One aspect of the health and fitness industry that presents itself with extremely diluted information is that of the Pre-Workout Supplement industry. Not only is a lot of the information indecipherable to the average eye (unless you are a biochemist) it can also be extremely unsafe if proper research and precautions are not taken prior to using some of these products.
Many of the major pre-workout supplements contain a complex combination of ingredients that are designed to increase one’s training performance in the gym. Many common ingredients include Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Caffeine, Tyrosine, Phenylalamine, Arginine, Guarana, and many other acid matricies/extracts. While some of these ingredients make sense from a theoretical physiological stand point, it is difficult to find an actual scientific proven link to which has a true effect on performance, as it is tough to pinpoint which mechanism in the blend increases performance.
Many who take workout supplements properly tend to see improved performance with their training (it doesn’t always last though and one should not stay on a product for an extended period of time).
Now, it’s always great to be able to increase one’s athletic performance in the gym, but the problem with many of these popular products (most with lavish names to draw attention: N.O.-Xplode, Juggernaut, C4 Extreme, Assault, MassXXX) is you have absolutely NO IDEA how much of each ingredient is in the product. This is where you will see the words PROPRIETARY BLEND followed by the amount of grams in the blend, and below it is a list of ingredients in the PROPRIETARY BLEND with no actual milligram or gram values listed next to the individual ingredients.
This can be very dangerous as each individual’s tolerance/hormonal responses differ with the amount/type of ingredients or blend. For example some of these products (not all) can contain up to 19.2 Grams of a “proprietary blend” of many of the ingredients listed above. So you are unsure if you are receiving 10 grams of creatine, 2 grams of creatine, or 12 grams of caffeine, and so on and so forth. This can make a crucial difference as to if you are receiving 200mg of caffeine and caffeine related substances or 2,000mg of caffeine. With products with that high of a proprietary blend, many things can occur within the body causing unnaturally high hormonal changes, heart palpitations, and in some cases with athletes, even heart attacks.
There is still hope though! There are many pre-workout supplements that seem to be effective and have the dosage of ingredients listed, or a small amount of proprietary blend, so you can be sure you are getting a safe amount of the necessary ingredients. One example is EAS Phos Force. It lists all the ingredients used and the amount of grams/milligrams listed in the product.
If you really want to be safe and know exactly what you are putting into your body if you cycle pre-workout supplements, you can always create your own! Here is an example of a stack you can blend on your own.
1. Creatine: Assists with force of muscular contraction. 5-10 Grams.
2. Beta-Alanine: Boosts production of Carnosine, which helps equalize muscular acidity (removal of lactic acid) via removal of excess hydrogen ions. 5-10 Grams.
3. Caffeine: Increase training drive, focus, and decreases fatigue. 200-400 Milligrams (DON’T FORGET TO STAY HYDRATED IF ADDING CAFFEINE TO DIET)
4. Tyrosine: Increases release of catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine). 150 Milligrams.
5. Phenylalanine: Increase performance with resistance training and muscular output force. 150 Milligrams.
6. Arginine: Vasodilator that increase the amount of blood flow to the working muscles. 3-5 Grams.
Hopefully we’ve helped clear up (at least as well as we can for a complicated product/market) some common misconceptions and extreme safety issues related to pre-workout supplements.
As always, ask our MidwestFit team if you have any questions related to pre-workout supplements or other health and fitness related issues!