Is Pre-Workout Bad For Your Heart?

While many different pre-workout supplements make different claims, their primary purpose is to help you get the most out of your workout by increasing your blood flow and energy flow to the extremes. Is pre-workout bad for your heart?

Pre-workout is bad for your heart, as there are very high doses of caffeine present in pre-workout supplements. Consuming them with your usual caffeine intake can lead to problems related to your heart. Pre-workout can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), increasing your risk of a heart attack.

Pre-workouts are designed to help you lift heavier, have more energy throughout your workout, and provide you with better focus. Continue reading with us as we discuss how pre-workout works, the side effects, and how you can possibly reduce their severe side effects.

How Pre-Workouts Work

Pre-workouts consist of ingredients that cause specific effects on your cardiovascular system. The most significant ingredient pre-workout supplements consist of is caffeine.

Generally, typical pre-workout supplements may contain anywhere between 100 and 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is up to three times the amount in a cup of coffee. Other ingredients in pre-workout include arginine, which is an ingredient known to increase the blood flow to its absolute extreme.

Another ingredient is Dimethylamylamine, which increases your heart rate and has gotten a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some studies have shown that even though there have been some severe health complications concerning pre-workout, more research is needed on these products’ long-term efficiency, side effects, and overall safety.

The Side Effects Of Pre-Workout

Pre-workouts can help you to feel more energized and experience a successful day at the gym, but the price of these benefits can become high, especially when it comes to your health.

Because of the fact that pre-workout supplements will raise your heart rate, combining these products with extreme cardiovascular activity will put extra strain on your heart. Other less severe side effects of pre-workout can include nausea, headaches, jittery feeling, as well as increased energy levels.

In addition, a pre-workout supplement can interact with some types of medication. If you are on medication, you should always tell your doctor about it if you are thinking of, or already consuming pre-workout supplements or products. 

Let’s take a look at the side effects when it comes to pre-workout and ways you can try to reduce them:

1. Pre Workout Will Make You Feel Jittery

As mentioned above, caffeine is one of the main ingredients that can be found in most pre-workout products. Caffeine is a stimulant and has been known to show increased muscle strength as well as muscle output during exercise times while reducing the chances of fatigue.

This means that, in theory, the caffeine will allow you to get more out of each of your workouts.

However, caffeine has many potential side effects, especially if you consume too much daily. These side effects include insomnia, increased heart rate, nausea, headaches, anxiety, drowsiness, and even overall restlessness or jitteriness.

What is even more concerning to consumers is that most pre-workout products and supplements pack incredibly high amounts in their products. There can be up to 500mg of caffeine present per serving size are usually around 0.35-1 ounce (10-30 grams).

When we compare this to a cup of coffee, one cup of coffee, which is around 240 ml, contains only 95mg of caffeine.

Ways To Possibly Reduce These Side Effects:

Because caffeine dosing is very individualized, some people may tolerate specific amounts better than others.

The best way to reduce the side effects of these high doses of caffeine is to simply start off with a smaller dose and then slowly increase the dosage to find out what you can comfortably tolerate.

Remember, it would be in your best interest to entirely avoid caffeine intake at least 6 hours before going to bed to avoid sleeplessness. You also have the option to choose pre-workouts that do not contain any caffeine.

However, you will find caffeine in almost all pre-workout supplements.

2. Pre-Workout Pay Increase Water Retention

Another popular ingredient that is present in pre-workout formulas is creatine. Studies have shown that creatine increases the capacity for high-intensity exercises, as well as lean body mass gain from workouts.

While creatine is most commonly only part of a pre-workout supplement, it can also be taken on its own.

The primary side effects when it comes to creatine are relatively low, but it can increase bloating, weight gain, water retention, as well as issues with digestion.

Ways To Possibly Reduce The Side Effects

Despite the known side effects, creatine has been shown to be relatively safe. You can reduce any side effects by ensuring that you take the proper dosage. Generally, creatine is dosed with a loading phase of approximately four scoops, which is 20 grams per day.

You should follow these dosages for about three days, followed by a 3-5 gram daily dose for maintenance. This method will provide you with immediate benefits, but it has a much higher potential to cause issues with your digestive system and bloating.

As an alternative, you can take a single dose daily of 3 to 6 grams if you’re willing to wait for 3 to 4 weeks to reap the benefits. This is ultimately seen to be the best option if you want to avoid the side effects like bloating, especially if you are one of those people with a sensitive stomach.

It would also be good to note that it can be challenging to avoid a bit of weight gain of between 2 and 6 pounds (1-3 kg) when dosing yourself with creatine. This is mainly because of the increased water retention in your muscles.

3. Pre-Workout Can Trigger Mild Reactions

Two additional ingredients that can be found in most pre-workout products and supplements are niacin (vitamin B3) and beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that works to reduce the acidity in your muscles during exercise, which will help you to sustain your workout session for a little bit longer.

With the perfect dose being around 4-6 grams per day, Beta-alanine has been proven to increase your performance during exercise and reduce the chances of fatigue in high-intensity exercises.

