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Pre-Workout Supplements and Boosters - Part 1 of 2
Should You Take a Pre-Workout Booster?

Should you use a pre-workout booster?
Should you use a pre-workout booster?

There is a growing collection of pills, powders and mixes that call themselves pre-workout boosters. They claim they will give you “endless energy,” help burn fat, provide “Instant Strength Gains,” suppress your appetite, give you “Massive Pumps,” and even help you focus. All you have to do is take some before you start your workout.

There is one benefit of taking something before a workout. When researchers compared people who exercised on an empty stomach to those who ate a small meal first, there were no differences in what either of them used for energy. But one group did have better long-term weight loss and muscle-building results.

The people who ate something before a workout were the fittest. Here’s why. Food gives you energy. You need the energy to get through a workout. Eating something small, 30 minutes to an hour and a half before exercise, gives you the energy to push harder and get through a more intense workout.

Think about it. When you work on something for a few hours, eventually, you’ll hit a “wall.” It’s a point when you’re mentally and physically exhausted. The standard solution is to take a break and have something to eat. After your meal, your body has more energy to draw from, you feel refreshed, and you’re able to get more work done. It’s the same principle when you eat before a workout.

There is plenty of evidence appropriate food before a workout will improve results. There is virtually no proof that pre-workout boosters provide the same benefit.

Let’s look at the most common ingredient many of the products contain, caffeine. In a study at the Cardiovascular Center at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, they tested the effect of caffeine on myocardial blood flow. The results were shocking.

When subjects took in just 200 mg. of caffeine, blood flow to the heart DECREASED by 39% during exercise. Since the purpose of cardio exercise is to INCREASE blood flow to the heart, taking caffeine before a cardio routine may actually be detrimental to a good workout.

A few subjects did get a slight, 1 to 3 percent boost from caffeine in endurance training situations in some tests. Unfortunately, it was only the people who didn’t normally ingest caffeine who got the benefit. For everyone else, it didn’t help at all.

Caffeine isn’t just promoted for muscle gain; it’s also added to dozens of over-the-counter weight loss products. That’s a bad move. Caffeine increases cortisol levels. That’s bad for weight loss because higher levels of cortisol stimulate appetite. So if you take in too much caffeine, you’re stimulating your appetite instead of suppressing it.

Numerous other ingredients are promoted in pre-workout boosters, but many have little or no clinical proof they help lose fat or build muscle. Check out the ingredients before you buy on the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements website at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/

If you’re like most people, you believe that the government is watching over them before they can make any of those claims. You probably think somebody is checking how they’re put together and ensuring all those products are safe.

You shouldn’t believe that, because it’s not true.

Supplements are not regulated as medicine. There are no government agencies that verify supplements work for the things they are promoted to help with. Supplements are not inspected to verify the ingredients on the label are actually in the product. Supplements are also not tested for safety.

If someone is pushing you to take a pre-workout supplement, ask yourself what they have to gain. If they’re selling it, they make money every time you buy some. Maybe it’s through a link on their website, a referral in their social media or the cash they make from a direct sale. Of course, they’re going to tell you their product is different; they don’t want to stop taking your money.

Go back to them and ask for proof. Next week I’ll share the seven things you should demand to see before you give up your money.

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