6 Nasty Side Effects of Pre Workout Supplements & the Solutions
As we embark on our fitness journeys, it’s only natural to look for ways to improve and optimize our workouts to reach our goals faster.
That’s where pre-workout supplements come into play. These supplements are widely popular and offer many benefits, however… They can also have some nasty side effects.
In this article, we’ll explore six common side effects of pre-workout supplements and discuss ways to alleviate them so you can still enjoy the potential benefits.
Common Side Effects of Pre workout Supplements
1. Jitters, Anxiety, and Insomnia
Pre-workout supplements often contain stimulants, such as caffeine, to boost energy levels, focus, and alertness during workouts. However, these supplements may also lead to undesirable side effects, including jitters, anxiety, and insomnia.
Jitters are characterized by an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or restlessness, which may be accompanied by trembling or shaking.
The stimulants found in pre-workout supplements can overstimulate the central nervous system, causing the jitters in some individuals, particularly those who are sensitive to these substances.
Anxiety is another side effect that may arise from pre – workout supplementation. The stimulants can trigger the release of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can lead to feelings of unease, worry, or fear.
Not only that, these stimulants can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can make you feel even more anxious.
Insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, can also be a consequence of taking pre-workout supplements. Stimulants like caffeine can interfere with your body’s natural sleep cycle by blocking the action of adenosine.
This is a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. So if you consume pre – workout supplements, especially later in the day, you may experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, leading to insomnia.
How to alleviate it
To avoid these side effects, consider taking a pre workout with lower caffeine content or choosing a caffeine-free pre-workout supplement.
Another thing, try not to consume caffeine from other sources (e.g., coffee, tea, or energy drinks) on the same day you use a pre-workout supplement.
2. Increased Water Retention
Some pre – workouts contain ingredients, such as creatine, that can lead to you retaining more water. Creatine works by increasing the water content in muscle cells, promoting muscle growth and enhancing performance.
However, this increase in intracellular water can also cause bloating and make you feel full. Some also see this as water retention.
How to alleviate it
To minimize water retention, start with a lower dose of creatine and gradually increase it. Also, ensure that you’re staying adequately hydrated throughout the day.
Pre-workout supplements may cause headaches due to several reasons. Dehydration, which can result from increased sweating during intense exercise, is a common cause of headaches.
Also, ingredients like caffeine can cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the brain and potentially triggering headaches. A higher caffeine content increases the potential effects more.
Last but not least, some people may experience tension headaches due to the stimulant-induced increase in muscle tension and stress.
How to alleviate it
To prevent headaches, consider reducing the dosage or switching to a pre-workout supplement with a lower concentration of these ingredients.
Staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet can also help reduce the likelihood of headaches.
4. Upset Stomach
Consuming pre-workout supplements can lead to you getting an upset stomach. Ingredients like caffeine, artificial sweeteners, or certain amino acids can irritate your stomach lining and cause gastrointestinal distress.
Another thing, consuming a pre-workout supplement on an empty stomach or too close to a workout session can make these symptoms worse.
How to alleviate it
To avoid an upset stomach, try consuming a light meal or snack 30-60 minutes before taking the supplement. You can also experiment with different pre-workout supplements to find one that agrees with your digestive system.
5. Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Stimulants present in pre-workout supplements, such as caffeine and other energy-boosting compounds, can increase both your blood pressure and heart rate.
These substances stimulate the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones, leading to a temporary increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
If you have existing high blood pressure or heart conditions, this may pose a significant health risk.
How to alleviate it
Monitor your blood pressure and heart rate regularly if you’re using pre-workout supplements. If you notice any concerning changes, consult your healthcare provider.
You can also opt for a supplement with a lower caffeine content or a caffeine-free alternative.
6. Skin Reactions
Ingredients like beta-alanine and niacin in pre-workout supplements can cause skin reactions, such as tingling, itching, or redness.
Beta-alanine, an amino acid often found in pre-workout supplements, can cause you to experience a sensation called paresthesia.
Paresthesia is characterized by a tingling, itching, or prickling sensation on the skin, typically affecting the face, neck, and hands.
This sensation occurs because beta-alanine binds to specific nerve receptors, causing them to fire more easily and trigger these sensations.
While paresthesia can be uncomfortable or alarming for some people, it is generally harmless and temporary. It often subsides within 60 minutes after consumption.
The intensity of the sensation can vary depending on the dosage of beta-alanine and your sensitivity to the compound.
Niacin can also cause you to experience skin reactions, such as redness, itching, or hives, after taking pre-workout supplements.
These reactions can be attributed to various factors, including sensitivity or allergies to niacin. It can cause a temporary flush or reddening of the skin. Also, the increased blood flow during exercise may intensify these reactions in some cases.
How to alleviate it
To reduce skin reactions, start with a lower dose of the pre-workout supplement and gradually increase it as your body adapts. If the reactions persist, consider switching to a different product that doesn’t contain the problematic ingredients.
What are Pre-workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are formulations specifically designed to enhance performance, energy, and focus during exercise.
They usually contain a mix of ingredients such as caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, BCAAs, and L-arginine, which work together to boost strength, endurance, and concentration.
Common Ingredients in Pre-workout Supplements
Caffeine is a popular stimulant found in many pre-workout supplements. The benefits of caffeine for working out are great. It helps improve alertness, focus, and energy levels during exercise. However, excessive caffeine intake can make you feel jittery, anxious, and disturb your sleep.
