This last week I’ve had two new clients come in and both say that they took a pre-workout drink so I figured I should talk about this and share what I told them.
You can but I would spend my money on foundational supplements before spending money on a pre-workout. If money isn’t an issue and you’ve got the foundational supplements down, then go ahead, but not all pre-workout products are equal. Most I think are garbage. They are way too strong of a stimulant, often have dyes, and use horrible artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose (sucralose is a biologically active compound that decreases the number and balance of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. It causes epithelial scarring, the depletion of goblet cells, and glandular disorganization in the colon, and alters insulin, blood glucose, and GLP-1 levels.). I look for stevia or monk fruit as a sweetener.
Stimulants such as caffeine can affect androgens because stress can affect androgens. I am not an expert on pharmacology or physiology but I have attended expensive seminars addressing them such as Biosignature Modulation Level 2 with Dr. James LaValle. My best analogy from what I’ve learned is this:
Androgens are anabolic and stress hormones are catabolic. Anabolic would be like depositing more money into your bank account. Catabolic would be taking a withdrawal.
Dr. James LaValle and I at Biosignature Level 2 at the Poliquin Strength Institute in Rhode Island in 2014 where he was the course conductor.
There used to be a term called “Pregnenolone Steal” that explained what stress could do to androgens such as DHEA and testosterone through the steroidogenic pathway. Cholesterol – pregnenolone – to DHEA or Cortisol.
They know now that pregnenolone steal is not physiologically possible, and therefore, not a real thing because there are different areas of the adrenals that make DHEA and all cells make pregnenolone from cholesterol and don’t share pregnenolone. But, stress does lower DHEA.
Back in February of 2018, I took an adrenal stress index test to see what my circadian rhythm of cortisol was as well as my DHEA. Here is an image of that test.
So my DHEA was low and outside of the clinically normal range, my cortisol was on the low side most of the day except for around 6PM, hence why I wanted coffee or a energy drink often.
According to Charles Poliquin – (from my notes at the Poliquin Fat Loss Seminar in Highland Park, Illinois in 2014)
So I’d be careful taking energy drink or even to much coffee because of what I’ve seen personally, what research has shown, and from what arguably the winningest strength coach in the world has said.
World renown strength coach Charles Poliquin, myself, and my close friend and old business partner Ben Knapp at the Biosignature Modulation Level 1 seminar in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008.
If you do decide to take one, like I said in the beginning of the article, not all are created equal. The two pre-workouts I like and use are Thorne’s Pre-Workout Elite, and Designs For Health’s Pre Train NRG. Neither have too much caffeine to over stimulate you, or use dyes and artificial sweeteners that are neuro-toxic and bad for the gut. To read or purchase one of these, click on the images below (get a 20% discount as well).
What I like most about Pre-Workout Elite is the mushroom blend. Different mushrooms have been shown to increase endurance / work capacity, and support and strengthen the immune system, adrenals, and the brain. Training is stress, so anything that can dampen the stress response is good. My second favorite ingredient is Alpha-GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine). This is also great for the brain. Anything that can increase focus is good for training. Overall, this is a very unique pre-workout that’s well designed.