Are Pre-Workout Supplements Addictive? Are Pre-Workout Supplements Safe?

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Addictive?

Consuming pre-workout supplements has become a common practice in today’s athletic, general fitness and bodybuilding communities. Pre-workout supplements serve to provide enhanced energy and focus, and typically come in a powder form (which is mixed with water), or liquid form. The market for pre-workout supplements has exploded in recent years as the supplement and fitness industries have grown exponentially, and their consumption has become normalized. In 2016, the supplement industry generated $132.8 Billion globally, and is forecasted to grow to $220.3 Billion by 2022.

With their expanding market and But, are pre-workout supplements addictive? Are pre-workout supplements safe? The answer isn’t so simple.

What’s In Pre-Workout Supplements?

Let’s break down pre-workout supplements into their individual ingredients in order to gauge their addictive potential and safety.

Pre-workout supplements are generally a cocktail of ingredients. Typically, the primary ingredients are stimulants such as caffeine and tyrosine, with some secondary ingredients. There are variations in formulas depending on the brand, but here are some ingredients that you can expect to find in pre-workouts:

  • Caffeine is often the primary stimulant added to pre-workout supplements. Caffeine is found in many beverages, including coffee, soda, and tea. In the broadest sense, Caffeine can be considered to have addictive potential, but some choose to define caffeine having the potential for “mild dependance“. It is possible to overdose on caffeine, and pre-workout supplements are typically loaded with it.
  • Tyrosine is an amino acid that may boost workout intensity. Some studies suggest tyrosine may increase athletic performance, and some even conclude it may enhance mental focus when combined with caffeine. It is generally considered safe up to 3,000 milligrams per day.
  • Taurine is an amino asset shown to increase athletic performance, although the mechanism by which it does so isn’t completely clear. It’s also been shown to increase fat burning during exercise. Taurine is generally considered safe without side effects in recommended doses, and may even help treat congestive heart failure, acute hepatitis, and cystic fibrosis.
  • Arginine is included in pre-workout supplements to improve blood flow to muscles, especially for resistance training. It is generally considered safe when taken in dosages comparable to what is naturally occurring in food, but can cause side effects such as headaches. However, caution should be used under some circumstances, including women, children, people with impaired kidney function, and women in high-risk pregnancies.
  • Creatine is included in pre-workout supplements because of its ability to pull more water into the muscles, resulting in a greater pump and more energy. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that helps the body produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), resulting in enhanced capacity for quick and explosive muscle contractions.
What Does It Mean?

There isn’t a great deal of research that conclusively determines whether or not pre-workouts are addictive. However, the stimulants in pre-workouts may fall under the broad definition of having addictive potential. In the broadest sense of the word “addictive”, this could just mean that – due to the caffeine, tyrosine, and any other stimulants that may be included in a particular pre-workout formulation – pre-workouts can create mild psychological and physical dependencies in those that consume it.

In conservative dosages, pre-workouts seem to be generally safe. It’s important to read the labels on pre-workout supplements to ensure that you’re not ingesting a great-than-recommended dosage of any of the individual ingredients. It’s also important to mention that pre-workout supplements are not FDA approved, and were added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances in 2010. So in conclusion, the jury is still out on pre-workouts as a cocktail of ingredients, and they should be consumed with caution and have the potential for mild dependancy.