What is a pre-workout supplement?


A pre workout is a supplement that, as the name implies, should be taken before working out and it is composed by different substances (creatine, arginine, caffeine, beta-alanine, aminoacids, glutamine, thermogenics, nitric oxide, vitamins and minerals, etc) that vary accordingly to the brand.

It is usually a supplement recommended for athletes that are at a higher workout level (advanced), just like athletes who do weight training, athletes that engage themselves in resistance sports (cycling, running, swimming, etc) or even group sports’ athletes (basketball, football, volleyball, etc). The pre-workout’s main function is to improve the performance during physical exercise. The reduction of the feeling of muscle fatigue and the minimization the catabolic effect are related to an increase in resistance and consequently to an improvement in the athlete’s performance. Some brands have substances that enhance focus, an important factor in sports.

What should I take before working out to get better results?

If your goal is to lose weight and you think that not eating before working out is the best method, then you are not on the right path.
Anxious to lose those extra pounds, some people believe that, by working out without eating, they will speed up weight loss process. It is true that you can lose weight that way. However, you will be losing a lot more than that. During the workout, the body needs energy sources to perform the efforts and, without an adequate diet, the body will end up resourcing not only to fats but also to the muscles, that is, you will end up losing lean muscle mass.

Beginning a physical activity with low glycogen levels in the muscles and liver may interfere with the athlete’s performance, provoking hypoglycemia and central fatigue (ex: yawning during the workout). The important thing is to understand that the body is asked an extra effort every time you engage in a physical activity and that you should worry about what you eat before that happens.

READ ALSO: The best carbs for your weight loss plan

First stage

Solid meal: 1h to 2h before hitting the gym. Here you have two options: if your metabolism if accelerated, eat 1h before working out; if your metabolism is slow, eat 2h before working out.

Focus on the essential that a pre-workout meal should offer:

About 20g to 40g of low and medium glycemic index carbs (will be digested slowly and will cause insulin spikes in the body, sustaining the energy in the body for a longer period. They act as muscle tissue savers and activators of the lipid metabolism, fundamental for muscle hypertrophy and weight loss). Ex: whole bread, whole rice or pasta, sweet potato, etc.

About 20g to 40g of high biological-value proteins. Ex: egg, chicken, turkey, etc.

A healthy fat source that helps make digestion slower: Ex: add a serving spoon of extra virgin olive oil

You can also chose to include a little serving (fruit) of rapidly digested carbs that are natural sources of vitamins. Ex: orange, apple, banana, kiwi, melon, guava, etc.

After replenishing your body with the essential macro-nutrients to face a heavy workout, you may proceed to the complementary stage.

Second stage

About 15 to 30 minutes before starting your physical activity, take your pre-workout supplement (that contains every ingredient that will help your body, increase your focus, strength and resistance). Creatine, aminoacids, caffeine, glutamine, nitric oxide, arginine, vitamins and minerals are a few of the compounds of a pre-workout supplement. Note that the nutrients and their servings may vary accordingly to the brands.

Of one of these pre-workout supplements with different values and nutritional compounds, identify the one that’s closer to your needs.

C4 extreme
Assault 30 servings
N.O.Xplod 2.0

You can also choose to do a basic shake and add the ingredients naturally. Add water, isolate whey protein, glutamine, BCAAs, nitric oxide and a natural stimulant like caffeine.

How to use pre-workout supplements?

It is important to determine a consumption cycle to always get the best results out of your supplements, that is, changing the product or even taking a little break in the use of supplements will bring benefits, because it prevents your body from getting used to the nutritional composition of the product.
The same happens with the workouts, if you don’t modify your workout plans your body will end up adapting to stimuli and stop presenting results.

Create a cycle plan to your supplements. Use it for 6 – 8 weeks and take a break of about 2-3 weeks.


If I want to lose weight, can I still take a pre-workout?

Yes, pre-workout supplement don’t interfere with weight loss, on the contrary, many of these products contain ingredients that speed up the metabolism and that contribute to this effect.

Should I take them on resting days?

There’s no need to take pre-workout supplements on the days you don’t work out. The function of these supplements is to increase the athlete’s performance during the workout. Therefore, if there’s no workout, you don’t need that effort.

If I work out at night, can I take a pre-workout supplement?

Yes. However, if your workout is due one hour before going to sleep, you should choose a pre-workout without caffeine so you won’t put at risk the resting hours that are fundamental to the anabolic process.


What to eat to build muscle mass?

What are the benefits of caffeine?

The best vitamins and minerals for your workouts


Marcos Orsini, A importância da nutrição: Pré-treino, translation and adaptation of the original version

N/d, Tudo sobre Pré-treino, n/d, translation and adaptation of the original version

N/d, Pré-treinos, funcionam? Quem deve utilizar?, 4th of January 2012, translation and adaptation of the original version

N/d, Pre-Workout Supplements: Learn How To Optimize Energy, Recovery & Results, adaptation of the original version


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here