More than three-quarters of Americans take some kind of supplement on a regular basis. Among those in the fitness community, some of the most popular supplements are pre- and post-workout products.
Have you been interested in trying these products out for yourself? Do you have questions about how they work or if they’re really necessary?
Read on to learn the basics of pre and post-workout supplements. You’ll also find out about the benefits they have to offer so you can decide for yourself if they’re worth taking.
Pre-workout supplements are an essential part of many gym-goers’ supplement stacks. There are tons of different pre-workout supplements on the market these days.
The majority of them are geared toward making you feel more energized. This, in turn, helps you perform your best during your training sessions.
How Do They Work?
Most pre-workout products contain some kind of ingredient (or sometimes a combination of ingredients) designed to get your body into a “fight or flight” mode. They stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, dilate the blood vessels to improve blood flow to the muscles and increase your heart rate. All of this causes you to feel more alert and energized when the time comes to begin training.
Caffeine is the most popular ingredient that causes these effects, and most pre-workouts are loaded with it. There are other ingredients that have similar effects without making you feel overly wired, though. Examples include beetroot juice or powder and amino acids like citrulline, arginine, and ornithine.
Most pre-workout supplements are carb- and calorie-free. There are some products on the market that do contain simple carbohydrates, though.
Carbohydrates are your body’s go-to energy source, especially when you’re performing a high-intensity form of exercise (a bootcamp class, an intense weightlifting session, a HIIT workout, etc.). Consuming some carbs before your workout will give you more energy and help you avoid feeling fatigued (both physically and from a cognitive perspective).
Do You Need Them?
There are lots of benefits that come with using a pre-workout supplement. The most obvious, of course, is that you will feel more energized during your workouts. If you exercise early in the morning, consuming a pre-workout drink or other product can help you get in the zone and get ready to tackle what your trainer has planned for you.
You can also use caffeine-free pre-workouts if you exercise in the afternoon or evening. These products will give you the energy boost you need after a long day at work, but they won’t keep you up all night.
“Pump-enhancing” pre-workouts, such as those that contain citrulline or beetroot juice, have added benefits as well. For example, they carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles in a more efficient way. In addition to giving you a “pumped up” look after your workout, they also can help you recover faster afterward.
Post-workout supplements, as the name suggests, are products that you consume once your workout is over. They’re often geared toward helping your body recover from the strain it experienced while you were training.
How Do They Work?
In addition to promoting faster recovery, post-workout supplements also aid in the muscle-building process. One of the most popular examples of a post-workout supplement is a protein shake.
Protein is an essential macronutrient, and it’s found in foods like meat, eggs, fish, and poultry. Getting all your protein from whole foods can be challenging, especially when you’re bulking and trying to put on size. Having a protein shake after your workout is an easy way to fit in more of this macronutrient.
There are lots of different types of protein shakes on the market these days. There are animal-based proteins like whey (a fast-digesting protein) and casein (a slow-digesting protein). You can also find plant-based options made from things like peas, hemp, and quinoa.
In addition to protein, some post-workout products also include ingredients like glutamine. Glutamine is said to help with muscle recovery. It may also minimize joint pain and soreness after a tough workout.
Some post-workout supplements contain electrolytes, too. You lose important electrolytes during your workouts, especially if you’re sweating a lot.
Consuming a supplement that contains magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium can help you replenish these stores. You can also avoid dehydration and the symptoms that accompany it, such as muscle cramps, fatigue, and headaches.
Do You Need Them?
Anyone can use post-workout supplements, but they’re particularly helpful to those who are looking to put on muscle or gain mass. A post-workout supplement can help you fill in gaps in your diet.
This is especially true when it comes to making sure you’re consuming enough protein. Your body needs protein to build muscle, and a post-workout shake will help you ensure you’re getting enough.
Post-workout supplements can also help you sleep more soundly at night. It’s when you’re asleep that your body produces the greatest amount of human growth hormone. This hormone is necessary for recovery and building muscle.
Remember, if you’re not sleeping well, you’re not going to see as significant effects from your workouts. You might also find yourself feeling sluggish in the gym and having a hard time pushing yourself as far as you have in the past (even if you’re using a pre-workout supplement beforehand).
When you take post-workout supplements on a regular basis, you’ll likely find that you have an easier time putting on muscle and gaining strength. They can also boost your immune system, minimize delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS), and improve your body’s bone mass.
Fulfill All Your Supplement Needs Today
Now that you know more about the ins and outs of pre- and post-workout supplements, what do you think? Do you want to make them part of your routine?
Keep this information in mind as you begin shopping for supplements. Don’t forget to check out the products in our online store, too.
We have lots of options available. It doesn’t matter if you want to feel energized during your workouts or want to speed up the recovery process once your training is complete. We’ve got you covered.