Exercise workouts can be pretty demanding on the body, with intensive sessions often leading to fatigue – both physical and mental – and muscle soreness. The pre workout energy drink was created to boost energy going into a workout, and minimize some of the side-effects afterwards.
Top supplement provider EnergyFirst have blended some of the most highly regarded pre-workout ingredients into their Preworkout® formula to simultaneously promote muscle growth, prevent catabolic breakdown, sweep up free radicals and reduce stress and muscle soreness.
But what exactly are these key ingredients, and what does the wider fitness community have to say about them?
Health Benefits of Creatine
Creatine is a popular supplement in the world of bodybuilding, and many people associate it with its ‘bulking’ effect on muscles (partly because creatine draws water into muscles, making them bigger). But according to Bodybuilding.com, there are at least six reasons to introduce creatine into your diet – even if you’re more of an endurance athlete. For a more in-depth article on the less well-known effects that creatine has on the brain, read Kendall Lou Schmidt’s piece from the same website.
Returning to the physical properties of creatine, this organic acid replenishes supplies of creatine phosphate, an alternative energy source once the muscles’ stores of ATP run low. This helps to keep muscles in an ‘anabolic’ state.
Anabolic vs Catabolic States
What is an Anabolic State? An anabolic state is simply one where the body uses energy to build large molecules – in this case muscles. The opposite ‘catabolic’ state occurs when the body begins to break down large molecules in order to create smaller ones, releasing energy in the process. The catabolism of muscle tissue happens when carbohydrate stores run low and enables proteins in the muscles to be used as the basis of glucose production – defeating the purpose of bodybuilding!
Branch-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), which are broken down during exercise, are crucial for the muscle-building process and bodybuilders and athletes have been replenishing them through supplements for over 25 years. They are still used in pre-workout formulae today, although the industry has come a long way since the 1980s. The importance of BCAAs are stressed in this Flex article, and also in this one from Bodybuilding.com’s science editor: Krissy Kendall.
Glutamine is another amino acid which is used up during exercise and replaced through catabolism. This is why high quality supplements such as Preworkout® list L-Glutamine among their ingredients. Read more about glutamine in this Bodybuilding.com article.
Exercise and Oxidation
Exercise, by its nature will cause oxidation, leading to the release of damaging free radicals throughout the body. These literally rip into cells, including muscle cells, and can cause DNA mutations – leading to cancer in some cases. Therefore, a pre-workout shake has to include antioxidants which scour the body, mopping up free radicals before they can cause serious harm. The catechin ECGC (found in green tea); nacetylcysteine (NAC) and citrus bioflavenoids are all part of the potent chemical antioxidant force found in Preworkout®.
Inflammation and DOMS
They say: ‘no pain, no gain,” and DOMS (or delayed onset muscle soreness) is part and parcel of a tough fitness regime. However, pre-workout drinks can also tackle this unpleasant part of exercise with caffeine one of the surprising substances that can ease DOMS. In addition to supplementation there are other steps you can take for a more comfortable post-exercise experience, as Mark McManus explains.
The Effects of Stress
Top pre-workout supplements, like Preworkout® use a minimal amount of caffeine to avoid the overproduction of adrenaline and other chemicals which stress the body. Additional ingredients can be included which strengthen the body’s resistance and reduce stress. Adaptogens such as salidroside, found in the arctic plant Rhodiola rosea, help to combat fatigue while the withanolides, found in Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), have been shown – although not proven yet – to reduce levels of cortisol, a key stress hormone. As this article from WebMD explains, there is ‘some evidence that ashwagandha combined with deep breathing and a specific diet might reduce symptoms of anxiety.’
This Muscle & Fitness article has some tips for boosting your immune system (and tip number seven also attests again to the benefit of glutamine supplementation).
Absorption and Nutrient Utilization
It’s one thing to pack nutrients into a pre-workout drink, but quite another to ensure those nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The best formulae include chemicals that increase the ‘bioavailability’ of the nutrients delivered. These might include the natural compound AstraGin™ and black pepper extract, among others. These work on the small intestine to maximize absorption, with black pepper also found to reduce fat levels in the bloodstream as an additional benefit, according to this Nutra feature.
As we have discovered, the body needs to stock up on numerous different substances to ensure it maintains the optimum biochemical balance for health and to achieve our fitness goals. From creatine and BCAAs to keep it in an anabolic state and antioxidants to mop up free radicals to adaptogens for stress relief and caffeine to help minimize post-exercise pain, there are many reasons to use a pre-workout energy drink.
The great thing about Preworkout® is that these nutrients are included together in one handy product. Many of the ingredients found in EnergyFirst Preworkout® appear on the ‘must-have’ list of top fitness experts, for example this supplement shopping list from Alex Savva of Bodybuilding.com. And unlike some pre-workout supplements which have high doses of stimulants and need to be cycled (see this Krissy Kendall article on cycling supplements), Preworkout® is the best pre workout drink for energy contains minimal amounts of caffeine for a more stable, sustained energy boost. Two scoops before a workout should be adequate for most sessions but you can always add an extra scoop to get you through an intensive workout.
If you have never tried a pre-workout supplement before, we suggest you give Preworkout® one of the best pre workout energy booster from EnergyFirst a go in your training regime. There is an excellent article by Layne Norton PhD which shows you just how you can scientifically test the effects of any new approach or supplement. Visit www.energyfirst.com for more information about pre workout energy supplements.