Each of us wants to get the most out of the time spent in the gym, and it is believed that pre-workout supplements can help with this. It is very tempting to take one of them before a workout in order to increase the level of energy, muscle strength and stamina.
Pre-workouts often have a whole range of substances, ranging from caffeine to guarana and creatine. But are they effective and safe?
“It turns out that these supplements can affect your well-being during training. Many of the pre-workout ingredients are designed to impress athletes as if their energy would go wild. At the same time, there are substances that can actually improve blood circulation, increase heart rate, increase attention and improve blood flow to the skin, creating a small burst of energy, ”says Jordan Moon, a sports nutritionist at United States Sports Academy and Concordia University ( Chicago).
“But these effects do not make you bigger, stronger or faster. And although some supplement ingredients - such as caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine - increase athletes' performance in power and extreme sports, they only help them overcome the load, ”says Moon.
Some marketed supplements may generally contain illegal and hazardous substances, such as amphetamine-based stimulants. Even in supplements that contain only approved ingredients, there may be too much caffeine, which can negatively affect the heart.
Several studies have shown that taking caffeine before exercise can provide a physical boost. For example, in a 2012 study, it turned out that men who took caffeine supplements could lift more weight in deadlift, bench press, and other basic exercises compared to those who took a placebo. Other experiments show that caffeine helps runners and rowers increase aerobic ability, although it is noted that its effect is weakened and people tend to develop tolerance for it.
However, too much caffeine poses a health risk, and may be present in supplements in higher concentrations than in food or drinks. A person can drink a few cups of coffee and not experience any symptoms of an overdose. But even in small amounts, caffeine can cause complications, for example, with arrhythmia, which can lead to cardiac arrest.
LabDoor investigated 45 popular pre-workout supplements and found that many of them contain very high doses of caffeine. In one of them, he was present in an amount of 435 grams, which is equivalent to 4 cups of coffee.
Neil Thanedar, the company's CEO, said that although none of the supplements alone is dangerous, combined with a few cups of coffee and sodas, they can cause tremors, nausea, and headaches, as well as aggravate heart disease.
“The essence of all supplements is to help you exercise harder and more intensively,” he said, “so supplements with high levels of caffeine can be a threat to the heart.”
However, Moon stated that most of these supplements are unlikely to carry a serious danger.
“Even if you increase their dose by 2 or even 4 times, then still do not exceed the recommended maximum amount of caffeine,” he explained.
Creatine and Amino Acids
Almost all pre-workout supplements contain creatine, which increases energy production in muscle cells and draws fluid from plasma into skeletal muscles to increase their performance. There are other effective pre-workout complexes, this site provides a fairly rich selection.
Creatine's effectiveness has been proven by several studies. One of them, held in 2003, found that footballers taking creatine were less likely to experience cramps and dehydration, and were injured than athletes who took placebo. Another study conducted in 2002 by Nutrition Magazine with 20 creatine-taking athletes showed an increase in body weight as well as an increase in peak strength during short sprints.
However, creatine should be taken regularly to significantly increase its level in the body, says Moon. One or two receptions before training will not provide the required effect, and its effect will appear only when you are working with heavy weights.
“Most people who visit the gym spend 90% of their time talking and relaxing between sets. They may not even carry out heavy approaches with large weights so that the effects of supplements can manifest themselves, ”says Moon.
Testing by LabDoor showed that the labels on most supplements did not indicate the amount of creatine they contained. Moon noted that the company has not tested one of Jim Stoppani's 12-Week Shortcut to Size, one of the most popular pre-workout supplements.
He also said that classifying a dosage based on additives could be a misconception because there are no serious studies of the effectiveness of a dose of an ingredient, some of which work synergistically. “Consumers should also understand that manufacturers adjust the composition of their products every 4-5 months, so that such tests will always play catch-up with them,” added Moon.
Vitamin niacin is another common component of pre-workout supplements that can cause sweating and blood flow to the skin. In addition, they often contain vasodilators, such as citrulline, which dilate blood vessels. “Although studies do not show that these substances increase muscle mass per se, increased blood flow to the muscles can give a feeling of fullness during training. However, this effect is temporary, ”says Moon.
“In fact, pre-workout supplements should only be taken when your diet is not balanced enough and you want to get extra energy. For example, this applies to wrestlers who want to move to a lower weight category, but must continue training, or those who adhere to a low-carb diet and tend to gain weight, ”he added.
Be that as it may, there is little evidence that the “unique mixtures” of ingredients that are contained in pre-workout supplements (may include up to 10 substances) more effectively increase the effectiveness of training than these ingredients individually. A randomized, controlled study published in 2014 in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine showed that athletes who took the supplement called SizeOn Maximum Performance had no better performance than athletes who took a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and creatine.
“Supplement manufacturers define their unique recipes as a trade secret, therefore they do not indicate the dosage of each component on the label. For example, they may not have enough creatine in order to achieve the desired effect for the athlete, ”said Thanedar.
The biggest potential risk associated with pre-workout supplements is the hazardous substances included in their composition. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently filed a lawsuit against USPLabs, the producer of additives, Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. The use of these products has been associated with many cases of liver damage and a large number of deaths.
The FDA found that the supplements contain a dangerous amphetamine precursor called 1,3-dimethylamphetamine, or DMAA, which is not on the FDA's list of approved drugs.
Testing by LabDoor did not reveal any illegal substances in the new formulations, but researchers found that another supplement, Train Critical FX, contains a similar beta-methylphenethylamine precursor to BMPEA. BMREA is a doping drug that carries risks to heart health and is also not on the FDA-approved supplement list.
“This substance, like other doping drugs, has no place in the market for sports supplements,” said Andrea Wong, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Healthy Nutrition Council.
While most pre-workout supplements are probably not dangerous, there is little scientific evidence about them to make loud and unsubstantiated statements.
“The sports supplement industry is more concerned with marketing than with the composition of the products. They will not bring you much benefit if you are not actively training, ”said Moon.
Based on materials: http://www.livescience.com/53095-do-preworkout-supplements-work.html