Creatine is an organic compound that supports energy production in the muscles. It’s commonly used to enhance strength, power, and muscle growth. While generally safe, creatine can cause increased water retention in some people.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps buffer lactic acid in the muscles, allowing for increased endurance and reduced muscle fatigue. Some users may experience a tingling sensation on their skin due to beta-alanine, but this side effect is usually harmless.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) consist of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They play a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis and may help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
L-arginine is an amino acid that serves as a precursor to nitric oxide, which helps improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.
This can result in better performance and reduced muscle fatigue. However, it can also cause headaches and increased blood pressure in some individuals.
Benefits of Pre-workout Supplements
Despite the potential side effects, pre-workout supplements offer various benefits, including:
- Increased energy levels, allowing for more intense and longer workouts
- Improved focus and mental clarity, leading to better exercise technique and mind-muscle connection
- Enhanced muscle strength, power, and endurance
- Faster recovery times and reduced muscle soreness
- Greater motivation to push through challenging workouts
By using pre-workout supplements responsibly and choosing a product that suits your needs, you can maximize these benefits and minimize potential side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to take a pre-workout every day?
Yes. But it depends on your tolerance and the specific supplement you’re taking. Some people may tolerate daily pre-workout use without any issues, while others might experience side effects or develop a tolerance to the stimulants.
To maintain the effectiveness of your pre-workout and minimize potential side effects, consider cycling its use, taking it only on days when you need an extra boost or when performing high-intensity workouts.
Always listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your pre-workout usage.
When should I avoid taking pre-workout?
There are some situations when it’s best to skip your pre-workout supplement. If you’re working out late at night, the stimulants in pre-workouts might keep you awake way past your bedtime.
Also, if you have a medical condition, like high blood pressure or heart issues, you should consult your doctor before using pre-workout supplements. Also, if you’re pregnant, nursing, or under 18, it’s better to avoid pre-workouts altogether.
Lastly, if you’re sensitive to stimulants, experiencing adverse effects, or simply want to take a break, it’s okay to give pre-workouts a miss for a while.
How long do pre-workout side effects last?
The duration of pre-workout side effects depends on the individual and the specific supplement taken. In general, side effects may last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
For example, the caffeine in pre-workout supplements can take 3 to 5 hours to wear off, while other ingredients like beta-alanine may cause a tingling sensation for up to an hour.
If you’re experiencing prolonged or severe side effects, consider reducing your dosage or trying a different supplement.
Should beginners take pre-workout?
Beginners can benefit from pre-workout supplements, but it’s essential to start slow and assess your tolerance. Begin with a half dose to see how your body reacts, and gradually increase as needed.
Remember, a good workout routine, a balanced diet, and proper hydration are the foundations of your fitness journey, and supplements should only be used to support these fundamentals.
How healthy is pre-workout?
The healthiness of pre-workout supplements depends on the ingredients and the individual using them. Some pre-workouts contain natural and beneficial ingredients like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
However, others may have artificial additives or excessive stimulants. Always read the label and look for reputable brands with transparent ingredient lists.
And, of course, listen to your body – if you feel jittery or unwell, it might be time to switch to a different supplement.
What’s better coffee or pre-workout?
Deciding between coffee and pre-workout comes down to personal preference and workout goals. Coffee provides a natural source of caffeine, which can boost energy and alertness.
Pre-workout supplements, on the other hand, often contain additional performance-enhancing ingredients like amino acids and vitamins.
If you’re after a straightforward energy boost, coffee might be your go-to. However, if you want a more comprehensive workout enhancer, pre-workout supplements could be the better option.
Is it better to take pre-workout or creatine?
Pre-workout and creatine serve different purposes and can be taken together or separately, depending on your goals.
Pre-workout supplements provide an immediate energy boost and enhance focus during your workout, while creatine supports muscle growth and strength over time.
If your main goal is to power through intense workouts, pre-workout could be your best bet. If you’re focused on long-term muscle gains, creatine might be the better choice.
Or, you can combine them to maximize both short-term performance and long-term progress.
Is pre-workout safer than energy drinks?
Safety-wise, pre-workout supplements and energy drinks are similar, as both contain stimulants like caffeine. The difference lies in the additional ingredients and their intended purposes.
Pre-workout supplements often contain performance-enhancing components, while energy drinks might have added sugar and artificial flavors.
Always choose reputable brands and read ingredient lists to ensure you’re consuming a safe
Is creatine better than caffeine?
Comparing creatine and caffeine is like comparing apples and oranges – they serve different purposes and offer unique benefits.
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness, energy, and focus, making it a popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements and energy drinks.
Creatine, on the other hand, is a compound that helps supply energy to your muscles, supporting muscle growth, strength, and endurance.
Depending on your fitness goals, you might prefer one over the other or even combine them for a synergistic effect. If you’re looking for an energy boost and enhanced focus during workouts, caffeine may be the better choice.
However, if your primary goal is to improve muscle growth and performance, creatine could be more beneficial. As always, make sure to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
The Bottom Line
Pre-workout supplements can be a valuable tool to boost your exercise performance and help you reach your fitness goals. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential side effects and take steps to mitigate them.
By starting with lower doses, monitoring your body’s reactions, and choosing a supplement that aligns with your needs, you can enjoy the benefits of pre-workout supplements while minimizing the risks.
As always, Happy Lifting!