Are you looking for a way to power up your workouts without the risk of side effects from chemical-laden pre-workout supplements? You’re in luck! In this article, we’ll be sharing our top five natural alternatives to pre-workouts that will give you the energy boost you need to crush your gym session.
We all know that feeling of coming home after a long day and being too exhausted to even think about hitting the gym. But with the right fuel, you can kick that fatigue to the curb and power through your workout with ease. While pre-workout supplements can be a quick fix, they often come with a laundry list of potential side effects, from heart abnormalities to nausea to itching. A 2019 study on the use of pre-workouts found that about 54% of the people who took part had skin reactions, heart problems, or felt sick.
But you don’t have to rely on artificially made products to level up your energy levels. There are plenty of natural alternatives that will help you hit your workout with full force and good energy level. So if you’re ready to take your training to the next level without all the nasty side effects, keep reading to discover our top five natural pre-workout alternatives!
How Do Natural Pre-workout Alternatives Work?
Natural pre-workout alternatives are foods that provide the body with the necessary fuel and nutrients to enhance physical performance and energy during exercise. These foods can help provide sustained energy, aid in muscle repair and growth, and support recovery after exercise.
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are a good source of energy for endurance activities, providing a slow release of energy over time. Lean protein sources help to repair and build muscle tissue. Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts and seeds, also provide sustained energy and help with overall body function.
Additionally, fruits and vegetables, particularly those rich in antioxidants, can help reduce muscle damage during intense exercise. Nitrate-rich foods like leafy greens, can also help to improve blood flow, which can in turn help endurance, and reduce muscle fatigue.
5 Natural Pre-workout Alternatives
Coffee is a popular and cost-effective natural pre-workout alternative, due to its main active ingredient, caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to improve both physical and mental performance, making it a great choice for those looking to enhance their workouts. The level of caffeine in coffee can vary depending on the roast and the volume consumed, with darker roasts generally containing less caffeine.
Additionally, coffee contains minerals and antioxidants, which provide additional health benefits. Decaffeinated coffee can also be consumed by those who want the benefits without caffeine. The advantage of coffee is that it’s highly customizable; it can be consumed black, or with various additions such as sugar, cream, or healthy options like coconut and MCT oil. It’s also cost-effective when made at home, and it allows for careful control of caffeine consumption, which is important as caffeine intake close to bedtime can affect sleep.
Caffeine in coffee stimulates the release of hormones that heighten alertness and binding to the receptors of fatigue-inducing compounds, thus nullifying their effects. This makes coffee a simple and effective choice for those looking to boost their workouts and increase focus and intention during training. The given information also recommends it to be taken as a shot of espresso or double, which allow to control the caffeine intake and maximize its effects.
Bananas are a great natural alternative to pre-workout supplements because they are rich in nutrients that can help to boost energy and support muscle function during intense physical activity.
One key nutrient in bananas is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the body during intense physical activity, such as weightlifting or cardio sessions. Eating a banana before a workout can help to provide the body with the energy it needs to perform at a high level.
Another important nutrient in bananas is potassium. Potassium is a mineral that plays a vital role in muscle function. It helps to regulate muscle contractions and supports proper muscle function during exercise. Eating a banana before a workout can help to ensure that the muscles have adequate levels of potassium to perform at their best.
Additionally, bananas contain Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Vitamin C which all play important roles in metabolism, muscle functions, and energy production.
Research also suggests that the slow release of glucose from bananas can help to enhance muscle functioning during workouts. When glucose is released slowly into the bloodstream, it provides a steady source of energy for the body to use during physical activity, rather than a quick spike followed by a crash. This can help to improve endurance and reduce fatigue during a workout.
In summary, bananas are a great natural alternative to pre-workout supplements because they are rich in energy-boosting nutrients such as carbohydrates and potassium, and they provide a slow release of glucose to help enhance muscle functioning during workouts.
