Pre-workout supplements: it seems like they’re everywhere lately. When you’re at the gym, you see people walking in and gulping one down as they get ready to work out. When you’re doing CrossFit, you hear people lament about the fact that they forgot to drink their pre-workout supplement (often simply called a “pre-workout”) before starting their WOD. It seems like, wherever you turn in the fitness world, everybody is either drinking one or talking about it.
But when it comes to trends in the gym, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. You may be wondering if all the hype surrounding high-energy protein supplements actually matches reality. It’s a fair question. Should you take pre-workout supplements, and if you do, how do you know if you’ve chosen the best pre-workout supplement possible?
The Premise Behind Pre-Workout Supplements
Manufacturers of pre-workout supplements often tout the benefits of taking their product before a workout. It’s usually meant to give you a boost of endurance in muscle strength and an overall increase in energy. The thinking goes that if you take the supplement before you work out, you’ll be able to work longer and stronger than if you did without it.
By itself, the premise is sound and rests on reliable science. Most pre-workout supplements have a combination of caffeine and amino acids, among many other ingredients. By taking a high-energy protein supplement, you should conceivably see an increase in focus, heart rate, and blood flow. You can easily see why these results would be desirable. Over time, this increase in workout efficiency can pay off big. So you can see, high-energy protein supplements taken before a workout are not a simple fad -- it can bring about some amazing benefits.
Why Pre-Workout Supplements are Essential
The results of pre-workout supplements speak for themselves. You work hard at the gym, and you want to make sure that every mile you run, every weight you lift, and every WOD you crush makes you as strong as possible. By taking the best pre-workout supplement, you can make sure that none of that hard work is done in vain.
But can’t you just eat some food before you work out? You could, but the effects will not be the same. You just can’t get the same blend of carbs, caffeine, and amino acids from a banana or a piece of peanut butter toast. Plus, you can’t discount the convenience of having a high-energy protein supplement available on the counter of your kitchen or in your locker. Its convenience and long shelf life make it easy to implement as part of your workout routine.
The Problem with Pre-Workout Supplements
“What could possibly be the problem with a product that can do so many wonderful things for your body,” you may ask. The greatest problem with most pre-workouts is that they are not created equal. Many pre-workouts have slick marketing of muscular looking models plastered all over the packaging. The subliminal message is obvious: take this supplement and get shredded. However, the best pre-workout supplements are measured not by what’s outside the bottle, but rather by what’s inside the bottle.
Maybe that seems a bit direct, but it’s a harsh reality. Because pre-workout supplements are not regulated by the FDA, an unscrupulous company can throw just about any formula into a bottle, slap on a label, and sell it as a pre-workout. Do we have your attention now?
Types of Pre-Workout Supplements you Should Avoid
Before we talk about the best pre-workout supplements you can take, we need to discuss the kinds of dangers lurking out there in unregulated supplements. If you have a bottle of pre-workout at home or in your locker at the gym, do a quick inspection for these dangers to avoid:
- Hard-to-read ingredients: The ingredient list of a low-quality pre-workout is a Frankenstein list of chemicals, proprietary blends and “natural flavors.” In the end, the list is so long and complicated that you have no idea what you’re actually putting into your body. If you’re being so diligent in taking care of yourself with exercise, why would you want to put these potentially dangerous chemicals inside of you?
- Mega-doses of caffeine: Even the best pre-workout supplements have caffeine as part of their ingredients. The problem lies when caffeine is contained in large quantities. Many low-quality pre-workouts load up on caffeine to the tune of 400mg or more (and sometimes much more) per serving. For context, 400mg is the rough equivalent of 4 cups of coffee. Instead of causing you to focus, this could actually give you a severe case of the jitters. Plus, with doses of caffeine that high, you can’t take more than one serving of your pre-workout without putting your health at risk.
- Risks of illegal and dangerous substances: Because pre-workouts are not FDA approved, you’re never really sure what you’re putting in your body when you’re ordering from a disreputable company. There are independent labs who have done their own studies finding supplements that contained amphetamine-like stimulants. The dangers of these types of stimulants are too numerous to name. Also, depending on your line of work, these types of substances can cause you to test positive on a drug test. How many professional athletes have popped positive on a drug test because of a low-quality, dangerous supplement? The answer: a lot.
How Do You Choose the Best Pre-Workout Supplement?
After reading this far, you may be wondering if it’s even worth taking a pre-workout supplement. You may think that you can’t find a quality pre-workout supplement from a reputable company. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Although there are many pre-workouts on the market that should be avoided, there are still several on the market that are beneficial. But, how do you find the best pre-workout supplement? Here are two tips to keep in mind:
- Only work with a company you can trust: When you’re choosing a high-energy protein supplement, don’t just grab the cheapest bottle on the shelf. Do some research first. Ask your friends or trainers at the local gym what brand they use. Go online and check websites to read ingredient lists. If you have questions, call or email the company and find out what you need to know. The best pre-workout supplements come from companies that are reputable and willing to answer your questions.
- Only use supplements with clear ingredient labels: The best pre-workout supplements will have a clear, easy to read labels with ingredients that you are familiar with or that are easy to research. Labels that are dozens of ingredients long or that are filled with unclear “proprietary blends” should be avoided at all costs. Food is fuel. To maximize your workouts, you need to be putting the best possible fuel in your tank.
What’s the Best Pre-Workout Supplement to choose?
Bare Performance Nutrition strives to be a go-to company that you can trust for all of your high-energy protein supplement needs. When Nick Bare founded BPN, he wanted the company to lead the way in having clear, transparent labels on every product sold. He also understood that the best pre-workout supplements have to taste delicious too, because if you don’t want to drink them, what good are they? Though hard work, he created an entire line of supplements that are industry leading in both taste and ingredient transparency.
This passion for clean, honest supplements led him to create two different pre-workout formulas. BPN Flight is an all-around blend that helps with energy production, pump, endurance, and focus. Embrace the Suck contains the powerful quartet of Cognizin, Teacrine, Dynamine, and caffeine that is perfect before an intense workout. If you’re looking for the ultimate in power and pump, look no further.
Whatever blend you choose, you can’t go wrong. When you shop with Bare Performance Nutrition, you can be confident in each ingredient you’re putting in your body. You can’t put a price tag on that.
How transparent is BPN with their best pre-workout supplements? On every product page, you’ll see a picture of the ingredient label, so you can zoom in and inspect it for yourself. Each page also includes real, unfiltered reviews from their customers so you can see what others are saying about their high-energy protein supplements. They’ve got nothing to hide, and they want you to trust their process. Once you taste one of their supplements and see the results, you’ll be one happy athlete.
So grab yourself a shaker bottle, make yourself a serving of one of Bare Performance Nutrition’s best pre-workout supplements, and get working!