Finding the best pre-workout drink can be a challenge, there are thousands on the market all claiming to be the best! So how do you cut through the bullsh*t and find the best pre-workout for you?
Firstly, it’s important to understand the hundreds of different ingredients that are used in pre-workout supplements. Most pre-workout products contain a variety of substances to provide specific improvements, from stimulating you, to increasing your pump, or improving your endurance.
However, the difficulty is knowing which of the main ingredients of pre-workouts are backed by evidence to help you improve your workouts. This essential overview will dive into the science behind the best pre-workout ingredients, including how they work and the benefits they provide. All of the following substances are suitable for drug tested athletes as none of them are banned substances.
What Are The Most Important Pre-Workout Substances?
L-Citrulline is an amino acid found in small amounts in plants and animals, but found in larger doses in watermelon. Its main role in pre-workouts is to act as a vasodilator (which allows blood to flow more freely) in order to enhance the ‘pump’ and give a more vascular look in the gym(1)
The studied dose of L-Citrulline to provide the enhanced L-arginine levels in order to increase vasodilation is 6000 mg (2).
Beta Alanine has been extensively studied to increase muscular endurance (3). Beta Alanine has been found to increase muscle carnosine levels in order to decrease lactic acid build up, and to increase strength and overall performance. Studies conducted where participants take between 3.2g - 6.4g of beta alanine daily show a significant increase in overall performance including an increase in Vo2 Max, and power output (4). It is worth noting that that Beta alanine can cause paresthesia (a harmless tingling sensation on the skin) which does dissipate after several minutes, 3.2g is the upper limit for tolerance of parathsia for most people, ingesting any more than this at any one time can be quite uncomfortable.
Malic acid is often paired with Citrulline (Citrulline Malate), which helps with power output and fatigue, found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, especially apples. Malic acid works well with creatine supplementation and Citrulline to enhance their bioavailability. A studied dose found to be safe is between 1400 mg and 2400 mg (5).
Not only can L-Tyrosine help to combat physical stress, it can help to alleviate mental stress and improve mental alertness by improving dopamine levels in the brain. L-Tyrosine is an amino acid found primarily in meats such as beef and pork. Many studies have been conducted on using 500 mg - 20000 mg L-Tyrosine daily. It has proven itself to be a very safe and effective compound even in high doses. L-Tyrosine has shown to be an effective dose in clinical studies to improve alertness and mental performance (6).
One of the most bioavailable forms of Choline, Alpha GPC has been shown to be effective in improving mood and alertness, however when combined with caffeine (as in PR3) this is where a lot of very interesting studies have been conducted and shown Alpha GPC + Caffeine combined increases endurance, mental focus and athletic performance (7). Studies have shown 400 mg to be an effective dose at improving alertness.
Kanna (Skeletium Tortosum)
Kanna (the miracle cognitive enhancer) has long been used as an antioxylotic to give a calming and relaxed effect, this may seem a strange additive to a pre-workout, why would you want to be calm? Kanna has a profound effect on serotonin levels, serotonin is the ‘happy hormone’ providing a euphoric feeling, not only does Kanna produce a euphoric happy feeling, research has found it inhibits an enzyme called PDE-4, which in turn increases the body's ability to Increase testosterone, and stimulate anabolic and anti catabolic effects. Kanna is a fantastic ingredient to any supplement.
Caffeine is quite possibly the most studied Ingredient in the sports nutrition industry, alongside Creatine! Caffeine has a long history of being used as a performance enhancing supplement(8).
Caffeine used in even small amounts can have a significant effect on the CNS (central nervous system) in order to increase energy levels, too much caffeine however can result in many issues, a caffeine crash can occur in doses above 400mg per serving.
Potassium comes in many forms, nitrates are completely different from any other kind, producing a surge in nitric oxide within the blood which increases vasodilation. With potassium nitrate you get a double hit of benefits in its ability to alleviate cramps from intense physical exertion, you also get an increase in vascularity. Interestingly a double blind placebo controlled study (9) showed Potassium nitrate to increase power output levels in crossfit athletes.
Teacrine is the trademarked form of Theacrine, a purine alkaloid, which similarly effects the CNS like caffeine. Theacrine has been shown to improve mental alertness and improve cognition. Similar to other cognitive enhancers, theacrine improves dopamine levels, in a well researched study theacrine was shown to not only improve alertness, but when combined with caffeine improves energy levels and sharpness (10). Teacrine is used under license from compound solutions.
Pink Himalayan salt
Whilst pink himalayan salt will not elevate your energy levels, or improve your mental alertness, what it will do is help to keep you hydrated and balance your electrolytes. Pink himalayan salt (sodium) works beneficially alongside potassium nitrate to provide hydration and help to replenish lost sodium stores, used during intense physical exercise
Vitamin B12, one of the best vitamins you can take for improved performance. Vitamin B12 helps to improve red blood cell production, this is a key step in increasing aerobic output and being able to train for longer periods of time. Vitamin B12 increases hemoglobin iron within the blood, this carries oxygen around the body, more oxygen = more energy! Vitamin B12 is very safe and can be well tolerated at high doses such as 500mcg, which is a very good dose for increasing red blood cell production (11).
German Pharma Pr3 - The Ultimate Pre-Workout
Based on the evidence and well-documented use of these ingredients, German Pharma has created Pr3 - the Ultimate Pre-workout. Pr3 contains clinically studied doses of ingredients which are proven to:
- Increase NO2 production
- Improve Vascularity
- Improve Mental alertness
- Improve cognitive function
- Improve power output
- Increase strength
- Decrease lactic acid build up
- Improve mood and elevate mood
German Pharma claims that Pr3 is the best pre-workout on the market, as well as being suitable for meat eaters, vegans & vegetarians and is suitable for drug tested athletes. Pr3 is your new training partner.