If you’ve ever gone above and beyond in your quest for a ripped, sculpted body, you must be aware of the negative side effects that come with it. Pre-workout supplements are frequently used by athletes to improve their focus and endurance so they won’t feel the need to quit the gym in the middle of a workout.
But are you aware of the negative consequences? For instance, many gym goers frequently experience nausea after exceeding their exercise tolerance. Along with these issues, they might also deal with headaches, digestive issues, tingling and prickling under their skin, and other issues.
If you regularly take pre-workout supplements, it’s possible that the ingredients are affecting your body negatively and giving you problems. Each part must carry out a specific function.
However, if the ingredients are not added in amounts that have been clinically approved, they release a variety of side effects that are uncomfortable for the body and you are more likely to experience pre-workout sickness.
You can get a sense of the various treatments to avoid the side effects from this article!
Why Does Pre-workout Make People Sick? (and, How To Fix)
Pre workout supplements typically contain between 5 and 15 ingredients, which can make it difficult to pinpoint a particular cause for someone’s pre workout sickness.
Pre-workout sickness has, however, been linked to a number of widely used components and elements.
The 6 reasons people get sick from pre-workout are:
- Having too much caffeine or other stimulants
- Having too much creatine
- Having too much glycerol
- Having too much or too little water
- Taking pre workout on an empty stomach
- Going above the recommended dose
1. Having Too Much Caffeine Or Other Stimulants
An upset stomach, nauseous feeling, and a headache are a few indicators that you have consumed too much caffeine.
The FDA has stated that up to 400mg of caffeine daily is safe for healthy adults.
Today, many pre-workout supplements are crossing the upper limit by providing between 325 and 400 mg of caffeine per serving.
For instance, TC Nutrition’s Batch 27 and Ryse Pre workout, two of the most popular pre workouts right now, have 325 mg and 420 mg of caffeine, respectively.
Particularly in people who haven’t taken the time to gradually increase their caffeine intake, this high dose of caffeine in one quick shot can be a major cause of pre-workout sickness.
When you take a pre-workout supplement, the amount of caffeine you would normally take in is almost ten times higher than if you only drank one cup of coffee per day, which contains 40mg of caffeine.
Pre-workout beverages that contain caffeine frequently also contain theobromine, synephrine (also known as bitter orange extract), or theacrine. These may enhance the effects of the caffeine.
On its own, this stimulant combination has the potential to upset the stomach. The effects of stacking high levels of caffeine may be causing your pre-workout sickness if you also consume coffee, cola, or energy drinks at other points during the day.
How To Fix It:
Find out exactly how much caffeine is in your pre-workout as my first piece of advice.
To determine whether the ingredient list is based on a half-scoop or a full-scoop serving, pay close attention to the serving size on the ingredient label.
Calculating all potential sources of caffeine is made simpler by the ingredient label’s frequent grouping of stimulant sources.
You can keep track of your daily caffeine intake by knowing how much caffeine is in your product. Reduce or stop consuming other caffeine-containing substances in your day if you intend to take a full serving of pre-workout that contains between 300 and 400 mg of caffeine.
Next, start small.
Start with a quarter to a half serving of your pre workout and gradually increase it to build up your tolerance if you are not used to consuming high doses of caffeine daily (greater than 250mg).
If cutting back on your daily caffeine intake doesn’t help, look for pre-workout supplements like Beyond Yourself SuperSet Stim Free or HD Muscle Pre HD Elite that don’t contain stimulants.
2. Having Too Much Creatine
With many products providing between 1g and 4g of creatine per serving, it is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements.
At the moment, creatine is present in about 40% of pre-workout supplements. Along with creatine supplementation, nausea and stomach upset are frequently reported side effects.
Creatine supplements sometimes cause nausea, but this is usually due to the way the supplement is consumed rather than the creatine itself.
For instance, taking more creatine than is necessary (10g doses at a time), not drinking enough water, or taking your creatine with too much sugar can all make you feel queasy.
Creatine is frequently used as a pre-workout supplement ingredient as well as a standalone supplement for people looking to gain strength.
As a result, it’s possible that consuming too much creatine at once is what’s causing your stomach upset and sickness if you take creatine alone and a pre-workout supplement that contains creatine.
How To Fix It:
The easiest course of action is to select a formula devoid of creatine if you believe it to be the cause of your illness.
