Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements: How to Avoid Them

Pre-Workout Side Effects and how to avoid

Pre workout supplements are sports nutrition supplements marketed to increase the performance of your workout, give you more strength when performing the workout and thus claim to increase muscle growth and reduce body fat. What the supplement user is not told is the common side effects of pre-workout supplements. This article is brought to you by one of our expert personal trainers Denis Raynor who outlines some of the most common side effects of taking pre-workout supplements and how to avoid them should you wish to take them.

Generally, the first time you take a pre-workout supplement, you will an immense rush of energy. Dependent on the supplement, you might experience the purported benefits of taking them. You almost become reliant on these supplements for your workout and expect to feel that same rush when you use a pre-workout supplement. For some people, it almost gets to a point that unless you feel the same energy, tingly sensation, or mental focus, you might consider it a terrible product. Almost like a drug, you might go in search of a stronger product to experience the same feeling as your first time taking a pre-workout supplement.

Unfortunately, those who do take pre-workouts on a regular basis may encounter that these pre-workout supplements also have some drawbacks. In particular some common side effects of taking them. What we must outline is that pre-workout supplements are not for everyone. In fact, you don’t have to use them to achieve results in your workouts. And even worse, if pre-workout supplements are not used properly can have serious side effects to your overall health.
Here are some potential side effects and how to avoid them when it comes to pre-workout supplements.

Insomnia from preworkout supplements1) Insomnia

Here at Icon, we open until 12 pm weekdays, which gives our members who work late night shifts a chance to get a late night workout. Having worked all day, you might be tired and want to take a pre-workout supplement to improve the performance of that workout despite being tired. Unfortunately taking a pre-workout supplement before a night-time training session can lead you to all sort of trouble. It is very important to look at the ingredients contained in a pre-workout supplement before you decide to take it at certain time frames. Although all pre-workout supplements are not created equal, what you might find on the back might give you a good indication if the product is for you or not in this time frame.
Most pre-workout supplements are overpowered with caffeine. I’m not talking about a couple cups of coffee worth, this is anywhere from 200-400mg of caffeine per serving. So if taken at night, it could cause you to lay in bed staring at your ceiling.
Sure, the caffeine in the pre-workout supplements will help give you energy throughout your workout, but how can this be countered if you plan on getting a good night’s sleep? THE BIG QUESTION, How long do they last? Caffeine can last anywhere from 3-5 hours. With that being said, if you plan on Jumping into bed around 11 pm, you shouldn’t take your pre-workout supplements after 6 pm or they might affect your sleep.

What you might do to counter the effects of taking a pre-workout supplement late at night

Everyone metabolise caffeine at different rates, so in this instance, you might be able to get away with using your pre-workout supplements as late as 8 pm. However, if you metabolise it extremely slowly, you might still be feeling the effects of the stimulant from a lunchtime workout. You could also lower the dose/serving size of your pre-workout supplements so the effects aren’t as drastic as a full serving, which could allow it to exit your system faster.

diarrhea side effect of pre workout2) Diarrhea

Unfortunately, diarrhea happens with certain pre-workout supplements. This can happen for a number of reasons, but most people will find the issues raising from 2 areas.
The first area could be the specific ingredients used in the products that can have a laxative effect if you have a sensitive stomach that will send you to the toilet fairly quickly after consuming.
These ingredients include high dosages of the following: sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, taurine, arginine, Yohimbe, creatine, and caffeine. But more times than not, it comes down to how you use the product.
A problem in the supplement industry is that sometimes you have people creating pre-workout supplements without truly knowing how they work in the body and how they are absorbed.

Add more water to counter the effects pre-workout supplement diarrhoea

Adding more water. Many labels tell you to mix your powder with around 8 ounces of water and more times than not, this isn’t enough. As it has not been fully diluted, this can cause a paste to form in your gut which causes you to experience diarrhoea.
A simple fix to the above would be to use more water the next time you use your pre-workout supplements. If you pick up something new and find following the directions on the label had you running to the toilet, next time add more water.
I recommend that you drink water during your workout as well. If you drink water throughout the day, you might not even show any signs of gastrointestinal issues when following the directions. It’s truly a case by case basis.

