Pre-workouts are one of the most common supplements that have been widely used by lifters around the world. Pre-workout supplements have been scientifically proven to improve overall athletic performance.
Pre-workout before a cardio session is something that many lifters are confused about.
Is it okay to take pre-workout supplements before daily 30-45 min run or any other sort of cardio? We are going to cover the topic in-depth and we are also going to discuss the natural solutions to get the boost in energy before a workout.
What is pre-workouts are made of?
So pre-workouts contain a blend of ingredients that can help in improving athletic performance and boosting energy. Essentially they are stimulants brought together to release adrenaline along with inhibiting adenosine receptors.
But what is pre-workouts are made of? Every company has its own unique blend of ingredients but some of the ingredients can be consistently noticed in almost every famous pre-workout. Common ingredients of Pre-workouts are BCAA’s, B vitamins, caffeine, vasodilators, Beta-alanine, electrolytes, etc.
Why people are confused about taking pre-workouts before cardio?
Pre-workout supplements were initially designed to improve the human body performance in High-intensity workouts, they were never primarily designed for low-intensity cardio sessions.
Even today, most of the pre-workouts are created to increase the mental focus and ATP generation within cells for improved performance. That’s the reason most fitness enthusiasts are skeptical about the idea of consuming pre-workouts before cardio sessions.
Is it okay to take pre-workouts before cardio?
Let’s come to our main question again, is it okay to take regular pre-workout before a cardio session?
The answer is yes! Only if you are aware of the ingredients.
Problem with pre-workout before cardio
Cardio leads to a rise in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. On the other hand, most of the pre-workouts contain stimulants that also increase the heart rate to pump more blood into the system.
Combining pre-workout supplements and cardio at the same time can adversely affect your health, it can make you feel dizzy and nauseated.
Additionally, caffeine and creatine are both diuretics that may lead to accelerated dehydration while cardio.
What’s the solution?
Adverse effects of pre-workouts should not scare you off from including pre-workout before cardio, pre-workouts not only help you feel more focused but will also assist in faster burning of stubborn fat.
If you are new to long cardiovascular activities then you should probably keep yourself away from any kind of additional stimulant. Start with no pre-workout for the first few weeks, once you get comfortable with the regular cardio then it’s okay to add pre-workout supplementation.
Experienced runners or cyclists usually experience fewer ill effects of pre-workout supplementation because of their adaptation to cardiac stress.
Start with the brands that offer a low quantity of stimulants. Some of the brands are also offering cardio-friendly pre-workouts that help in improving performance while dodging the negative effects.
I have listed some of my favorite pre-workouts that go really well with the cardio sessions.
How to choose pre-workout for cardio
Every supplement company offers a different blend of ingredients and staying mindful about the ingredient is the key to success.
When it comes to choosing the best pre-workout, there is nothing like “one size fits all”. While someone might require a high dose of caffeine, others might be allergic to the stimulants.
The best way to choose the best pre-workout for cardio is to go through the list of ingredients and choose the supplement that contains mild stimulants.
Strong pre-workouts are designed extensively for heavy workouts, not for cardio sessions.
A pre-workout that contains a moderate dose of Caffeine (less than 150 mg), beta-alanine (for lactic buffering), B vitamins, L-carnitine and essential minerals, works best for me.
Here is a list of my favorite pre-workout for cardio.
Best Pre-workout for fasted cardio?
Doing fasted cardio is a totally different thing. Most of the pre-workouts are very low in calories but still contain enough calories to break your fast.
Solution? Either rely on your regular black espresso shot or create your own cocktail of pre-workout.
Opting for Keto-friendly pre-workout supplement is also a great way to stay in a fasted state. Most of the keto-friendly supplements contain a small amount of MCT oil and other fats, don’t worry, that won’t break your fast.
Yes, creating a cocktail of your own pre-workout is practically the best way to control the dose of the ingredient you want in your supplement. Additionally, you save yourself from hidden ingredients.
Let’s see how to do that.
Create your own cocktail of pre-workout
Instead of complicating the process of creating your own mix, its advisable to create your own pre-cardio supplement with just 4-5 ingredients.
- Primary purpose: Energy, mental focus and motivation
- Optimal dose: 100-300 mg,
Do I need to mention the benefits of caffeine? Caffeine is the primary ingredient to get improved focus and motivation (1, 3, 4). Caffeine also boosts metabolic rate that eventually helps in accelerated fat loss (2).
Start with a mild dose of 100mg of caffeine in your mix.
- Purpose: Promote strength and muscle endurance
- Dose: 2-4 g
Beta-alanine is the same ingredient that gives you the tingling effect while workout.
Personally, I love that tingling effect, it keeps me more focused and motivated. Beta-alanine helps in preventing lactic buildup which helps in improving muscle endurance (5, 6).
Although Beta-alanine is more beneficial for the short interval high-intensity workouts but it will surely help you run further and faster.
3# BCAA’s :
- Purpose: Prevents muscle catabolization
- Dose: 5g pre-workout and 5 g post-workout
A scoop of BCAA in your pre-workout mix can assist in preventing muscle protein breakdown.
BCAA is not allowed while fasting, skip it if you are doing a fasted cardio.
4# Citrulline malate:
- Purpose: Improves blood flow
- Dose: 3 grams
3g of Citrulline malate can help in easing the blood pressure by vasodilation. Citrulline is found to have positive improvement in oxygen content in muscle
In one study, cyclists taking citrulline were able to cycle for 12% longer before exhaustion than those taking a placebo (7).
5# Gatorade powder:
For the sake of better taste, the citric flavor of pure beta-alanine and citrulline malate can make the drink really soar.
You are not allowed to add Gatorade powder while fasted cardio, I suggest you to add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to ease the soreness and increase the mineral content.
Everybody reacts differently to pre-workout supplements, I personally like to try a pre-workout before I make a purchase. If you are starting pre-workouts for the first time then it’s advisable to start with mild pre-workouts options.
Thanks for reading. Questions are welcomed in the comments as always.