All About Pre-Workout

Getting the Most Out of Your Workouts

There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to getting the most out of your workouts — with many people turning to pre-workout to optimize their time in the gym. Pre-workout is undoubtedly a large and profitable industry, but how much does it really help with your workouts?

The Best Time of Day to Workout

You’ve likely heard mornings are the best time to work out because you’ll burn more calories throughout the day. Dr. Alice says, “There is a natural cortisol rhythm during the day. Cortisol is supposed to be highest in the morning — that’s when there is a cortisol awakening response that wakes us up. A lot of the time, people have a massive dip in cortisol in the afternoon. Some people need a coffee or an afternoon nap. For some people, if it’s that dysregulated, their cortisol starts climbing at night.

Why does this matter? It affects your sex hormones. If you don’t have proper circadian cortisol rhythm, you’re not going to have normal hormones. So, there is some debate right now. They say that if you have lower cortisol in the morning, that’s when you should be working out because exercise is a cortisol stimulating activity.”

Generally speaking, it’s beneficial to lower cortisol in the evening gradually. But here’s the thing: the best time to work out is simply when you can get it done. If the only time you have to work out is around 7 PM, you should keep in mind that you’ll experience a spike in cortisol due to the exercise. While it isn’t ideal for your circadian rhythm and sleep, Dr. Alice suggests bringing down your cortisol levels with a warm bath or sleepytime tea after your workout. 

Pros and Cons of Mainstream Pre-Workouts

Caffeine is the number one pro you’ll get from taking pre-workout, but you may find it’s not very difficult to think of natural alternatives that contain caffeine.

There are more issues with pre-workout than benefits. One of the largest side effects of pre-workout is the negative effect on gut health from artificial sweeteners and colors in a majority of pre-workouts currently in the market.

Dr. Alice says, “Some data is coming out regarding some of these colorings causing issues with kids. I know kids aren’t drinking pre-workout, but most of the people we see here are big giant kids anyway. So that’s one thing to consider. There are a lot of issues. Another one is the sweetener they use. Is it aspartame? Aspartame is not great.”

While pre-workout often contains B vitamins, Dr. Alice suggests taking supplements of the ingredients that benefit your body. The amounts of beneficial ingredients in pre-workouts generally come in small doses that aren’t very helpful to the body — so taking proper supplements will help optimize your workouts more so!

Natural Alternatives to Pre-Workout

If you’d rather bypass the artificial flavors, sweeteners, and lack-luster doses of beneficial ingredients in pre-workout, consider trying some natural alternatives! Dr. Alice and Tyler Mounce drink coffee (there’s the natural dose of caffeine we mentioned earlier). Dr. Alice also recommends green tea extract! Amir Mofidi says there’s a great advantage to listening to music that hypes you up on your way to the gym, finding a workout partner that motivates you, and finding a coach who pushes you. You don’t need pre-workout to have a killer workout!