- Provide an energy source
- Enhance metabolism for body composition changes
- Provide essential cellular components for optimum performance
- Enhance recovery
For this post, we are only going to focus on the first category of ergogenic aids because these are most often used (and misused) by athletes as part of a pre-workout routine to enhance performance during a training session or competitive event. These particular types of aids typically contain some combination of herbs or chemicals that have stimulating, vasodiolating or glycolytic properties. While they may be legal in most sports, pre-workout products and supplements are unregulated by the FDA and often contain synthetic compounds that provide a short-term boost in energy but can exhibit negative effects on physical and mental performance (2).
At Healthy Green Athlete, we believe that certain nutritional ergogenic aids can have a positive impact but this impact is highly variable from person to person. The benefit is not only dependent on the sensitivity of the individual but also dependent on the chemical makeup of the ingredients and how often they are used. As always, athletes should consult their doctor before trying out any supplement or over-the-counter drug and never rely on a pre-workout supplement as their only source of energy. Pre-workout supplements work most effectively when used in ADDITION TO a real food diet with an adequate amount of calories to support the athlete’s optimum performance needs.
A word of caution to those looking for a pre-workout: tune into how your body responds to specific ingredients in the supplement. Many pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that some athletes are more sensitive to than others. In large enough doses, these ingredients can be detrimental to performance rather than enhance it. For example, a large enough dose of arginine can cause flare ups of cold sores and fever blisters in individuals with Herpes Simplex Type 1 (the non-STD kind); too much biphosphate can cause severe gastrointestinal distress; and excess caffeine can lead to ulcers, dehydration and/or insomnia. Creatine is also a popular ingredient in many pre-workout supplements and while it’s safe in low doses, those who are sensitive may experience stomach cramping or a decrease in energy.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way here is our list of HGApproved pre-workout nutritional ergogenic aids and reasons for why they are on our list.