If you’ve already invested the money in a pre workout that does contain creatine, you can try manipulating the following factors:
- Make sure that the total amount of creatine you consume per serving—including your pre-workout and any other supplements you may be taking—is not more than 10g.
- Maintain hydration by consuming 30–40 ml of water per kilogram of body weight. For instance, you should consume 3–4L of water each day if you weigh 100kg (220lb).
- When taking creatine, combine it with a source of starchy or high-fiber carbohydrates, such as some whole-wheat toast.
3. Having Too Much Glycerol
Glycerol is now found in approximately 25% of pre workout supplements (you will likely see it listed as the patented formula, GlycerSize™).
Its rise in popularity is primarily attributable to its capacity to enhance muscle pumps, making it a favorite component of pre-workout supplements that are stimulant-free or pump-focused, like Believe Supplements Pump Addict.
Glycerol supplementation has reportedly caused some participants to experience nausea or other digestive discomfort, according to numerous studies.
The recommended dosage of glycerol is 1g/kg of body weight, taken 60–120 minutes prior to exercise. Ingesting glycerol too soon before your workout is a potential cause of pre workout sickness because most pre workout supplements should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before exercise.
It is unlikely that the amount of glycerol is the problem because the majority of products with glycerol only contain between 1 and 3 grams of the substance.
How To Fix It:
If you use a pre-workout supplement containing glycerol, be sure to drink enough water throughout the day. Glycerol does have an effect on total body water levels, much like creatine.
My main recommendation is to pick a pre-workout that doesn’t contain glycerol because it’s difficult to determine the precise cause of glycerol-induced nausea.
Frequently getting sick after taking pre-workout? Try one of our other pre-workout options.
4. Having Too Much Or Too Little Water
Pre-workout sickness could be brought on by something as simple as mixing your pre-workout drink with too much water.
You might feel as though you have a lead ball rolling around in your stomach as a result of the belly being too full of water that is sloshing around.
In contrast, drinking insufficient amounts of water while consuming a pre-workout can result in sickness, diarrhoea, or other symptoms simply because of the unpleasant taste.
The taste of many of the ingredients in pre-workout supplements, like citrulline, is extremely sour or bitter.
As a result, supplement manufacturers will use a lot of flavoring to try to cover up the taste of the raw ingredients.
The majority of this flavoring comes from sucralose and other artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to bloating, diarrhea, and gas. This is done to keep the sugar content in their products low.
How To Fix It:
How much water to use with each product will be specified in the product’s instructions.
8 to 10 ounces of water are usually the recommended amount. By doing so, you can prevent an upset stomach from drinking too much water and get the best results for absorbing the ingredients.
To avoid the discomfort that comes from consuming too much, dilute the pre-workout flavor if you find that it is too strong within the 8–10 ounce window by adding an ounce or two at a time.
5. Taking Pre Workout On An Empty Stomach
It will be easier for the ingredients to be absorbed if you consume pre-workout on an empty stomach, but it may also exacerbate any side effects, such as nausea or low blood sugar, that the ingredients are known to produce.
How To Fix It:
If you last ate more than two hours before working out, try adding a quick snack about an hour beforehand, or roughly 30 minutes before taking a pre-workout supplement.
Take the last meal before your workout and divide it into two smaller meals if you are on a calorie-controlled diet and cannot add another snack to your day. Before your workout, eat the first one two hours in advance, and the second one an hour after.
Consider adding a small snack with some carbohydrates and protein before taking your pre workout, such as greek yogurt with fruit, or dividing your breakfast into two portions—one pre workout and one post workout—if you usually exercise first thing in the morning while fasted.
6. Going Above The Recommended Dose
To ensure both safety and optimum workout performance, pre-workout supplement dosage guidelines have been established.
If you consume more than the advised amount, you run the risk of experiencing side effects like nausea as well as headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and anxiety (which is linked to excessive caffeine or stimulant use).
How To Fix It:
In addition to reading the consumption guidelines, it’s critical to pay close attention to the serving size listed on the ingredient label.
It is essential to confirm this each time you select a new pre-workout because some products are designed to have a limit of one scoop per day while others are designed for two.
Risks And Side Effects
EvidenceTrusted Source suggests that for healthy people, consuming pre-workout is generally safe and does not appear to lead to any medical issues. Some people could still experience side effects, though.
According to a 2019 study of people who regularly consume pre-workout, 54% of participants experienced side effects like nausea, skin reactions, and abnormal heartbeats. The study does point out that these adverse effects are probably more frequent in people who consume more than the advised serving size.
