Pre-workout sickness is one of the biggest reasons most people can’t stick to a regular fitness routine. If you feel nauseous or light-headed right before you go to the gym you’re likely experiencing pre-workout sickness. So why does this happen and what can you do about it?
If you’re feeling sick pre-workout it may be because you:
- drank too much caffeine
- are dehydrated or over hydrated
- have a high creatine level
- did not eat sufficiently
- took high doses of pre-workout supplements
Pre-workout supplements are a common way to increase athletic performance and promote faster muscle growth. But it is possible for your body to have an adverse reaction to these supplements. Before you can take the appropriate steps to resolve the problem you first need to figure out what’s wrong.
1. High Caffeine Intake
If you’re taking pre-workout supplements you need a basic understanding of the formulation and ingredients. Most pre-workout supplements typically contain around 325 to 400 mg of caffeine in each serving.
That is a high dose considering the FDA approves 400 mg for ideal daily consumption. Additionally, some of the other ingredients in these supplements include theacrine, bitter orange, or theobromine. These are all items that boost the effects of caffeine, which is great for professional athletes but not for the average consumer.
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So if you’re taking a dose of pre-workout while also drinking coffee or energy drinks then you’re likely exceeding the safe limit for caffeine consumption. This can result in adverse effects like nausea, headaches, heart palpitations, or an upset stomach.
Also, if you are not someone who drinks coffee normally then starting with a dose this high will automatically make you feel sick. Caffeine intake has to be built up over time.
A regular cup of coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine. Now compare that to the 400 mg of a pre-workout supplement. That’s nearly 4 times the amount. Your body simply isn’t used to consuming that much caffeine and will react negatively. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the pre-workout or that you should stop taking it; just that you need to slow down.
The solution is simple. Gradually increase your coffee intake. Reduce your dosage if you want to continue taking pre-workouts. And above all strictly monitor your daily caffeine use to make sure you’re within the FDA’s safe limit.
2. Dehydration or Overhydration
Another reason you may be feeling sick is if you drank too much or too little water. Ideally, you need to mix around 8 to 10 ounces of water into your supplement. But if you’ve just started taking pre-workouts you may end up adding more water.
That’s because ingredients like citrulline give many pre-workout supplements a bitter taste. Some companies use artificial sweeteners to hide this bitterness. But these additives cause issues like diarrhea and bloating.
If you chose a formula without artificial sweeteners you’re likely to add an excessive amount of water to dilute the taste.
On the other hand, if your pre-workout supplement is sweetened you may not be adding enough water while mixing. This is also bad and can lead to dehydration.
To solve this issue simply read the label on your supplements. Each product will have its own recommended amount of water that is ideal for maximum ingredient absorption.
Stick to that 8 to 10-ounce window and drink the mix slowly if the taste bothers you. But don’t add more water to dilute the formula.
3. High Supplement Dosage
No matter which brand you shop your supplement bottle will have the recommended dosage on it. While it can be tempting to get the most out of your workout, exceeding the maximum dosage is sure to have side effects.
You may experience headaches, heart palpitations, finger twitching, dizziness, nausea, or a host of other symptoms. Monitoring your usage is extremely important if you’re taking pre-workout. Some supplements require a single scoop a day, while others recommend two. So make sure you check the label each time!
4. Too Much Creatine
Most pre-workouts contain around 1 to 4 grams of creatine in each serving. Depending on how you’re consuming this creatine supplementation it can cause nausea and digestive issues.
For example, sugar doesn’t pair well with creatine, so if you’re eating a lot of sugar while taking pre-workout you may feel unwell. Similarly, consuming high doses of creatine, between 8 to 10 grams in one day is bad for your health. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water.
Several ingredients in the pre-workout make people sick if consumed in high doses. Creatine is one of them. The easiest solution is to get a creatine-free pre-workout supplement. Alternatively, pair it with high-carb foods like whole-grain toast.
5. Poor Diet
Poor pre-workout nutrition is definitely a huge reason people feel sick before going to the gym. You never want to take supplements on an empty stomach!
There’s a huge misconception that taking your pre-workout before your meal lets the ingredients work faster. But the truth is that a poor diet can make you feel sick and nauseous. Ideally, you should eat around an hour before your workout.
However, if it’s been over 2 hours since you ate something substantive make sure you eat a snack 30 minutes before taking your supplements. Otherwise, your blood sugar could drop and make you feel sick. A small serving of carbs and protein can go a long way.
If you want to consume pre-workout supplements you need to pay close attention to the formula and ingredients. Not all pre-workouts are made the same. Some have more harmful ingredients than others.
Monitoring your pre-workout ingredients helps you make sure you’re not consuming unhealthy amounts of caffeine, creatine, or glycerine. You can also explore options for a stimulant-free pre-workout.
If you’re feeling sick it doesn’t mean you need to stop taking pre-workout. Instead, try to identify what you’re doing wrong and fix the problem. With the proper care and use, there’s no reason for your pre-workout to make you feel unwell!