Pre-workout supplements can bring your workout performance to the next level. In addition to providing you with the energy and power to get the most out of your workout, they also help with muscle recovery, fatigue, as well as growth.
Most of these supplements rely on stimulants such as caffeine to give the user an illusion of higher energy. In turn, the stimulants often lead to sleepless nights, intermittent changes of the Circadian rhythm, and loss of mental wellness.
Many people are sensitive or completely intolerant to caffeine. In such cases, caffeine free pre-workout supplements prove to be effective alternatives for people seeking to aid their workout without suffering the side effects of frequent caffeine use.
The science behind caffeinated pre-workout supplements is to capitalize on the way caffeine affects the body. It essentially raises blood glucose levels and in turn, makes this glucose available for the muscles to use as energy. However, this process causes the release of excess amounts of the hormone glucagon, which creates an imbalance within the glucose pathways in the body.
The body initiates a process called gluconeogenesis, which involves converting non-carbohydrate sources into glucose, a substance usable by the body as energy. The primary building blocks for this process are amino acids, which are crucial to muscle development. Although caffeine gives you the energy to assist your workout, it may not be helping you with that muscle growth you are after. To summarize, caffeine free pre-workout supplements are a viable solution to the many negative side effects of regular workout supplements.
Listed below are a number of creditworthy caffeine free pre-workout supplements, available for purchase:
One of the most common ingredients often found in caffeine free pre-workout supplements are Creatine. As a part of the natural energy cascade, this amino acid is known for its ability to increase strength and stimulate muscle growth in the body.
During a workout, the human body breaks down ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to produce energy. It continuously re-synthesises ATP and thus, becomes the limiting factor related to performance and restless physical intensity. In other words, you use ATP faster than your body is able to generate it. Creatine supplements are intended to fix this exact problem! They increase phosphocreatine reserves, allowing the body to produce more ATP to fuel muscles during highly intense exercise periods. Simply put, increased Creatine levels result in more ATP. This highers the impulsive energy available to the muscles, which helps the muscle fibres move freely, and conclusively aids muscle growth. In the long term, Creatine supplementation assists workouts by enhancing strength, reducing the build-up of fat in the muscles, as well as increasing the development of red and white muscle fibres.
Creatine is available in many forms. Creatine monohydrate being the most common and Creatine-HCL a popular alternative. The use of Creatine-HCL results in less water retention than creatine monohydrate and thus produces slimmer, and more active muscles. Both, however, result in greater than normal levels of creatine stored within muscles. This is a big factor in providing muscles with the energy required for highly intense physical activities. Furthermore, Creatine effectively buffers the build-up of lactic acid and hydrogen ions, which helps the reduction of muscle fatigue, while improving recovery during workouts. The build-up of lactic acid in the muscles often results in a burning feeling towards the end of a workout, which limits the effectiveness of the routine. To conclude, Creatine is an essential substance in aiding individuals who are dedicated to reaching the goal of their workout.
Some individuals do not absorb Creatine very effectively. This may simply be a matter of genetics. Furthermore, creatine is not very effective in aerobic exercises such as running, and thus, creatine-only pre-workout supplements may not be the best choice for users. In such cases, Citrulline (otherwise known as l-citrulline), is an amino acid which aids the body in producing more nitric oxide (NO). This compound is a vasodilator, meaning it improves circulation and effectively makes oxygen more accessible to the muscles.
Unlike stimulants such as caffeine, nitric oxide widens the blood vessels and thus allows better blood flow to the muscles. This substantially improves muscle function as it delivers more oxygen and nutrients for use by the muscles, and can vastly improve workout performance. Not only does this enhance performance, citrulline has been found to reduce muscle fatigue and improve concentration during workout sessions.
