Pre-workout supplements sound straightforward. They’re designed to give you a burst of energy for your workout. More energy to power your goals? What could go wrong? The thing is, most pre-workout drinks and supplements contain huge amounts of caffeine and sugar. Those will do the trick during your workout but leave you with unstable blood sugar and a serious crash.
Enter: natural pre-workout drinks. Natural pre-workout drinks contain a lot more than caffeine. They’re chock full of superfoods and other natural ingredients that support your workout and your recovery - without the crash!
In this article, you will learn:
- What a natural pre-workout is
- The top 5 pre-workout superfoods
- When to take a pre-workout supplement
- What to look for in a natural pre-workout drink
What is a Natural Pre-Workout?
There’s no doubt: caffeine is Mother Nature’s best performance-enhancing drug. It improves physical and mental performance and coffee and tea consumption are even linked to better brain performance over time.
But large doses of pure caffeine can push you past your natural limits and leave you feeling wiped out once it wears off. A natural pre-workout drink, on the other hand, includes superfoods and herbs (sometimes in addition to caffeine) that boost your mental and physical performance for the long haul.
Natural pre-workout supplements are also free of potentially toxic colors, flavors, and other additives like sugar.
The Top 5 Pre-Workout Superfoods
1. MatchaMatcha offers all the benefits of caffeine, but without the same buzz as a cup of coffee. It contains L-theanine, a compound associated with calm, steady alertness, so you get the mental clarity without the crash. Matcha is also a rich source of antioxidants and catechins, compounds that can increase your metabolism and help reduce belly fat.
2. CoffeeBerryAnother natural source of caffeine, coffee berry extract contains a compound called chlorogenic acid, which can boost your mood, decrease blood pressure, and help reduce body fat.
3. CordycepsThere are two main types of Cordyceps: Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris. According to recent research, each species and strain offers unique benefits that lower stress, lessen fatigue, and boost physical and mental performance.
4. AshwagandhaAshwagandha and other adaptogenic herbs work with your body to tamper potentially harmful stress hormones that can get out of whack; especially when you’re working out hard or stressed at work. Not only can ashwagandha substantially lower your stress hormone cortisol; it also improves cardio endurance and increases muscle mass and strength.
Deep red beetroot powder is a natural source of dietary nitrate, which helps increase blood flow and increase athletic performance. Beets also contain compounds that can help fight oxidative stress, which can lead to inflammation – a somewhat inevitable side effect of hard workouts and stressful lifestyles.
When Should You Take a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Seems pretty straightforward (the timing is in the name), but pre-workout supplements aren’t just for the gym. You can take a pre-workout anytime you need a boost of energy!
Superfoods in high-quality natural pre-workouts can help balance your stress response and give you the calm, centered energy you need to help you get through your day.
Caffeine from matcha and coffee berry extract can help with memory and cognition, making it perfect for a pre-presentation boost. So why not rely solely on the caffeine in coffee? The addition of adaptogenic herbs like ashwaghanda can help lower stress hormones, which aids in focus and memory retention. Other times to sip on a pre-workout drink:
- In the morning, before work
- Before a big meeting
- While studying
- Before any physical endeavor, like moving, gardening, dancing, etc.
What to Look for in a Natural Pre-Workout Supplement
The word “natural” doesn’t hold a lot of meaning from a regulatory perspective. Just about anyone can add words like that on a label, so it’s important to read the ingredients. First thing’s first: avoid any pre-workout drink with artificial colors or flavors. Instead, look for superfoods like the ones outlined above that support steady energy without the crash.
And while caffeine can boost your metabolism, mental performance, and endurance, a pre-workout drink that just has super high doses of caffeine will lead to burnout. Make sure your natural pre-workout has other natural ingredients that support cognitive function and physical energy.
Other things to look for in a pre-workout drink:
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Natural sources of caffeine
- Natural, non-caloric sugar substitute like stevia
The perfect natural pre-workout will give you steady energy for hours and support the natural stress response that comes with a heavy workout or a long day at work. Do you use a pre-workout supplement?
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