Pre-workout mixes and drinks are huge in the fitness world these days. Anywhere you look for protein powder you will also find a pre-workout mix. The real questions are what do they do? And should you be using them?

First of all, as with any product there are good and bad pre-workouts on the market. This is a generalization and not meant to be the only research that you may do on this topic!

Research has found tons of conflicting results when it comes to pre-workout. The idea behind any pre-workout is, very basically, to increase heart rate as well as blood flow and energy to your muscles to allow you to work harder than you would without that boost. The most common ingredients in most pre-workout on the market are caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine, among many others. Livescience.com asks sports nutritionist Jordan Moon on the topic saying, “although some of these supplements’ ingredients — such as caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine — have been shown to modestly enhance performance in extreme athletes and bodybuilders, they only give people an edge if they are pushing themselves to the limit.” (Read full article here). This is one of the most common beliefs about pre-workouts as a whole. If you are not pushing your body the way a body builder or elite athlete would, then pre-workout isn’t necessary for you. There are actually risks to using pre-workout and not pushing your body in this way.

Caffeine, along with many of the ingredients in most pre-workouts, increases your heart rate. We all find this to be true with coffee in the morning. Pre-workout often has a much much higher dosage of caffeine as well as ingredients that encourage the heart to pump faster. This can lead to negative side effects found with pre-workout, including heart palpitations and shakiness.

All this to say, if you aren’t within the 5% of elite athletes and are looking for energy before a workout, might be best to just eat a banana and drink some water.