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Breaking Down Pre-Workout Supplements

Do you want to try a pre-workout supplement but have no idea what you should be looking for in terms of content? Check out this guide to some of the most popular ingredients in pre-workout supplements and find out how to choose the right one for you.
If you're involved in fitness and athletics, you probably know what pre-workout supplements are. Meant to be taken prior to working out or intense athletic training, these supplements can amplify the intensity of your workouts and push your body to perform more efficiently. With so many different supplements to choose from and numerous contents found in most, it's important to know what ingredients you are ingesting, what their purposes are and how they affect your body.  

Areas of Focus



It's essential to maintain high energy levels if you're looking to intensify your workouts. Pre-workout supplements typically utilize the energizing properties in ingredients like caffeine, tyrosine and taurine to give you that boost. As a stimulant, caffeine affects your central nervous system and metabolism, pushing them into overdrive by enhancing your energy level and improving your fat burning. The most-used forms of caffeine found in pre-workout supplements are derived from coffee bean extract, green tea or guarana. Tyrosine is an amino acid that can aid with sharpening your mental focus and stamina while boosting your energy for a more effective athletic performance, according to Jim Stoppani, PhD.

Muscle Growth and Pumps

Many people who work out frequently look to gain muscle, whether it's slightly defined or downright Hulk-like. Several of the most-often used ingredients that target muscle growth are glutamine, carnitine and BCAAs. Glutamine is a standard amino acid that is involved in your body's synthesis of protein and can help build muscle mass, according to Jim White, registered dietitian and American Dietetic Associate spokesperson. Carnitine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can also work to provide support for building up muscles. Ingredients like glycerol and arginine can help provide a better muscle pump by enhancing nitric oxide levels.

Fat Burning

Losing weight and dropping fat is one reason people work out, and the ingredients that are typically used to achieve this in pre-workout supplements are green tea extract and yohimbe. Green tea extract can help boost your metabolism and burn fat with the catechins it contains, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. Yohimbe can increase blood flow to your muscles and can help your body to burn more fat as fuel, along with enhancing your libido.


Being able to maintain a consistent pace and intensity as you work out is important in receiving the results you want. Citrulline malate can help slow fatigue by removing ammonia from your body; the amino acid beta-alanine is involved with increasing muscle contractions for improved endurance. 

Mental Boost and Focus

Working out will cause you to reap zero benefits if you don't have your head in it. Huperzine A and choline are two common ingredients in pre-workout supplements that can help sharpen your mental focus and improve your mood.

Choosing the Right Supplement

It's important to take several things into consideration before buying your supplement. Choosing at random or using an eenie-meenie-miney-mo method to determine which supplement you'll try is not advisable, as you should conduct research and be knowledgeable about the product you are allowing into your body. If you are on a strict diet, you'll want to look for supplements with low calorie counts so you don't sabotage your hard work. In addition, if taste is something that is important and really affects how you use and enjoy a product, it's a good idea to research the flavors of products and read customer reviews and ratings. Many pre-workout powders come in a wide range of flavors, but not all of them taste spectacular. Caffeine sensitivity is another aspect that should you think about. If having too much caffeine makes you feel jittery and wound up—whether you've consumed it through coffee, soft drinks or any of its other various forms—then you should probably steer clear of pre-workout supplements that contain stimulants. Those with caffeine or stimulant sensitivity can become nervous or anxious and exhibit physical effects such as sweating, rapid heartbeat and shakiness. 

Proper Usage

These supplements may seem self-explanatory, as they are meant to be taken prior to a workout, but there are other stipulations for proper use. Since almost all pre-workout supplements contain some sort of stimulant, most likely caffeine, it is critical to ensure you don't exceed the recommended dose or consume any other products with caffeine. Though you may think that exceeding the recommended serving of a supplement may help you to perform better and receive improved physical results, increasing your intake can be extremely dangerous and produce harmful effects; don't mix or combine supplements either. Always follow the instructions on your product's packaging and consult your doctor if you have questions or experience side effects. 
Pre-workout supplements can provide an added boost to your exercise routine, so it's essential to choose one that's appropriate for you. Everyone has a different athletic ability, physical capacity and tolerance for ingredients, so choose carefully.
Check out our selection of pre-workout supplements and other sports and health products at eVitamins. Have a healthy day!
Legal Disclaimer:
eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.
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