You’re excited to get into the gym, so you get some pre-workout formula to help bulk up those gains and really make the most of your time. It goes great, but halfway through a set, you realize that your stomach’s about to blow.
This is actually fairly common. A lot of pre-workouts impose weird side effects on the body, and it’s different for everyone.
Let’s talk about the specific ingredients and what you can do to avoid this seriously unwanted side effect.
What Does Pre-Workout Do to Your Body?
Depending on the ingredients, it can do a number of things.
The goal is to help increase blood flow and give you protein for power, but there’s no such thing as a perfect supplement. You have to take what you can get, and in this case, it’s:
Caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the body, namely the colon, which sends signals to release waste. This is why you can sometimes feel like you not only have to poop but that it’s near-emergent and you have limited time to get to the bathroom. It won’t feel similar to precursors to your normal movements, that’s for sure.
Magnesium: While magnesium is great for the body and can help lower blood pressure (as well as many other benefits), it also brings water into the intestines. That’s arguably good, but it can lead to loose or watery movements that can come on suddenly.
Creatine: This common protein-rich ingredient in pre-workouts and post-workout formulas is actually a huge cause of bloat. While it’s a safe ingredient, the water retention increase leads to bloating, sometimes in the intestines, and all that water can come rushing out at once. Your body will inject water into your waste and make it loosen up.
It should be noted that while sodium bicarbonate, a common ingredient in pre-workouts, can lead to digestive issues, it’s highly uncommon.
These digestive issues only occur when you consume sodium bicarbonate in excess, which is why these companies and manufacturers know when they make their formulas.
Caffeine vs. Caffeine-Free Pre Workouts
Caffeine is the top aggressor when it comes to pre-workout-related bowel incidents, but you also don’t want to avoid caffeine unless there’s a true underlying medical reason for it. Caffeine is great for exercise because:
Your Body Heats Up More: Caffeine can increase your body heat due to a process called thermogenesis, which overall helps you burn more calories depending on how this energy is used.
Reduced Fatigue: When your body burns through energy during a workout, it takes glycogen from your muscles. If you don’t get proper nutrition immediately following your workout, it can actually reduce your gains. Caffeine can take the place of glycogen in some instances, so you’ll be able to burn less glycogen, feel less fatigued, and reduce the likelihood of fatigue or sleepiness after a workout.
Nervous System Shock: Caffeine activates the central nervous system and releases adrenaline, which can help with performance. On top of that, if the caffeine is derived from coffee, you also have additional oils and acids introduced to the caffeine that can help with heart health.
Endorphin Boost: Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, but caffeine can also help to release those same endorphins, which is why it’s so crucial for pre workout. You can basically have a workout high before you even begin your workout, which only helps you out in the long run.
Endurance Improvements: While the jury isn’t completely out on this, there are plenty of studies that show cyclists and those who practice strength training improve their performance and reduce fatigue by the end of HIIT exercise.
Caffeine is important for pre-workouts, but of course, it has that nasty side effect. If possible, consider taking caffeine-free pre-workout and a separate caffeine pil;l on the side.
Caffeine pills tend to have fewer milligrams than pre-workout, so you can get a bit of a boost without it upending your exercise and calling it short at the first call of mother nature.
How Can I Prevent It?
You can avoid caffeine-inclusive supplements or formulas altogether, but it’s not going to be enough to just give up caffeine.
It’s actually quite beneficial, which is why it’s in so many of the formulas you’ll see, caffeine is one of the most advertised ingredients.
Magnesium is fairly unanimous in formulas as well, so how do you really prevent digestive issues with pre-workout formulas?
Apart from trying to find supplements without these beneficial ingredients, you can:
Talk to Your Doctor: There may be tests available to help with determining any bowel issues you may face. Medication could help balance digestive issues so that you can continue to take pre-workout formulas without it causing issues.
Increase Your Fiber Intake: Find fiber-rich foods to eat before your workouts (usually 2-4 hours prior to taking pre-workout formula), and try to help give all that extra water something to hold onto. It can help with making movements feel less imminent and prevent diarrhea.
Water it Down: Most mixes require you to blend it with 8 oz of water, but why not try it with 16 oz? It’ll hit you a little slower and you’ll add more fluid intake as well. Do this, in the beginning, to build up a tolerance to creatine, and you’ll regulate soon enough.
Pre Workout vs. Pooping
Sometimes you just have to account for it and be sure you’re near a facility, other times you can cut out the caffeine and hopefully cut out the side effects.
Always remember that being well-hydrated is necessary to avoid the diuretic effect of caffeine and because needing to poop is better than being constipated.
Everyone responds to caffeine differently. As I sit here writing this post, I’m on my fourth cup of coffee of the day and I never get the jitters.
Everyone is built differently, which is why understanding how caffeine affects you is important before starting a caffeinated pre-workout formula.
Justin Rodriguez has spent most of his adult life inspiring people to take their fitness more seriously. He is not new to the business of providing practical solutions for those looking to set and smash their fitness goals. From sharing professional tips and tricks to recommending awesome products, Justin Rodriguez helps just about anyone who wants to get the best out of their workout routines.Having gathered a lot of experience both in and outside the gym, Justin Rodriguez uses DSW Fitness as a medium to show you exactly how to get that great-looking body with toned muscles you’ve always wanted.