However, Beta-alanine may cause a tingling sensation in your feet and hands, known as paresthesia. While paresthesia is a relatively harmless reaction of your nervous system, some people may find it uncomfortable.

The second ingredient containing mild downsides is known as niacin, which is also a significant ingredient in pre-workout products for its skin-flushing properties.

When consumed in high doses of 500mg or more, niacin may trigger a blood rush to your skin’s surface, and it could result in red patches.

While niacin also plays a crucial role in the metabolism of energy, supplementing with it will be unlikely to offer any additional benefits if you consume a regular and well-balanced diet.

Ways To Potentially Reduce Side Effects:

The most effective method to reduce the tingling in your hands and feet associated with beta-alanine is to take smaller doses.

It is advised to take a 4-6 grams dosage into two separate doses at 2-3 grams each. You can purchase sustained-release formulas that work to prevent this side effect as an alternative.

Additionally, keeping your daily dose of niacin to less than 500mg will possibly prevent niacin flush. You can also buy niacin-free products. However, you need to be sure to check the ingredients on the label upon your purchase.

4. Pre-Workout May Cause An Upset Digestive System

Several ingredients present in the formulas of pre-workout may cause digestive upset, especially to those with sensitive stomachs. These ingredients include caffeine, creatine, magnesium, as well as sodium bicarbonate.

Sodium bicarbonate will cause digestive problems when it is consumed at 91-227 mg per pound of body mass (200-500 mg per kg). However, luckily most of the readily available pre-workout supplements or product does not contain as much.

On the other hand, magnesium may have some laxative effects, especially if it is in the form of magnesium citrate.

This is why you should be especially cautious about taking too much, as it could cause diarrhea.

Interestingly enough, if you use too little amounts of water when mixing your pre-workout supplements, it will also likely upset your digestive system.

Ways To Possibly Reduce The Side Effects:

Several ingredients in pre-workout products may trigger issues with your digestion. Mixing them with correct amounts of water can help to reduce and possibly eliminate such side effects.

Mixing your pre-workout products or supplements with about 8-12 ounces (which is 240-350 ml) of water can minimize these side effects.

As it could be challenging to determine what ingredient is causing problems with your digestive system, it would be the better and smarter idea to try different pre-workout formulas until you find one you are comfortable with and can tolerate.

5. Pre-Workout May Cause Headaches

Citrulline, which is added to quite some pre-workout products and supplements, is meant to increase the blood flow to your muscles during your exercise routine, which results in the enhanced building of muscles.

Citrulline is an amino acid, and it works by boosting the nitric oxide levels in your bloodstream. The recommended dosage for citrulline malate, a common form of citrulline, is between 6 and 8 grams.

However, many pre-workout supplements contain much smaller amounts and may not provide you with the potential benefits of consuming them.

It would be a good idea for you to keep in mind that the increase in blood flow will affect your brain, along with your muscles, which could lead to some people experiencing migraines and headaches. This is because of the blood pressure changes inside of your brain’s tiny blood vessels.

Ways To Possibly Reduce The Side Effects

The most effective way to reduce possible headaches from citrulline is to decrease your daily dosages.

After you have decreased your dosage and you still seem to struggle with headaches, you may want to consider finding another pre-workout product that does not contain this ingredient.

Pre-work formulas are very popular in the fitness community due to their significant effects on exercise performance and energy levels.

You can minimize most of these side effects by simply decreasing your dosage or avoiding supplements containing this particular ingredient altogether.

How Much Caffeine Is Safe To Drink?

If you’re a moderate coffee drinker, the chances are that you’ll probably be just fine. The American Heart Association has done a study and has found that moderate coffee drinking includes about 2 cups per day and doesn’t seem to be harmful to your physical health.

However, once you add a school of pre-workout into the mix, things will tend to escalate very quickly. While some pre-workout brands comfortably operate and produce their products containing around 100mg of caffeine per serving, it is different for other companies.

The more extreme companies can offer up to 400mg of caffeine per single dosage. High amounts like this could severely affect your heart and overall health, and it is not recommended, although many people are still in favor of consuming it.

Consider Finding Alternatives To Pre-Workout

You definitely do not have to use pre-workout supplements to have an effective and satisfying exercise experience. The FDA does not regulate pre-workout supplements and products in the same way as they do with medicine.

This could ultimately mean that the proper studies have not been completed to be able to predict how a pre-workout supplement will affect your performance while exercising.

The same goes for your health. Instead, it would be much better and healthier if you focused on healthy nutrition as a way to get the most possible out of your workouts.

By simply eating types of food that are high in lean protein and complex carbohydrates, you are sure to have long-lasting energy to help you get through your intense workouts without experiencing any adverse side effects.


Now that you know how bad pre-workout could be for your heart, as well as for your body, you might want to consider not making use of it at all. Pre-workout could be beneficial to your workout sessions, but they need to be consumed in moderate dosages, and extreme caution should be taken.

Instead, it is advised to try to follow a healthy and balanced diet and use superfoods to help you with your exercise journey!


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