Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Hello! Welcome. Do you train a lot and don’t see any results? The mistake may be the lack of pre-workout supplementation. Maintaining a good diet and adequate supplementation before and after training is essential for those who exercise regularly, whether weight training or aerobic training. Pre-workout helps performance, facilitates the increase in load and repetitions and prevents injuries. But to make the most of these benefits, you should choose the right supplement, that’s what we’re going to talk about throughout this article.




First, the most important thing

  • Pre-workout provides the necessary energy for a workout with more focus, intensity, strength and performance.
  • This type of supplement has several stimulant compounds that aim to increase performance in various sports such as weight training and aerobic exercises.
  • Pre-workout can be found in powder, capsule or tablet versions. The supplement should be ingested 20 to 40 minutes before training as it is quickly absorbed.

The best pre workout: Our Picks

To choose the best pre-workout, you should analyse your training style and goals. You can find stimulant pre-workout, thermogenic, hypercaloric, among others. Knowing some good options will also help you find the best supplement for you. Thinking of that, we prepared a ranking with some buying suggestions, check it out.

Buying Guide

Regardless of which physical activity you practice, it is important to keep your energy levels high in order to increase performance, strength, endurance, and to prevent fatigue and possible injuries. Pre-workout can be a meal or a food supplement, consumed before or during training. In this Buying Guide we will talk about the supplements from the pre-workout category. Enjoy the reading and increase your performance.

Imagem de uma mulher na academia.

The pre-workout supplement will give you plenty of energy to train. (Source: The Lazy Artist Gallery / Pexels)

What is a food supplement?

Having a balanced diet is essential to achieve a healthy body on the inside and a beautiful body on the outside. But with the rush of everyday life, meals are skipped, processed foods are consumed in excess and you fail to ingest the necessary nutrients. Food and sports supplements were developed to provide the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and proteins that your body needs in a concentrated form.

Imagem de vários potes com suplementos alimentares.

You can find several types of supplements. Choose the product according to your needs, preferences and goals. (Source: bavl / Pixabay)

For those who practice physical activities, the supplement is even more important, because it provides the necessary energy to perform the exercises. The secret is to use it as a complement to a balanced diet and choose a product suitable for the type of exercise practiced and the desired goal (gain mass, lose weight, define, etc.). The ideal is to look for a nutritionist so that the professional indicates the ideal supplement for your needs. It is also important to consume the recommended daily dose, because in excess, the supplements can overload the kidneys and the liver.

What is a pre-workout?

Pre-workout food or supplementation provides the energy needed to exercise. It consists mainly of carbohydrate, which when synthesised by the body, increases the levels of glucose in the blood and provides energy.

Did you know that the lack of carbohydrate is very harmful for those who practice activities of high calorie expenditure, as it can affect the quality of the workout and harm health? With the lack of carbohydrates, the body uses other sources of energy, such as protein, causing you to lose lean body mass

The food sources of energy are oats, bananas, sweet potatoes, bread, rice and pasta (these last three should be consumed in the wholemeal version). If you prefer, opt for a supplement, you can find versions in powder, capsules or tablets. Regardless of whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle mass, pre-workout foods and supplements will help you in this process. But it is important to align the food and supplementation to your physical profile, needs and goals.

Advantages
  • Complements the diet
  • Supplement available in capsules, powder or tablets
  • Several effects: weight loss, performance or hypertrophy
  • Several options of flavors
Disadvantages
  • Not a meal replacement
  • The product should be purchased frequently
  • For the product to give the expected result, it is necessary to take the treatment for a few months
  • Some people are bothered by the taste

What is the correct way to take a pre-workout supplement?

The way you will consume the pre-workout supplement will make all the difference in the effects it will provide, because each product has different characteristics that influence the way of using. One or two hours after your meal, you should consume the pre-workout supplement and wait 20 to 40 minutes before starting your workout. Check the recommendation for use on the back of the package.

Imagem de um homem tomando um suplemento.

It is important to consume the pre-workout supplement 20 to 40 minutes before going to the gym. (Source: Mark Bowden / 123RF)

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage. If you consume less than the recommended portion, you may not notice any effects. The opposite is also true, dosages that are too high can be bad for your health.

