We live in an age where companies try to make the ‘ultimate’ pre workout supplements. They throw around words like ‘strongest’ and ‘intense’, but sometimes they hide the ingredients in proprietary blends.
While you’re constantly being sold to, no-one really makes an effort to actually tell you which are the best pre workout ingredients to look out for.
But don’t worry, we’ve got your back bro.
We’ve spoken to some experts, and gained the information we need; after reading this article, you’ll know the nutrients that actually work, instead of being over-hyped through fancy advertisements.
- What are pre workouts?
- Top 5 pre workout ingredients
- Anything to avoid?
What Are Pre Workouts?
Let’s start with the basics. It doesn’t take a genius to know that pre workout supplements are meant to be consumed before your gym session.
However, apart from answering ‘improving your workouts’, do you really know what benefits to expect from these supplements?
If you answered ‘No’, then we’re really not surprised.
This is exactly why companies get away with fooling customers with fancy advertisements – because many of you don’t actually know which ingredients are meant to deliver benefits.
We’re not here to confuse you, so we’ll get straight to the point.
Here’s the benefits every pre workout should deliver:
- Energy boosts
- Increased strength
- Improved endurance
- Enhanced muscle pumps
Ultimately, these 4 key benefits will ensure you perform at your best every time.
But how do you choose the pre workout that offers them? Good question.
Let’s be honest, most of you will simply look at the advertisements and trust the companies to tell the truth.
However, you need to know that companies frequently add ineffective or unreliable nutrients into their pre workouts; whether it’s to cut their production costs or cut corners to make their job easier, remember that it happens.
As a result, it’s important to know which ingredients actually work. In a nutshell, if you choose a pre workout that contains scientifically proven nutrients, then you’ll ensure that you get the most for your money.
And this is exactly what we’ll show you below…
Top 5 Pre Workout Ingredients
You’ve reached the most important section of this article (and probably the reason why you clicked on it in the first place).
Well, as we mentioned, we’ve had the help of some experts and nutritionists to determine the 5 best pre workout ingredients.
Check them out:
1. Citrulline Malate
If you’re new to supplements, then there’s a high chance that you haven’t heard about this ingredient before.
But don’t worry, it’s not too complicated. Citrulline Malate is basically L-Citrulline bound with Malic Acid.
What does L-Citrulline do?
L-Citrulline is an amino acid that’s naturally extracted from watermelons.
It’s found to be able to convert into L-Arginine in your kidneys, increasing your nitric oxide levels, blood flow – and therefore enhancing your muscle pumps in the gym.
What does Malic Acid do?
In case you’re worried, this isn’t the same kind of ‘acid’ that’ll burn your face off. Instead, it’s able to raise your ATP levels, which increases your strength & endurance in the gym.
As Citrulline Malate is composed of both L-Citrulline Malate & Malic Acid, it’s able to deliver the benefits of both – if dosed correctly.
Remember that getting the dosage right is equally as important as choosing an effective nutrient.
For example, you could choose the best ingredient, but it’s not dosed correctly, then it won’t work.
Simply put, the optimal dosage for Citrulline Malate has shown to be 6,000mg in scientific studies. This means that consuming 6,000mg dosages will lead to you experiencing enhanced muscle pumps, strength and endurance .
2. Creatine Monohydrate
You can’t argue about this compound.
Creatine Monohydrate has been used by athletes since the 1990’s; it’s still widely recognized as the most reliable, and one of the safest ingredients in the industry.
Even when this isn’t added into pre workouts, many choose to supplement it separately – which shows you how good it really is.
How does it work?
Creatine Monohydrate works by regenerating ATP (which is the main currency for energy in your body).
Ultimately, this results in you experiencing enhance strengh & endurance levels; this really helps you squeeze out those last few reps every set and make more progress on your fitness goals.
The optimal dosage of Creatine Monohydrate is up to personal preference.
As we mentioned before, many prefer consuming this compound separately in dosages throughout their day. If this is the case, then they’ll want a pre workout containing around 1,000mg Creatine Monohydrate.
Ultimately, 1,000mg of this compound is all you need before your gym session to improve your sporting performance.
However, it’s also worth noting that you can safely consume up to 5g per day, if you want to.
3 & 4. Caffeine & L-Theanine (Smart-Caffeine Combo)
These 2 nutrients work in synergy to form what’s known as a ‘smart-caffeine’.
But you probably don’t know what this is, or how it works, so we’ll explain everything below…
How does it work?
When L-Theanine is consumed with Caffeine, it’s able keep your heart rate and blood pressure steady, while keeping you focused in the gym and strengthening your mind-muscle-connection .
