Do you want a way to maximise your workout performance and results? One of the most popular supplement ingredients in athletic circles today is creatine, which provides an array of benefits such as increased lean muscle mass, enhanced hormone production, improved strength gains, and better overall energy levels. Additionally, if used with pre-workout supplements like caffeine, beta-alanine can provide even more benefits by supplying the body with additional energy and stamina to perform at its peak level during your workout.
What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Before you head to the gym, you must have the proper energy and focus on performing at your best. Pre-workout supplements are a dietary supplement widely used in the fitness community to help optimise performance and increase energy levels during exercise. The reported estimate of sold pre-workout supplements in 2020 was $13.98 billion. According to the statistics in Nutrition Source by Harvard, the market size will double to roughly $23.77 billion by 2027.
Various ingredients are found in pre-workout supplements, such as caffeine, creatine, and B vitamins, which work together to provide explosive workouts with bullets of impact. Many people also use it to cut through mental blocks thanks to its energising effect – allowing them to push further than usual even when endurance starts to wane. It comes in various forms, such as powder or capsules, and can be consumed before workout sessions for the best results.
What's Inside a Pre-Workout Supplement?
There are many pre-workout supplements, but not all are designed with the same ingredients. However, there are some common ones you'll generally see across most pre-workout supplements. Below are some of the most common ingredients:
Caffeine, a powerful stimulant for the nervous system, is added to pre-workout supplements to increase physical energy for resistance training. It helps with endurance-based, robust, and resistant exercise and aids in improving mental faculties. According to Spot Me Bro, the thermogenic effect of caffeine is best for workouts as it leads to high energy expenditure. In addition, the chemical structure and compounds are superior at melting fat.
The branched-chain amino acids comprise leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which can be beneficial for pre-workouts. It can be taken sometime separately to improve the rate of muscle protein synthesis and decrease muscle protein breakdown. It also decreases exercise-induced muscle damage and reduces the extent to which you experience DOMS.
B vitamins, including vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6, are added to a pre-workout for their energy and endurance-boosting properties. They also help with muscle recovery, tissue repair, and increasing the body's rate of using macronutrients during exercise.
Beta-alanine is another popular ingredient in pre-workouts, as it helps to increase high-intensity performance by buffering hydrogen ions. This results in a delay in fatigue and improves muscular endurance during intense exercise.
Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid that has been found to have several benefits, especially in terms of increasing muscle lean mass endurance during high-intensity exercise. Along with enhancing performance, it also plays a vital role in the production of carnosine, which is good for muscle strength. Unfortunately, according to WebMD, Beta-alanine can sometimes result in skin tingling or affect people taking heart medicine. However, when taken in the proper amounts and responsibly, it is unlikely that you will experience any side affects.
Can You Mix Creatine With Pre-Workout?
Depending on the type of pre-workout you are using, it is usually recommended that creatine is not mixed with a pre-workout drink. Specifically, when taking a stimulant-based pre-workout containing ingredients such as caffeine or Yohimbe, it is discouraged to take creatine due to the potential side effects of overdosing on stimulants. Taking creatine alongside these stimulants can cause jitteriness, nausea, and other adverse reactions. It can be safely done for those taking non-stimulant-based pre-workouts, but the timing should be considered because you do not want to overcrowd your digestive system with too many powders in a short time.
To combine pre-workout drinks with creatine, you should wait an hour after consuming pre-workout before having any creatine supplements.
Creatine’s Role In Pre-Workout Supplement
Creatine supplementation is a great way to get an edge during pre-workout activities. Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in the body that produces energy for muscle contractions and helps improve muscular endurance and performance.
Additionally, it can enhance cognitive functions for better decision-making in training activities. Finally, studies have suggested that supplementing with the creatine molecule provides additional resources for muscle contractions and improves concentration, resulting in enhanced physical performance when engaging in rigorous exercise. Ultimately, the key benefit of using creatine and pre-workout together is increased power output capacity, which translates into incredible speed and strength-building potential.
Creatine is most commonly taken as a powder or shakes before exercising, and it should be noted that different forms are available depending on the desired effect. A common form of creatine used before exercise includes monohydrate, which works best when taken with carbohydrates, as they help transport the creatine into your muscles more quickly. Other forms like ethyl ester have also been shown to offer similar benefits before exercise or competition.
Creatine Pre-Workout Side Effects
Taking creatine has very few, if any, side effects. When taken as a pre-workout supplement, any unpleasant sensations are likely due to other ingredients, such as Beta-Alanine, which can cause itching and a tingling feeling on the skin.
Some other side effects of using creatine as a pre-workout include:
Dehydration is one of the most common creatine pre-workout side effects due to its diuretic effect. When taken in high doses, it can cause increased urine output which leads to excessive water loss from the body. This can cause dryness in the mouth and skin and fatigue during exercise. Therefore, drinking plenty of fluids before and after taking creatine supplements is recommended to prevent dehydration.
Another side effect of creatine is cramping. It’s thought that this occurs because too much of the supplement causes an increase in the amount of calcium released from muscle cells which can lead to involuntary contractions. Therefore, taking high doses can result in painful cramps and increased fatigue during exercise sessions. To reduce the chances of experiencing cramps while taking creatine supplements, always take them with food or a meal replacement drink.
It occurs due to creatine's acidic content. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and abdominal discomfort after ingesting these supplements. Furthermore, these symptoms may worsen if taken on an empty stomach or without adequate hydration before consumption. To avoid gastrointestinal discomfort when taking these supplements, ensure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and eat balanced meals before ingestion.
Due to creatine’s diuretic properties leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, dizziness may occur. As such, staying hydrated throughout your workout session is essential after taking these supplements. Additionally, consuming sports drinks containing electrolytes may help combat electrolyte imbalances and prevent episodes of dizziness related to dehydration or low blood sugar levels during workouts.
Skin Issues Like Itching
This occurs because the body produces a histamine response, which can cause skin irritation and discomfort. Therefore, you must consult your doctor before taking these supplements if you suffer from allergies or autoimmune conditions, as they could exacerbate existing symptoms. To reduce the chances of experiencing itching or skin irritation, take creatine only after eating a meal and use creams or lotions to relieve discomfort.
To minimise the chance of experiencing these symptoms, it's recommended that you consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins, along with consuming adequate amounts of fluids before, during, and after your workout session. Taking smaller doses over longer periods rather than higher dosages may also reduce the risk of developing bloating and headaches. In addition, take creatine regularly for tough workouts or resistance training programs to boost exercise performance and reduce the bad effects of creatine pre-workout.