Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements: How to Avoid Them

pre-workout side effects

If you are a health fanatic, then you must have stumbled across pre-workout supplements, and chances are you have a favorite that you take right before that grueling gym session to strengthen and build those muscles.

However, pre-workout supplements may be quite new to some people, particularly new gym-goers, so is the concept of taking pre-workout pills.

While these supplements have a list of potential and proven benefits; they also have a few side effects.

Since you are on this page, that means you want to learn more about the side effects of pre-workout supplements.

Therefore, in this article, we will explore the top five side effects associated with many pre-workout supplements.

The Dangerous Side Effect of Pre-workout Supplements

What is a Pre-workout Supplement?

The first step to understanding how pre-workout supplements affect your body is to understand what a pre-workout supplement really is.

A pre-workout is a term that describes certain energy drinks and dietary supplements whose primary function is to give you an energy boost to power through your daily workout sessions.

How does Pre-Workout Work?

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are major components of pre-workout supplements that contribute to muscle strength and muscle tissue growth.

Pre-workout supplements also help their users to become more focused, improve their work capacity, and exercise performance, as they stimulate the nervous system.

Pre-workout formulas are made with caffeine and other stimulants and ingredients that can dilate the blood vessels within your body.

This caffeine content helps to enhance the user’s energy and can aid in boosting their strength levels and achieving their fitness goals.

When your blood vessels dilate, it increases blood flow, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and this helps to speed up not only recovery but also boost energy levels throughout your workout.

Additionally, most pre-workouts also increase your ability to build muscle mass and delays muscle fatigue due to its beta-alanine component.

Is it Bad to Take Pre-workouts Every Day?

Taking your pre-workout supplement every day may or may not be bad for it.

Here’s the deal, it really depends on the amount you consume and the ingredients that are within said pre-workout supplement.

For example, some supplements may contain a super high amount of caffeine and that can have some negative effects on your system, particularly when taken in high doses for an extended period.

Further, the issue of addiction is real.

There are many people who tend to get addicted to taking pre-workouts for various reasons, and as such, they tend to take too much, which can lead to some serious side effects, as well.

Therefore, it may not be such a good idea to use a pre-workout supplement every day, particularly if you take it in high doses.

Also, take your time to research whatever pre-workout supplement you intend to take. Take a thorough look into its ingredients and their potential pre-workout side effects.

5 Side Effects of Pre-workout Supplements

As with most things in life, there are benefits and risks associated with their use or practice and this holds true for pre-workout supplements as well.

Sure, your body gets that extra kick to support your energy expenditure but what else does it get from taking a pre-workout, and do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Let’s find out!

1) Increased Blood Pressure

If the first thing that came to your mind is caffeine, you’re correct.

Caffeine is a stimulant and that’s exactly how stimulants act on the body.

This ingredient in pre-workout products is the primary reason that most pre-workout supplements cause high blood pressure issues for their users.

Several studies have helped to make it a scientifically proven fact that caffeine causes a short-term rise in blood pressure, even in healthy adults.

People with high blood pressure issues can expect to see a significant increase in their blood pressure readings or have symptoms like headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and shortness of breath after taking pre-workout supplements.

Consequently, it is highly recommended that you speak to your healthcare provider to provide medical advice to you.

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, you should also seek medical advice before using any pre-workout supplement.

Also, even if you have no issues or a family history of blood pressure, you still need to be mindful of your use of pre-workout supplements coupled with a certain exercise routine.

High-intensity weight training (HIIT) can increase your blood pressure and with repeated strength training stress on your veins and arteries; it eventually may cause long-term damage, including changes in blood flow. Consulting a vein doctor would be beneficial if inflammations of the veins persist.

If you are a healthy adult or get the go-ahead from your doctor to use pre-workout supplements, the best approach is to purchase a sample size first to determine how this supplement affects your blood pressure.

2) Prickly or Tingling Sensations

After using certain pre-workout supplements, some people experience a tingly or prickly sensation throughout their entire body.

Most pre-workout formulas contain ingredients like vitamin B3, niacin, and beta-alanine, which are the culprits behind these unpleasant tingling sensations pre-workout side effects.

Vitamin B3 and beta-alanine are known for causing a harmless nervous system reaction, such as tingling and this is even explored in a few scientific studies.

In fact, this side effect is often compared to the niacin flush.

Also, when niacin is ingested in 500 mg or higher doses, it tends to cause increased blood flow to the skin, which causes red patches to appear all over the body.

Depending on your level of sensitivity, especially to beta-alanine and niacin, you may experience the prickly sensation more than others.

You may also feel your blood flushing to your face and itchy or a slight burning sensation on your skin.

You may have to deal with these pre-workout side effects for up to two hours after taking a pre-workout supplement.

The good thing is that there are no serious health conditions or risks associated with this side effect; it’s just quite annoying and causes some level of discomfort.

3) Diarrhea

This is by far one of the most common side effects associated with taking pre-workout supplements.

Many pre-workout supplements have a laxative effect on their users, causing what seems like a stomach upset, especially for people with a sensitive stomach.

Now, this side effect could be a result of several factors, some of which are associated with many pre-workout formulas.

