Pre-workout supplements are no longer a rare option. Any time you walk into the gym, you’re sure to see someone downing a shaker full of pink or blue liquid. Not too long after, that person has a fierce look of determination on their face. Pre-workouts dominate the fitness market but not all of these supplements are made the same. Let’s take a look at the top 4 pre-workout supplement ingredients that you need to have in your shaker.
- Alpha GPC
The first ingredient that you should be looking for is Alpha GPC. As a pre-cursor to the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, it can help to increase your focus and put you in the zone during the workout. More importantly, Alpha GPC has been shown to increase your growth hormone levels. Why is that important? Growth hormone assists with muscle recovery and growth, which will promote your gains. (1)
- Betaine Anhydrous
More commonly known as Betaine, this is more than just an amino acid. Betaine has been proven in several studies to be an effective way to improve your performance during workouts. In a study of cyclists supplementing with Betaine, it was only those who were taking the ingredient that saw marked improvements in overall power and athletic performance. (2)
This ingredient is usually only found in supplements with a slightly higher price tag but we can assure you those few extra dollars make it worth it.
As soon as the results of this ingredient’s study were released, you saw it showing up in a variety of different supplements. The most notable type of supplement you find it in is pre-workouts. Bioperine® is the commercial name for black pepper extract. Does it have a direct influence on improving performance? No, BUT what it does do is amplify the bioavailability of the other ingredients.
Your body won’t always absorb and utilize ingredients like you want it to. That’s where Bioperine® comes in. It’s been shown to enhance the assimilation of other ingredients, ensuring your body does utilize those ingredients to the fullest extent. This is a great way to improve a cheap, low quality protein supplement as well. (3)
This shouldn’t be a surprise as the primary reason people drink coffee is for the caffeine. This stimulant is one of the best ways to get focused and get serious during your workouts. Moderate caffeine use (in other words: don’t overdo it) has been linked to a number of health benefits including the prevention of Alzheimer’s but when it comes to fitness, it can’t be beat.
Caffeine has been tested time and time again and has always come on top as the best way to get energized for your workout. With that said, be wary of mega doses of caffeine in some of the new pre-workouts. (4)
Next time you’re shopping for that pre-workout supplement, be sure to carefully scan the label for Alpha GPC, Betaine Anhydrous, Bioperine®, and Caffeine. It’s these four ingredients that will help put you in the zone to crush your workout and see results.
- Tim Ziegenfuss, Jamie Landis, and Jennifer Hofheins. Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008; 5(Suppl 1): P15. Published online 2008 Sep 17. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-S1-P15.
- Pryor JL, Craig SA, Swensen T. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Apr 3;9(1):12. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-12.
- Vladimir Badmaev, MD, PhD, Muhammed Majeed, PhD, Edward P. Norkus, PhD. Piperine, an alkaloid derived from black pepper increases serum response of beta-carotene during 14-days of oral beta-carotene supplementation. Nutrition Research. March 1999. Volume 19, Issue 3, Pages 381–388.
- Hogervorst E, Bandelow S, Schmitt J, Jentjens R, Oliveira M, Allgrove J, Carter T, Gleeson M. Caffeine improves physical and cognitive performance during exhaustive exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Oct;40(10):1841-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817bb8b7.