With an increasing number of people looking to get into shape, pre-workout supplements and energy drinks have gained widespread popularity. No wonder, leading sports nutrition brands have flooded the market with formulations that claim to enhance the body’s response mechanism during exercise.
However, certain people do not like these supplement-ridden drinks as they may induce side effects like headaches, digestive upset, etc. In this blog post, we will share 5 pre-workout alternatives you can consider before a workout.
Potential Side Effects of Pre-workout
According to a study, the primary ingredients that go into making a pre-workout drink include essentials like:
- Amino acids
- Vasodilators, including nitrates and L-arginine
Together, these elements are known to enhance power, stamina and endurance. However, some of these ingredients are stimulants which can cause stomach distress and associated discomfort. Many people who have just begun working out might also notice issues like digestive upset, dizziness and headaches.
Fret not though! We will share some of the best pre-workout alternatives that are not only affordable, but will also show great results over the long term.
Did you know? Experts say that you should drink about 50% of your body weight in ounces of water if you are sedentary, while active people should drink about 75% to boost exercise performance.
Top 10 Pre-workout Alternatives
Coconut water is an excellent alternative to pre-workout beverages as it is naturally packed with electrolytes, potassium, and magnesium. The natural sugars in coconut water can boost energy while working out and help replenish your body’s fluids after an intense workout.
This means it can help you stay hydrated during physical activity and reduce fatigue by replacing lost electrolytes. Coconut water also has several other beneficial nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, which can help improve physical performance by aiding muscle contraction.
Additionally, its high potassium content helps maintain a proper heart rhythm during exercise. All of these factors make coconut water an excellent pre-workout drink for athletes or anyone looking to stay energized during physical activity.
Kombucha is a lightly carbonated drink that contains probiotics which are beneficial bacteria that can help improve digestion and gut health. Drinking kombucha before a workout may increase your energy levels, helping you power through your exercise routine.
Click here for an easy guide on how to make kombucha tea at home.
Green tea is a great pre-workout alternative. The antioxidants in green tea can help keep you healthy and energized during exercise.
Studies have found that participants who drank green tea prior to a workout experienced improved fat oxidation, enhanced metabolism, and greater physical performance than those who did not consume the beverage.
Additionally, green tea has been found to be effective in reducing perceived exertion during workouts, meaning that the effort expended feels less strenuous and requires less energy. As a result, physical performance can be improved with regular consumption of green tea prior to exercise.
Watermelon juice is rich in citrulline, which helps improve circulation and can help increase energy levels. The natural sugars in watermelon juice can give you a boost of energy before your workout, making it an excellent pre-workout beverage.
Almond milk is a great pre-workout beverage as it contains protein and healthier fats. These nutrients can provide more sustained energy throughout your workout, unlike the quick spike of sugar found in some pre-workout beverages.
It is low in calories, but still provides essential nutrients that can help fuel your body. The healthy fats from almond milk provide you with sustained energy, while the calcium and vitamins A, D, and E found in the milk help to strengthen bones, promote muscle health, and aid in cardiovascular functioning.
Fruit smoothies are a great way to get all the vitamins and minerals you need before a workout without taking supplements or other drinks. Fruits provide natural sugars and carbohydrates, giving you energy during a workout.
Furthermore, since fruits themselves have a lot of water, this is a good way to stay hydrated without feeling like you consumed something too heavy. This is particularly helpful for people with diabetes.
Beets are packed with nitrates, which research shows can make exercise feel easier by improving performance. Drinking beet juice before a workout can help improve your endurance and help you get the most out of your training session.
It can also increase your oxygen utilization, which in turn helps you work out for a longer period of time and at a higher intensity. All of these effects combined make drinking beet juice an ideal pre-workout beverage.
Coffee is a great pre-workout alternative as it can provide you with an energy boost. The caffeine in coffee can help improve mental focus and alertness, giving you the motivation to crush your workout.
It also increases adrenaline production, which can help you push yourself further during workouts. Additionally, caffeine can act as an appetite suppressant, so it might help you resist the temptation of unhealthy snacks before and after workouts.
Finally, it may help reduce perceived exertion during exercise, meaning that your workout will actually feel less intense than it would without coffee.
