Key Ingredients in Pre Workouts
Browse our list of key ingredients included in pre workout supplements. Find out which ingredients to look for and which to avoid.
Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.
When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are what is left over. The human body uses amino acids to make proteins to help the body:
- Break down food
- Repair body tissue
- Perform many other body functions
Amino acids can also be used as a source of energy by the body.
Amino acids are classified into three groups:
- Essential amino acids
- Nonessential amino acids
- Conditional amino acids
These vitamins help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat. They also help form red blood cells.
You can get B vitamins from proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also have B vitamins. Many cereals and some breads have added B vitamins.
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a root vegetable also known as red beet, table beet, garden beet, or just beet.
Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance.
Many of these benefits are due to their high content of inorganic nitrates.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body.
Beta-alanine aids in the production of carnosine. That’s a compound that plays a role in muscle endurance in high-intensity exercise.
Why do people take beta-alanine supplements?
Beta-alanine is marketed as a way to enhance sports performance and endurance. Some scientific evidence backs such uses, but the studies have been small and the results inconclusive.
BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids, which are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are essential because the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
BCAAs are widely used in the fitness and sports nutrition industry, including pre-workout supplements, due to their potential benefits for muscle growth, recovery, and exercise performance.
Muscle Protein Synthesis: Leucine, in particular, is known for its role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis, which is the process by which the body builds new muscle tissue. BCAAs, especially leucine, activate a signaling pathway in muscle cells that triggers protein synthesis, promoting muscle growth and repair.
Reduced Muscle Breakdown: During intense exercise, the body may enter a catabolic state, where muscle tissue is broken down for energy. BCAAs, especially leucine, have been suggested to help reduce muscle protein breakdown, potentially preserving muscle mass during exercise and promoting a more favorable muscle-to-fat ratio.
Energy Source: BCAAs can be used as an alternative energy source during prolonged or intense workouts. When glycogen stores become depleted, the body can break down BCAAs to produce energy, helping to sustain exercise performance.
In pre-workout supplements, BCAAs are often included to provide an additional source of amino acids that can support muscle growth, recovery, and energy during workouts. They are typically consumed in the form of a powdered drink mix or capsules. Sometimes, BCAAs are combined with other ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, or electrolytes to enhance their effects on energy, focus, and exercise performance.
However, it’s worth noting that the benefits of BCAAs, especially when consumed in isolation, are a topic of debate among researchers. While some studies have shown positive effects on muscle protein synthesis and exercise performance, others suggest that the overall impact may be limited, especially if an individual’s protein intake is already adequate.
Caffeine is a bitter substance that occurs naturally in more than 60 plants including:
- Coffee beans
- Tea leaves
- Kola nuts, which are used to flavor soft drink colas
- Cacao pods, which are used to make chocolate products
There is also synthetic (man-made) caffeine, which is added to some medicines, foods, and drinks. For example, some pain relievers, cold medicines, and over-the-counter medicines for alertness contain synthetic caffeine. So do energy drinks and “energy-boosting” gums and snacks.
Creatine is one of your body’s natural sources of energy for muscle contraction. Its name comes from the Greek word for meat. About half of the body’s supply comes from a carnivorous diet and about half is produced in the liver, kidneys and then delivered to the skeletal muscles for use. About 95% of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscle of your body and is used during physical activity.
Creatine helps to maintain a continuous supply of energy to working muscles by keep production up in working muscles. Small amounts are also found in your heart, brain and other tissues.
People have traditionally taken ginseng to help with a range of medical conditions.
More research is needed to confirm if it has any benefit as a supplement. Researchers believe that ginsenosides, chemical components found in ginseng, are responsible for any clinical effects of the herb.
Western scientists and health professionals often question the medicinal properties of ginseng.
Green tea is one of the most commonly consumed teas in the world.
Green tea extract is its concentrated form, with just one capsule containing the same amount of active ingredients as an average cup of green tea.
Like green tea, green tea extract is a great source of antioxidants. These have been credited with a range of health benefits — from promoting heart, liver, and brain health to improving your skin and even reducing the risk of cancer.
What’s more, many studies have looked at the ability of green tea extract to aid weight loss. In fact, many weight loss products list it as a key ingredient.
Pink Himalayan salt is a type of salt that’s naturally pink in color and mined near the Himalayas in Pakistan.
Many people claim that it’s loaded with minerals and provides incredible health benefits. For these reasons, pink Himalayan salt is often thought to be much healthier than regular table salt.
Some of pink Himalayan salt’s commonly promoted health claims include that it can:
- Improve respiratory diseases
- Balance your body’s pH
- Reduce signs of aging
- Improve sleep quality
- Regulate blood sugar
- Increase libido
Huperzine A is a natural compound derived from the Chinese club moss plant (Huperzia serrata). It is known for its potential as a cognitive enhancer and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Huperzine A is often included in pre-workout supplements for its purported ability to improve mental focus, memory, and overall cognitive function.
Huperzine A is believed to work by inhibiting an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning processes. By inhibiting this enzyme, Huperzine A may increase the availability and activity of acetylcholine in the brain, potentially enhancing cognitive functions.
In the context of pre-workouts, Huperzine A is included to support mental focus, concentration, and mind-muscle connection during exercise. By promoting acetylcholine levels, it is thought to optimize communication between nerves and muscles, potentially leading to improved neuromuscular coordination and performance.