Many pre-workout supplements contain caffeine as a popular ingredient. The compound causes an increase in nerve activity and adenosine’s inability to bind with specific brain receptors, enhancing alertness and vigor. But some people, especially those who metabolize caffeine slowly, may have trouble falling or staying asleep after consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
Too much caffeine may also causeTrusted Source people to experience anxiety, a faster heart rate, and headaches. Therefore, it is not recommended for those who are sensitive to caffeine to consume pre-workout products that contain this ingredient.
Additionally, there are a number of ingredients in pre-workout supplements that may upset your stomach. By causing more stomach acid to be released, caffeine may upset the stomach and contribute to acid reflux. While sodium bicarbonate is less frequent than caffeine in pre-workout supplements, it can still result in bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain. However, evidenceTrusted Source suggests that this is not particularly common.
Some pre-workouts contain niacinTrusted Source, also known as vitamin B3. Eating it can cause small blood vessels to enlarge, which can result in skin flushing, typically on a person’s face, chest, or arms.
Beta-alanineTrusted Source is an amino acid that may cause paraesthesia, a tingling sensation that people commonly feel in the face, neck, and back of the hands. Although it usually ends 60–90 minutes after consumption, this neurological effect is unlikely to be harmful.
Creatine may lead to bloating and water retention. This happens because the body sometimes has trouble absorbing all the extra water that creatine carries into the muscles. However, studiesTrusted Source suggest this only occurs over the first few days of consuming creatine and is unlikely to continue long term.
A 2018 studyTrusted Source focusing on the effects of multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements (MIPS) on recreationally active females found that participants’ diastolic blood pressure increased but not to a significant degree their heart rate or systolic blood pressure.
The blood pressure in a person’s arteries between heartbeats is measured by diastolic blood pressure. MIPs appear to be generally safe to consume, but those who have illnesses that could increase their diastolic blood pressure may want to use caution.
Pre-workout supplements frequently contain a variety of ingredients whose effects on athletic performance have been studied by researchers.
One such widely used and well-researched supplement for athletic performance is creatine. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)Trusted Source states the substance is the most effective nutritional supplement for increasing performance in high-intensity exercise and gaining lean body mass. Creatine, according to ISSN research, may also improve post-workout recovery, lessen muscle damage, and possibly aid in injury rehabilitation.
Many people believe that caffeine is responsible for some of the advantages of pre-workout supplements. It has a quick action, peaking in the bloodstream in just 60 minutes, and it can aid in enhancing focus and alertness. A 2018 reviewTrusted Source looking at the athletic benefits of caffeine consumption concluded that it may significantly benefit muscle strength and power. The study also found that increasing upper body strength is caffeine’s most obvious athletic benefit.
There may be advantages to additional common MIP ingredients as well. Another ISSN studyTrusted Source found beta-alanine supplementation had links with endurance and strength benefits in doses of 4–6 grams per day.
Recent research focuses on the effects of combined ingredients found in pre-workout supplements, even though several common ingredients on their own may offer some athletic benefit. A 2018 paperTrusted Source concluded that although further research is necessary, consuming Strength and endurance can both be increased as a result of MIP use.
Things To Consider
Some pre-workouts may list ingredients as a “proprietary blend” and not state the exact amounts. To avoid consuming an excessive quantity of a particular ingredient, people who are interested in pre-workout supplements may want to look for products that list precise amounts as well as ones that include verification from a reliable source.
Pre-workout ingredients could also interact with some medicines. To fully understand how their pre-workout may affect their medication, seek advice from a medical professional before taking them.
The addition of caffeine to pre-workout supplements is common, which some people may find difficult to tolerate. The rate at which caffeine is metabolized varies from person to person, and some people may be more sensitive to its effects. Even in lower doses, those who are more sensitive to caffeine may experience symptoms like nausea, jitteriness and anxiety, as well as insomnia.
Furthermore, before consuming pre-workout supplements, individuals with health conditions like diabetes, insomnia, anxiety, or heart problems may want to think about how the ingredients may affect them.
Alternatives And Ways To Reduce Side Effects
By adhering to the suggested dosage on the product label or packaging, consumers can minimize the potential side effects of pre-workouts.
According to consumer behavior research on pre-workout supplements, 14% of respondents said they took two or more doses, and 18% said they took them more than once a day. The dose can be decreased or divided into several smaller doses to lessen some side effects.