Dehydration side effects of taking pre workout supplements3) Dehydration

Certain ingredients in pre-workout supplements can pull water and excrete it causing dehydration. Some ingredients are put in to do this on purpose (for instance if it has a blend to help with weight loss or included as a diuretic) while others, when consumed in high doses, can cause dehydration. Dehydration is also linked to headaches.
I always recommend people to consume water throughout the day, even when you aren’t thirsty. If you find after taking any pre-workout supplements that you are going to the toilet more than normal, be sure to replenish what is lost by grabbing some water absorbed.”

Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day.

When exercising, not only do you sweat and lose water, but the water being sent to your muscles, especially if creatine is present in the pre-workout supplements, it’s pulling water from other areas of the body to support those working muscles. This can cause dehydration depending on the volume intake of the supplement o the intensity of the workout.

Headache side effect of taking preworkout supplements4) Headaches

When your body becomes dehydrated, it can cause a headache. Water circulates around the brain creating a protective layer. When dehydration occurs, the fluid surrounding the brain gets thinner which can cause the brain to bump into the skull. This in itself can cause a headache.

Some pre-workout supplements have ingredients that help promote vasodilation (the muscle pump as its known). Many of these ingredients are forms of arginine, citrulline malate, or beta-alanine.
When vasodilation occurs, the blood vessels throughout your body expand, including the vessels in your head. This expansion can cause headaches.

Avoid headaches and be conservative with your servings

In order to minimise the effects, if you are getting headaches, you can either stay away from pre workouts that include vasodilators if you’re consistently getting a headache. You might find by lowering the Volume/serving size you are using to see if that changes anything. I would advise consuming water both before and after taking any pre-workout drinks.

High Blood Pressure as a result of pre-workout supplements5) High Blood Pressure

All stimulants increase your blood pressure. That’s the nature of the ingredient (such as caffeine). This can be the problem if you already have high blood pressure issues that you might not be aware of. Again, for that reason, I or our other Instructors at Icon Health Clubs would recommend consulting with your doctor before starting an exercise program or using any pre-workout supplements.

Take caution taking pre-workout supplements with HIIT

Pre workout supplements are often used in combination with High-intensity workouts (HIIT). What a lot of people might not realise is that high-intensity weight training or doing HIIT can increase your blood pressure. For most people post workout blood pressure levels can go back to normal, but during that timeframe even without the use of pre-workout supplements, your blood pressure can become elevated. If your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure, you should stay away from pre-workout supplements that have stimulants altogether.

Another note of caution to consider is that some pre-workout supplements may need some trial and error sessions taken to see what works for you. If a brand has samples of their pre-workout supplements that would be a great place to start to see how your body reacts to a specific product before paying in bulk.

tingling sensation from taking preworkout supplements6) Tingly or Prickly Sensations

A common side effect of many pre-workout supplements is a tingly or prickly sensation throughout your body. Everyone is different and it depends on your sensitivity to certain ingredients found in the pre-workout supplements. While a “side effect” it really isn’t anything to be worried about. If the pre-workout supplements contain ingredients such as niacin, beta-alanine, or vitamin B3, you’re more than likely going to get this sensation.
Many pre-workout supplements include niacin in a higher dose just for that very reason. They want you to feel something after taking their pre-workout supplements. It comes back to people equate something working if they can feel them. High dosages of niacin can also cause a flushing effect on the skin where it can become red, blotchy, and even itchy as if you have hives (but not as severe).

Preventing the Side Effect

The tingly and prickly sensations you get from some pre-workout supplements is harmless and nothing to be concerned about. Eventually, what you are feeling will subside and you’ll go back to feeling normal. The sensation is simply due to a reaction within the nervous system. If you aren’t interested in this particular side effect, it would be recommended that you stay away from pre-workout supplements that contain these ingredients. You can also isolate certain ingredients to stay away from as well. If you don’t like the flush of niacin, then find a product that doesn’t contain niacin. Or pay close attention to the grammes per serving of the above-mentioned ingredients and find a product with lower volumes or simply take less of the product per workout and see how your body reacts.

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