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What's the better Pre-workout fuel? - Pre workout Drinks vs Diet/Eating habits

Updated on October 11, 2015

C4 Cellucore Pre workout mix

Pre work out drinks/stimulants

It's always the same story, just like everyone's body will react differently to different forms/types of training/exercise/stimulus, everyone also has a very distinct way of preparing themselves for those rugged, intense workouts. Some people can have trouble getting the desired amount of the energy needed naturally (there can be any number of reasons for this) and will feel the need to pump themselves full of some type of pre work out stimulant. While other people will just use the discipline of their daily diet/eating habits and self motivation for their required energy kick to work out. As for myself personally, I have tried pretty much every stimulant based pre work out supplement under the sun. Some of them worked extremely well, while others I really didn't even feel like they worked at all. Some of them even worked a little too well. I really do not enjoy that shaky, jittery, geeked up feeling or the vaunted crash/let down that a lot of pre workout drinks can give you once they are burned off. If you do not cycle yourself off these supplements the body can and will eventually develop a dependency and it will come to that point where you have to take one, kind of like the daily coffee drinkers. So this is one of the reasons I am currently choosing to get my energy naturally from my daily diet/eating habits. For those people that choose to live by the stimulant, there are pros and cons to taking them prior to working out.

Gaspari Nutrition Super Pump Max Preworkout

What makes a good pre workout drink?

With so many different brands of pre workout supplements out there on the market to choose from, how do you possibly choose just one? First of all, a pre work out drink, in layman's terms is basically just a stimulant (such as caffeine, ephedra, or ma huang) and a thermogenic (meaning it increases body heat through metabolic stimulation) that gets your blood flow going and can make you more alert mentally while raising your energy levels. A good pre work out drink will also contain other components that will not only give you increased energy (carbohydrates), but will also promote strength and improve your endurance as well. A good pre work out drink contents should also include ingredients that are capable of swiftly removing the toxins in the body that build up as a result of accumulating lactic acid such as B vitamins and bicarbonates. Most good and effective pre workout drinks will also contain one or more of various forms of creatine, glucose and amino acids that assist in providing improved blood flow/circulation (nitric oxide) which will give you that pumped up look. Last but not least, your pre work out drink should embody the nutrients that impede fatigue, improve aerobic endurance, increase muscle mass (controls cortisol build up preventing muscle tissue from breaking down during training), and recovery agents that instantly begin to repair your body after your workout/training session. If the pre work out drink you are using contains all of these components in it, more than likely it's going to provide you with the necessary energy boost you are looking for, if not more.

Foods that provide energy boost

Foods that can promote & provide energy

Getting Energy from your Diet/Eating Habits

If you're one of those people like myself that just prefer to get your energy/fuel the old fashion way, naturally from your daily eating habits/diet instead of from the harsh stimulants in a pre work out drink/supplements or energy drinks, then the food that you're consuming will need to provide you with some quick sustainable energy, such as simple sugars. For those individuals who are naturally big/husky or already over weight and have a problem with fat retention or issues getting rid of the unwanted fat, I definitely would not recommend consuming the higher grams of sugar items, especially those energy drinks such as Monsters, Rock Star and Red Bull that can normally contain anywhere in upwards of 40 to 60 grams of sugar per serving. The more sugar you have flowing through your body, the more fat the body will retain. If your weight training/cardio session requires more stamina and endurance, then your eating habits/diet should consist of foods (carbs) with a lower glycemic index rating (this measures how fast carbohydrates are broken down and affect/increase blood sugar levels in the body) such as peanut butter, whole eggs, fresh fruit, boneless/skinless chicken breast, oatmeal, or celery ribs. Macro nutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) supply energy fuels for body growth, movement and proper functionality. EFA's (essential fatty acids) assists in maintaining testosterone levels during your intense workout sessions. Ironically good fats work really well for endurance training without adding any additional fat. If your not in diet mode or in the process of leaning out, then eating the higher glycemic index rated items are recommended for those more intensive, longer, grueling training days.

What do you use as pre-workout fuel?

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Most Energy Drinks contain ridiculous amounts of Sugar

Too Much of Anything is Bad for you

Although at times you could say I've been somewhat of a guinea pig and have tried quite a few pre work out supplements in my time and many of them did work extremely well giving me that insane energy boost. My body normally responds to things very quickly and I did not want to get to that point where I "had" to take a pre work out drink in order to maintain the intensity of my workout sessions. Just like that old cliche' says, "too much of anything is bad for you". That's just my choice and what I feel is the best thing for me and my body. It's kind of similar to those people that must have their cup or two of coffee in the morning in order to wake up and begin functioning normally and effectively. Some of us have to be given a real good kick in the energy department by some sort of stimulant to get it going. If you workout several times a week and always take pre work out supplement every time you train, your body will and can easily become acclimated to the supplement/stimulant (this includes coffee, caffeine is a stimulant) and then you will have to consume more of it to get the same desired effect every time you take/drink it. This is why I personally prefer to get my daily workout fuel from my natural eating habits/diet and put hard gym work in the old fashion way. A couple of bananas before a workout provides me with plenty of energy. But like I said, that's what's best for me and everyone's body is different and responds to different forms of stimulus.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I actually don't like to eat too much before a work out. Usually a banana or two is all that is needed. After the workout though, I do eat a meal. Have never tried a workout drink though. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • jclaffee profile image

      Jesse Claffee 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      Some great info, Alphadogg16. I usually take the pre-workout meal route by eating some type of complex carb (usually oatmeal) and some type of fruit. And a protein source of course! Keep up the good work friend.