There is a great deal of debate surrounding whether or not pre-workout drinks can benefit an athlete’s training program. What most people don’t realize is that there are many different types of pre-workout products on the market today each having its own purpose and effects in helping the body achieve its goals during exercise. 

Many athletes use them as part of their daily nutrition routine, while others view them as more of a supplement than a meal replacement. There are even some who feel they do nothing but harm.

What Is Pre-Workout?

Let’s take a look at what pre-workouts actually are before we talk about how they work. Most people think of pre-workouts as something like protein shakes, which contain ingredients such as whey proteins that provide amino acids. 

Most pre-workouts consist of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other substances that aid in hydration as well as supporting bodily functions such as maintaining good health. Some may include amino acids, antioxidants, electrolytes, fatty acids, fiber, and essential oils. These are usually found in liquid form and mixed together in one container. 

The amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream so the muscles can be used during an intense workout. However, this doesn’t happen with every type of workout since not all activities require the same amount of energy expenditure. In order to prevent fatigue and burn off calories during your workout, it’s important to give your body the proper fuel. That’s where pre-workouts come in. 

Also known as post-workout recovery drinks or post-exercise rehydration beverages, these products are often marketed as being beneficial to athletes because they are able to replenish glycogen stores (energy) depleted through exercise and increase endurance levels by reducing muscle damage. 

Glycogen is basically glucose stored within cells so that the body has extra energy available when needed. It also helps maintain fluid balance and electrolyte levels. Pre-workouts are designed to deliver nutrients to the bloodstream quickly after exercising in order to replenish glycogen stores.

Next, let’s discuss what these products are made of and why they’re beneficial to athletes.

The Benefits Of Pre Workouts For Athletes

With everything discussed above, it’s easy to see why pre-workouts are popular among athletes. One thing that’s important to remember though is that no single product works the same way for everyone. Those who are looking to gain muscle mass should stick to those that contain adequate amounts of protein, while those who are interested in losing weight should stick to those that are lower in calorie content. Always check the label to ensure that the product meets your specific requirements.

Athletes have reported feeling less tired and experiencing improved stamina following a pre-workout. 

They also report that pre-workouts alleviate symptoms associated with overtraining syndrome. Overtraining occurs when athletes perform intense workouts multiple days per week, leading to injuries, illness, and poor performance. By giving the body a boost with a pre-workout, athletes are able to train harder and longer without suffering from overtraining syndrome. 

Finally, pre-workouts are convenient and portable. They can be carried in water bottles, backpacks, or gym bags and taken anywhere. 

You may have heard of something called “the Zone.” The Zone is a mental state achieved during exercise when the brain releases endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins are hormones produced naturally in our bodies that act as neurotransmitters. Dopamine is another hormone released naturally in the brain during exercise that creates feelings of pleasure and reward. 

When combining these two chemicals, the resulting mood is similar to that of meditation. People who experience the Zone during exercise report feeling relaxed energized and focused for up to 45 minutes afterward.

How Do You Take Them?

As mentioned previously, pre-workouts are designed to be taken right before going to work out. When taken 30 minutes before exercise, they allow the body to absorb key nutrients and replenish glycogen stores. Since they are high in sugar, they should never be consumed if you’ve been fasting due to skipping breakfast. Doing so might cause unpleasant side effects including nausea, diarrhea, headaches, dehydration, and low blood sugar. 

To avoid any complications, you should wait at least two hours before taking anything containing caffeine. Caffeine affects the central nervous system and causes increased heart rate and anxiety. It takes several hours for the effects to wear off and may make you feel jittery and anxious. If you are sensitive to caffeine, there are many low caffeine pre-workout supplements on the market.

While pre-workouts tend to contain higher concentrations of calories, they shouldn’t replace meals. Consuming too much food before bedtime can lead to overeating during sleep and disrupt normal sleeping patterns. Drinking a lot of fluids can sometimes mask hunger pangs, causing you to consume unnecessary calories. Before beginning any new diet regimen, consult your physician first. Your doctor will determine the best course of action based on your overall health needs and medical history.

Some brands of pre-workouts provide users with a chart showing recommended serving sizes per day. Remember, just as with foods, portion size does matter when it comes to pre-workouts. Taking too large a dose can result in digestive problems and an upset stomach.

Finally, most pre-workouts contain antioxidants, but you’ll want to read labels carefully to ensure that the product contains only natural sources of antioxidants. Products that list vitamin E as an ingredient should contain 95 percent pure alpha tocopherols — Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, but it can also slow wound healing. 

Antioxidants aren’t necessary during exercise unless you engage in extreme physical activity that leads to free radical formation. Free radicals are atoms missing electrons. Their presence means that oxygen molecules are damaged. Damage to cell membranes can lead to inflammation and cancerous tumors. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, preventing cellular damage and disease. Therefore, they should always be included in any pre-workout formula.

Can Pre-Workout Help With Weight Loss?

In addition to having a positive effect on athletic performance and health, pre-workouts also promote weight loss. Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight and you decide to go running on your lunch break instead of eating. If you were to eat healthy throughout the rest of the day, you would likely see better results from your run. 

Why? Because you wouldn’t need to worry about burning off excess calories from digestion, meaning you could focus on your workout without worrying about overeating. As far as their effectiveness goes, studies show that pre-workouts help reduces both muscle soreness and exhaustion caused by strenuous exercise.


Pre-workouts are useful for anyone looking for an extra boost of energy to get through workouts. They might be more beneficial for athletes who need extra power and endurance, but pre-workouts are also great supplements to add to a healthy diet, whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current physique. 

In fact, whether you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle, a healthy diet, and regular exercise is the best way to reach your fitness goals. A product that can help with both of these aspects is always a welcome addition.