The Top 5 Best Pre-Workout Ingredients

A good pre-workout can make a huge difference to your training, in the same way that good squat shoes can help you squat better or a good pair of running shoes will help with your 10k time. But before you ask what is the best pre-workout, you need to decide what your goals are.

Are you looking to increase muscle? Then perhaps Creatine and whey protein would be a good idea, or perhaps you are looking to lose weight, in which case Caffeine would be more appropriate.

As there will be a range of readers with a whole host of different goals, this article will focus on a few of the best pre-workout ingredients regardless of what your personal goals are. This isn’t an exhaustive list you understand, so don’t be too upset if your favorite ingredient didn’t make the cut!

Pre-workout ingredient #1. Caffeine

What is it? The most popular stimulant in the world, caffeine is probably the only ingredient on this list that everyone will have heard of.

What does it do? A better question would be what doesn’t it do? Caffeine has been shown to increase metabolism [1], increase fat oxidation [2], improve sporting performance [3], increase power [4], and lower the rate of perceived exertion (how easy you find an exercise) [5]. It can also lower fatigue, and increase adrenaline which will make you feel more awake and energized during your workout, along with other benefits.

Best Dose: Most scientific studies use between 3 and 5mg/kg of bodyweight. So a 60kg person could use anywhere from 180mg (3mg/kg) to 300mg (5mg/kg) depending on their tolerance and other factors.

Pre-workout ingredient #2. Creatine

What is it? Creatine is a chemical compound made up of three amino acids (L-arganine, glycine, and L-methionine). It is found naturally in meat, but in low doses which is why many people supplement their diet with Creatine Monohydrate.

What does it do? Creatine’s main function is to make you stronger and more powerful, it can increase muscle mass [6] and has also been shown to improve cognitive function (memory and mood). Creatine if popular to stack with other natural testosterone boosters.

Best dose: You can safely take up to 20g per day but most people see great results at around 5g per day. If you have a lot of muscle then you would benefit from up to 10g per day.

Pre-workout ingredient #3. Citrulline Malate

What is it? A dietary amino-acid.

What does it do? It helps to reduce fatigue and increase endurance, making it fantastic for the gym as a pre-workout ingredient and as an intra-workout (taken during a session). Citrulline Malate is a must-have ingredient for performance and massive gym pumps.

Best dose: Between 6 and 8g about an hour before a workout.

Pre-workout ingredient #4. Betaine Anhydrous

What is it? Also known as TMG, Betaine is a molecule that is structurally similar to Glycine.

What does it do? Studies have shown that it increases strength and power [7], it also has a positive effect on work capacity (how much exercise you can do) and isometric strength [8].

Best dose: It appears to be around 1.5g.

Pre-workout ingredient #5. Beta Alanine

What is it? A beta-amino acid.

What does it do? Beta-alanine is great at reducing fatigue and increasing muscular endurance, making it a great choice for a pre-workout ingredient.

Best dose: Around 5g is generally considered safe and effective, but you could have less than that (2-3g) and still get results.

 

References

[1] Dulloo, A., Duret, C., Rohrer, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., Chantre, P., Vandermander, J. (1999) Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Society for Clinical Nutrition 70(6): 1040-1045

[2] Rumpler, W., Seale, J., Clevidence, B., Judd, J., Wiley, E., Yamamoto, S., Komatsu, T., Sawaki, T., Ishikura, Y., Hosoda, K. (2001) Oolong Tea increases Metabolic Rate and Fat Oxidation in Men. The Journal of Nutrition 131(11): 2848-2852

[3] Wiles, J., Coleman, D., Tegerdine, M. Swaine, I. 2006. The effects of caffeine ingestion on performance time, speed and power during a laboratory-based 1 km cycling time trial. Journal of Sports Sciences 24(11): 1165-1171

[4] Lane, S., Areta, J., Bird, S., Coffey, V., Burke, L., Desbrow, B., Leonidas, G., Hawley, J. 2013. Caffeine ingestion and cycling power output in a low or normal muscle glycogen state. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 45(8): 1577-1584

[5] Rodrigues, L., Russo, A., Silva, A., Picarro, I., Silva, F., Zogaib, P., Soares, D. 1990. Effects of caffeine on the rate of perceived exertion. Brazilian Journal of Medical & Biological Research 23(10): 965-8

[6] Kerksick, CM., Rasmussen, C., Lancaster, S., Starks, M., Smith, P., Melton, C., Greenwood, M., Almada, A., Krieder, R. 2007. Impact of differing protein sources and a creatine containing nutritional formula after 12 weeks of resistance training. Nutrition 23(9): 647-56

[7] Lee, E., Maresh, C., Kraemer, W., Yamamoto, L., Hatfield, D., Bailey, B., Armstrong, L., Volek, J., McDermott, B., Craig, S. 2010. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7:27

[8] Kraemer, W., Bailey, B., Clark, J., Apicella, J., Lee, E., Comstock, B., Dunn-Lewis, C., Volek, J., Kupchak, B., Anderson, J., Craig, S., Maresh, C. 2011. The influence of betaine supplementation on work performance and endocrine function in men. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25: s100-s101

 

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