Pre-Workout Supplements: Do They Work?

5 min readMar 29, 2021

Pre-workout supplements are touted as a straightforward solution to help you maximize your performance. However, do they actually work? Let’s examine pre-workout supplements in more detail and determine if they actually live up to their manufacturer’s claims.

What are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements or simply “pre-workouts” are special dietary formulas that are designed to increase energy levels and athletic performance. They have existed since the 1980s and quickly became popular with bodybuilders around the globe.

These supplements are meant to be consumed 30 to 45 minutes before your workout, and offer a great boost of energy to help you crank out some extra reps.

What do Pre-Workouts Contain?

Pre-workout supplements contain a wide variety of ingredients that vary based on their manufacturer. Some common ingredients include:

● Caffeine

● Creatine

● Citrulline

● Taurine

● Beta-Alanine


Caffeine is the most commonly consumed stimulant, and is responsible for the energy and alertness boost that coffee and tea provide. Consuming caffeine can help boost exercise performance according to some studies.

It was also found that consuming caffeine before a workout can delay the onset of muscle soreness. This could motivate you to crank out some extra reps setting down your dumb bells during your next workout.

In addition to offering workout benefits, caffeine can also help give your brain a boost. Many studies have found that caffeine improves mood, learning, and reaction-times in the short-term.


Creatine is a compound made from nitrogen. It is naturally produced by the liver and kidneys; however, it can also be found in meats and dairy. This compound offers many athletic benefits such as:

● Improving strength.

● Increasing muscle mass.

● Aiding muscles during post-workout recovery.

These benefits have been confirmed by multiple studies over the decades

So how does creatine actually work? Once ingested, creatine transforms into creatine phosphate, which then produces a compound called “adenosine triphosphate” or ATP. This ATP then provides the energy needs for muscle movements.


Citrulline is a special amino acid produced by the body. This compound is believed to promote “vasodilation”, which is the process of widening arteries and veins for increased blood flow.

Studies have found that consuming citrulline before a workout helped participants increase the number of reps they could perform. It also reduced muscle soreness in the 48 hour post-workout period.

Some studies have also discovered that citrulline can help reduce the onset of age-related cognitive decline in rats. This means the compound may offer neuroprotective properties that help with brain health.


Taurine is a type of amino sulfuric acid that is commonly found in meat, egg, and dairy products. It is a common additive in energy drinks for its performance enhancing effects. This includes:

● Staving off fatigue.

● Increasing the rate of fat burning.

● Reducing muscle damage.

Taurine may also enhance brain function in certain ways. Studies have discovered that the compound helps with neutral cell growth and synapse formation, which are vital for long-term memory.


Beta-Alanine is another amino acid that is naturally produced in the body. It can also be found in meat, fish, and poultry. This compound helps with the production of “carnosine”, which is believed to aid muscle endurance during high-intensity exercises.

One study found that beta-alanine supplements improved exercise performance for exercises that lasted between 1 and 4 minutes in length. This compound may also help mitigate symptoms of depression and anxiety in the elderly and those suffering from neurological disorders.

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for the Brain?

Many of the ingredients in pre-workout supplements offer some brain boosting benefits. As mentioned earlier, caffeine helps with learning, improved mood, and reaction times.

Citrulline helps stave off age-related cognitive decline. This makes pre-workout supplements with citrulline useful for aging fitness enthusiasts that wish to retain their brain power into old age.

Taurine helps with maintaining long-term memory, while beta-alanine may help combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Introducing SHRED

We recently tested out SHRED, a revolutionary pre-workout supplement from Function Supplements brand designed by Frank Medrano.

The composition of this pre-workout supplement is quite interesting and is shown below.


15 per serving

Total Carbohydrates

3.5g per serving

Total Sugars

2g per serving

Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate
3,000mg per serving

CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine
2,500mg per serving

Outlast CR Plus® Palatinose Isomaltose
2,000mg per serving

L-Carnitine L-Tartrate
1,500mg per serving

elevATP® Ancient Peat; Apple Extract
150mg per serving

Coffeeberry® Whole Coffee Fruit Extract
75mg per serving

Caffeine Anhydrous
74mg per serving

The low concentration of Caffeine makes this supplement attractive compared to most pre-workouts in the market. One of the fundamental ingredients in this formula is L-Carnitine, which helps to convert fat into energy. However, the most interesting ingredient is definitely Coffeeberry, which is a brain booster that increases mental focus and clarity.

We tested various serving sizes including:

● 1/2 cup

● 1 cup

● 2 cups

The Results

Overall this supplement lives up to its promise of increasing strength, endurance, and fat burning without producing a crash or jitters. It is remarkably efficient even at half serving doses. However, we do not recommend increasing the serving up to 2 doses.

The L-carnitine plays a crucial role in producing energy by transporting fatty acids into your cells’ mitochondria. The mitochondria act as engines within your D-carnitine. However, this means its inactive form may cause a carnitine deficiency in your body by inhibiting the absorption of other, more useful forms.

Human studies indicate that taking acetyl-L-carnitine daily helps reverse the decline in brain function associated with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases, but exceeding 2000mg per day can lead to nausea or memory problems and inverse the expected results by creating a lack of mental clarity and poor concentration or even inability to focus.

The Verdict

Pre-workout supplements offer a variety of benefits for both athletic performance and brain health. They help stave off fatigue and assist with muscle recovery, both of which are important when attempting to maximize exercise performance and results.

It is also worth noting that pre-workout supplements alone won’t help you achieve your fitness goals. These supplements can enhance your workouts for maximum results, but they won’t do much to help you build muscle or lose weight if you aren’t putting in the effort at your gym.

So consider incorporating a pre-workout supplement into your fitness routine. It may just be the biohack you have been looking for.

Keywords: biohack, pre workout




Jean Fallacara, Scientist- Eng. Biotechnology Athlete, Biohacker, Speaker, and Author of the book: NeuroScience Calisthenics