Moreover, Huperzine A may have neuroprotective properties and antioxidant effects, which can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and potential damage caused by intense physical exercise.
Why do people take L-citrulline?
L-citrulline boosts nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide helps your arteries relax and work better, which improves blood flow throughout your body. This may be helpful for treating or preventing some diseases.
There is some evidence to suggest the supplement could possibly help lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the body. It’s made in the muscles and transferred by the blood into different organ systems.
Glutamine is a building block for making proteins in the body. It’s also needed to make other amino acids and glucose. Glutamine supplements might help gut function, immune function, and other processes, especially in times of stress when the body uses more glutamine.
People take glutamine for sickle cell disease, burns, to improve recovery after surgery, for injuries, and for complications of HIV/AIDS. It is also used for diarrhea, cystic fibrosis, obesity, lung cancer, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these other uses.
L-theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms. It’s also available in pill or tablet form. It’s said to help ease anxiety, stress, and reduce insomnia.
Benefits of L-Theanine
- Anxiety and Stress Release
- Enhanced Focus
- Improved Immune Function
- Blood Pressure Improvement
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that serves as a building block for the synthesis of various important compounds in the body, including neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. It is naturally produced in the body and can also be obtained from certain dietary sources.
In the context of pre-workout supplements, L-Tyrosine is included for its potential cognitive and performance-enhancing effects. It is believed to have a positive impact on mental focus, alertness, and stress management, which can be beneficial during intense workouts.
L-Tyrosine is involved in the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and stress responses. During periods of stress, such as intense exercise, the body’s stores of neurotransmitters can become depleted. By supplementing with L-Tyrosine, it is thought to support the replenishment of these neurotransmitters, potentially promoting mental resilience and focus.
Additionally, L-Tyrosine may play a role in improving cognitive function under stressful conditions. It has been suggested that L-Tyrosine supplementation may help mitigate the negative effects of stress on cognitive performance, such as fatigue, distraction, and reduced mental clarity. This can be particularly relevant during demanding workouts or activities that require sustained mental effort.
In pre-workout supplements, L-Tyrosine is often combined with other ingredients, such as caffeine and other stimulants, to enhance focus, energy, and overall mental performance during exercise. The combination of these ingredients aims to provide a synergistic effect, maximizing the potential benefits for cognition and physical performance.
Malic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound that is found in various fruits, particularly apples. It is a dicarboxylic acid, meaning it contains two carboxyl groups (COOH). Malic acid is widely used in the food and beverage industry as a flavoring agent due to its sour taste.
In the context of pre-workout supplements, malic acid is often included for its potential benefits in enhancing exercise performance. It is believed to play a role in the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle or the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. This cycle is a key metabolic pathway that occurs in the mitochondria of cells and is involved in generating energy.
By supplementing with malic acid, it is thought to increase the availability of energy substrates in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary source of energy for muscle contractions during exercise. Malic acid is also believed to support the removal of metabolic waste products, such as lactic acid, from the muscles, potentially reducing fatigue and improving exercise performance.
Vitamin B1, or thiamin, helps prevent complications in the nervous system, brain, muscles, heart, stomach, and intestines. It is also involved in the flow of electrolytes into and out of muscle and nerve cells.
It helps prevent diseases such as beriberi, which involves disorders of the heart, nerves, and digestive system.
L-tyrosine is one form of the amino acid tyrosine. It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that you don’t have to get it from food. The body manufactures it, using another amino acid, phenylalanine. You may see tyrosine sold in supplement form with or without the “L.”
Tyrosine is in all tissues of the human body and in most of its fluids. It helps the body build proteins in your body, and produce enzymes, thyroid hormones, and the skin pigment melanin. It also helps the body produce neurotransmitters that help nerve cells communicate. Tyrosine is particularly important in the production of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It helps form important brain chemicals that affect mood and sleep.
Vasodilators are compounds that open, or dialate, your blood vessels. The improvement of blood flow to your muscles, and throughout the body can improve athletic performance. To improve your training sessions and to have a better muscular development, vasodilators are highly recommended.
Betaine anhydrous, also known as trimethylglycine (TMG), is a compound that is derived from the amino acid glycine. It is commonly used as an ingredient in pre-workout supplements and is believed to have several potential benefits for exercise performance.
Betaine anhydrous is thought to support exercise performance through various mechanisms. One of its primary functions is its involvement in the methylation cycle, which is important for various physiological processes, including the synthesis of creatine. Creatine is a compound that provides energy for short-term, high-intensity activities, such as weightlifting and sprinting.
By promoting the methylation cycle, betaine anhydrous may increase the production of creatine in the body. This can potentially lead to improved muscle strength, power, and endurance during intense physical activities. Additionally, betaine anhydrous is believed to help maintain optimal hydration levels within cells, which is crucial for proper muscle function.
Moreover, betaine anhydrous may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. It has been suggested that it can lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid that, when elevated, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. By reducing homocysteine levels, betaine anhydrous may contribute to better overall cardiovascular health, potentially improving exercise capacity.
In pre-workout supplements, betaine anhydrous is often included alongside other ingredients like caffeine, amino acids, and nitric oxide boosters. The combination of these compounds aims to provide energy, focus, endurance, and improved blood flow to the muscles, thus enhancing exercise performance.