It’s not fair to expect that you can show up in your workout feeling 100% all the time. Sometimes, you turn up in the gym feeling unmotivated, tired, and lethargic. If this is something you’re familiar with, pre-workout could be the key to helping with your training.


It’s not fair to expect that you can show up in your workout feeling 100% all the time. Sometimes, you turn up in the gym feeling unmotivated, tired, and lethargic. If this is something you’re familiar with, pre-workout could be the key to helping with your training.

This feeling has science behind it as well. One study published in 2010 showed that combining pre-workout with intense training resulted in huge increases in lean body mass and training volume. The outcome also revealed that the subjects had increased loss of body fat.

The study is one among many that validates the effectiveness of pre-workout supplementation. If you choose to get one yourself, you need to know how to use it safely and smartly.

In this post, we’ll share with you a guide that includes everything you need to know about pre-workout.


Failing to provide fuel for your body properly before exercises can leave you with less energy, allowing you to experience muscle fatigue faster. This phenomenon is simply a fact that cannot be skipped.

With pre-workout, you have something that is made to fight this type of lull to help you keep going forward. Although pre-workout supplements can be taken in different formats – from shakes to meals and more – they are all intended to increase energy levels and focus.

Smoothie, Blueberry, Banana, Granadilla, Chia Seeds

Most individuals combine their pre-workout supplements with drinks. They often take them about 30 minutes before starting their exercise. By providing the body with additional carbohydrates, the glucose helps increase blood sugar levels and provides more energy during workouts.


Since pre-workout supplements are made to help people get past even the toughest exercises, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they provide the body with caffeine, sugar, and other energy-boosters.

 Vitamin B, Effervescent, Tablet, Supplement

However, it is essential to read the label before investing in a bottle of pre-workout. Caffeine is one of the ingredients you need to keep an eye out for. High levels of caffeine have been known to cause serious health concerns like insomnia, anxiety, and stress.

Although most men can take pre-workout supplements safely, it does come with its own potential side effects. Itchiness, interrupted sleep, and jitters are some of them. However, these reactions are relatively harmless, albeit uncomfortable.

For newbies, it is best to go with a half dose to start with and see how you react to the new pre-workout supplement.


Here are the ingredients you need to consider when choosing a pre-workout supplement.

  • Creatine Monohydrate – Creatine is a popular supplement for gym-goers. It is often found in many pre-workout supplements because of its ability to help increase performance and muscle power when training.
  • Taurine – This amino acid can be obtained from various animal meats. It contributes to fat metabolism and helps fight oxidative stress when working out.
  • BCAAs – Branch chain amino acids have shown to enhance endurance throughout workouts while increasing strength by supporting protein synthesis and maintaining cell energy.
  • B Vitamins – Vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6 all have key roles in energy efficiency and production. Vitamin B12 is important for blood production while vitamin B3 contributes to DNA repair. It is also essential in promoting healthy skin.
  • NO2 Boosters – Arginine is one example of a nitrogen dioxide booster an amino acid that works as a vasodilator. It operates by expanding veins and arteries to make blood flow easier throughout the body. This allows you to bring key nutrients faster and more efficiently, especially during workouts.


If you plan to boost your performance using pre-workout supplements, it is good to know the best time to take them. Experts state that just because these products are called pre-workout does not mean that you have to take them before training.

 Dietary Supplements, Pills, Capsule, Food, Ginger

It is possible to take these supplements 15 to 20 minutes prior to exercise. Yet for longer sessions, these could be delayed even until an hour in the session.

Consumers should refer to the specifics stated in the label of their pre-workout supplements. It may even be worth cycling pre-workout intake, in some cases.

The body can build up a tolerance to the effects of pre-workout when taken regularly. That is why experts suggest taking time off of these products to give the body time to reset.

You can also obtain stimulant-free supplements that can be very good as a pre-workout.

Adult, Gym, Athlete, Dark, Energy, Exercise


Some of the most common pre-workout supplement ingredients are creatine monohydrate, carbohydrates, beetroot juice, and caffeine. These elements have shown that they can enhance performance during exercise.

Vegetable Juices, Vegetables, Secluded, White, Fresh

The reason for carbohydrates being helpful is quite obvious – they are the go-to source of our body for energy. Many health experts recommend consuming carbs before working out to get properly fueled.

Scientific evidence has shown that carbohydrates have a range of uses for different athletic applications. After all, exercising requires the use of glycogen (stored carbohydrates) and blood glucose as its primary source of energy.

