract has numerous health benefits, including improving athletic performance and weight loss (according to some research).
- Citrus sinensis extract: extracts from a variety of sweet oranges that contains a large vitamin C content. This extract also includes potassium and other ingredients that promote wellness in many ways.
- Pomegranate extract: extracts from the pomegranate fruit, which work as antioxidants to support wellness and blood vessel health.
All of these natural ingredients that support the excellent pump and mental focus for a great workout is what lands ANS Performance Dilate on our healthiest pre-workout list as your stim-free option.
Healthiest Pre-Workout: Single Ingredient Formula
If you prefer fewer ingredients in your pre-workout supplements, look no further than good old creatine monohydrate.
Allmax Creatine Monohydrate: while creatine alone won’t give you the energy boost that other pre-workout formulas do, it is the single most effective and researched sports supplement for better athletic performance.
Alternatively, you can stick with caffeine in your coffee to give you a jolt of energy before your workout.
Are There Pre-Workout Side Effects?
Whether or not you experience pre-workout side effects depends on the formula you choose. The inclusion of caffeine and other stimulants can contribute to some adverse pre-workout side effects like:
- tingling sensation
- high blood pressure
- digestive issues
The bottom line is that pre-workout supplements can enhance your workout and help you achieve your fitness goals. You will feel more motivated to tackle the workout you were dreading, and you will likely push yourself a little harder, too.
Remember, the answer to the question “is pre-workout necessary” is no. Some popular ingredients may cause common pre-workout side effects, but if you enjoy using a pre-workout, you should not let minor side effects deter you. Play around with various formulas, and be sure to give our healthiest pre-workouts a try!