Here are some of the ingredients found within pre-workout supplements that may induce diarrhea:

  • sodium bicarbonate
  • magnesium (primarily in the form of magnesium citrate)
  • taurine
  • arginine
  • Yohimbe
  • creatine
  • caffeine

Sugar alcohols are artificial sweeteners found in pre-workouts and are also known for causing diarrhea.

Sugar alcohols include erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and isomalt.

If your pre-workout formula contains these components in a great quantity, then more than likely you will be making quick and frequent trips to the bathroom after consuming the supplement.

The effect may be so great that you may need to use the toilet shortly after having your pre-workout supplement.

Needless to say that this not only gets in the way of your gym times but if you fail to replenish the lost fluids and electrolytes, you could end up developing dehydration and other issues.

Additionally, following the manufacturer’s mixing instructions is important since using an inadequate amount of water or improper mixing can also lead to diarrhea.

4) Insomnia

If you take pre-workout supplements for your night time training session, then chances are you will experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

But what can you do after a full day that leaves you drained with the need for a performance boost?

Many pre-workout ingredients have been linked to sleep disruption, especially caffeine.

\Most pre-workout supplements are packed with caffeine (200mg to 400mg per serving) and we all know that this spells trouble.

Though it improves your physical performance by boosting your energy levels, caffeine will keep you up at night.

Just think about it; when you take your pre-workout supplement, the caffeine in it can stay in your body for up to six hours.

We are pretty sure you’re not working out for six hours!

So, what happens to that excess?

It stays within your body causing energy production and preventing you from getting that much-needed night rest to complement your workout regimen for muscle growth.

Because of this, many persons often find themselves in a loop, which includes taking a supplement that causes low-quality sleep leading to the need for more caffeine to power through another workout session ultimately leading back to more sleepless nights.

Sleep is an essential component of our overall health and wellness, and as such, a lack in the quality of sleep can significantly affect our health status, physically and mentally.

5) Headache

Migraines are a common complaint made by users of pre-workout supplements and this can be attributed to several other effects that pre-workouts have on the body.

For starters, if you become dehydrated, headaches are a clear indication that something is wrong.

This means that the protective layer around your brain is lacking fluid and so your brain is bumping around in your skull without adequate cushioning.

This is what causes those splitting headaches.

One way you can become dehydrated is when an insufficient amount of water is used to mix the pre-workout supplements.

This inadequacy in liquid causes your body to pull water from your cells in an effort to properly process the supplement.

Also, an increase in blood flow and blood pressure caused by ingredients, such as caffeine, arginine, beta-alanine, and citrulline malate can result in migraines.

Arginine, in particular, is an amino acid that is linked to inducing vasodilation.

It along with citrulline improves blood flow by causing nitric oxide production.

\Increase blood flow to the brain’s tiny veins and arteries, which is sudden, can also cause headaches.

One other way pre-workout supplements can influence headaches is the lack of sleep it causes when taken for nighttime workouts.

Preventing Pre-workout Side Effects

Though it may not be possible to avoid all the possible side effects associated with taking pre-workouts, there are some measures you can take to reduce their effects on your body.

Of note, there is an overall rule to avoid the majority of these side effects and that involves making your own pre-workout supplement.

But if you don’t have the time of convenience, here are some other preventative measures you can take:

1) Preventing Increased Blood Pressure

Opt for pre-workout supplements that do not contain caffeine.

You can try vegan pre-workouts as these tend to be caffeine-free. Additionally, avoid combining the use of pre-workout supplements with high-intensity weight training.

Do not use more than the recommended dosage as this greatly affects how much caffeine you consume.

2) Preventing Prickly or Tingling Sensations

There is really no way to prevent these sensations except to avoid using some pre-workout supplements as most of them available with the supplement industry contain niacin.

Read the ingredient lists carefully or reach out to the manufacturing companies for further clarification on their formulations.

3) Preventing Diarrhea

The best way to prevent pre-workout supplement-associated diarrhea is to add more water to your supplement mixture to give it a thinner consistency.

On top of that, drink at least eight glasses of water daily to help your body process the supplement you have taken.

4) Preventing Insomnia

Workout a proper schedule for sleep and gym time.

For example, if you know you need to be in bed by 10 pm, you must ensure that you take the pre-workout supplement by 4 pm even if you won’t be going to the gym immediately.

Plus, you can also use caffeine-free alternatives to improve your athletic performance.

5) Preventing Headache

Scope out the ingredient list of whatever pre-workout supplements you want to use so that you can avoid those with high caffeine content and vasodilators.

In addition, if you can’t avoid these ingredients, then try to use less than the recommended dosage.

Final Thoughts

Pre-workout supplements describe supplements or energy drinks that enhance your energy and they are used primarily by gym-goers to increase their body weight with muscle mass.

There are many benefits to derive from using pre-workout supplements; however, certain downsides are attached to their use, including insomnia, headaches, diarrhea, and more.

Not everyone may experience these side effects, as everyone’s body reacts differently to these supplements.

So, is pre-workout bad for you?

While there are side effects that can lead to significant health challenges, there are ways you can mitigate those negative effects, like moderating your intake or opting for vegan and caffeine-free pre-workout supplements.

Therefore, whether or not these pre-workout supplements are bad for you is completely your decision.

We encourage you to thoroughly research the product you are interested in using and if you have any underlying health conditions, speak to your physician so they can provide medical advice.