If you are consuming a pre-workout with caffeine it is important to avoid ingesting the supplement at night, as it can compromise your sleep.

Despite the name, the use of pre-workout supplement is not restricted only to this moment, you can also consume the product during training to ensure energy, or after training, to replenish glycogen.

What are the types of pre-workout supplements?

There are some types of pre-workout supplements, aimed at those who want to lose weight, gain muscle or improve performance during sports. We will talk about the main ones throughout this section.

Creatine

Creatine is a nutrient that acts on muscle contraction, acting as fuel to complete physical exercises. This supplement is ideal for those who wish to gain strength and muscle mass. Regarding the gain of lean mass, creatine retains water in muscle cells, increasing cell volume and stimulating protein synthesis. As it is an amino acid, it helps build muscle mass. The supplement is also recommended for those who wish to improve performance in exercises of high intensity and short duration. With creatine you will be able to decrease recovery time and increase the load.

Imagem de uma mulher fazendo agachamentos.

Creatine is the ideal supplement for those who want to gain muscle mass. (Source: FabianoAdversiting / Pixabay)

It should only not be consumed by those with kidney problems. If ingested before physical activity, it helps to increase energy, improve physical performance, prevent the loss of lean mass and collaborates with hypertrophy.

BCAA

BCAA is an amino acid supplement (isoleucine, valine and leucine). This pre-workout is absorbed quickly by the body, providing energy during workouts. You can consume it before, during and after physical activities. The product also helps muscle recovery, avoiding possible injuries. Other pre-workout benefits are:

  • Helps prevent catabolism
  • Acts on protein synthesis
  • Contributes to hypertrophy.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the base ingredient of supplements used to give mood, strength and energy to optimize your performance during training. It also acts in the mobilization of muscle calcium, favouring the contraction of muscles in exercises of high intensity and short duration. And caffeine is not only recommended for those who practice physical activities in the gym. The supplement is also recommended for triathletes and athletes in other sports. The caffeine supplement acts as follows: after consumption, the substance is absorbed and metabolised in the liver, then it travels all over the body and acts in all systems for about six hours.

Imagem de cápsulas de cafeína.

The caffeine supplement acts for about 6 hours, so it is good to avoid it after 6pm. (Source: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay)

In the nervous system, caffeine binds to cells, stimulating concentration, improving mood and reducing feelings of mental fatigue. The substance also stimulates the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. For those who want to lose weight, caffeine is also an excellent option, because it speeds up the metabolism rhythm (facilitating fat burning), gives mood during training and helps suppress appetite. But you have to be careful with excessive stimulation, because adrenaline in large quantities in the body can be dangerous. Excessive use of caffeine can cause nervousness, insomnia, increased heart rate, palpitations and gastritis. Another side effect of caffeine supplementation is the diuretic effect, which can impair hydration during prolonged physical activities.

Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid that helps to increase energy and mood, improving physical performance. With this supplement, the person can train with more willingness, focus and concentration.

Imagem de um homem correndo em uma esteira.

The taurine supplement will give you energy to get where you need to go. (Source: William Choquette / Pexels)

This supplement reduces muscle fatigue, prevents cramps, pain in the muscles and accelerates muscle recovery. The substance also assists in the process of muscle contraction and vasodilation, increasing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to muscles and organs.

L-carnitine

L-carnitine is formed in the liver and kidneys from amino acids and remains stored in various tissues, including the muscle. This substance assists in the transport of fatty acids to the mitochondria, where fat is metabolised to become energy. Without sufficient carnitine, fat molecules return to the blood and increase the number of triglycerides. In other words, in addition to promoting energy, L-carnitine also aids fat burning, weight loss and size reduction. This supplement also increases endurance, decreases fatigue, increases physical performance and aids post-workout recovery.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine is a compound that acts in the muscles and has the following effects: increases muscular strength and resistance, optimizes performance and offers even more willingness in long and heavy workouts. The supplement also reduces acidity in the muscles to avoid fatigue and muscle cramps. Another interesting effect is the “pump”, i.e. the swelling after training, which stimulates muscle irrigation and increases the absorption of nutrients.

