Are Pre-Workout Drinks Healthy or Harmful?

As with most things relating to fitness, the argument surrounding the health benefits of pre-workout drinks has raged for years.

The faction in support of pre-workout drinks claim that it confers a much-needed boost to energy and endurance while you workout. In theory, this should serve to help you smash those fitness goals and get bigger, faster.

The faction against pre-workout drinks dont have much of an argument against the idea of the energy boost itself, so much as the fact they may contain ingredients that are harmful, this defeating the purpose.

This article will serve as your one-stop destination for all the arguments for and against pre-workout drinks, compiled so that you can make the most beneficial decisions regarding your fitness needs.

The Benefits

Now, it’s pretty clear that pre-work out drinks deliver a noticeable boost to your workout. Some of the more popular ingredients in pre-workout drinks include high energy protein powders and stimulants like caffeine that give you that added edge to push past that limit.

The protein powders may contain branched chain amino acids or BCAAs and leucine that helps you build new muscles fast. They may also contain caffeine, which helps to keep you alert and focused, thus improving your performance.

In addition to this, some pre-workout drinks are loaded with vitamins like the B-complexes that encourage your body to metabolize faster and influence energy conversion, as well as compounds like beetroot juice that have been more to increase the secretion of nitric oxide and boost cardiac function.

Nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels, giving your organs a flood of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to help them work harder and faster. Some pre-workout compounds also include creatine, and like we already know, creatine helps you get those muscle gains faster by encouraging your body to synthesize new muscles.

Essentially, these compounds serve as a sort of nitro boost that helps your body push past its limits and help up achieve you fitness goals in record time. So what could possibly be wrong with that?

The Risks

When you’re in the process of pushing your body to its limit, it is always a good idea to watch your intake. A handy rule of the thumb that works for me is this: if it’s not FDA approved, then think twice before you eat.

The FDA is a government regulatory body that ensures that the supplements and medicines on the market contain exactly what it says on the box, and that it’s safe for human consumption.

Other third party regulatory bodies like the NSF or Informed Choice can also serve as a reliable way of ensuring that the contents in your pre-work shake are actually made from the right quality and purest materials.

With this said though, we should all realize that it may not really matter that the components used in the pre-workout shake are of the highest quality if they are simply not right for you.

Take caffeine for example, a little caffeine can work as a handy pick-me-up to help you get through a particularly tedious workout, but too much of it will give you jitters, elevate your blood pressure, and stress your heart. Creatine is a natural component, but excess amounts will irritate your gut and act as a diuretic which forces your body to excrete more fluid.

And that’s what you get with the good shakes, now what do you think will happen when you take pre-workout shakes whose components have not been verified by any independent organizations?

In my experience, some reported side effects range from loss of sleep, to loss of appetite and renal failure. As a matter of fact, a review by the International Journal of Exercise Science has shown that pre-workout supplements only provided a meager 8 percent increase in strength when compared to a placebo, meaning that you may be taking a lot of risk for very little reward.

In my opinion, with all the facts and evidence in mind, you may be better served by single cup of coffee, a lot of grit and the determination to push past your boundaries than any pre-workout drink — verified ingredients or not.