Pre workout products are vital for many people to get the most out of their workout sessions. If you want to make the smart choice for determining the best pre workout product, you need to know what are the best pre workout ingredients for your supplements.
After years of trying an enormous variety of pre workout products, I can honestly tell you the ingredients I have included in my list are the real deal! Each of the pre workout ingredients I have put in my list help deliver results every single workout, as well as helping develop your body long-term as well!
In my opinion, the best pre workout ingredients are:
Keep reading below to find out more about each of the best pre workout ingredients, and why they should be in your pre workout product!
How to Choose the Best Pre Workout Ingredients for Your Needs
Pre-workout products are created and marketed each day, and are one of the most commonly used type of supplements in the world. Each pre-workout on the market has its own style or purpose for use, but they all have relatively the same concept in mind.
Although it may seem impossible to decide which pre-workout is better than other, there are some easy ways to find which product will fit your goals the best!
What is the Goal of a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Generally speaking, the idea of a pre-workout supplement is to provide you with a jolt of energy for your training session. However, each product does this differently.
Pre-Workout Products and Stimulants
One common way to provide a jolt of energy to your workouts is to load up on best pre workout ingredients such as caffeine anhydrous, a powerful stimulant.
Although this certainly will give you energy for a short amount of time, it can have you feeling jittery, nauseous, and make you “crash” drastically when the stimulant wears off.
What are Nootropics?
If you are thinking about using a pre workout supplement that is high in caffeine or other synthetic stimulants, it is wise to look for a product that is paired with L-Theanine as well.
Caffeine has been proven to improve mental alertness and cognitive function in clinical trials (and by anyone who has ever had a cup of coffee), and pairing caffeine with the effective nootropic L-Theanine has been shown to increase these benefits even more!
Nootropics, otherwise known as “smart drugs,” are substances that can improve cognitive processes, memory, focus, and behavior. They range from widely available ones such as caffeine (a stimulant) to prescription-only drugs that are primarily used by students in academically competitive colleges.
Nootropics are a special class of cognitive enhancing supplements that can be extremely effective for improving the quality of your workouts.
Simulant based pre-workouts are loved by many, but they are not all that more effective than a cup of coffee or two. Coffee actually has many natural benefits when compared with pre-workout products that are mainly based on using stimulants for energy!
If you have never tried Bulletproof Coffee before your training, I highly suggest you do!
As nootropics become more and more popular, it becomes imperative that users keep themselves informed and up-to-date about their qualities.
Here are ten things you need to know about these brain boosters.
1.) Not All Nootropics are Synthetically Produced
As stated above, nootropics can come from widely available and natural ingredients such as caffeine or the extract of Bacopa monnieri, while some nootropics are synthetically produced and are marketed as drugs.
People have already used naturally-produced nootropics to alter mental states for centuries, but the real dawn of nootropic usage was when Corneliu Grugea discovered the first modern nootropic: Piracetam.
2.) The Definition of Nootropics as Cognitive Enhancers Has Already Evolved
The limiting description of nootropics as cognitive enhancers is already fast-changing because of the discovery of new ingredients and different modes of action of the said substance.
As they skyrocket in popularity all around the world, any nutrient that is beneficial for the brain and the nervous system can already be considered a nootropic.
Today, at least 70 different substances are considered nootropics and they still maintain the original purpose of the substance which is to enhance cognitive function. Also, these substances can also slow down neurologic aging, strengthen stress resistance, enhance mood and creativity, and a lot more!
3.) They Keep Your Brain Tissue Healthy and Provide Nutritional Supplements to Your Nervous System
Nootropics provide Vitamins B6 and B12 which are essential for neurotransmitter production and protection of the nerves’ myelin sheaths. Neurotransmitters are chemicals needed for the transmission of a signal from one neuron (nerve cell) to another while myelin sheaths are fat insulators that speed up the electrical impulses (like the plastic sheath around electrical wires).
The combined effects of these two result in faster thinking, reaction time, and overall function of the nervous system. Also, nootropics increase the energy metabolism in the cells’ mitochondria by providing NADH and ALCAR (Acetyl L-Carnitine).
These substances can be used by the cell to produce more energy for the brain cells and possibly help with chronic fatigue syndrome.
4.) They Serve as Antioxidants for the Brain
The brain consumes 20% of the body’s energy, and so it’s also a site of high oxidative stress. The structures of the nervous system release byproducts after performing their several functions.