Imagem de um rapaz com abdômen definido.

With Beta-Alanine pre-workout you will be able to do high intensity and long duration workouts. (Source: Pexels / Pixabay)

Beta-Alanine is ideal for athletes in different sports that require strength, power and muscular endurance. You will be able to do extra repetitions in weight training workouts and optimize time in other activities such as running and cycling. But it is important to consume a maximum dosage of 1 gram, as above this dose, you may feel a tingling or itching sensation.

Hypertrophic pre-workout Stimulant pre-workout Thermogenic pre-workout
Effect Energy, strength and endurance Stimulant effect Increased body temperature and sweat
Active ingredients Carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, etc.Caffeine or taurine Caffeine and others creatine and BCAA
Purpose Hypertrophy Performance Weight loss
Presentation Powder, capsules or tablet Capsules or tablets Powder or capsules

Are there any contraindications to pre-workout?

Those who have sensitivity or allergy to any of the components of the formula should avoid pre-workout. People with heart problems, high blood pressure, pregnant and lactating women, those suffering from depression and / or anxiety should consult a doctor before starting to take the pre-workout.

Imagem de uma mulher grávida fazendo pilates.

Pregnant and lactating women should only consume pre-workout supplement under medical advice. (Source: Jessica Monte / Pexels)

Purchase Criteria: Factors to compare the different types of pre-workout

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate supplementation and rest all benefit your health, body, quality of life and training performance. And the supplement is important in the stimulus, preservation and muscular recovery. With that in mind, we have prepared some tips for you to choose the ideal pre-workout supplement, check it out:

We will explain each of the items throughout this section.

Goal

To choose the ideal pre-workout supplement, it is necessary to take into account your biotype, your nutritional needs and your training goal: weight loss, performance or hypertrophy.

The thermogenic pre-workout helps you burn fat.

If you want to lose weight, look for a thermogenic pre-workout. The product contains substances that increase body temperature by stimulating the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems. The thermogenic pre-workout helps to burn fat. If you want to improve performance, prefer a stimulating pre-workout with ingredients such as caffeine and/or taurine. A supplement with these components increases your mood and gives you the gas you need to train for longer. If you are looking for hypertrophy, prefer creatine or BCAA, these supplements have carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids that stimulate muscle development.

Imagem de uma mulher com o corpo bem definido.

With the pre-workout supplement you will conquer the body you have always dreamed of. (Source: Sabel Blanco / Pexels)

You can also combine more than one supplement. For example, for those seeking hypertrophy, besides BCAA and Creatine, it is important to invest in a pre-workout that gives energy, i.e., with caffeine and / or taurine in the composition. You can also find supplements that combine carbohydrates with energy substances. That way you have more energy and mood during training and you have high glucose levels. But before combining the supplements, you need to do some tests to check how your health is. If there are no contraindications, you can make the most of the benefits of combining pre-workout supplements.

Vasodilator

For those who are in a hurry to get results or want to recover more quickly from extremely tiring workouts, we suggest buying a pre-workout with a vasodilator effect. This product makes the veins dilate. With the vasodilator, the oxygen and nutrients reach the muscles even faster and more efficiently.

Presentation

The pre-workout supplement can be found in powder, capsules or tablet versions, depending on the formula.

Imagem de vários suplementos.

You can find pre-workout supplements in powder, capsules or tablets. (Source: NejroN / 123RF)

The capsule or tablet versions usually have few ingredients and are more concentrated in one active ingredient, such as caffeine. In the powder version, you notice an increase in ingredients, such as carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Product quality

When buying a supplement, be it pre, intra or post-workout, look for recognized brands, registered and with sales authorized by the health surveillance (Anvisa), this means that the product has passed all the quality and safety tests.

And attention, never buy a supplement by its price. Not always the most expensive or imported product is the best option. Evaluate the product and the brand at the time of purchase. If you can, ask for the help of a physical education or nutrition professional. (Source of the highlighted image: Lecic / 123RF)

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