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The 7 Best Pre-Workout drinks to Try.





Creatine is a molecule found in your cells. It's also a very popular dietary supplement. (1)

Most sports scientists consider creatine to be the number one supplement for increasing strength and power .

Research has shown that it can safely increase muscle mass, strength and exercise performance .

Studies have reported that strength gains from a weight training program are about 5–10% higher on average when people take creatine as a supplement .

This is probably because creatine is an important part of the energy production systems inside your cells .

If your muscle cells have more energy when you exercise, you may perform better and experience greater improvements over time.

If you want to increase muscular strength, creatine is probably the first supplement you should consider.

A recommended dose starts with 20 grams per day, which are split into multiple servings during a short “loading” phase when you start taking the supplement.

After this phase, a typical maintenance dose is 3–5 grams per day .

SUMMARY

Creatine is one of the most studied sports supplements. It is safe to consume and can increase muscle strength and power, particularly when combined with weight training.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine is a natural molecule found in coffee, tea and other foods and beverages. It stimulates certain parts of the brain to increase alertness and make you feel less tired (7).

It is also a very popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements.

Caffeine is effective at improving several aspects of exercise performance.

It can increase power output, or the ability to produce force quickly. This applies to different types of exercise, including sprinting, weight training and cycling (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10).

Studies have also shown that it can improve performance during long-duration endurance events, such as running and cycling, as well as during intermittent activities like soccer (10).

Based on many studies, the recommended dose of caffeine for exercise performance is about 1.4–2.7 mg per pound (3–6 mg per kg) of body weight (10).

For someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this would be 200–400 mg.

Caffeine is considered safe at these doses, and the suspected toxic dose is much higher, at 9–18 mg per pound (20–40 mg per kg) of body weight (11).

However, doses of 4 mg per pound (9 mg per kg) of body weight may cause sweating, tremors, dizziness and vomiting (10).

Caffeine can produce short-term increases in blood pressure and may increase restlessness, but it does not typically cause an irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia (10, 12Trusted Source).

People respond differently to varying amounts of caffeine, so it is probably best to start with a low dose to see how you respond.

Finally, it may be best to limit your caffeine intake to earlier in the day due to its anti-sleep effects.

SUMMARY
Caffeine is consumed by many people around the world. It is safe at moderate doses and can improve various aspects of exercise performance, including power output and performance during long-distance events or team sports.


3. Beta-Alanine
    
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps fight muscle fatigue.

When acid starts to build up in your body during intense exercise, beta-alanine helps combat the acid (13).

Taking beta-alanine as a supplement increases its concentration in the body and may improve exercise performance.

Specifically, this supplement may help improve performance during intense exercise lasting one to four minutes at a time (14Trusted Source).

However, it may not be effective for improving exercise that lasts less than one minute, such as a single set during a weight-training workout.

Some evidence shows that this supplement may be effective for long-term endurance exercise, but the effects are smaller than for exercise lasting between one and four minutes (13, 14Trusted Source).

The recommended dose for improving exercise performance is 4–6 grams per day (13).

Based on existing research, this dose is safe to consume. The only known side effect is a tingling or “pins and needles” feeling on your skin if you take higher doses.

SUMMARY
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps fight fatigue in your muscles. It is most effective at improving performance during short bursts of intense exercise lasting one to four minutes.

4. Citrulline


Citrulline is an amino acid produced naturally in your body.

However, consuming citrulline from foods or supplements can increase your body’s levels. These increased levels may be beneficial for exercise performance.

One of the effects of citrulline is increasing blood flow to body tissues (15Trusted Source).

In the context of exercise, this may help supply your exercising muscles with the oxygen and nutrients they need to perform well.

One study showed that cyclists biked about 12% longer before exhaustion when taking citrulline, compared to a placebo (16Trusted Source).

Another study assessed the effects of citrulline on upper-body weight training performance. Participants performed about 53% more repetitions after taking citrulline, compared to when they took a placebo (17Trusted Source).

Taking citrulline also significantly reduced muscle soreness in the days after exercise.

There are two main forms of citrulline supplements, and the recommended dose depends on which form you use.

Most endurance exercise studies have used L-citrulline, while most research on weight training has used citrulline malate. A recommended dose is 6 grams of L-citrulline or 8 grams of citrulline malate (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

These supplements appear to be safe and do not produce side effects, even at doses of 15 grams (18Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
Citrulline is an amino acid produced naturally in your body. It is also found in some foods and available as a supplement. Consuming citrulline may improve aspects of endurance and weight-training performance.