In the meantime, caffeine is a stimulant that can improve alertness and energy. There are even studies showing that it can improve sports performance as well. Although most of the research was done on small sample sizes, proof appears to be plentiful in caffeine’s ability to increase workout performance.

Coffee, Wood, Table, Wooden, Espresso, Breakfast

In a recent review, researchers concluded that caffeine supplementation could improve aerobic endurance, muscle endurance, muscle strength, speed, and jumping capability. The scientists, however, cautioned that more research needs to be done to ensure that the results are standard.

Creatine monohydrate is a common sight in pre-workout formula labels. This element is derived from three amino acids that are produced naturally by the body. Creatine is stored in the muscles as a means to provide quick energy. Although many studies show that taking creatine monohydrate can help increase muscle mass and strength over time, some experts suggest that it can be taken pre and post-workout.

Lastly, beetroot juice is not as researched as the elements mentioned earlier. However, a 2017 review showed several studies discovered that beetroot juice can increase nitric oxide in the body – a vasodilator that increases blood flow by expanding blood vessels. It has also been found to increase cardiovascular performance.

Beetroot Juice, Juice, Beetroot, Vegetables, Healthy


Some ingredients of pre-workouts may be safe in standard amounts but can turn harmful when consumed in high concentrations. For instance, people who have taken too much caffeine experienced diarrhea, increased heart rate, nausea, jitters, and high blood pressure. Although these are rare, they are still a possibility.

People have different tolerance levels as well. Experts recommend that individuals should avoid supplements that contain more than 100% of their recommended daily allowance for one nutrient. High doses of nutrients can contribute to the development of chronic diseases.

In one 2017 study, researchers found that long-term supplementation of vitamin B6 and B12 supplements in high doses led to increased risk of lung cancer in male subjects.

Meanwhile, other studies have associated too much beta-carotene intake with cancer and excessive vitamin A supplementation to liver damage.

In essence, simply because a nutrient is good for the body does not mean that it should be taken at high doses regularly.



  • Pre-workout provides improved exercise performance to individuals. One study published on pre-workout supplements revealed that these products improve the performance of people who are already at their peak in the gym.
  • Pre-workout helps in increasing focus and concentration. I can contain caffeine, which is beneficial in enhancing cognition. Caffeine can work on the concentration, arousal, and mood of individuals and can help them stay focused on a workout.
  • One study in the University of Cordoba found that citrulline included in pre-workout allowed a person to bench press 53% more reps in a workout.
  • Another study found that pre-workout with citrulline was able to provide cyclists a 12% longer ride before they became exhausted.


  • Pre-workout can result in negative side effects especially when a person has been overstimulated. Individuals could experience jitters and interrupted sleep when taking too much pre-workout.
  • People can build a tolerance when using pre-workouts excessively. The body can become immune to its effects and will no longer provide the benefits expected. This can be avoided by cycling the supplement every once in a while.
  • Pre-workout consumption can lead to digestive problems. Ingredients in these supplements such as creatine, magnesium, sodium bicarbonate, and caffeine can all cause digestion issues. You can avoid this by purchasing a natural pre-workout supplement that works for you.
  • Some scientists have previously associated pre-workout drink products with mental health problems, kidney damage, and diabetes.


Besides taking pre-workout supplements, you can also find similar effects to these products by consuming natural foods.

The following are some examples of pre-workout foods that can benefit athletes and gym-goers.


 Bananas, Fruit, Yellow, Healthy, Fresh Fruit, Tropical

Bananas are the power bar of nature. This fruit is packed with potassium and carbohydrates that support muscle and nerve function. Carbohydrates are especially important for the brain and body and can be found in 90% of calories in a banana.



 Oat, Whole Grains, Food

Since oats are full of fibre, they can release carbohydrates in the body gradually. This slow-release results in energy levels staying consistent when working out, allowing people to train harder for a longer period of time.

Oats also have vitamin B, which is essential in converting carbohydrates to energy. Some consider Irish oats to be the best since they are the least type processed. They also provide the least glycemic load compared to instant and quick-cooking oats.


Dried Fruit

Nuts, Nuts Basket, Dried Fruits, Pecan, Almond

For an easy and quick pre-workout snack, you can fix yourself some dried figs, berries, and apricot. Dried fruits provide simple carbohydrates that are easy for the body to digest and use.


Whole Grain Bread

 Bread, Grain, Seed, Food, Wheat, Bakery, Loaf, Whole

A slice of whole-grain bread is a good source of carbohydrates. You can mix some hard-boiled eggs to get the protein you need or even some low-fat turkey.