These byproducts (oxidants) are flushed away during sleep, but since not everyone gets enough of that, sleeping can’t get rid of all of them. These byproducts can accumulate and can cause serious problems as we age.
Some nootropics contain substances like pterostilbene, CoQ10, and PQQ which are antioxidants that can improve the micro-circulation in the brain as well as enhance neuroprotection.
5.) They Can Improve Brain Plasticity (Regeneration)
Nootropics can help repair damaged brain structures or even create new brain cells. Citicoline, an ingredient found in some nootropics, can boost neural membrane turnover.
Phosphatidylserine supports healthy brain cell membranes, and Lion’s Mane Mushroom can boost nerve growth factor which can increase the production of new neurons.
6.) Nootropic Supplements Increase Cerebral Blood Supply
The blood circulation to the brain makes delivery of oxygen and nutrients as well as the clearing up of byproducts possible. Increasing the blood supply can, therefore, result in more nutrient and oxygen availability for the cells of the nervous system.
Ginkgo biloba and Vinpocetine are some nootropics that can increase cerebral blood flow and improve memory.
7.) Nootropics Modulate Your Brain Waves Which Help with Focus and Creativity
Brain waves are pulses of electrical activity in the brain. There are different kinds of brain waves depending on wakefulness and brain processes. Alpha wave, for instance, is the resting state of the brain.
It aids in mental coordination, calmness, alertness, and is dominant during meditative states.
Some nootropics have powerful alpha-brain wave modulators that help with mental processing and attention.
8.) They Can Even Help You Manage Stress
Nootropics can help replenish the chemicals that are drained by stress. They promote adaptogenic activities that increase balanced stress responses and help with mood balance and cognition under stress.
Rhodiola, a legendary Russian adaptogen, blunts hormonal responses to stress while L-Tyrosine, the ultimate anti-stress nootropic, replenishes stress-depleted brain chemicals collectively known as catecholamines (dopamine and adrenaline).
9.) There Isn’t a Specific Type of Nootropic for Every Need
As there are several ingredients and modes of action mentioned in this article, it’s needless to say that there is no be-all and end-all nootropics for all needs. You must be careful and check the ingredients found in your nootropic drug to make sure that it will address your specific needs.
10.) Nootropics Have Less Serious Side-Effects Than You Believe
Since nootropics are used for ‘enhancement’ and not to ‘cure,’ they have relatively fewer side effects than a traditional Western drug. Most nootropics are side-effect free, and only a few nootropics have mild side-effects.
The usual side-effects of these outliers are headaches, insomnia, fatigue, nausea, and stomach issues. Overall, nootropics are an excellent alternative for adderall and other prescription medications for focus.
If you’re interested in trying nootropics, always consult your physician first.
Pre-Workout Products and “The Pump!”
Another way that pre-workout products can separate themselves from those based solely on the use of stimulants is to add products that will improve “the pump” (increase blood flow and circulation during training).
Citrulline malate is absolutely the best product for this, and it has been repeatedly proven to improve your endurance during training, as well as help you recover and build muscle more quickly.
Personally, I have made citrulline malate (or L-Citrulline supplements) a staple in my diet for years!
Combining a citrulline malate supplement with an effective amount of stimulants, and nootropics, is an easy way to make an excellent pre-workout product.
Pre-Workout Products and Carbohydrates
Some pre-workout products choose to add sugar or other forms of carbohydrates as well, for more sustained energy.
This can be an effective strategy, especially since caffeine and carbohydrates generally work synergistically for mental stimulation.
Although I would not consider carbohydrates to be especially necessary because you should be eating an adequate amount of carbohydrates in your pre-training meal, they can definitely be an effective addition!
Since you now understand how to choose a pre workout product, check out these specific pre workout ingredients that you want in your pre workout product!
The 5 Best Pre Workout Ingredients
In my opinion, they 5 best pre workout ingredients are:
1.) Citrulline Malate
No pre workout product is complete without citrulline malate. If you see a pre workout without this ingredient, don’t waste your money!
Citrulline malate is one of the few dietary supplements which has clinical research to verify its benefits.
In fact, multiple studies have proven the benefits of citrulline malate for improving workout performance.
According to one study produced in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning,
“We conclude that the use of CM might be useful to increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post-exercise muscle soreness. Thus, athletes undergoing intensive preparation involving a high level of training or in competitive events might profit from CM.”