Finding a pre-workout supplement without ingredients like caffeine and sodium bicarbonate may be preferable if a person starts to experience digestive problems after taking it. They might also try reducing the dosage.
A person can take pre-workouts, which may contain caffeine, earlier in the day to make sure the stimulant has worn off before going to bed, thereby preventing potential sleep issues.
Creatine and beta-alanine are common ingredients in pre-workout supplements, but if someone wants to completely avoid them, they can find them in foods like red meat, fish, and poultry. By concentrating on their diet before and after exercising, someone can also increase their workout without using pre-workout supplements. Health experts suggest:
- eating a meal within 2 hours of a workout
- eating snacks beforehand that include complex carbohydrates and protein
- staying hydrated before and throughout a workout
- eating a balanced meal after a workout, preferably including protein
What Should You Do If You Already Have Pre-workout Sickness?
If you are reading this while currently experiencing pre workout sickness and wondering what you should do next, try these steps:
- Have a small snack
- Start slow
- Go home and rest, and strategize for next time
Have A Small Snack
You might have simply received too many ingredients all at once.
To try to calm your stomach, eat a small snack that includes protein and starchy carbohydrates.
Crackers, toast, or bananas are a few easy foods to sooth an upset stomach. Find out if there are any protein bars available at the gym, or if there is a vending machine with granola bars, if you are already there. You can continue working out if a small snack calms your stomach.
You should be able to begin your workout, but start slowly, if the nausea is mild and seems to be quickly going away.
Start with a few light warm-up sets after a brief warm-up of light cycling or walking.
If the nausea subsides, continue your workout, but keep in mind that it may be best to stay away from strenuous compound lifts that put pressure on the abdomen, such as barbell squats.
Stop exercising for the day if you begin to warm up and the nausea does not go away or gets worse.
Go Home And Rest
After a snack and a brief warm-up, if your nausea still doesn’t go away, go home and rest.
Pre-workout sickness typically lasts for 30 to 3 hours before going away.
To see if the pre-workout sickness goes away, try the above-mentioned strategies for your upcoming workouts.
In the end, you might need to experiment with a few different formulas to find the one that works for you.
Best Pre Workouts That Won’t Cause Nausea
Every week I get to hear from dozens of people about their experiences using pre-workout supplements, including what they like, don’t like, and which ones cause the most negative side effects.
Having said that, these four pre-workout supplements have a reputation for being among the best at enhancing workouts without having any unfavorable side effects.
Pre-workout supplements are not necessary to take in order to increase athletic performance, but some research suggests they may have some advantages, such as improved focus, strength, and endurance. Pre-workout side effects can however include nausea, headaches, and jitters in some individuals who are sensitive to certain ingredients.
Individuals should not exceed the recommended dosage and may want to think about taking a lower dosage to try and reduce any potential side effects. A few ingredients might also be best avoided.
To find the best supplement for them, people with pre-existing medical conditions, those who take medications, or those who are experiencing side effects from pre-workout should consult with a medical professional.
What Time Frame Does Pre-workout Sickness Have?
Pre-workout nausea can range from mild stomach aches to nausea and vomiting, and it can last for anywhere between 30 minutes and three hours.
Pre-workout Use Causes Nausea When Taken On An Empty Stomach.
Although it doesn’t always happen, taking pre-workout on an empty stomach can be a major contributor to pre-workout sickness. On an empty stomach, two ingredients in particular, caffeine and creatine, frequently lead to discomfort.
Do Pre-workouts Generally Make You Sick?
Not every pre-workout induces nausea. If you feel queasy after taking your pre-workout supplement, you can try cutting back on how much you take, changing how much water you drink with it, or adding a small pre-workout snack. You could take into account switching to a different product if none of these remedies work.
When Ill, Should You Stop Taking Pre-workout Supplements?
After adjusting variables like water intake and pre-workout nutrition, you can continue taking it and watch your symptoms if your nausea is mild and passes quickly. Try a different option if you experience nausea or vomiting that won’t go away. Stop using pre-workout supplements altogether if you become ill after experimenting with different blends.
Will A Stimulant-free Pre-workout Still Make You Nauseous?
Pre-workouts without stimulants may still upset your stomach, but they are less likely to do so. While stimulants are frequently found to cause nausea, other substances like creatine, sodium bicarbonate, or glycerol may be to blame.