What Do I Need In My Gym Bag? (PART 3)

Do I Need A Pre-Workout Supplement?

This question is asked a lot, mostly by young kids, young impressionable minds who will do “whatever it takes” to looked jacked. It’s the way we are wired, we all want something that will help us blast through the work out with lots of intensity. As long as we are seeing results week in week out we are good. But is pre-workout supplementation really needed? Is this the best way to “get ready” and attack the workout? I will aim to answer these questions, but first, it’s time for an interesting fact about the brain.

Should I Take PreworkoutYour brain contains billions of nerve cells, arranged in a complicated highway system that connects your brain to the rest of your body, communication occurs in split seconds. The brain is the HQ of your central nervous system, meaning that it is the most complicated organ in your body. Think about it, the brain controls and regulates just about everything, it produces your thoughts, your memories, helps you visualize, helps you smell and taste food, coordinates our movements etc. To help keep your brain in optimal shape feed the brain to get the best out of it, here are some brain foods that you should consider: fatty fish, coffee, blueberries turmeric, broccoli, dark chocolate, nuts, and eggs. Research these to read about how they can help brain development.

TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: I’m sure you have heard the saying “never under estimate the power of the brain”. How true! Our brains are working 24/7, so let’s do the right thing and nourish it correctly. You can help support your brain health and boost your alertness, memory, and mood by strategically adding the right foods.

Pre-Workout 101

Pre-workout supplementation has been the rage for a long time, to hazard a guess, I would say most gym goers are taking some sort of supplement that is supposed to give you an edge. With all the marketing that we are bombarded with it can become quite tempting to try one of these magical products. If you read the ingredients they often contain some “proprietary blend”, which makes it sound like many years of research was carried out by top notch doctors dressed in white lab coats and holding test tubes. The fact that the company’s use the term “proprietary blend” means that they do not have to provide further details of what is actually in it. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN BUDDY, TAKE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK!

What is a Pre-Workout Supplement?

What Is Preworkout

The purpose of a pre-workout is supposed to supercharge your workout, increase alertness or focus, and increase blood supply to the muscle. Many people claim they feel a certain buzz, like a tingly feeling. So how will this make you a better athlete? Does a cup of coffee not do the same thing? The primary ingredient you will find is high levels of caffeine and possibly guarana. Other common ingredients can include dimethyl amylamine, creatine, arginine, β-alanine, taurine, and phosphates. You feel energized and ready to tackle an intense workout after consuming a pre-workout product because a single scoop is jam-packed with massive amounts of stimulants. The sports science and medical journal in 2014 reported that there was little evidence to suggest these “proprietary blends” increase athletic performance. In fact, when a comparison was conducted against athletes taking creatine and eating correct amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fats there was no additional advantage seen with taking a pre-workout supplement. The supplement industry does a fantastic job of getting people to buy products and will more than likely offer you NO RESULTS. Even though we have this evidence they are still very popular, because its human instinct we all want to feel and look better.

The common ingredients in pre-workout supplements are as follows.

Arginine is also used to create nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes your blood vessels for better blood flow and oxygen exchange.

β-alanine will help to increase stamina, strength and muscle development.

Betaine an amino acid shown to improve body composition and promote muscle growth.

Caffeine is shown to increase your metabolic rate, improve endurance levels, and resistance to fatigue. It also stimulates the central nervous system, improving your brain function for a more productive and effective workout. Unfortunately, pre-workout products often exceed the suggested caffeine levels.

Creatine supplies energy to your cells and maintaining cellular balance. It enhances athletic performance by increasing ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) used during quick bursts of energy like Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting.

Guarana plant is from Brazil, it functions as a stimulant and contains twice the amount of caffeine found in coffee beans.

Nitric oxide has an important role in regulating your metabolic and vascular functions. During exercise, nitric oxide potentially increases blood flow, improves lung function, and strengthen muscle contraction.

Phosphates help with cell structure and energy transport.

Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids throughout the body. Taurine has anti-obesity and lipid-lowering capabilities, it will make you shredded!

The Dangers of Pre-Workout Supplements

A quick internet search will show you that there has been a number of deaths, heart attacks and strokes all attributed to taking pre-workout supplements. Several researchers have shown that there are pre-workout supplements available on the market that contain very harmful components, which are obviously not approved. In fact, the FDA had filed criminal charges on a certain company and ordered them to destroy their stock because a particular proprietary blend was strongly linked to causing heart attacks.


The best way to blast through your workout is to ensure you are hydrated, and that you are nourishing your body correctly. At some point everybody needs a perk, an extra boost, so do yourself a favor. Don’t miss your work out, get in the kitchen and make yourself a coffee, if you can get in 80 mg of caffeine, that is all you need to supercharge your workout and be the best you can be.

As usual, I would love to hear your opinions on this subject, please remember this is just my opinion, you may feel differently, open to discussing. Hope your training is going well, conquer strength and stay D3!

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