Many caffeine free pre-workout supplements combine citrulline with L-malate. The purpose of the addition of malic acid is to boost energy levels and improve overall performance. Numerous studies have been done on female tennis players, which show the ingestion of citrulline malate prior to exercise, result in increased strength of grip and a higher loss of energy. Similar gains were found with male weight lifters, whereby citrulline malate supplementation resulted in better performance in the lower body. In addition to improving performance, citrulline malate has been proven to reduce muscle soreness, which is beneficial for seasoned athletes and those who recently began working out.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid which is naturally synthesised in the liver. It can be obtained through various meats such as beef and poultry. Although it is considered a non-essential amino acid since the body is able to produce it internally, supplementation with beta-alanine have shown very decisive results.
Beta-alanine, when ingested as part of the supplement, moves directly to the muscle fibres. It then combines with histidine, another amino acid, to form a compound called carnosine. Carnosine is responsible for maintaining the pH of blood, while acting as a buffer between hydrogen ions, hence promoting a lesser build-up of acid, substantially increasing the amount of high-intensity work the human body is able to achieve during intense workout.
Blood pH is very important during workouts. An acidic environment in the blood can result in premature muscle fatigue and be detrimental to results. During exercise, the body naturally produces more acid. This worsens the situation, unless it is counteracted by compounds such as beta-alanine.
Supplementation with beta-alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58% in just four weeks, and 80% in 10 weeks. Studies have shown that athletes who used supplements together with with beta-alanine, especially during high-intensity interval training, noticeably increased their lean muscle mass, as well as noting improvements in performance and reduction in fatigue and soreness.
Increased carnosine in the muscles has also been linked to those with a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibres. Sprinters and naturally muscular individuals have higher carnosine concentrations. Men also enjoy higher concentrations of muscular carnosine than women, primarily due to the fact that the enzyme which catabolizes carnosine is more active in women.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been known to boost workouts. The primary BCAAs are L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine. Leucine is the most studied of the lot and has much research to back up its benefits. Studies have shown that athletes who took BCAA supplements, with resistance training workouts, enjoyed greater muscle strength as well as improved fat loss and lean muscle gains.
These nondescript little amino acids are being endorsed as the new best way to build and maintain muscle, as well as increase metabolism, especially when taken as a pre-workout supplement. The body uses BCAAs as energy sources during exercise. In fact, 3 to 18 percent of all impulsive workout energy is provided by these amino acids. Thus, athletes and people who exercise regularly can definitely benefit from having a few of these BCAAs lying around.
Leucine, in particular, is an anabolic (muscle building) amino acid. It is involved in protein synthesis, stimulating muscle growth. Furthermore, leucine helps the body in preventing the breakdown of muscle tissue for the use of energy, something that is necessary for efficiency of workout sessions.
Another benefit of leucine, is its ability to regulate blood glucose levels, providing energy to the cells and supporting brain function, thus maintaining focus and motivation throughout a workout. It also makes glucose more available to the muscles by supporting the function of insulin. The upside of insulin, is that it retains the breakdown of muscle mass while motivating the intake of BCAAs by the cells.
The fact that BCAAs support muscle development can be favorable to athletes. This increases the basal metabolic rate, thus resulting in the development of more lean muscle and less fat, in a shorter time. Another little-known advantage of BCAAs, is that they inhibit serotonin, a neurotransmitter that often materializes during exercise. Serotonin increases the feeling of fatigue, which may cause you to stop your workout. Thus, the consumption of BCAAs as pre-workout supplements are strongly beneficial for fulfilling ambitions involving healthy fitness.
The primary difference between the aforementioned non-stimulant supplements and caffeine pre-workout supplements, is that caffeine has a vasoconstricting effect. Although this effect gives the illusion of a temporary increase in energy, the body ends up wearing out the muscles, bringing them to fatigue quicker, ultimately resulting in dreadful performance.
With all the research available at the click of a button, and many caffeine free pre-workout supplements on the market today, it makes sense to provide the body with all the building blocks and fuel it requires to perform at its best. A pilot would not fuel a jet with water and expect it to fly, much like an athlete would not push their body beyond limits without the necessary resources. To conclude, caffeine free pre-workout supplements are essential for maintaining muscles during workouts, helping individuals achieve the most out of their routine, along with increasing recovery time and significantly reducing fatigue.