Making a homemade pre workout is simple and very affordable, it also gives you the added bonus of being able to adjust the amounts of the ingredients used, to suit your tolerance. You just need to understand the basic ingredient and the role they play.
First off I’m going to introduce the main ingredients.
To do this I’m going to reference the Australian Sports commission AIS classification system.
The reason being, its incredibly simple to understand. They group sports supplements into the following catagories:
- Group A: (Supported for use in specific situations in sport using evidence-based protocols.) Meaning they’re proven to be effective time and time again through research and trials.
- GroupB: (Deserving of further research and could be considered for provision to athletes under a research protocol or case-managed monitoring situation.) Meaning there isn’t enough research to say that they are without any doubt, effective as a supplement.
- Group C: (Have little meaningful proof of beneficial effects.) Supplements which have not performed well under trials
- Group D: (Banned or at high risk of contamination with substances that could lead to a positive drug test.) Banned or harmful supplements.
I’ll leave a link here for anyone wishing to read further: http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/supplements/classification
For this pre workout we’re going to focus on mainly A class supplements with one or two additions. (checkout beetroot juice making a name for itself)
Now I know your favourite pre workout might come with several dozen ingredients but I’m trying to keep this as simple and effective as possible.
- Caffeine: Everyones favourite stimulant. Caffeine is is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Its in coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate. Its also the primary stimulant in most pre workout formula its shown to increase stamina and physical endurance as well as lower perceived exertion. Its also lethal in the wrong amounts and so for this reason I chose to use caffeine pills. (pre weighted 200 milligram pills). You can choose to use powder once you have a good scale and your comfortable weighing it.
- Creatine: Its cheap, effective and proven time and time again to work, it increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly giving you a slight edge in training. Research shows that creatine is most effective in high-intensity training and explosive activities. Which is why its so popular with weight training athletes. Theres a lot of arguing over when is the best time to take creatine and for me it’s just convent to take it in my pre workout.
- Beta Alanine: Again this one is very cheap, and very effective. If you’ve ever felt a tingling sensation in your face after taking pre workout, chances are you’ve taken Beta Alanine. To keep this explanation short and simple, Beta alanine helps muscles to contract by stabilising they’re pH levels.
- Citrulline malate: This one is not A class and its still relatively new in the sports supplement world, as such it doesn’t have as many studies to support its effectiveness, but the studies it does have show tonnes of promise. I was looking for an excuse to try this for a while and this experiment is it. What is it you ask? Take citrulline (an amino acid) and bond it to malate acid and you get citrulline malate. The reason its bonded instead of just mixed is to help with its absorption. It’s shown to reduce fatigue and muscle soreness when taken pre workout. Now it is the most expensive supplement in this list because of its manufacturing process so for that reason you might wish to exclude it in your own pre workout.
- BCAAs: Leucine, isoleucine and valine in a 2:1:1 ratio. Thought to regulate protein metabolism, increase synthesis and suppress protein breakdown. Because I train fasted I’ll usually include 10g of this anyway but not everyone is a BCAA fan so feel free to exclude it.
- 0 calorie dilatable squash such as Robinson, kia ora (or water enhancer as Ive heard it called) just a few drops to flavour your end product.
So what did I find to be the most effective?
- 5g Creatine
- 6 Citruline Malate
- 10g BCAAs
- 5g Beta Alanine
- 400mg caffeine (2X 200g caffeine tablets)
This gave me the best long term energy, an initial energy boost and no big spikes or crashes.
I also found that using caffeine tablets not only prevented me from overdosing but also gave me a longer lasting and more evened out energy which I’m guessing is because it took a bit longer for my body to break it down in tablet form.
How does that look per serving?
- BCAAs: 10g = €0.52
- Beta alanine = €0.27
- Ceratine = €0.14
- Citruline Malate = €0.29
- Caffeine = €0.04
Total cost per serving: €1.26
*prices based on the raw ingredients bought from bulk powders.
Now for the fun bit. How does this stack up agents some other brands of pre workout? I’ve picked three big brands of pre workout products. I’ve picked three that didn’t hide most of their content in a “proprietary blend”.
You’ll probably know their names if I told you but in the interest of not wishing to get sued I’ll refer to them as products: X,Y, and Z
Product X is one of, if not the biggest selling pre workout at the minute. I see this stuff everywhere and it held in pretty high regard,
- Serving size is one scoop, most people I know will end up taking two though so the cost per serving depending where you buy it will look something like €1.99, not bad right?
