Have you ever tried running on an empty stomach and ended up feeling weak and nauseous? Pre workout drinks can be a great solution to your issue. With our list of top picks, you can get the nutrition you need to get back into running.
What Does a Pre Workout Really Do?
Do you find that you get tired before you’ve even reached the halfway mark or notice that you are too hungry to focus on your exercise? If these problems ever happen to you, then a pre workout is a good idea.
These helpful supplements give you nutrition without leaving you feeling too bloated and full to run. The main role of a pre workout supplement is basically just to give you energy for your exercise.
Whenever you go for a run, the body breaks down glycogen in your muscles to fuel the motions. If it runs out of glycogen, then it has to begin a rather inefficient process of breaking down fat and protein into energy.
However, if you just take a pre workout before, your body is already fueled for your workout. This source of ready energy mainly comes from the carbs found in most pre workouts.
A 2014 study from the Nutrients Journal found that having a carbohydrate rich meal before you run makes you feel like you spend less effort to exercise, even though you’re actually working out harder than ever (1).
Not all pre workout uses carbs to fuel you though. Some provide energy through stimulants like caffeine. This helps you power through your run without having to eat carbs or calories that could reduce your chances of losing weight.
Depending on the pre workout drink you select, it may also help you to build muscle following your workout.
For a long time, people thought that you could only use the protein after a workout to build muscle. However, recent research from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that protein timing isn’t as important as we assumed.
As long as you take the pre workout shake within a few hours of your run, your body can still use the protein to repair muscles. This function of pre workout helps you to recover from your exercise and tone up your muscles.
Are Running Pre Workouts Different From Weightlifting Pre Workouts?
You might think that just about any pre workout provides the same sort of nutrition, but this actually isn’t true. The body has different nutritional needs depending on what type of exercise you are doing.
A lot of pre workout supplements are meant for weightlifters, and these have a higher amount of protein than pre workout for runners.
Runners need more carbohydrates and less protein because they are typically expending more energy over a longer course of time. Since carbs turn into glucose quickly, you may need a high-carb pre workout to get the most from your run.
Another ingredient not found in such high levels in weightlifting workouts is fiber. Fiber is not easily digested, so it slows the absorption of other things you eat. The fiber in a cardio pre workout will steadily supply you with energy over the course of your whole workout.
All of these factors add up to mean that you might not get optimal results for your exercise if you take a pre workout meant for weightlifting instead of running. To make sure you pick the right type, you will need to pay attention to the labels and nutritional content.
Ingredients to Look for in your Running Pre Workout
Every pre workout formula is different, but they all tend to contain the same sorts of ingredients. Before you can pick the right pre workout supplement for your needs, it is helpful to know a little about all the ingredients you can find.
Just about every pre workout has carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle health. These are the most important ingredients you need in your pre workout. Pre workouts for long distance runners also tend to have electrolytes that replace the potassium, sodium, and other nutrients you lose while running.
In addition to these basic ingredients, there are other substances that can provide boosts in your performance. Creatine is a type of substance that naturally occurs in muscles, and it helps to produce energy during high intensity runs.
Many pre workouts also have caffeine which gives you energy and helps your body to burn fat. If you still feel a little week, you might want to look for a pre workout with beta alanine. Research from R. M. Hobson shows that it can help to fight off muscle fatigue (3).
Other potentially helpful ingredients include tyrosine, taurine, and l-arginine. All of these help to burn fat, stimulate the metabolism, and increase your energy. You don’t need them like you need carbs, but they can still be useful.
Now that you know what sorts of ingredients can actually boost your performance, let’s check out a few of the great pre workout supplements available for runners!
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Our Five Best Pre Workout Choices for Runners
Vintage Blast Pre Workout
VIntage Blast is an unusual yet effective pre workout that has a two-stage design. This two-stage formula steadily delivers you energy throughout the beginning, middle, and end of your run, so you can finish as strong as you start. During the first stage, you get primarily energetic and muscle building supplements, and then the second stage gives you things needed to help with recovery. Even on longer runs of up to three hours, you can continue to feel the effects of this pre workout supplement.
