Last Updated on October, 2023
I had already wasted a good amount of pre-workout when accusing them of being fraudulent. Where was the effect? But, one single question from my trainer opened my eyes.
“Are you taking them at the right time?”
That got me thinking, and suddenly I felt like an idiot. How did I miss that?
So, I found EVERYTHING one needs to know about timing the pre workout. You won’t make a costly and severe mistake if you read everything to the end.
What Are Pre Workout Supplements (PWS) Exactly?
A pre workout supplement is a multi-ingredient dietary supplement that is ALWAYS consumed before a training session. Most of the PWS products come in powder form. But, pills and even food types can play a part in PWS.
However, by weighing the pros and cons, powders are the best type. The comparison below makes it evident.
The ingredients in a pre workout powder are quite diverse, and they have their own roles to play. Some of these are caffeine, beta alanine, and BCAA (branched chain amino acids). It also has creatine (in most PWS products), L-Citrulline, L-Glutamine, Vitamin B, and more.
Moreover, there are two main types of pre workout; ones with stimulants (stim) and ones that do not have any stimulants (non-stim).
Primary Purpose of Pre Workouts
Pre workout supplements are consumed to increase energy, increase focus, and boost strength for the upcoming training sessions. How does this happen? That can be explained by analyzing common pre workout ingredients.
Let us assume that you consumed the ingredients in a pre-workout separately; the functionality of the same ingredient in a PWS will always be better, rather than consuming directly. This study proves it.
But, the effectiveness of taking a pre workout ALWAYS depends on timing it right.
So, let’s move to the big question; how do you get the timing right?
The Big Question: When Exactly Should You Take Your Pre Workout?
Timing is everything with fitness supplements. It’s such a big deal that even the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) stresses the importance of nutrient timing. So, if someone’s been telling you otherwise, they’re just keeping you away from fitness goals.
The absolute best time to take your pre workout is between 15-30 minutes before working out.
This was the finding of a 2019 study. This result is highly accurate since the experiment was done for 39 healthy adults to assess their sports performance.
So, there you have it.
But, here’s a crucial fact on timing your PWS. Let us assume you’re to do a high intensity exercise. Naturally, you need more energy. Does this mean you should consume more or take your pre workout 5 minutes before? No.
Because there are NO STUDIES that have proven anything remotely close to that. So, when in doubt, it’s better to avoid wasting your pre-work drinks.
How would ingredients in pre workouts work if you got the timing right?
How Each Ingredient Works When You Time it Right?
Each ingredient has unique ways how a body reacts to them. These reactions collectively help you finish a high intensity exercise quite conveniently.
Drinking coffee is a popular energy boost for the gym just as much as energy drinks; check this Reddit thread right here. But, it falls short as a pre workout product itself. Because you’ll miss the rest of the ingredients, although the caffeine in coffee won’t let you fall asleep. (1)
The caffeine content in a pre workout increases blood flow, and this gives the energy to build muscle mass while burning body fat. The increased blood flow also helps you to be healthy too.
Half life of caffeine in pre workouts tends to be 3-7 hours of ingestion. That’s more than enough to control perceived exertion from a tough workout.
BCAA (branched chain amino acids) contains 3 essential amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They basically comprise between 20% and 35% of your muscle tissue. In addition, muscle building and preventing muscle breakdown are up to these amino acids.
Related article: Difference between BCAAs and Pre-Workout
Beta alanine is an important amino acid for endurance events such as drop sets and CrossFit. But, beta alanine in a PWS is still as useful even if it was a tough schedule. That’s why most power athletes consume beta alanine one way or the other.
Because beta alanine delays muscle damage, more muscle power to you! I should also mention that this delayed muscle fatigue paves the way for muscle growth.
The half life of β-Alanine is found to be around 30 minutes. However, the tingly sensation only wears off after half an hour.
We can’t forget L-citrulline, which produces nitric oxide. Within the role of sports nutrition, a nitric oxide booster can expand your blood vessels. These belong to the ingredient type of vasodilators. But why is it important?
If you’re pursuing the goal of increasing lean body mass, your exercising schedule should be intense enough. That requires more strength. That strength is readily provided by the creatine in a pre workout. But, not all pre workout powders contain creatine in them; you should always double-check.
The purpose of PWS is to give an energy, focus, and strength boost for a limited period of time. But, if your PWS contains Vitamin B, it will build up your long-term metabolism and energy. So, PWS products with vitamin B stand out.
However, you won’t be able to receive the maximum benefits unless you get two more factors correctly. That’s what we’re going to discuss next.
How Much Pre Workout Supplement Should You Take?
Two main areas should be evaluated in achieving the best benefits of pre workout. They are such as:
- The correct amount
- The recommended time during the day
Let’s look at them one by one.
The Correct Amount
As I told you earlier, ingredients in a PWS can be consumed directly. Such components are coffee and creatine. First, let’s look at recommended individual doses for each element in typical pre workout formulas.
