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Not all pre-workouts are created equal

dumbbell weight surrounded by gym supplement powder and pills


Not all pre-workouts are created equal

The fitness world can be a difficult one to navigate. Whether it’s new workouts, styles of training, the next fad diet, or HIIT routine it can get pretty confusing – the supplement industry is no different. While there are some companies producing quality products while keeping your health in mind, these tend to be buried by the hundreds of products containing ingredients that can be toxic for your body.

One of the most popular types of supplements are pre-workouts. These supplements are taken to improve energy and endurance for workouts. They are typically taken prior to training. Pre-workouts are known for containing ingredients that can greatly improve performance and endurance, but they will also produce negative side effects that can leave you feeling lethargic, drained, and can cause or increase anxiety.

Below are a few toxic ingredients to avoid when purchasing pre-workout supplements.

Artificial Coloring

There are more than 3,000 food additives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients added to foods in the US. Many of these same ingredients are actually banned in other countries due to their toxic and hazardous health effects. Americans are consuming five times as much food dye as we did in 1955. Many companies add artificial colors to their products to make them more appealing to the consumers or to match their branding. The 3 main food color additives to look out for are: yellow 5, yellow 6 and red 40. These contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has linked with cancer. Other artificial coloring names to look out for are Blue 1 and 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, and Red 3.

High caffeine content

While the FDA recognizes caffeine as safe for consumption it is actually a very tricky thing to navigate as it is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. This is why how much you consume is very important. Some pre-workouts on their own can exceed the “generally safe” maximum of 500mg recommended daily dose. Too much caffeine can lead to adrenal fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, and anxiety. It is recommended to look for a pre-workout that is caffeine or stimulant-free. AMPD Nutrition manufactures a quality stimulant-free/caffeine free pre-workout that gives women the boost they need through the use of vitamins, minerals and healthy/natural ingredients.


DMAA is also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract. It is an ingredient found illegally in some dietary supplements and often represented as a ‘natural’ stimulant. Basically, it is an amphetamine that you can buy legally. Even though this ingredient has been banned by the FDA companies are still finding ways around this to keep it in their products. Ingesting DMAA can elevate blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems from shortness of breath to a heart attack. This isn’t to be confused to be DMAE which is an ingredient that improves brain health and mood.

The best bet when selecting a pre-workout supplement is to make sure you are familiar with the ingredients, make sure the list of the ingredients is short with zero artificial flavors, colors and/or additives. Also, check to make sure that the caffeine content isn’t extremely high (200mg or less) or look for supplements that are stimulant-free like AMPD Nutrition’s PRE-E.

Supplements are just that … supplements. You can get everything you need from a diet rich in nutrient-dense whole foods but if you need a little more pep in your step, purchasing a pre-workout with good ingredients can be very beneficial for your training.

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Meagan Kunisch

NASM certified personal trainer, full time online training and posing coach for ADOFitness, and NSL PRO bikini competitor.

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