Pre-Workout: To Take or Not To Take

Where is the magic pill that makes us lean and muscular? If you have it, I want it! Wishful thinking. As often as we see a new supplement on the market to do this or that, some are actually pretty awesome to have on board. One question people frequently ask me is if I take a pre-workout. I do! The questions of why, when, and which one are some topics I will touch on for a little insight into one of my training habits.

As for when I take it, on the days I feel like I am dragging or I know the workout will be particularly intense. This would be either a larger muscle group (i.e. back, legs) or a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) day. It ends up being about 4-5 days a week since my preferred workout time is 5 am due to my busy nurse life schedule. I DO NOT take it before an evening workout. Even though I am dragging after a 12 hour shift, the manufacturer label says not to take it 5 hours before bed. Do I always listen? NOPE. But I also do not like lying in bed staring at the ceiling when I have work the next day. Discretion, perhaps? 

How much do I use at once? I mix 1 scoop (I tolerate this) into half of a large glass of water. I chug it 15 min before I head out of the house to the gym. Please do not take more than one scoop per day, we are not machines.

Which one do I prefer? There are so many pre-workouts on the market and I am sure every Instagram fitness guru has one he or she promotes as "the best." The main thing is finding one that works for YOU. Things I look for in my pre-workout are energy, alertness, and NOT feeling jittery or anxious. I currently use GAT Nitraflex as my go-to. I formerly used BPI 1M.R. I do endorse either of these brands for the energy and alertness they provide but I currently found GAT adds a little more to my overall goals. 

Why do I prefer Nitraflex by GAT?
It contains ingredients that promote lean muscle mass and increased blood flow to muscles, heck yes!

One, it allows the testosterone we already have to be more accessible during a workout. Ever wonder why men are so much leaner, naturally? Well, they have this incredible hormone known as testosterone. It is the hormone that is the polar opposite of estrogen; the predominant sex hormone of women. Where estrogen holds fat and makes us PMS (sign me up), testosterone aids in lean muscle production, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. By allowing my NATURAL testosterone to be accessible (because men and women have both hormones just one has less and one has more), I am able to form and build more lean muscle. This in turn makes my workout that much more effective!

Two, it contains several amino acids/ingredients that have key roles. Beta-alanine is one of the important ingredients. It increases l-carnosine (or carnosine), which decreases acid production by the muscles. Lactic acid is naturally produced by muscles during workouts which cause muscles to fatigue. You can usually tell the next day when your muscles are sore that you had a lot of lactic acid production during the workout.  Another is l-citrilline which is naturally converted by the kidneys into l-arginine and nitric oxide, providing increased blood flow to muscles. That increased blood flow brings oxygenated blood to those hard working muscles. Then there is l-tyrosine, which is actually known for allowing the brain to perform during “peak” performance. It also increases mental clarity, memory, and mood. Lastly, caffeine, the one with the bad rap. The amount of caffeine in a serving of Nitraflex is less than a Starbucks Venti Blonde roast coffee. So before we all get crazy, your coffee has more caffeine than this particular pre-workout! Would I still start with a half scoop? Yup, sure would. Your body is given a little extra with "supplements" in order to perform even better. With this in mind you should start with only  fraction of the scoop for several days and increase as tolerated to the recommended dose. One of the first days I used pre-workout ever in my life, I had a full scoop of the 1 M.R. and I literally thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head (not my best moment or look).  Don't be a hero :)

Drinking a pre-workout doesn’t burn calories or make you eat well. It doesn’t drive you to the gym or plop you in a park to go for a walk. These are all up to you! But I do know if you are looking to take your fitness to a whole new level, this is a great way to see some incredible results.

Disclaimer: Speak to your doctor before taking any new supplements! I am not endorsed by any brands mentioned, just sharing my preferred products :)

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