As you get older, you might realize that it is becoming harder and harder to reach your peaks during workouts.
Most people often turn to pre-workout supplements to give them that extra push and energy to complete their sets. Multiple studies show pre-workout supplements have the potential to improve performance and are relatively safe when not used for long periods.
But as they promise to boost your energy and give you that much-needed motivation, are they entirely safe?
Creatine, caffeine, amino acids and B vitamins are some of the common ingredients that make up most of these supplements. Used individually and in the right doses, they should be fine. But most supplements really are a combination of ingredients, some which haven’t been backed by research as safe.
These concoctions may result in any of these 12 strange side effects that might make you think twice about taking them.
Pre-Workout Supplements Dangers
1. Headaches and Migraines
Taking supplements with citrulline may cause headaches and migraines during or after your workout.
Citrulline works by increasing blood flow into the muscles, thus enabling you to build more muscles during strength training. This increased blood flow affects your brain, and you get headaches as a result.
2. Can Cause Nausea
Pre-workout supplements can induce nausea in some people. This happens if you generally have a sensitive stomach or as a reaction to one of the ingredients in the supplements.
It can be hard to pinpoint which ingredient specifically causes nausea because people react to them differently.
The supplements often come in the form of powder which you mix with water before taking. You can avoid feeling sick after workout by over-diluting them, even when the dosage says otherwise.
3. May Give You the Runs
Few things are worse than a runny stomach after a workout. Yet some of these workout supplements contain laxatives that will do just that. You need to take extra care to take the supplements in the right amounts to prevent this.
Take extra caution when taking supplements with magnesium, they have been shown to trigger diarrhea.
4. May Cause Skin Irritation
Some people experience flashes and skin irritation. This can be traced to the ingredient Niacin when taken in doses higher than 500mg.
This common ingredient may cause your skin to be red and itchy. The worst part of this ingredient, however, is that it prevents fat mobilization.
It is counterintuitive to take a supplement that prevents fat mobilization if you wish to burn fat in the first place.
If you have been experiencing skin discomfort, check the ingredients of the supplements and find out if they contain Niacin.
5. Can Induce Anxiety
While caffeine does result in better output during the exercise, in very high doses it can result in feelings of anxiety and restlessness.
Start with small portions of the supplement that contains caffeine and gradually increase it once you establish you do not react to it.
Different people react to caffeine differently, some have higher tolerance for it. You have to determine your own caffeine thresholds and measure out your supplements portions accordingly.
6. Linked to High Blood Pressure
These supplements contain caffeine and a host of other stimulants. Taking a combination of all those stimulants will not only cause high blood pressure according to this study, but can cause long-term heart problems.
7. Can Lead to Insomnia
It is general knowledge that coffee keeps you awake because of caffeine. The amount of caffeine in pre-workout supplements can go up to five times the amount in a conventional cup.
Some people report being unable to fall asleep even after a tough workout session. Weight loss goes hand in hand with deep quality sleep, so if the supplements deprive you of sleep, it beats their purpose.
8. You May Start Relying on Them
After using the pre-workout supplements for a long time, your workout sessions might never be the same again without them. You may be unable to do the simplest workouts without taking them.
More so, caffeine is addictive, and can very well get you hooked to supplements.
Creatine is naturally produced by your body, but using supplements with creatine can cause your natural supply to dwindle. Your body can also produce a chemical compound called creatinine, which can be harmful in large amounts.
9. Crawly Feeling
A good number of supplements have beta alanine as one of their key ingredients. Beta alanine sustains performance by reducing acidity in your muscles, thus making you able to work out for longer.
The downside of this ingredient is, it causes that crawly, tingly sensation on your skin – particularly your hands.
While this has no adverse impact on your health, having to deal with this sensation after every workout can be a tad uncomfortable.
10. Can Cause Heart Palpitations
Some ingredients in these supplements can cause palpitations that can last for a few minutes or hours after the workout. It gets worse if you take them after a cardio session.
11. Weight Gain
Creatine which is found in many supplements causes water retention, which can make you gain 2-6 pounds of water weight. It does this by pulling water into your muscles, so your weight scale might read much higher.
The best way to avoid this and other side effects of creatine is to take it in very small doses. The results might take longer to show but at least you will be safe from undue water retention and weight gain.
12. May Cause Dehydration
Both caffeine and creatine are diuretics. You will find yourself visiting the washrooms more often after ingesting them.
Creatine sustains HIIT workouts by causing the muscles to draw more water, which causes dehydration after the workout. You may want to take water after working out to prevent dehydration.
The Bottom Line
While pre-workout supplements are relatively safe, some of the downsides of these supplements far outweigh the perceived benefits.
To avoid these pre-workout supplements dangers, check the ingredients before buying and take them in moderation.
Alternatively, you can use healthy unprocessed foods to fuel your workouts.
If you’re too busy to go to the gym for an hour every day, use these stunningly simple15-minute home workouts to build lean muscle fast.