Do Pre-Workout Supplements Have Any Side Effects?

by Heather Neff

Pre-workouts are quite the popular product these days, especially among gym-goers and those who like to do strength training, and muscle building.

They do a lot for the energy levels and can even provide you with some super beneficial ingredients that help you build muscle and even increase fat burn by ways of thermogenesis.

With all the good about them, there must be some downfall, right? Sadly the answer is yes. But don’t worry, all pre-workouts are not created equal. There are a few things you should lookout for though, and we’ll tell you why.


What’s In Your Pre-Workout Supplement?

Pre-workout supplements are typically taken to enhance one’s workout in many ways. They should give you plenty of energy, endurance, focus, and be beneficial to your individual goals such as muscle gain and fat burning.

There are many good pre-workouts that can provide everything you’re looking for, but some can give you a little more than you bargained for. Let’s take a look at a typical ingredients list:

With this particular pre-workout supplement, you have your typical amino acids which are beneficial in muscle building, Caffeine Anhydrous, for energy, Calcium, and a few herbal ingredients such as Yohimbe and Rhodiola which are said to aid in fat burning and provide energy as well.

Other ingredients are listed at the bottom and are normally your fillers, flavors, and colors. You’ll notice that the sweetener used in this particular pre-workout is sucralose, and that there are artificial colors added as well.


What’s The Problem With The Ingredients?

Most people are fine to take a pre-workout, but if an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, studies show that taking creatine (normally found in many pre-workouts) should be avoided.

Another ingredient that has not been proven safe is the use of artificial sweeteners, which is a very popular additive in pre-workouts. Artificial sweeteners have been proven to cause weight gain over the long term. Also, sucralose is linked to the deterioration of gut flora (good bacteria in the gut).

Another issue that pre-workout supplements can cause is caffeine dependence. Caffeine is not bad for you per-se, but taking an abundance of it daily can cause you to become dependent and reliant on the energy it produces. Over time, you’re body can also get used to the effects of caffeine to the point that it just doesn’t do it for you anymore. So be sure to take it in small doses.

Other Common Side Effects Of Pre-Workout Supplements

  • Vomiting
  • Jitters
  • Chest Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Itching
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Flushed Skin
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Tingling And Numbness In The Face and Extremities

Those are a few good reasons why it’s best to take the advice of the label and never use pre-workouts for more than 30 days at a time. Or make sure you are buying one with safe ingredients such as the following example:

The Ingredients list above contains more natural ingredients, natural sweeteners such as Erythritol, and stevia which both have been proven safe in many studies.

Yes the list still contains caffeine, but caffeine is considered a safe ingredient as long as you have no heart issues, only take the recommended amount and are not sensitive to it’s effects.

You’re best bet is to find a pre-workout that contains pure ingredients and that will be beneficial to your goals.

Taking a pre-workout that contains dangerous or banned substances is never a good idea, be sure you read the labels in their entirety to be sure there’s nothing hiding in them that you wouldn’t want to put in your body.

You can also do your own research on various pre-workout supplements that you may be wanting to purchase.


Can Pre Workout Supplements Also Have Psychological Side Effects?

In short, the answer is yes. The concern with pre-workouts is that people may become dependent on the instant energy it provides and that right there can inhibit there own natural motivation to workout.

Have you ever wondered what drives a person to get up and run for 10 miles in the morning? Or what’s inside of someone who goes to the gym and pumps iron for 2 hours straight, always staying faithful to their workouts? It’s self motivation and dedication that does not come in a shiny can.

When someone becomes reliant on a substance to give them the motivation and drive that they initially had without it, this can become a problem.

Does this mean that you should never take a pre-workout supplement? No , but there is a safe and effective way of adding such a supplement without it effecting your natural drive.

  • Only use the recommended dose. Never double up as this is where trouble can start.
  • Take your pre-workout in cycles. This can help prevent dependence and inhibit your body from adapting to its effects. Go for 1 or 2 days per week with your really hard workouts, or try to take it every other week.
  • Never mix your pre-workout with other stimulants, this can lead to you feeling awful and having an overall bad workout experience.
  • Be aware that you can quickly become desensitized to caffeine, so never try and make up for it by increasing your daily doses, no matter if it’s through your pre-workout, or by means of caffeinated beverages.



As with many things,  negative side effects can happen. But there are many ways to prevent this so long as you take caution and listen to your body.

Pre-workouts have been taken safely for years by many responsible people who have had no negative side effects. But that doesn’t mean that they are completely safe for everyone.

To get the best out of your pre-workout supplement, be sure you follow all the directions and warnings that are included.



Hi, I’m Heather Neff. I am an NCSF Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist. Fitness has always been my passion since I was very young. I believe that if you feed your body right, exercise daily, drink plenty of water, and de-stress often, you will live a longer, healthier, and much happier life. Stay fit, stay healthy.



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