- Electrolytes and micronutrients help to keep your hydration balanced throughout your run.
- Using stevia instead of artificial sweeteners provides a nice taste without chemicals or excessive calories.
- The d-aspartic acid and l-citrulline helps with a faster recovery and less soreness the next day.
- You feel a noticeable boost in your performance due to the beta alanine.
- This pre workout is completely vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
- You need plenty of water to get it mixed smoothly.
Legion Pulse Pre Workout Supplement
Pulse is a great tasting pre workout that manages to be delicious without using artificial sweeteners, dyes, or fillers. We like that it is made from all natural ingredients and skips some of the dangerous stimulants found in other pre workout supplements.
- One serving has only 5 calories, so you do not harm your weight loss progress by taking this.
- You get just enough caffeine to give you energy without feeling jittery.
- Pulse works quickly, so you can take it as soon as 20 minutes before your run.
- Beta alanine and theanine help to reduce fatigue and stress.
- In addition to the basic carbs, PUlse has six workout supplements clinically proven to boost performance.
- A little on the pricey side since one container only has 20 servings.
- The lack of creatine means that you probably won’t get quite as much muscle growth following your workout.
BSN N.O.-Xplode XE Edge Supplement
This pre workout is ideal for people who plan on running for 45 minutes or longer. It’s formula contains a nice blend of carbohydrates and electrolytes, so you stay hydrated and energetic for your entire run. Since it has 325 milligrams of caffeine, it is definitely an intense experience. This gives you a hyper focus that can help to improve your exercise.
- Five fruity flavors to pick from.
- N.O.-Xplode uses Guayusa, Yohimbe, and Macuna, three types of tropical leafs and legumes that help to boost energy and reduce stress.
- Beta alanine helps to boost your workout without making you feel tired.
- The intensely high energy nature of this pre workout means it is best to avoid taking it if you plan on sleeping any time soon.
- If you get it damp, the powder will get a rocky consistency that doesn’t dissolve easily.
Naked Energy All Natural Pre Workout Powder
With just ten ingredients in their pre workout supplement, Naked Energy keeps their pre workout nice and simple. Its relatively bare-bones formula isn’t for everyone, but it is a refreshing and unique choice for those who are wary of ingesting chemicals and fillers. You get a small boost of energy without feeling like your heart is about to explode.
- Completely free of soy, dairy, egg, wheat, and animal products, so it is both vegan and allergen friendly.
- Get antioxidant benefits from the vitamin C in this supplement.
- The caffeine and beta-alanine give you plenty of energy despite the low carb nature of this pre workout.
- The various B vitamins in this give you a natural boost of focus and energy without making you feel jittery.
- The lack of carbs is good for those on the keto diet but may slightly reduce your running energy.
- A lack of flavor can take a bit of time to get used to.
Nitro Surge Pre Workout Supplement
This pre workout gets its name from the nitric oxide in its ingredient list. This supplement increases blood flow and gets you ready for a nice long run. Other ingredients combine to create a pre workout that gives you a surge of energy at the start and a steady stream of endurance throughout your running experience.
- Dissolves smoothly and easily into plain water to make a tasty workout drink.
- The high energy ingredients give you the right mindset you need for longer runs.
- Nitro Surge has a pleasantly fruity taste without being disgustingly sugary when you drink it.
- A clinically determined blend of beta alanine l-citrulline, caffeine, theanine, and betaine anhydrous gives you an effective pre workout boost.
- You may get a weird aftertaste after taking the pre workout.
- Taking this six hours or less before sleeping is not advisable.
- Only two flavors to choose from.
Though we love all of these pre workouts, the two stage energy delivery system of Vintage Blast makes it our ultimate choice. It might not have as many carbs as some options, but Vintage Blast still gives you long lasting energy.
Thanks to the two-stage delivery system, you don’t start feeling burnt out after 15 minutes of running, and you don’t have to time your dosage carefully. Its ability to amplify your workout without making you jittery or loading you up with calories and carbs makes it perfect for those who want to get more endurance and lose weight as they run.