Should I take preworkout?

While working at GNC, I have encountered questions about the safety of preworkout countless times. There is an endless array of preworkouts these days and selecting one that works for you may seem challenging. I cannot vouch for every preworkout, of course, but there are many products on the market that can psych you up and enhance your training sessions without negative effects.

The key to finding the perfect preworkout is keeping in mind two things: (1) what your caffeine sensitivity is and (2) what kind of exercising you do. Knowing these factors can help you make a more conscious decision about which product to take. The nutrition label is your friend and will tell you everything you need to know. To help narrow down your options, I’m going to discuss some of the most popular ingredients.

This nutrition label is for C4 ripped and contains all the ingredients I discussed in this post. The Ripped version of C4 differs from the original because of the added C4 Ripped Blend that contains L-Carnitine. Always read the nutrition label before purchasing new supplements. Speak with your doctor if you are taking any medications that may interfere with the use of supplements like preworkout.
C4 Ripped nutrition label

Caffeine

Caffeine is the world’s most prominent psychoactive drug that has gained popularity by effectively stimulating the nervous system. Known for it’s quality of increasing alertness, caffeine has been classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe”. Insomnia may occur to those who ingest caffeine in the evening, so keep that in mind if you exercise at night. The average cup of coffee (8 ounces) contains 95 mg of caffeine, while most preworkout’s caffeine content ranges from 125 mg to upwards of 300 mg.

Some preworkouts are labelled as stimulant-free, meaning they do not contain any caffeine. These products would be more ideal to those who want to steer clear of caffeine because of sensitivity or other health concerns. Personally, I only use stimulant-free preworkouts because caffeine upsets my stomach.

Beta Alanine

This component is perfect for weight lifters and sprinters, since it works by increasing muscle carnosine levels. Carnosine is a dipeptide (essentially 2 connected amino acids), so increasing carnosine levels correlates to higher levels of fast-twitch muscle fibers, leading to more explosiveness in the gym. Beta alanine will help you improve performance by increasing your reps and allowing you to power through high intensity interval training. A common side effect users report is a widespread tingling or itchy sensation. Although it is mild, new users may feel uncomfortable at first.

L-Arginine and L-Citrulline

Arginine and citrulline may be used interchangeably or paired together, their purpose is to support blood vessel health and increase nitric oxide production. This element results in an aesthetic pump, but, more importantly, it will make cardio sessions more bearable. The effect of increased blood flow results in a faster recovery time and also improves your immune system. This dynamic duo is suitable for any kind of athlete, but particularly appealing to cardio junkies who are searching for a preworkout.

L-Carnitine

Popular for it’s fat burning potential, carnitine is ideal for people who want to get more lean or desire stimulant-free focus. Carnitine works by burning the fat in your body as fuel; the result is a jitter-free energy that is intense enough for the gym, but not overwhelming as a daily supplement. Keep in mind this metabolism boosting ingredient may cause restlessness. So if your preworkout contains carnitine, be cautious of the time of day you take it.

 

From left to right: Havok by American Muscle, C4 Ultimate by Cellucor, Best Pre by BPI Sports, Ghost, and ACG3 by PMD. These are just a few of those sold by GNC. Make sure to grab a shaker cup to mix your preworkout easily.
Popular preworkouts

 

So to answer the question on everyone’s mind: YES, preworkout is safe. Preworkout can be a great way to push you to the next level, but it’s important to find the right one based on your needs and goals. Get comfortable reading the nutrition label and never exceed the recommended dosage. I hope this article was insightful and helpful, thank you for reading!

References: 

http://www.webmd.com/diet/caffeine-myths-and-facts#1 

https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/your-expert-guide-to-beta-alanine.html

http://www.smart-publications.com/articles/l-citrulline-and-l-arginine-this-one-two-amino-acid-punch-can-improve

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1026-l-carnitine.aspx?activeingredientid=1026