This means that you’ll avoid side effects such as jitters, while reaping the benefits of Caffeine. Not bad, ey?
In fact, this combo is naturally found in green tea, which is why this hot drink can help you focus while keeping you safer from jittters than coffee.
Although these 2 nutrients do work together, they should never be listed as a proprietary blend.
You should always know the exact dosage of caffeine you consume – to ensure that you do stay safe from side effects. We recommend starting by consuming under 200mg Caffeine in pre workout supplements, to test your tolerance safely.
However, it’s worth noting that you need to consume more L-Theanine than Caffeine for it to work.
The final ingredient on our list, but equally as effective as the others at improving your performance in the gym.
L-Carnitine is a compound that’s plays an important role in energy metabolism. It’s both produced by your body, and can be consumed through foods in smaller amounts.
How does it work?
We mentioned that L-Carnitine is involved in energy metabolism; this means that it can help to increase your focus and alertness in the gym, while reducing fatigue and muscular damage .
This will help you feel less sore between workouts, and allow you to train more frequently in peak condition.
Although you can consume L-Carnitine through foods, it’ll be difficult to intake an optimal dosage this way.
As a result, the most efficient way to consume an effective dosage of L-Carnitine is through a supplement, such as a pre-workout.
In numerous studies, the optimal dosage of L-Carnitine has shown to be between 500mg-1,000mg per serving.
See SpotMeBro’s – Top 10 Pre Workouts Here –
Anything To Avoid?
Let’s face it, no-one wants to suffer from side effects. And the best way to stay safe from them is knowing which nutrients to stay away from.
For this reason, we’ll list the top 3 things that you should avoid, to ensure you experience the benefits without any itchy, tingly skin or jitters.
Take a look:
Personally, we hate proprietary blends. They’re one of the biggest gimmicks in the industry, allowing companies to hide ineffective dosages of nutrients inside their products.
Not only that, they become potentially dangerous when caffeine is hidden inside them. As you won’t know the exact dosage inside, this can lead to jitters and energy crashes.
As a general rule, we always recommend you to consume under 200mg caffeine per serving in pre workout supplements. But when companies use proprietary blends, you’ll never know whether you’re staying under this limit.
Yohimbe & Bitter Orange Extract
These are 2 nutrients that you should definitely watch out for.
Basically, when Yohimbine and Synephrine were banned from use in supplements, Yohimbe & Bitter Orange Extract became their direct replacements; similar in structure, they pass through the legal loophole and are still added by companies.
However, due to both causing harmful side effects, we won’t be surprised to hear they’ve been banned in the near future.
Not even that, both of these ingredients’ benefits are promoting fat loss. Although a pre workout should help you work towards your fitness goals, they’re not designed to promote fat directly.
If you’re sole aim is to lose body fat, then a fat burner supplement will be more useful to you.
We admit that this is actually a very controversial addition to this list.
Why? Because Beta-Alanine has proven to enhance your muscular endurance, making it a beneficial addition to any pre workout.
However, if you’ve ever had itchy or tingly skin after taking a pre workout, then it’s also because it contained Beta-Alanine.
Simply put, studies have shown that this compound causes paresthesia (itchy & tingly skin) . And you can’t ignore this fact.
We’ve heard many people complain about this side effect, and we consider it to be uncomfortable too.
So while Beta-Alanine can be beneficial, many have spoken about their dislike of the side effect it can cause.
Learn More About The – Side Effects of Pre Workouts Here
If you’ve read through this article, then we’ve given you the expert opinion on the best and worst pre workout ingredients available.
As a result, you’ll know which nutrients to look out for, and which ones to stay away from on your search for the best pre workout supplement.
But ultimately, no-one else can push your finger on the ‘buy now’ button for you. You are the one that makes your own decision, so follow our advice and you’ll be sure to choose an effective product that won’t make you feel itchy or tingly.
Good luck on your fitness journey, bro.
- Glenn J. M. Acute citrulline-malate supplementation improves maximal strength and anaerobic power in female, masters athletes tennis players. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016 Nov; 16(8): 1095-103
- Takashi S. Oral L-citrulline supplementation enhances cycling time trial performance in healthy trained men: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled 2-way crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016; 13: 6.
- Kelly S.P. L-theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. J Nutr. 2008 Aug; 138(8): 1572S-1577S.
- Sugino T. Effects of Citric Acid and L-Carnitine on Physical Fatigue. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2007 Nov; 41(3): 224-30.
- Qin Liu. Mechanisms of itch evoked by beta-alanine. J Neurosci. 2012 Oct 17; 32(42): 14532–14537.