We all know that exercise is important. Yet, it can be tricky to muster up the energy. It’s even harder after a long day at work.
So, you might be considering pre-workout supplements. These drinks and powders are designed to help you power through a workout. Seems easy enough, right?
Not necessarily. Pre-workout supplements can have a negative outcome on your health. Before taking them, learn about these five side effects of pre-workout supplements.
1. Sleep Troubles
Pre-workout supplements will give you a burst of energy. You can thank caffeine for that!
Yes, it’ll fuel exercise. But it can also mess with your sleep. Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you sleepy when it binds to receptors.
Since caffeine looks like adenosine, the receptors can’t tell the difference. The buildup of adenosine keeps you wide awake. It might help in the moment, but this side effect may continue after exercise.
If so, it’ll disrupt your circadian rhythm and sleeping
2. Digestive Problems
The caffeine in pre-workout supplements will also affect your digestion. It stimulates the colon, which can mimic unpleasant symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.2 And if you’re prone to acid reflux, caffeine can make it worse.3
Plus, many pre-workout drinks and powders contain herbs. If your stomach doesn’t agree, diarrhea or gas is possible.
Does your head feel like it’s about to split in two? It might be arginine, a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements.4
This amino acid is known for opening up blood vessels. It can even reduce blood pressure!5 Normally, this is a positive side effect, but it can spark a migraine if you’re prone to headaches.
In fact, high levels of arginine are linked to chronic daily headaches.6 If you’re having frequent headaches, look for a different supplement or stop taking it completely.
4. Tingling Sensations
B vitamins help the body make energy. No wonder they’re often used in pre-workout supplements! Companies can easily advertise a seemingly safe and natural ingredient.
Unfortunately, taking too much will cause tingling. This is because B vitamins, like niacin and vitamin B6 control the nervous system.7 A high intake from pre-workout supplements can lead to strange tingling.8
5. Flushed Skin
If your pre-workout supplement has niacin, flushed skin is possible. This side effect is called “niacin flush.” Your skin might look red and feel like it’s burning.
In large amounts, niacin activates inflammatory fatty
To avoid these negative side effects, consider more natural approaches. Get enough sleep to recharge your body. Practice stress management, and always warm up before a workout.10
|↑1||Urry, Emily, and Hans-Peter Landolt. “Adenosine, caffeine, and performance: From cognitive neuroscience of sleep to sleep pharmacogenetics.” In Sleep, Neuronal Plasticity and Brain Function, pp. 331-366. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2014.|
|↑2||Mearin, Fermin, Enrique Pena, and Agustin Balboa. “Importance of diet in irritable bowel syndrome.” Gastroenterologia y hepatologia 37, no. 5 (2014): 302-310.|
|↑3||J. Boekema, M. Samsom, GP van Berge Henegouwen, AJPM Smout, P. “Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction: a review.” Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 34, no. 230 (1999): 35-39.|
|↑4||Gonzalez, Adam M., Allyson L. Walsh, Nicholas A. Ratamess, Jie Kang, and Jay R. Hoffman. “Effect of a pre-workout energy supplement on acute multi-joint resistance exercise.” J Sports Sci Med 10, no. 2 (2011): 261-6.|
|↑5||Jennings, Amy, Alex MacGregor, Ailsa Welch, Phil Chowienczyk, Tim Spector, and Aedín Cassidy. “Amino Acid Intake Is Inversely Associated with Arterial Stiffness and Central Blood Pressure in Women.” The Journal of nutrition (2015): jn214700.|
|↑6|| Sarchielli, Paola, Andrea Alberti, Ardesio Floridi, and Virgilio Gallai. “L-Arginine/nitric oxide pathway in chronic tension-type headache: relation with serotonin content and secretion and glutamate content.” Journal of the neurological sciences 198, no. 1 (2002):
|↑7||Vitamin B3 (Niacin). University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑8||Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑9||Kamanna, V. S., S. H. Ganji, and M. L. Kashyap. “The mechanism and mitigation of niacin‐induced flushing.” International journal of clinical practice 63, no. 9 (2009): 1369-1377.|
|↑10||9 tips to boost your energy – naturally. Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School.|