What you put in to your body will have either a positive or negative affect on your health and performance, regardless of whether you can feel it or not.
Last week, I showed you three beneficial supplements to aid you in times of caloric deficit.
Now, it’s time we take a look at the darker side of the supplement industry to expose the ever popular pre-workout.
Keep in mind, I will be talking about the most common pre-workouts and not all pre-workouts, as there are a few products out there that make a conscious effort not to fit this profile.
I’ve written this article because of the many mistakes I’ve made with supps in the past, and I’ve made a shit-tonne of mistakes, but let’s stick with supplements for now.
The Argument Against Pre-Workouts
Pre-workouts are definitely one of the biggest money earners for supplement companies. These products are marketed as the boost you need to transform you from a mere participant in the gym to Conan the Conqueror.
The majority of these products are basically made up of creatine, caffeine, beta-alanine and a unique “proprietary blend” - which is pretty much a legal loophole for saying ‘we’re not going to tell you what’s in it, it’s a secret!’
While caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine have been shown to provide mild to moderate boosts in performance, pretty much everything else in a pre-workout is there to work on a psychological level.
Sensations like paresthesia (tingling) from ingredients like beta-alanine and the veiny pump you get from vasodialators is often included to say “Hey, the tingling and pump must mean this shit works!”
Again, caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine have been proven beneficial in a number of studies. However ‘proprietary blends’ allow brands to include these ingredients in an undefinable dose.
While some pre-workouts won’t contain a dangerous level of caffeine in one serving, their regular use in combination with your daily coffee, soft drink, tea and other stimulant intake can cause issues for those of you susceptible to heart problems, especially when you’re going balls to the wall in training. I mean, why else are you taking it?
More pre-workouts are purchased by consumers on their marketing merits than on their results. For this reason, it’s more beneficial for brands to work on their products perception, rather than backing up their claims.
What does this mean? Well, if you want to get jazzed up, let’s add more caffeine to the blend. Like seeing veins-a-poppin? Ok let’s add a vasodilator to the mix. Do you feel like a savage when your skin starts to tingle? Sweet! Let’s double the beta-alanine.
So What’s the Problem With That?
This desire to produce a product that out jacks other products in the market leads some brands to add nefarious ingredients in to the mix.
Remember Jack3D? I sure do.
USPlab had criminal charges laid against them for including the amphetamine precursor 1,3-dimethylamylamine within the blends of both of their Jack3D and OxyElite Pro products. Both of which have been linked to cases of liver damage and death.
Unfortunately, pre-workouts are not heavily regulated like products in the medical industry, even though they can have severe affects on your health and wellbeing.
That being said, it’s important to remember not all pre-workouts are dangerous cocktails designed to destroy you. However, the marketing claims about turning you into a superhero are grossly exaggerated.
I suggest, instead of relying on an overpriced supplement, your better option would be to tough it out and believe in yourself and your capabilities to get you through the periods where you don’t want to train.
And for those times when positive self believe just won’t cut it, there’s always coffee!