Fruit and Greek Yogurt

 Berries, Muesli, Blackberries, Bowl, Breakfast, Brunch

Fruits are filled with carbohydrates while Greek yogurt provides a protein-filled snack. In comparison to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt nearly has double the protein amount and half the sodium.

These two work together because the carbohydrates from the fruit break down quickly and are used as fuel while working out. Meanwhile, the protein is stored in the body longer and is used in preventing muscle damage.


Trail Mix

 Nuts, Food, Trail Mix, Raisins, Cashew, Hazelnuts

Nuts contain high-fat content, yet they provide the necessary calories and protein to gain muscle mass. For people looking to lose weight, you might want to avoid this snack. When buying pre-prepared trail mix, make sure you skip the chocolate-covered nuts.

When consuming natural pre-workout foods, make sure that you eat your snack 30 to 90 minutes before working out. Doing so allows you to avoid feeling bloated when exercising. If you need to eat a larger meal, wait for a minimum of 90 minutes.


Here are some additional tips to prepare pre-workout meals to help you achieve certain goals.


1. For Building Muscle

Bodybuilders want to stay lean while gaining or maintaining sufficient muscle. Eating a small meal an hour before working out can help achieve better muscle growth. This meal should contain equal portions of carbohydrates and lean protein.

Some ideas include:

  • Whey protein isolate
  • Egg whites
  • Fruit, such as apples, strawberries, and oranges
  • Oatmeal
  • Long-grain white rice or brown rice
  • Wheat pasta
  • Turkey or chicken

Do keep in mind that proper timing and control are essential for this pre-workout meal. You want your body to have enough energy to fuel your muscles when exercising, but you also have to ensure you are keeping your meals light so the food does not sit heavily in your gut.

Combining the lean protein sources listed above with the fast-digesting carbohydrates an hour before a workout ensures that the body receives the right nutrition when needed.

Snack, Legumes, Nuts, Energy, Peanut, Nutrition, Almond


2. For Losing Weight

Exercising to lose weight requires constant balance. You want to consume enough fuel to keep your body going but you don’t want to pack too many calories that can stop you from losing weight.

Eating light half an hour before the workout allows you to go in with full energy. Combining a lean protein and complex carbohydrate diet can give you the right fuel your body needs.

Cracker, Bread, Whole Grain, Healthy, Food, Brown 

Some meal ideas include:

  • Hummus and multigrain crackers
  • Bananas with almond butter
  • Half a cup of rice or pasta
  • Any whole fruit
  • A handful of nuts or an apple with peanut butter
  • Half a cup of oatmeal with berries or raisins

Remember that your goal here is to keep your body fueled when working out. Fasting cardio does not offer similar results compared to a properly-fueled workout.


3. For Energy

Before going to a workout, you need to make sure that you have sufficient energy levels for the exercise. After all, you want to push your body hard to gain the most.

If you wish to avoid the feeling of having plateaued, then you need to ensure you give your body the complex carbohydrates it needs to refuel.

 Healthy Food, Chicken, Breaded, Broccoli, Rice

Here are some pre-workout foods you can try for your training sessions:

  • Bananas
  • Yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chicken with vegetables and rice
  • Whole grain bread with slices of lean meat
  • Apples with raisins and peanut butter


4. For Women’s Health

Women have different health concerns compared to men. They often do not burn as many calories each day as men, nor do they have the same goals during workouts.

If you’re a woman, you want to ensure that you keep calories low while still getting the fuel you need for your workout. You need a balance of carbohydrates and protein, but you also have to maintain a low-calorie diet.

Some pre-workout treats you can have include:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Whole fruit
  • Half a cup of oatmeal with agave or honey
  • Lean meat with whole grain bread
  • One half of a sweet potato

 Grilled Chicken, Quinoa, Salad, Photography, Grain

Finding the proper pre-workout food combination can be difficult. However, once you get everything settled, you will find that you have more energy to meet your workout goals faster.


To maximise performance and recovery for workouts, it is important that you provide your body with the right nutrients prior to exercise.

Carbohydrates allow you to make the most of your body’s ability to incorporate glycogen to fuel short and high-intensity routines. Meanwhile, fat fuels the body so you can stay in exercise sessions longer. Consuming protein is essential to help enhance muscle protein synthesis, promote recovery, and prevent muscle damage.

Natural pre-workout supplements can be taken around 35 to 45 minutes before a workout. However, you want to choose the right supplementation that can provide you with all of the nutrients your body needs.

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