The Betterment Project
What Do Pre-Workout Supplements Actually Do?

What Do Pre-Workout Supplements Actually Do?

Our bodies rely on micronutrients. They are essential to our overall health, and micronutrients consist of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to perform their various functions and keep us healthy. We acquire vitamins and minerals largely from the foods and beverages that we consume daily. Although, there are a few vitamins our bodies can produce on their own.

For our bodies to perform their daily functions efficiently, we need fuel and the raw materials to execute those functions. The most basic way to ensure that our bodies have what they need is to eat a rich diet of vitamins and minerals.


What vitamins and minerals do our bodies really need? What makes us experience deficiencies? Are we depleting our micronutrients with our workouts? Are there pre-workout ingredients that will help enhance our performance? Or is there a more simplistic approach to improving our performance levels?


What Vitamins and Minerals Do Our Bodies Consider Essential?


Of the micronutrients, our bodies get from food. Are they all essential? Or, are there certain vitamins our bodies need more? 


Our bodies need 13 vitamins to grow, develop, and function normally. These vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A
  • The B Vitamins
    • Thiamine
    • Riboflavin
    • Pantothenic Acid
    • Biotin
    • Niacin
    • B-6
    • B-12
    • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

What about minerals? In addition to these 13 vitamins, our bodies require 13 essential minerals as well, and they are:


  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Chloride
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt

Some of our body’s key functions are the production and balance of hormones. You can negatively impact your hormones, vitamins, and minerals with an improper diet, lifestyle choices, and some medications. 


Did you know we need hormones just to wake up and sleep on a proper schedule? These particular hormones, serotonin, and
melatonin rely more on light and dark for production, and there are other vitamins in our bodies that depend on sunlight. However, most functions of our bodies rely on our diets and lifestyle choices.


When our diets are rich in nutritional sources of vitamins and minerals and properly hydrated, they do some pretty amazing things all day, every day, that we don’t even fully appreciate. However, when they run low on these essential nutrients, the adverse effects can be alarming and detrimental. So, why do we become deficient? Can we do anything about it?


Why Do We Become Deficient Sometimes?


To get proper amounts of the essential vitamins and minerals we need every day, it is important to have a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals. However, it is possible to have a very healthy diet and still be deficient in some of the vitamins and minerals you need. 


Some common reasons for vitamin and mineral deficiencies include:


  • Diet lacking in fruits and vegetables
  • Extremely low-calorie diets
  • Restrictive diets (ex. Vegan, vegetarian, allergy, intolerance)
  • Life cycles (reproductive functions)
  • Surgery
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications

Also, while it’s unlikely that you would become deficient from exercise alone, It is possible to deplete some nutrients through intense workouts, particularly if your diet runs low on them in the first place. 


Another cause for the deficiency for people can be aging. You can eat all the right foods, get the right amount of exercise and sunlight, and do all the things you’re supposed to do. Your body can still struggle with depletion and absorption in the first place as we age. 


If your body is deficient, you’ll want confirmation from a physician who can tell you what’s going on with you. It may be necessary to change your lifestyle, add a vitamin to your daily regimen, or get outside more frequently. Your doctor will know what you need based on your regular screenings.


But what about combating depletion? Sometimes we don’t have a deficiency, but our diets, exercise, and lifestyle can cause depletion. 


Combatting Depletion


When our bodies are under stress, the stress response can cause us to eat up our valuable vitamin and mineral resources. For example, if our bodies produce too much cortisol, it can affect our vitamin C levels. Oxidative stress, like the good stress of exercise, can deplete other vitamins and minerals. 


It used to be that people would eat a small snack like a banana before a workout to combat any potential depletion, but a “pre-workout” is a popular part of any workout now. If you’re not hashtagging your pre-workout, then what are you doing, right? Seriously though, what’s a pre-workout?


What Is Pre-Workout?


A pre-workout is any supplement that claims it will improve your performance if you take it before your workout. Typically pre-workouts come in the form of a powdered drink mix. 

 

Some people use pre-workout to enhance their athletic performance, which helps with muscle growth, reduces muscle fatigue and soreness,  alertness, endurance, and energy boost, and may increase blood flow. 


If you exercise regularly, you may have been encouraged to take a pre-workout. They are certainly popular, and many people swear by their effectiveness. When it comes to supplements, it’s hard to discourage anyone who finds them beneficial, and that’s true of pre-workout supplements too.


While they may be popular, there is currently no set definition of what a good pre-workout supplement consists of actually to boost your performance. If they work for you, that’s great. 


Depending on what type of pre-workout you use, ingredients can vary. Some common ingredients you may find in pre-workout powder include caffeine, Amino acids (BCAA), Creatine, Leucine, Carnosine, Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, L-arginine, and L-citrulline.


Ingredients vary upon workout formulas, so can the side effects. While some products offer stimulation because of caffeine being present, other products may be
stimulant-free. High levels of caffeine in products can cause tingling sensations. While some people prefer this sensation, others try to avoid it completely. Constant use of pre-workout may also cause high blood pressure.


One of the main ideas behind a pre-workout is that you’ll have the energy to do your best, but what if you already had the energy? What if your sleep schedule was enough to have you prepared for the intense workout you have planned? 


Pre-workout can be used as an added boost to help you get extra pumps in and get through high-intensity workouts. While pre-workout may be helpful for your workout routine, moderation is always key. 


Alternatives to Typical Pre-Workout Supplements


What if your pre-workout happens long before your actual workout? In addition to proper diet and exercise, our bodies rely on sleep. Sleep is just as essential to our survival as water, breathing, or food. 


If you’re concerned about your performance during a workout, you may want to prioritize your sleep more. Allowing your body the time to recover or rest in preparation could make a difference in your next workout. Consider a supplement like
Complete Calm Sleep Gummies to help you rest and wake up feeling refreshed.


As for supplements, consistency is essential. Taking a supplement only before a workout will make it hard to measure its effectiveness. However, taking a vitamin supplement like Asystem’s
Superhuman Supplements consistently can allow benefits to build over time. 


With proper sleep, diet, and exercise, you can achieve the right nutrient balance for peak performance in the gym and life. If you’re still concerned about your vitamin and mineral levels, seek advice from your trusted medical professional.


Summary


Our bodies require vitamins and minerals to survive and thrive. The majority of those vitamins and minerals come from our diets. As our bodies perform, we can run low on certain vitamins and minerals. That’s why we must eat and hydrate every day. 


If we’re putting our body through stress and strain through intense exercise, it’s normal to want to protect our body’s reserves and boost our performance. There may be more merit in focusing on our recovery and preparation for daily activity through proper sleep.


Sources:

Vitamins | medlineplus.gov 

Definitions of Health Terms: Minerals | medlineplus.gov 

The Effect of Exercise and Heat on Vitamin Requirements | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 


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Meet our Experts

This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

  • Dominick Gauthier, Performance Expert

    Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)