Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • May 19, 2022
For many women, working out is a top priority — even on days that are plagued by low energy. To power through their workouts on busy or tiring days, many women turn to pre-workout for a boost.
But is pre-workout good for women?
Pre-workout supplements — often referred to as just “pre-workout” — are multi-ingredient dietary formulas designed to increase energy and enhance athletic performance by transporting nutrients to the muscles. They’re usually a powdered substance that you can mix in water and drink before hitting the gym. As the name alludes to, you consume pre-workout drinks prior to your workout.
There are multiple pre-workout supplements on the market, and each one has a different set of ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients found in pre-workout supplements include creatine, beta alanine, citrulline, L-Tarurine, L-Leucine, isoleucine, valine and caffeine — all of which work together to serve as energy boosters.
There are many benefits of taking pre-workout, especially for women. The main appeal of taking pre-workout is its possible boosts in athletic performance. According to a 2018 review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition titled “Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review,” a substantial body of evidence suggests that pre-exercise consumption of pre-workout may positively influence muscular endurance and subjective mood. The review notes that frequent consumption of pre-workout in conjunction with a resistance training program appears to lead to beneficial changes in body composition through increased lean mass accretion.
That said, there are a few potential side effects that women in particular need to be aware of: Pre-workout contains caffeine, and while caffeine consumption is relatively safe in healthy adults, excess caffeine intake can lead to impairments in cardiovascular function and sleep. A 2017 study titled “The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review” published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry warns that pregnant and lactating women as well as young women with high blood pressure, underlying heart conditions, insomnia or other health conditions, such as mental illness, may be vulnerable to the negative effects of high levels of caffeine consumption.
Note: Pre-workout is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Healthy adult women who aren’t as susceptible to these effects (and who aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding) may see a positive increase in alertness, energy and elevated mood with caffeine consumption, however. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that consuming 400 mg of caffeine per day is not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. For reference, 400 mg is the equivalent of about four or five cups of coffee. If you’re new to pre-workout, it’s recommended to start out with just half a scoop of pre-workout to assess your tolerance if you’re nervous about possible side effects.
Many women worry pre-workout’s notorious “tingling” sensation may interfere with their workout, but there are pre-workout formulas available that have ingredients to help reduce the jitters, such as the Gainful Pre-workout formula.
When it comes to finding a pre-workout formula, there are certain ingredients to look out for that can help women achieve a number of fitness goals.
Check the label for:
Creatine is an organic compound found naturally in muscle cells and helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Studies show creatine monohydrate can increase lean muscle mass, strength and exercise performance. Creatine helps your muscles produce energy, keeping you going and energized during a long workout.
Beta alanine is an amino acid that your body also produces naturally. It’s effective in preventing post-workout fatigue after exhausting or more strenuous exercises, such as weightlifting. A supplementary dose of beta alanine helps your body produce more carnosine, which can support training at a higher intensity for a longer amount of time and helps to delay muscle fatigue by “soaking” up acid generated during exercise. TL;DR: Beta alanine helps you feel stronger for longer and gives your energy levels a boost.
L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid, which means your body produces it naturally like it does with creatine and beta alanine. Your kidneys change L-citrulline into another amino acid called L-arginine and a chemical called nitric oxide, which are important to your heart and blood vessel health as well as your immune system. Nitric oxide helps your arteries relax and work better, which strengthens the health of your blood vessels and improves blood flow throughout your body. That’s why athletes take L-citrulline to help build muscles and boost their performance. More oxygen in your muscles means they can potentially work harder and more efficiently, and more oxygen transport means the lungs can work more efficiently. One study published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that taking citrulline malate enhances both athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.
Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). These are essential amino acids, which means your body doesn’t produce them naturally so you must consume them. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine comprise about 20-35% of your muscle tissue and are needed for the physiological response to stress and energy production (particularly for muscle health and metabolism). Because the intake of BCAAs can reduce muscle loss and provide faster muscle recovery, many athletes look for BCAAs in both their pre-workout supplements and protein powder supplements. They have been shown to improve endurance during workouts, improve strength during workouts, improve recovery and reduce soreness after workouts and stimulate muscle growth.
Then there’s L-Theanine, an amino acid that the body does not produce naturally and is typically paired with a caffeine stimulant to help increase focus and attention. This ingredient is also present to help reduce the jittery sensation that can come with caffeine consumption. The caffeine stimulates the body’s central nervous system, improves reaction time and reduces fatigue, which allows you to extend the length of your workout.
The best pre-workout for a woman is one that’s formulated specifically for her individual goals.
Gainful offers personalized pre-workout formulas that are created based on the type, frequency and intensity of exercise you partake in, as well as your goals and caffeine preferences. You just take a quiz to find your pre-workout, as well as your own Personalized Protein and Personalized Hydration formula, then Gainful creates your complete system with natural ingredients and sends it right to your doorstep.
Gainful is transparent about every ingredient that goes into your products — no “proprietary blend” here. You can rest easy knowing your pre-workout, protein powder and other formulas are made for you and your body. We believe the best pre-workout is also one that gives you peace of mind.
As noted above, personalized pre-workout is the key to achieving your specific goals.
With so many pre-workouts on the market, it can be tough to figure out the differences between each formula. Gainful products are always made from clean ingredients. The pre-workout is made with L-Citrulline DL-Malate, beta alanine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, L-Theanine as well as caffeine anhydrous (and/or creatine depending on your goals and preferences) which provide a natural energy boost. The BCAAs in Gainful’s personalized pre-workout may help reduce feelings of fatigue and muscle soreness following your workout, and the beta alanine helps delay muscle fatigue so you can extend your l training and build more endurance. The L-Citrulline in Gainful’s pre-workout increases oxygen to muscles and supports transportation of nutrients, which means muscles can work more efficiently.
Gainful pre-workout formulas are available in two flavors: Strawberry Lemonade and Watermelon. (Delicious tastes, no artificial sweeteners necessary.)
As part of your Gainful subscription, you also have access to a Registered Dietitian (RD), who is there to answer any questions you may have about your pre-workout, the dosage of caffeine, avoiding energy crashes during your workouts, how pre-workout affects women specifically — any question at all.
Our team of RDs are here to help every woman make the most of every workout. Ask us anything.
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