If you tend to get tired midway through your workout, a pre-workout supplement might be the what you are looking for. The sole purpose of these supplements is to give you an extra energy boost so you can lift harder and do it more often. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? That’s why you’ll find racks and racks of pre-workout supplements (PWOs) at nutrition stores – but hang on a minute; that doesn’t mean you should take them. You might recall this article about 20 of the best things to eat before working out. Well this is sort of a follow-up, but more focused natural alternatives to energy boosting PWO’s. You should also make sure to read our post on the best pre-workout supplements.
The fact is that some commercial pre workout supplements have been banned in a number of countries for containing chemicals that (while they give you a boost) could cause long term harm. Sure a lot of them actually work. You may be bouncing off the walls after popping some PWO and actually get a good energy boost. However, lots of people also note they feel weird side effects. Some of which are nothing but irritating, while others can be truly severe.
Because of this some people prefer to keep things natural, or as an alternative, make their own PWOs, and that way know the exact ingredient profile of the pre-workout. People who go about it this way don’t have to worry about vasoconstriction, fibrillation, and a number of other (side)effects. If you’d rather keep things natural, here are a few PWOs to consider.
Caffeine is the big one. It’s a major component of most commercial PWOs, but it works great on its own. You’ll definitely feel the effects, even if all you do is have some coffee — though you can get caffeine supplements too. Caffeine both helps bring you extra energy and helps stimulate the brain, so you get more power and better concentration.
Lab studies have repeatedly shown that caffeine improves sports performance in both intensity and endurance. Provided you take it in moderation, according to exercise physiologist Dr. Larry Armstrong, you should not experience dehydration. Of course, some people do experience a negative reaction to caffeine, so try it in small amounts if you have not used it before.
Beta alanine is the only naturally occurring beta-type amino acid. It is not the same thing as ordinary alanine. Instead, beta alanine is a carnosine precursor. The amount of beta alanine you have in your system determines how much carnosine will be made for your muscles. Why is this important? With more carnosine, your muscles can work longer and harder.
You cannot just supplement with carnonsine, because that will be broken down by the body. Instead, taking beta alanine over a few months allows you to boost your carnosine levels as much as 80%, in turn drastically increasing the amount of work your muscles can do.
So far research suggests that beta alananine is completely safe, though there have not been long-term studies. Stacking it with creatine seems to work well, and experts recommend taking 3-5g of beta alanine per day. It is not technically a PWO — like creatine, you can take it at any time of day, as long as you take it regularly.
Green tea contains less caffeine (15mg) than coffee (150mg) but it contains something very important – powerful antioxidants. While not everyone will feel a “kick” from green tea, studies have repeatedly shown that green tea before a workout improves your performance. It also helps you lose the fat, too.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Here’s a more obscure one. Apple cider vinegar is jammed with very nutritious vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and pro-biotics; in many respects it’s nature’s own energy drink. Add a tablespoon of it to a glass of water before you work out for an energy boost without the “jittery” downsides of caffeine and the like. Add honey and lemon for a bigger boost and a better taste. (Some people swear by honey alone as a PWO.)
Kombucha is an ancient energy booster that you’ll find in health food shops, sold in glass bottles. Regularly drinking kombucha has been shown to increase feelings of physical energy. After a few months of drinking it, many people report actually feeling younger. Why? This fermented tea is jammed with antioxidants and probiotics; it’s one of the healthiest things you can drink.
Okay so maybe thee natural pre workouts won’t give you a kick the popular DMAA, AMP Citrate or ephedrine, but you will also stay clear of any possible side effects from the 3 mentioned supplements.
Now its over to you. What is your favorite natural pre workout?