Expert talks benefits, dangers of pre-workout

Shadow Nutrition claims to offer customers pre-workout with high-quality, patented ingredients. Photo by Cara Kalouris / The Jambar contributor

By Cara Kalouris

Over the past two decades, pre-workout supplements have dominated the world of exercise. Between its content of caffeine and vitamins, it claims to provide both stamina and focus to yield users the best workout possible.  

With more than 12 years experience and a master’s degree in food and nutrition, professor and sports dietitian Amy Raabe said pre-workout is a way to give your body a boost during exercise.

“Pre-workouts are designed to provide a stimulus for an individual to have more energy during their workout,” Raabe said. “The neuromuscular pathway is in an excited state and makes the individual feel like they have a ton of energy.”

According to Grandview Research, the market of pre-workout sales has skyrocketed, with a cumulative profit of $112.6 billion in 2019. Its researchers predict the compound’s annual growth rate from 2020 to 2027 will be around 8.3%. 

Last year, the trend “dry-scooping” gained popularity among young people on TikTok. The term refers to when an individual dumps the supplement straight into their mouths instead of the recommended dilution in water. 

Raabe said she does not recommend the trend. 

“Two major problems that I have are the risk of inhaling powder into the lungs and faster delivery of nutrients which can cause unintended reactions,” Rabbe said. “My strong suggestion is if you choose to try a pre-workout, mix it according to the instructions.”

Since the supplement has gained such popularity, Raabe advises users to know the scientific information behind the product to ensure they are using it safely. 

“The best way to get information is to first see if your pre-workout is third-party tested,” Raabe said. “As far as individual ingredients, a good place to start is looking at the office of dietary supplements website.”

According to Raabe, pre-workouts rely on heavy doses of caffeine and sugar, causing the body to experience hard crashes.

Some supplement sellers claim their products use healthier ingredients.

Shadow Nutrition, which has two Youngstown State University graduates among its owners, opened this year. It offers their customers a pre-workout it says increases blood flow and cellular hydration by using high-quality, patented ingredients. 

Jay Wooley, one of the co-owners, graduated from YSU in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in applied science. 

“Our invention provides a unique one-two punch of patented ingredients Nitrosigine and Hydromax, to deliver maximal pumps by not only increasing blood flow but cellular hydration,” Wooley said.

One of his business partners, Joe West, earned his bachelor’s in dietetics from YSU in 2015 and his master of Health and Human Services in 2017. 

“The effects of a pre-workout are completely dependent on both the types of ingredients as well as the dosages.  So, as a consumer, you should be very careful when choosing the right product for you,” West said. “Pre-workouts and supplementation as a whole can be a useful tool with the right product.”

Both Raabe and Whooley strongly suggest individuals who have pre-existing conditions to not take the supplement. 

Fatima Mohamed, a first-year student in YSU’s business administration program, has been taking pre-workout supplements for four years. 

“I love how much pre-workout helps to ensure I’m giving my all during a workout,” Mohamed said. “With that being said, I care so much about what I put in my body, so I make sure to use supplements that have the best ingredients. I steer clear of ones with high sugar levels and artificial ingredients.”

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