Jane Ingram - 31st August
What are natural pre-workout supplements & do you need them?
Cue *seriously* strong muscles and hyper-focused workouts.
You’ve probably heard of pre-workouts, the dietary supplements that in the know gym junkies are throwing in their smoothies and shaker bottles to maximise energy and muscle performance.
From hot pink BCAAs to powdered paleo egg whites, pre-workouts are fast becoming a huge part of Australia's booming sports nutrition market.
You might be wondering what exactly is a natural pre-workout, and how do you know if you should be taking one? If you've ever dipped your toes into the world of sports supplements before, you’ll have been confronted with the endless options to choose from. So, we decided to break it down for you.
What is a natural pre-workout supplement?
We know your body needs plenty of energy to reach your maximum potential, especially when you’re working out. Whether you’re doing high intensity cardio, or something more to the effect of slow and steady, your energy levels are vital in getting the most out of your work out, and preventing your muscles from feeling fatigued too soon.
That's where a natural pre-workout comes in.
Pre-workouts can take the shape of any supplement targeted at supporting your workout and delaying muscle fatigue by boosting your energy levels. They’re usually consumed about 30 minutes before you hit the gym, and can range from single or multi-ingredient, combined stimulants.
For a pre-workout to be natural, it should absolutely be free from any artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or fillers. This means stimulating your mind and body naturally - without any harmful chemicals or doping agents. Just pure, all-natural ingredients from whole foods.
Not sure if pre-workout supplements are for you?
Pre-workouts can help anyone who wants to improve their fitness levels, whether you’re a beginner or more of a gym regular.
Pre-workouts are really there to help you for a range of reasons - from a more focused energy before a workout, or starting a new program, trying to take your training to the next level.
They can help stimulate your body and mind to boost anything from your endurance, stamina, strength and mental focus.
We’ve delved into the world of natural pre-workouts, and put together a list of the 3 best supplements to get the most out of your session.
Natural BCAAs are made from fermented, 100% plant-based Branched Chain Amino Acids - the primary building blocks of protein, known to stimulate muscle growth, repair and development over time.
Look for a BCAA that is free from refined sugar. Not only is it better for you, but it’ll keep you from crashing after a sugar high.
Caffeine (Coffee, Matcha & Yerba Mate)
It’s not really a surprise that caffeine is one of the most common pre-workout supplements among bodybuilders, athletes and gym-goers.Studies show that caffeine can increase alertness, sharpen focus, improve mood and increase fat burn.
One study found that those who took caffeine supplements could deadlift, bench-press and generally lift heavier weights compared with those who took a placebo.
You can get caffeine in pill or capsule form, or enjoy drinks like coffee, matcha and yerba mate tea. Studies by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition show that caffeine can also improve performance during long duration endurance events, including running, cycling and intermittent activities like soccer.
Superfood blends are a combination of natural superfoods, plants and herbs that will give you a non-jittery and focused energy boost for the gym. They’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, and contain plant based energy enhancers that support optimal performance, without the nasties.
But, it’s important to note that not all pre-workouts are created equal.
What your best mate takes might not be the right mix for you. Similarly, what you need from a pre-workout may change depending on what sort of exercise you’re doing. While some pre-workouts may contain safe, energy-boosting ingredients, others can be pointless, or potentially harmful.
The world of online shopping has made it more difficult than ever to work out which pre-workout supplements are legit and which ones are a waste of your money. As a result, it’s essential to do your own research and check what ingredients are in your pre-workout before you take it.
Some things you should look out for when choosing a natural pre-workout supplement:
Some supplements ordered from outside Australia, especially from the US may contain proprietary blends, which don’t list the amount of each individual ingredient. Without that breakdown, there’s no way to tell if there is enough of an ingredient to be effective - or if you’re at risk of ingesting too much of it.
So, if you are keen on taking a pre-workout, at the very least choose one that’s Australian made. Proprietary blends are illegal in Australia according to our food standards code.
There’s nothing worse than paying a premium price for supplements that aren’t effective.
Clinical research supporting the effectiveness of pre-workout supplementation is publicly available, so don’t be afraid to look up dosages and what’s recommended for the best results.
Similarly, be aware of pre-workouts with “everything but the kitchen sink” in them. That is, supplements with a long, seemingly impressive list of ingredients with ineffective small doses. More ingredients don’t necessarily equal better performance.
Artificial sweeteners and food dyes
Many seemingly healthy pre-workout supplements contain added sugars, artificial flavours and food dyes with harmful side effects, like long-term weight gain, inflammatory bowel disease and increased risk of lymphoma and leukemia. With healthier alternatives available, there’s no reason to risk your health and wellbeing.
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