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5 Side Effects Of Pre-Workout & How To Reduce These Side Effects

March 07, 2023 4 min read 0 Comments

To help boost energy levels during your workout, many people choose to take pre-workout supplements. Pre-workouts usually consist of a variety of man ingredients and each ingredient play a specific role in improving your overall performance.

However, some people do experience side effects while taking pre-workout supplements. These are five side effects people may experience along with ways to avoid these side effects.

1. Makes You Feel Jittery

Caffeine is one of the main ingredients in pre-workout supplements. Caffeine is a stimulant that has been shown to increase your muscle strength and output during your workout while also reducing any fatigue. Caffeine will allow you to get more out of your workout. 

However Caffeine has several potential side effects, especially when you consume too much. Some of these side effects include, insomnia, nausea, increased heart rate, drowsiness, headaches, anxiety, jitteriness, or restlessness. 

Ways To Reduce Side Effects

Caffeine dosing depends on the individual person, some people can tolerate better than other. The best ways to reduce side effects is to start with a smaller dose of caffeinated pre-workouts, then slowly increase your dosage to see what you can tolerate. You can also choose a pre-workout that doesn't contain any caffeine like non-stimulant pre-workouts.

You will find caffeine in most pre-workout supplements, however some are dosed lower which may be better for people who can't tolerate caffeine as well as others. 

2. May Increase Water Retention

Another ingredient that is commonly found in pre-workouts is creatine. Creatine has been shown to increase high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass gains from working out. Often times, Creatine is found in pre-workout supplements, but it can also be found as a standalone product. The main side effects of Creatine are mild, but can include water retention, bloating, weight gain, and digestive issues.

Ways To Reduce Side Effects

Aside from the side effects, Creatine has been shown to be incredibly safe. You can reduce any side effects by ensuring proper dosing. Creatine is usually dosed with a loading phase of four scoops (twenty grams) per day for at least three days, followed by a three to five gram daily maintenance dose. This method of dosing creatine has provided rapid benefits, but can cause bloating. 

Another way to dose Creatine is taking a single daily dose of three to six grams if you are willing to wait three to four weeks to experience benefits. This method is best if you want to avoid bloating and for those who have sensitive stomachs. The easiest way to avoid mild side effects of Creatine is to take smaller daily doses instead of doing a loading phase.

3. May Trigger Mild Reactions

Pre-workouts often include two ingredients, Beta-Alanine and Niacin. 

Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that reduces acidity in your muscles during your workout which can help to sustain your workout a little longer. Beta-Alanine has been shown to increase your exercise performance and reduce any fatigue in high intensity exercises. However, Beta-Alanine can cause a tingling sensation in your hands and feet, it is a harmless nervous system reaction, but some people may find it uncomfortable.

Another ingredient that has mild side effects is Niacin. Niacin is included in many pre-workout supplement for its skin-flushing effects. In high doses of 500mg or more, it can trigger a blood rush to the surface of your skin which results in red patches. Niacin plays an important role in energy metabolism.

Ways To Reduce Side Effects

The most effective way to reduce the tingling sensation that is associated with Beta-Alanine is dividing the daily four to six gram dose into two separate doses of two to three grams each. 

To avoid red patches, you can keep your dose of Niacin to less than 500mg. You can also find supplements that don't include niacin.

Beta-Alanine and Niacin are two common products that are found in pre-workout supplements. These ingredients can cause tingling and skin flushing which some people may find uncomfortable. To prevent these side effects, you can divide or reduce the doses or find supplements that don't include these ingredients at all. 

Check out this article about Beta-Alanine free pre-workouts!

4. May Cause Digestive Upset

Many ingredients in pre-workout supplement can cause digestive upset. These ingredients include bicarbonate, magnesium, creatine, and caffeine. 

Sodium Bicarbonate may cause problems when consumed at 91-227mg per pound of body weight, however most pre-workout supplements don't contain this much.

Magnesium may have laxative effects, especially in the form of magnesium citrate. Taking too much may cause diarrhea. 

Ways To Reduce Side Effects

Mixing your pre-workout with 8-12 ounces of water can help minimize these side effects. Though it is difficult to determine which ingredient causes you digestive issues, try different pre-workout formulas until you find one you are able to tolerate. Overall, mixing your pre-workout supplement with enough water can help alleviate these side effects.

5. May Cause Headaches

Citrulline is an ingredients that is added to some pre-workout supplement. Citrulline will help increase blood flow to your muscles during your workout which will help enhance muscle building. Citrulline works by boosting nitric oxide levels in your blood. 

Increases in blood flow affects your brain as well as your muscles which can lead some people to experience headaches. This happens because of blood pressure changes in your brain's small blood vessels. 

Ways To Reduce Side Effects

The most effective way to reduce headaches from Citrulline is to decrease your dosage or you can find a pre-workout supplement that doesn't include Citrulline. Overall, Citrulline is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements, but it can cause headaches by increasing blood flow in your body; decreasing the dose can help minimize this effect.


Pre-workout supplements are popular in the fitness industry because of its effects on energy levels and exercise performance. However, some people may experience side effects like headaches, tingling, and stomach upsets. But you can minimize these side effects by decreasing your dosage or avoiding supplements that have these specific ingredients.

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