But lets look at the effective ingredients on that list:
- Creatine 2g (which is under the recommended effective dosage of 5g per day)
- Beta Alanine: 3.2g (that dosage I’ve learned, for me would be pretty ineffective for me at least)
- Explosive energy blend ( I couldn’t make this shit up) 371g: When you consider that caffeine hasn’t been listed, its safe to assume that most, if not all of that super secret special blend is just caffeine.
Product Y is a mid priced supplement, Its still very popular and is sold worldwide. It serving size is one scoop only and price per serving is: €1.52
|Protein hydrolysate matrix yielding 22% glutamine peptide, 21% bcaa peptide, 41% eaa’s(caseine protein hydrolysate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate)||3.5g|
|Proprietary branched chain ethyl ester amino acid matrix(l-leucine, l-isoleucine, l-leucine ethyl ester HCL, l-alanyl-l-glutamine, l-2-aminopentanoic acid [l-nor-valine], l-valine ethyl ester HCL, l-isoleucine ethyl ester HCL, l-arginine ethyl ester diHCL, l-arginine, l-valine)||6.16g|
|Proprietary muscle volumizing, no2, insulinotrophic and glutamine matrix (creatine gluconate, creatine taurinate, creatine monohydrate, l-citruline malate, Bis Picolinato Oxo Vanadium [BPOV], di-l-arginine-l-malate, MTB pump [magnesium tanshinoate B], di-na creatine phosphate tetrahydrate, gamma-butyrobetaine HCL, gamma-butyrobetaine ethyl ester chloride, COP™ [creatine-o-phosphate])||4.88g|
|power, speed, strength,endurance matrix(beta-alanine, creatine magnesium chelate, monosodium phosphate anhydrous, trisodium phosphate dodecahydrate, l-histidine, KIC [ketoisocaproic acid calcium], guanidinopropionic acid [GPA], beta-alanine ethyl ester HCL)||3.17g|
|ENERGY & MELTDOWN FAT BURNING TECHNOLOGY (caffeine anhydrous, barley [hordeum vilgare] [bud] [std. to hordenine HCL], l-tyrosine)||2.5mg|
- This ones a bit tougher to decode, they’ve hidden the Creatine and Belt alanine in a cleverly named: power, speed, strength,endurance matrix. but at a piddly 3.17g total its safe to assume you’ll be getting hardly any of the tried and tested stuff.
- BCAAs: this one does have some, and they’ve given them a super scientific name: Proprietary branched chain ethyl ester amino acid matrix. Wow that sounds impressive. Whats not impressive is the merger 6g you’ll be getting.
- But wait there’s more: you’ll also get 3.5g of whey protein (for some reason) and some super impressively named ENERGY & MELTDOWN FAT BURNING TECHNOLOGY again its safe to assume the majority of that 2.5mg is nothing more than caffeine.
This ones my favourite, Product Z is a bargain basement pre workout supplement with a very impressive super masculine name. Cost per serving is €1.03, what an absolute bargain, thats even cheaper than my concoction.
- Serving size is one scoop, 35g. Take a look at the carbs. Thats right 10g of that 35g scoop is sugar. So 28.5% of this whole tub is nothing but sugar.
- You do get L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine they’ve listed them individually but as we learned earlier, all three in a 2:1:1 ratio are otherwise known as BCAAs. This giving us a combined total of: 1.2g (useless)
- You do get 200g caffeine.
- Thats it…. No really thats all you get, no beta alanine, no creatine. Any energy you’ll get from this will be from the 200g caffeine and 10g sugar. This is essentially just a sugary, weak coffee.
There is no perfect pre workout, because everybody is different. We all have different tolerances to stimulants, the only way to figure it out is to buy the raw effective ingredients and do a bit of trial and error until you get what you feel is effective for you. It’ll be way cheaper in the long run and you’ll have the added bonus of tailoring it to suit your needs on any given day.
Beware any company that claims to have the ultimate supplement for you despite having never met you and feels the need to hide they’re ingredients in a proprietary blend. Don’t give these clowns your money.
Now I’m off to Costa for a large cup of hot energy & meltdown fat burning technology.