When you use citrulline malate before your workouts, you will notice benefits such as:
- More Muscle Endurance
- Less Muscle Soreness Post-Workout
- Increased Work Capacity
- A Bigger Muscle “Pump”
I suggest that you look for a pre workout product which contains about 3-6 grams of citrulline malate.
2.) Beta Alanine
Another clinically researched ingredient is beta alanine, and this is an even lesser-known pre workout supplement ingredient.
The primary role of beta alanine is to improve your workout capacity. Beta alanine works by creating a buffer that slows down the build up of lactic acid, helping your muscles perform normally for longer.
According to a study produced in The Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine,
“Supplementation with β-alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine content and therefore total muscle buffer capacity, with the potential to elicit improvements in physical performance during high-intensity exercise. Studies on β-alanine supplementation and exercise performance have demonstrated improvements in performance during multiple bouts of high-intensity exercise and in single bouts of exercise lasting more than 60 s.”
For beta alanine, the best possible dosage is ~3.2grams per day, taken over the course of small dosages throughout the day. Personally, I have found the best results when I can take 4 doses of 800mg of beta alanine per day.
Beta alanine also works synergistically with creatine monohydrate, one of the other top pre workout ingredients on my list!
3.) Creatine Monohydrate
Of all the pre workout product ingredients, creatine monohydrate is probably the most well-known. Creatine monohydrate is another workout capacity enhancer, and it also plays a tremendous role in helping you build more lean muscle mass.
The main role of creatine monohydrate is to draw more water into your cells, which provides you with greater strength and endurance overall.
If you are only getting your creatine monohydrate in your daily pre workout product, your pre workout should include at least 5 grams of creatine monohydrate.
However, some people prefer to begin with a “loading” phase of up to 25 grams of creatine monohydrate per day for the first week.
According to one study produced in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association,
“One week of creatine supplementation (25 g/day) enhances muscular performance during repeated sets of bench press and jump squat exercise.”
Although there are other forms of creatine, I only use creatine monohydrate because it is well-researched and effective.
Although there are some stimulant-free pre workout products for people who are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants, caffeine is one of the best pre workout ingredients.
Benefits of caffeine include:
- Improving Mental Focus and Concentration
- Increasing Motivation and Desire to Workout
- Improving Work Capacity
- Stimulating Your Metabolism
- Increasing Overall Strength
Many people who don’t drink pre workout products even use caffeine separately, whether it is from their daily coffee, tea, or somewhere else.
According to a study produced in Sports Medicine,
“The hypoalgesic effects of caffeine have resulted in dampened pain perception and blunted perceived exertion during exercise. This could potentially have favorable effects on negating decreased firing rates of motor units and possibly produce a more sustainable and forceful muscle contraction.”
Although caffeine can improve your workout performance, it can also cause many side effects if taken in excess. Many people are comfortable with around 100mg of caffeine, and exceeding this amount can cause jitters, nausea, and many other uncomfortable side effects.
Although branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are not in every pre workout product, they should be!
BCAAs are vital to your pre workout supplement because they provide your body with easily accessible sustained energy. BCAAs provide quick fuel for your muscles, while also providing a lasting fuel source for your body overall. Drinking BCAAs before your workout will help improve your muscle recovery time and also help you train more intensely without becoming fatigued.
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,
“Research on branched chain amino acids (BCAA) has concluded that supplementation can result in increased protein synthesis and additional lean body mass in multiple populations. BCAA have also been shown to improve muscular strength as well as an increase thigh mass. Muscle damage has been markedly reduced after exercise and BCAA supplementation. Intake of BCAA, and leucine in particular, can create an anabolic environment by reducing protein oxidation and promoting sarcomerogenesis in skeletal muscle. The inclusion of BCAA before or after an exercise session will help the body maintain a positive nitrogen balance and support muscle growth.”
I suggest that you drink between 5 and 10 grams of BCAAs before your workout, so try to find a pre workout product which includes this much!
Concluding Thoughts – Best Pre-Workout Ingredients
If your pre workout product doesn’t contain the best pre workout ingredients, you are probably wasting your time, effort, and money!
The reason I chose these five ingredients is that they all have research studies which prove their effectiveness. Unlike other pre workout ingredients, these ingredients will actually improve your training sessions!