3. Green Tea
Green tea is a great natural pre-workout supplement alternative because it contains unique compounds called catechins, which have been shown to have numerous health benefits. The most potent and well-known catechin found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
EGCG has been shown to have a number of positive effects on the body. Studies have shown that it can help to reduce body fat, increase blood flow, and reduce muscle soreness. This is important for athletes and gym-goers because increased blood flow can help to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles during exercise, which can improve performance and reduce fatigue. EGCG also has been shown to increase muscle endurance and strength.
Green tea’s catechins also have been shown to increase the uptake of oxygen, which is important for the body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise, leading to better performance. This unique benefit from green tea catechins is different from caffeine, which is also found in green tea in smaller amounts, and provides a quick boost of energy but can have jittery side effects in some people.
It is important to note that many of the positive effects from green tea, particularly the ones related to general health and fitness, require long-term consumption. Therefore, incorporating green tea into your daily routine can be beneficial. Other teas, like black tea, also provide unique benefits as they contain different polyphenols in different amounts, which can also contribute to overall health and fitness.
4. Fruit Juices
Fruit juices can be an excellent natural alternative to pre-workout supplements because they provide a concentrated source of carbohydrates and other essential nutrients that can boost energy and support muscle function during intense physical activity.
Most commercial fruit juices, however, are not a good source of nutrients because they are often made from concentrate and are high in added sugars, which can provide empty calories and lead to weight gain. To get the most nutritional benefit from fruit juices, it is important to choose fresh, natural juices that are made from whole fruits and vegetables. These types of juices are usually found in the natural/organic section of supermarkets and health food stores, or some stores even offer cold-pressed juices made fresh onsite.
Different fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients, so variety is key when it comes to making healthy pre-workout juice. Berries, for example, are high in antioxidants, which can help to protect the body from cellular damage caused by intense exercise.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are high in vitamin C, which can help to boost the immune system and support muscle function. Vegetables such as spinach, kale, and beets are rich in nitrates which can help to improve blood flow, oxygenation, and endurance during exercise.
Oatmeal is a great natural pre-workout supplement alternative because it is a nutritious whole food that can provide sustained energy and support muscle function during intense physical activity.
One of the key benefits of oatmeal is that it is a great source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the body during intense physical activity, such as weightlifting or cardio sessions. Consuming oatmeal a couple of hours before your workout can help to provide the body with the energy it needs to perform at a high level.
Oatmeal is also high in fiber, which is important for blood sugar control, digestion, and heart health. The Fiber content in oatmeal slows the digestion of carbohydrates, this helps to prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, providing a steady source of energy throughout the workout.
Additionally, oatmeal contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as Vitamin B6, Iron, and magnesium which are important for metabolism and muscle functions.
You can make oatmeal more flavorful and nutritious by adding blueberries and your choice of nut butter. Berries are high in antioxidants, which can help to protect the body from cellular damage caused by intense exercise. Nut butters, such as almond or peanut butter, provide healthy fats, protein, and added flavor to your oatmeal.
It is worth mentioning that you may want to avoid adding too much added sugar, honey or syrup to the oatmeal, as this can negate the benefits of having it as pre-workout meal and spike blood sugar levels.
In conclusion, when it comes to pre-workout nutrition, there are many options available, including natural alternatives such as bananas, green tea, fresh juices, and oatmeal. Each of these options provide a variety of nutrients that can help to boost energy and support muscle function during intense physical activity.
However, it is important to remember that nutrition is individual, and pre-workout nutrition will depend on a variety of factors including the duration and intensity of your workout, the type of workout, environmental factors, and your own personal preferences and needs. It is important to consult with a health care provider and find a pre-workout routine that works for you and fits your nutritional goals.
Finding foods that keep you full and comfortable through your workouts can take some trial and error and determining the right time to eat whether you’re having a meal a few hours before your sweat or a snack 30 minutes before you start might also take a few tries