In the fitness industry today, we are constantly trying to find ways to make gains, be at peak performance levels every day, and keep our declining energy levels on the up and up. That is why energy drinks and preworkout supplements are so incredibly common in the sports nutrition industry.
Unfortunately, many people who use preworkout and energy supplements never read past the first two or three ingredients on the label. Tons of other people take them, so what could it hurt to take them too? Sure, there’s the chance you’ll have a massive heart attack due to all the unnatural chemical stimulants, but that’s a very rare occurrence. Right?
A few of the most common side effects of high stim pre-workout supplements include:
Not only are the desired effects of these supplements short-lived, but when taken on a regular basis they can zap your energy and shock your immune system with a heaping dose of toxins.
We have a simple solution: Read the labels on all supplements you are considering taking. When shopping for a preworkout, look for products with natural stimulants.
The following are a few non-addictive natural stimulants that are excellent for your preworkout nutrition due to their effect on your energy levels, muscle mass and overall health and wellbeing, without the negative short term and long term effects of most high stimulant preworkout supplements on the market today.
Caffeine, naturally found in coffee beans and tea leaves, is not only an excellent energy booster but is proven to boost your metabolism and stimulate fat breakdown.
Caffeine increases levels of adrenaline in the blood . Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone that gets our body ready for intense physical activity, even if it is a grueling CrossFit session.
In addition, caffeine stimulates your nervous system, allowing it to send signals to your fat cells to break down fat to free fatty acids in the blood . These fatty acids are now available as fuel for your workouts .
Numerous studies have indicated that caffeine can boost metabolic rate by a whopping 3 to 11% on average .
Research also shows that caffeine can have specific effects on certain groups of people, and increase fat breakdown by 10% among obese people and 29% among lean individuals .
Not surprisingly, caffeine can improve your physical performance by an average of 11 to 12%, making it an excellent natural preworkout stimulant .
L-citrulline is a nonessential alpha amino acid that is naturally made in the body. It can also be obtained from dietary sources such as watermelon, onions, garlic, chickpeas, fish, meat, nuts and dark chocolate.
According to research, L-citrulline increases the production of nitric oxide in the body and stimulates the production of more ATP – a molecule that your body uses for energy.
In addition, it also reduced lactic acid and ammonia buildup and supports phosphocreatine recovery. All of these effects are surefire ways of improving exercise performance, inhibiting fatigue and soreness, boosting recovery time and scoring major gains in the gym .
To prove this, two double-blind randomized trials were performed in 2015 using 25 trained female weightlifters of 20-26 years of age to test the effects of 8g doses of CM and 8g doses of dextrose as the placebo agent .
Supplements were administered one hour before exertion, where they performed 6 sets of bench presses and 6 sets of leg presses until failure at 80 percent of each person’s one rep maximums.
With each set, heart rate, rating or perceived exertion (RPE) and number of reps were recorded. Results showed that participants had decreased RPE and enhanced performance in both, lower and upper body workouts with no significant effect on heart rate.
Creatine increases the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles . Phosphocreatine aids in the production of ATP, which is broken down during exertion for energy.
Unfortunately, you use ATP faster than your body produces it again, greatly limiting your body from performing at its optimum intensity. However, taking creatine before your workout can massively increase phosphocreatine stores in the body, thereby allowing the body to manufacture more ATP to fuel high intensity workouts .
Creatine is also a widely used supplement for enhancing muscle mass. It changes several cellular pathways responsible for new muscle growth, such as increasing the production of proteins that form new muscle fibers .
Furthermore, creatine increases levels of IGF-1 in the body and stimulates the Akt/PKB pathway that signal the body to build more muscle .
Some studies also show that creatine can decrease myostatin levels in the body. Myostatin is a molecule that inhibits muscle growth. Reducing this by taking creatine can promote uninterrupted muscle gain .
The risks associated with taking energy drinks and unnatural performance enhancing drugs and stimulants are endless. In addition to the previously listed common side effects of high stim preworkouts, some common risks associated with their intake include nervousness and irritability, poor concentration, dehydration, addiction or tolerance, heart palpitations, hypertension, heart rhythm abnormalities and even stroke and heart attacks when taken long-term.
Do these products boost performance? Maybe. However, given their long-term effects, taking them is a risky business.
Fortunately, there are companies like Atomic Strength Nutrition who produce products like Apocalypse, a preworkout containing only natural stimulants, so you get the benefits you are looking for, without all the unwanted side effects.