- BCAA: 5-10 grams per day, or around 3 grams if you weigh less than 70 kilos.
- Beta Alanine: 2-5 grams per day. (Higher doses may cause skin tingling.)
- Caffeine: Daily intake of around 400 mg
- Creatine: Up to 20 grams
- L-Citrulline: 3-6 grams might be sufficient although 15 grams is the healthy dose.
- L-Glutamine: Up to 14 grams per day
- Vitamin B: Around 2 micrograms. MICROgrams.
But, you purchase a pre workout for a reason; to consume all of the essential ingredients in the proper ratio. So, the recommended amount of pre workout is around just one scoop. In addition, you should not consume more than two scoops under 24 hours.
This brings up an important question; should I consume pre workout drinks every single time I exercise?
The earlier mentioned 2019 study had discovered the best time to take a pre workout. But, how frequently did the people involved in the study consume pre-workout? It was only 1-3 times per month.
So, it’s natural if you thought it was the frequency you should stick to; however, that’s untrue. This is because the adults who were tested in the 2019 study consumed a much higher dosage.
So, Where Does That Leave You?
Conclusion: It’s safer to consume one scoop per day per workout. But should you drink PWS every single day? Maybe you should start by drinking the supplement every other day.
The Recommended Time During the Day
Whether it is morning, afternoon, or even evening, it’s not a problem. But PWS products can cause insomnia, so it’s better not to take them before a night workout.
How to Take Pre Workout Correctly?
Mixing it with water is the best way to consume any pre workout. This dilution speeds up the absorption process because the water quickly travels into the body.
Does this mean you can mix pre workout with any other liquid too? Keep reading to find out.
Mistakes to Avoid When Taking Pre Workouts
Knowing what you should avoid is as important as knowing what to do. So, be sure to remember these mistakes to boost the benefits of a pre workout supplement.
Over Dilution or Under the Dilution of the Powder
Water is not just the best but also the only recommendable solvent for pre workouts. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t add too much or too little water. So, what’s the ideal about?
8-10 ounces is the optimum volume of water per scoop. But, some supplement brands have their recommendations. So, be sure to read the fine print.
Mixing Pre Workout With Energy Beverages or Milk
Dilution is necessary but definitely not with energy beverages or milk. Milk is high in fat and might make you feel a little lazy; that’s the exact opposite of what pre workouts do.
Energy drinks might be borderline okay with pre workout supplements with no stimulants. But why should you lose the opportunity to boost the exercise performance from the pre?
If you want to know the difference between energy drink & pre workout, check out this article.
Mixing the Powder the Night Before Exercising
A pre workout supplement (PWS) works alright for 10-12 hours after mixing. However, the strength of the PWS slowly drops because it’s not absorbed by the body. Since it doesn’t take that long, mixing the PWS before consuming it is best.
Taking Your Pre Workout on Full Stomach or Completely Empty Stomach
Exercising with a full stomach is a very unpleasant experience. But so is drinking a full cup of coffee on an empty stomach for an energy boost. Drinking your PWS empty stomach makes the absorption much more rapid. Having a small meal an hour before the workout is the BEST recommendable condition to take your PWS.
Repetitive Pws Intake for Night Workouts
Here’s the thing: finding time to work out with our work lives is hard. But, if you keep drinking PWS for every night workout, you’ll likely experience insomnia. That’s why having PWS every other day as a person who exercises at night is ideal.
How to Choose the Best Pre Workout?
There are a few measures to take when buying pre workout powder. They can be pinpointed as,
- Read the list of ingredients carefully; make sure the PWS has the necessary elements. Different pre workout supplements have different ingredients. But, the best pre workout supplements have all the required ingredients in the optimum amount.
- Find out the composition of ingredients in a scoop
- Make sure to look up product reviews; Reddit and Quora threads are better sources since it’s from people who actually use the products.
- Double-check for finer details when you’re buying online.
- Remember the gender compatibility of PWS since some are specifically manufactured just for women.
This is the path to filtering the best PWS. The more you dig in, the more areas you will find to assess your potential PWS product.
The Biggest Myth About Pre Workout Supplements
Heart attacks! Yes, that’s the biggest myth about PWS. But am I saying pre workouts don’t cause heart problems unconditionally? No.
The problem is none other than dry scooping, taking your PWS in powder form without mixing it with water. However, before discovering the problem, people thought that PWS caused heart complications anyway.
But, that was disproven in a 2022 study where it was found that dry scooping imposed cardiovascular and respiratory distress risks.
So, what’s the solution?
The solution is to take your PWS mixed with water in the ideal dosage. By doing that, you steer clear of the side effects of PWS and properly use.
Now you know everything you need to know about pre workout powders. Be sure to compare the difference you experience when you time your PWS. Once again, the right time to take your PWS is 15-30 minutes before exercising.
Did you like what you read? If so, be sure to share this wisdom with your gym buddies. That’s definitely going to power up your gym much more.
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