Need more energy, fast? Here's what you need for a pre-workout boost

Need an energy boost in the gym? There are quite a few options to fuel you body, pre-workout.

Pre-workout powders and pills can be found by the bucket load in supplement shops. I journeyed to trial RCN's WMD Pre-Warfare which markets itself as military grade, amping up energy and adrenaline, pumping up muscles, and increasing focus and concentration.

A "Sergeant" should consume 1 scoop with water, while "Special Ops" should consume a heaping scoop. It certainly provides a caffeine jolt (similar to about three cups of coffee per scoop). My face tingled, my arms tingled, and mind and body felt different. But is it good for you? Pre-workout powders work, but you'll need a chemistry degree to understand where the ingredients come from.

Natural hit

I recall Olympic athletes in London drinking beetroot juice pre-event, believing in its performance boosting properties.

Team USA's website even reports on its benefits via a dietician with a Masters in Nutrition, detailing the magical ingredient – nitrate. Beetroot juice decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow while increasing metabolic threshold and VO2 Max.

The recommendation is to consume 150mls of beetroot juice daily with an additional 150mls one hour before exercise.

Coffee up

Two cups of coffee has long been known to be a pre-workout stimulant. As reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology, two groups exercised, and the group that consumed two cups of coffee compared to the placebo group had greater energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Further, they felt exercise was easier, and even had a lower energy intake of food later in the day.

Many folks dose up on energy drinks pre-gym with Red Bull having sold north of 62 billion cans around the world. If you need a sugar kick, you'll be swallowing around 12.5 teaspoons of it in a large can.

Sure, you'll get a jolt of energy for your gym session, but consuming the same sugar as contained within five Krispy Kreme donuts isn't healthy – it's chasing your tail, trying to burn off the calories that just hit your gut 30 minutes prior to lacing up the running shoes.


Pump up the volume

Throw on the headphones and crank up that music, because music is a chemical-free, performance enhancing drug. It's common (and scientific) sense – people move to the beat, and every Spin Class is evidence of that.

It's believed music works as a distractor and mood-enhancer. Either way, cranking up the tunes means you'll workout longer, with more intensity and smiles.

Fruit flavour

Mother nature offers plenty to get in our bellies an hour before a session. Low blood sugar can lead to fatigue, so get some fruit into your gut.

Bananas, watermelon squares, and a handful of grapes all contain natural sugar to give a bit of energy and bulk before a session.

Breakfast or nah?

To eat breakfast pre-workout, or not? 'Fasted Cardio' isn't a well-known strategy, but the idea is this – your body likes to burn the fuel it last consumed.

So, if you wake in the morning and exercise without breakfast, it will go into what's stored away (body fat) and burn that. Some fitness fanatics swear by fasted cardio, yet the jury is still out as you can find science supporting it while finding other science undermining it.

The worst pre-workout nutrition is the same as post-workout – avoid processed foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. And avoid moving your body with a food-coma sized belly.

Ultimately, there is no perfect pre-workout nutrition regime, as supplements, coffee, and an early breakfast may affect your body differently than mine. It takes time and experimentation to learn when your body performs at its peak.

Get inspired. Yesterday's intake is today's energy.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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