Tip: Consume 1-2 cups of coffee just an hour before your workout and you will notice higher than usual levels of energy throughout the session.
Bone broth is rich in essential minerals that can help replenish electrolyte levels before or after a workout. The proteins in bone broth can also help repair and build muscle.
Here are some of our recommendations.
Protein shakes are a great way to get the nutrition you need before or after a workout. They help you put on lean body mass while stimulating muscle protein synthesis as well. The proteins in protein shakes can help repair and rebuild muscle tissue, as well as provide essential amino acids for energy.
It also helps to reduce levels of cortisol—a hormone released during exercise that can cause muscle breakdown. Eating the right type of protein pre-workout can also ensure your muscles have sufficient energy reserves to last through the duration of physical activity.
Additionally, protein provides essential nutrients and can help to preserve muscle glycogen stores, which are carbohydrates stored in your muscles that supply energy during exercise.
Bonus: Best Pre-workouts for Beginners
Transparent Labs Preseries Bulk
Recommended for : Muscle Mass Gain
Particularly known for its workout supplement formulations, Transparent Labs Preseries Bulk sure is a vegan’s delight.
Infused with 19 active ingredients to boost muscle mass, it comes in an array of flavors like orange, strawberry lemonade, and blue raspberry and doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners, dyes and flavors. Due to its high caffeine content, this product does not suit children or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- What’s good: Gluten free, no artificial sweeteners or preservatives used.
- What’s bad: The product is rich in caffeine which is not a very good option for pregnant women or when one is breastfeeding children.
MyProtein THE Pre-Workout
Recommended for : High-intensity workouts
As a sports nutrition and clothing company, MyProtein’s THE Pre-Workout is another great gluten-free and vegan pre-workout drink. Besides other components like Beta-alanine, L-citrulline, caffeine and Theacrine, it also includes creatine to build stamina for high intensity exercise.
This pre-workout drink comes in different flavors like watermelon, blue raspberry, mango and pineapple which are outright vegan options. There’s also black cherry vanilla that contains milk.
- What’s Good: Good gluten free product for vegans
- What’s Bad: Contains artificial flavors
NutraBio Pre Workout Stim-Free
Recommended for : Individuals who prefer a stimulant-free formula
NutraBio is a trusted name in the sports supplements industry that caters to specific goals of an individual. From gaining or losing weight to boosting body immunity, NutraBio has a specific formula depending upon the need.
As the name suggests, NutraBio Pre Workout Stim-Free is free from stimulants of any kind. The product packs 15 different ingredients that together contribute to boost endurance and strength of an individual.
As a vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-genetically modified (GMO) product, NutraBio is specially formulated to lessen the chances of an allergic reaction. NutraBio Pre Workout Stim-Free has two flavors to choose from namely watermelon and dragon fruit candy.
- What’s good: Unlike the majority of pre-workout drinks, this is a caffeine free formula which makes it suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- What’s bad: Has fewer servings to offer per bottle compared to other pre-workout drinks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are pre-workout drinks really effective to consume before workout?
Yes! They are, especially if you are someone who is into heavy intensity or high impact training. However, you must make it a point to not rely on the pre-workout formulation alone and top it up with enough water both pre and post workout. That way, you can also help prevent dehydration.
Do pre-workout drinks carry side effects?
Going by the fact sheet released by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, over-consumption of pre-workout drinks can lead to serious side effects like high blood pressure, anxiety, dehydration, and cardiac issues as well. For formulations that rely heavily on sugar, it can also lead to insulin resistance and diabetes in some people.
My pre-workout drink makes me dizzy at times. What should I do?
Usually, dizziness after consuming a pre-workout drink suggests intake of too much caffeine. If your chosen pre-workout supplement is leaving you dizzy, you must stop consuming it at once and get in touch with your healthcare professional. You might be advised to switch to another formulation that contains less or no caffeine. Also, maintain a good level of water intake.
By switching up your pre-workout beverage, you can maximize the benefits of exercise and help your body better respond to training. With these alternatives to pre-workout drinks, you can easily get the fuel you need for a great workout.
Thanks for reading!