The Best Pre-Workouts

Pre-workout supplements or drinks are all the rage for those in the fitness space but what on earth are they? Do we need them or is it possible to use food to boost our training? 

A 'pre-workout' is any supplement, usually a powder drink mix, that claims to boost your workout performance if you consume it prior to your workout. Sounds legit, right? They are intended to boost energy levels and often contain ingredients like caffeine, gaurana, creatine, BCAA's and any number ingredients you may or may not be able to pronounce. Some of these ingredients have well-studied proven data that they may help boost your performance... but at what cost?

The side effects for many of these pre-workouts can include vomiting, tingling, jitters, cramps, itching, anxiety, high blood pressure, chest pain, sleeping problems and more. You might not experience any of these or you might experience all of them. Are the risks and side effects of pre-workout really worth it? 

So, do we need to take a pre-workout before each training session? It's completely up to you but in our humble opinion, it's probably a no. You will likely see better results in the gym (without the side effects) by getting some of your lifestyle factors in check. Let's look out how to boost your training naturally.

Start with the basics!

  • Get enough sleep - Lack of sleep effects blood sugar regulation, mood, balance, weight loss, cognition, blood pressure, immunity and more. Studies have shown that sleeping less than 6-8 hours a night could even increase your risk of early death by 12%. So if early death is a side effect of lack of sleep... imagine what that's doing to your gym PR.

  • Drink enough water - Our bodies are around 65% water. Dehydration can actually increase your heart rate and make your body work less efficiently. This hinders your ability to use fat for fuel, cause cognitive and concentration decline and measurably decreases physical performance. 

  • Fuel your body properly with real food - Adequate nutrition from whole foods will ensure your body has nutrient sufficiency to power your work-outs. Putting junk in as fuel will give you low level performance. 

  • Get enough sunlight - Vitamin D is essential for wellness and appropriate sun exposure is the most effective way to get it. For starters, Vitamin D strengthens bones and supports the immune system. Research studies have shown that enough Vitamin D can result in less post-training muscle weakness and better recovery. 

Based on the above, we'd suggest getting your pre-workout energy hit via REAL FOOD! That means nourishing properly before your workout so that you have the right fuel in the tank. If you feel like you need a bit of extra help just before you train, here are our favourite go-tos. 

  • Coffee - Have one before training to naturally increase your cortisol and pep you up. Remember not to over-do it or you might end up with the jitters or some nasty gastrointestinal side effects. 

  • Bananas - Loaded with potassium, magnesium, B Vitamins and fibre as well as good quality carbs to give you a quick energy boost.

  • Coconut butter or coconut oil - The MCTs in coconut products are easily absorbed by the body and very effectively converted to fuel. 

  • Berries - A handful of berries is a great low carb, high antioxidant and vitamin-rich boost right before a workout and won't leave you feeling heavy.

  • Homemade Bliss Ball - This could be a great option to get some quick carbs, protein and fats in to help fuel your workout. We make ours with fresh dates (for energy), nut butter or coconut oil (for healthy fats and to help curb the blood sugar) and collagen powder (for protein, joint support & muscle recovery).

 Happy Training!