5. Sodium Bicarbonate
Many people are surprised to hear that this common household product is also a sports supplement.

Also known as baking soda, it acts as a buffering agent, meaning that it helps fight against acid buildup in the body.

In the context of exercise, sodium bicarbonate may help reduce fatigue during exercise that’s characterized by the “burning” feeling in your muscles.

This burning sensation is an indicator that acid production is increasing due to the intensity of the exercise.

Many studies have shown sodium bicarbonate has a small benefit during intense running, cycling and repeated sprints (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).

Limited information is available for longer-duration activities, but one study found that it increased power output during a 60-minute cycling test (22Trusted Source).

Overall, the primary benefit of this supplement is probably for intense activities characterized by muscle burn.

The optimal dose for exercise performance is about 136 mg per pound (300 mg per kg) of body weight (23Trusted Source).

For someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this would be about 20 grams.

You can get sodium bicarbonate from regular baking soda or in supplement form.

One fairly common side effect of sodium bicarbonate is an upset stomach. You can help reduce or prevent this by consuming the dose more slowly or splitting it into multiple doses.

If you are salt-sensitive and want to take sodium bicarbonate, consider consulting a medical professional. The recommended dose for exercise performance will provide a substantial amount of sodium and may not be a good idea for those limiting their salt intake.

SUMMARY
Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, acts as a buffer that fights acid buildup during exercise. It is most effective for exercise that’s characterized by the feeling of “muscle burn.” It is not recommended for those who are salt-sensitive.
6. BCAAs
The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) consist of three important molecules: leucine, isoleucine and valine.

These amino acids are found in high quantities in many protein-containing foods, particularly animal products.

Although they are commonly consumed for their supposed muscle-building effects, they are less effective than whole protein for this purpose (24, 25Trusted Source).

The high-quality protein found in dairy, eggs and meat provides sufficient BCAAs to support muscle growth, and it also contains all of the other amino acids your body needs.

However, taking BCAA supplements has several potential benefits.

Some research has shown that BCAA supplements may improve endurance running performance (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

However, one study in marathoners reported that benefits were seen in slower runners, but not faster runners (26Trusted Source).

Other studies have found that BCAA supplements may reduce mental and physical fatigue (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).

Finally, some research has shown that these supplements may reduce muscle soreness after running and weight training (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).

Despite some positive findings, the overall results for BCAA supplements are mixed.

Nevertheless, due to the possibility that they enhance endurance performance and reduce fatigue, BCAAs may be a beneficial part of a pre-workout supplement for some individuals.

Doses of BCAAs vary but are often 5–20 grams. The ratio of leucine, isoleucine and valine also varies depending on the supplement, but a ratio of 2:1:1 is common.

Many people consume BCAAs each day from food sources, so it makes sense that these supplements are generally considered safe at typical doses.

SUMMARY
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are found in high concentrations in many foods. BCAA supplements are unnecessary for muscle growth, but they may improve endurance performance and reduce fatigue and soreness.
7. Nitrate
Nitrate is a molecule found in vegetables such as spinach, turnips and beetroot (31Trusted Source).

Small amounts are also produced naturally in the body.

Nitrate may be beneficial for exercise performance because it can be converted into a molecule called nitric oxide, which can increase blood flow (32Trusted Source).

Nitrate consumed as a sports supplement is often obtained from beetroot or beetroot juice.

It may improve exercise performance by decreasing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise (33Tr.

Studies have shown that beetroot juice can increase running time before exhaustion, as well as increase speed during a 3.1-mile (5-km) run .

A small amount of evidence shows that it may also reduce how difficult running feels .

Overall, this may be a supplement worth considering if you perform endurance activities like running or cycling.

The optimal dose of nitrate is probably 2.7–5.9 mg per pound (6–13 mg per kg) of body weight. For someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this is about 400–900 mg (36).

Scientists believe that nitrate from vegetables, such as beetroot, is safe to consume .

However, more research is needed on the long-term safety of taking nitrate supplements.

SUMMARY
Nitrate is a molecule found in many vegetables, including spinach and beetroot. It is commonly consumed as beetroot juice and may reduce the amount of oxygen used during exercise. It may also improve endurance exercise performance.

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