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Is Pre-Workout Bad For Teens or Safe? Should They Take It?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated May 28, 2023

The world of fitness supplements can be a confusing one, especially for teenagers who are just starting their fitness journey.

One supplement that often sparks debate is pre-workout. 

Is it safe for teens? 

Should they be taking it? 

Let's dive into these questions and more.

Is Pre-Workout Safe or Dangerous for Teens? 

The answer isn't straightforward. 

The scientific community hasn't yet carried out comprehensive, long-term studies on the impact of pre-workout supplements on teenagers, leaving us without a definitive answer. 

Moreover, various elements come into play, including the specific components of the supplements and the suggested age limit for pre-workout use. 

Pre-workout supplements often include strong stimulants such as caffeine, which can lead to adverse reactions, particularly when consumed in large quantities. 

Additionally, the absence of regulatory oversight implies that there's no assurance of the product's quality and safety. 

Here are the safest pre-workouts for teens

What is a Pre-Workout?

Pre-workout is a dietary supplement designed to boost energy and athletic performance during exercise [1].  

It often contains a mix of ingredients like caffeine, amino acids, creatine, and beta-alanine, all aimed at increasing energy, focus, and endurance.

Why Do Teens Consider Taking Pre-Workout?

Many teens are drawn to pre-workout supplements for their promised benefits. 

The allure of enhanced performance, increased energy, and the potential to maximize their workouts can be tempting. 

However, it's essential to understand the potential risks associated with these products.

Potential Risks of Pre-Workout for Teens

While pre-workout supplements can offer some benefits, they also come with potential risks, especially for teens. 

High caffeine content can lead to jitteriness, sleep disturbances, and in extreme cases, heart issues. 

Other ingredients, like creatine, may not be harmful in moderation but can cause problems if overused or misused.

Scientific Studies on Pre-Workout Use in Teens

Research on the effects of pre-workout supplements on teenagers is limited.

However, studies on adults have shown that while these supplements can improve athletic performance, they can also cause side effects, especially when taken in large amounts [2, 3].

More research is needed to fully understand the implications for teen users.

Regulation of Pre-Workout Supplements

It's important to note that dietary supplements, including pre-workout, are not regulated by the FDA like food and drugs [4].

This means that the safety and efficacy of these products are not guaranteed, and the actual content may differ from what's listed on the label.

Alternatives to Pre-Workout for Teens

For teens looking to boost their workout performance, there are safer alternatives to pre-workout supplements. 

A balanced diet, adequate hydration, and a good night's sleep can all significantly impact energy levels and athletic performance [5]. 

Natural sources of caffeine, like green tea, can also provide a gentle energy boost without the potential risks of pre-workout supplements [6]. 

Guidelines for Safe Use of Pre-Workout

If a teenager is considering using a pre-workout supplement, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider first. 

They can provide personalized advice based on the teen's health history and fitness goals.

It's also important to start with a low dose to assess tolerance and to never exceed the recommended dosage.

Safe Pre-Workout Ingredients for Teens

Pre-workout supplements are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers who are involved in sports and fitness activities. 

However, it's crucial to understand that not all pre-workout ingredients are safe or suitable for this age group. 

Here, we will break down some of the safe pre-workout ingredients for teenagers:

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is a substance naturally produced by the body and found in foods like meat and fish. 

It's involved in energy production during high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting. 

Supplementing with creatine can increase muscle creatine stores, enhancing the body's capacity to produce energy rapidly, which can lead to improvements in strength and power. 

It's considered safe for teens, but it's always recommended to start with a lower dose [7, 8, 9, 10] .

Beta-Alanine

This is an amino acid that helps fight muscle fatigue by buffering the acid in muscles during high-intensity exercise. 

It can help enhance performance and overall physical capacity.

Beta-Alanine is generally safe for teenagers, but it may cause a tingling sensation in the skin, which is harmless and usually subsides after an hour [11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. 

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs, consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. 

They play a vital role in muscle recovery and reducing exercise-induced muscle soreness [16, 17, 18, 19].

BCAAs are safe for teens and can be especially beneficial if they are involved in intense training sessions. 

Caffeine

Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that can enhance alertness, focus, and performance in endurance and high-intensity exercise [20, 21]. 

However, it's important to note that caffeine sensitivity varies among individuals, and high doses can lead to side effects like jitteriness, increased heart rate, or sleep disturbances [22, 23, 24].

Therefore, it's recommended that teenagers limit their caffeine intake and avoid taking it late in the day.  

L-Citrulline

 This is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide helps widen blood vessels, improving blood flow to your muscles during exercise [25, 26]

This can lead to enhanced performance, especially in high-intensity exercise. [26]  

L-Citrulline is considered safe for teenagers.

Beetroot Powder

Beetroot powder is a natural source of nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Like L-Citrulline, this can help improve blood flow and exercise performance.  [27, 28

Beetroot powder is a safe and natural pre-workout ingredient for teens.

While these ingredients are generally safe for teenagers, it's important to remember that everyone's body reacts differently to supplements. 

Therefore, it's always recommended to start with lower doses and monitor your body's response.

Additionally, teenagers should focus on maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise routine, as these are the foundations of good health and athletic performance. 

Lastly, always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

FAQs

Are all pre-workout supplements unsafe for teens?

Only some pre-workout supplements are safe, but due to the lack of regulation and potential for misuse, caution is advised.

Can teens get the same benefits from a healthy diet and regular exercise?

Yes, a balanced diet and regular exercise are the best ways for teens to improve their athletic performance and overall health.

What should a teen do if they experience side effects from a pre-workout supplement?

If a teen experiences side effects like rapid heart rate, extreme jitteriness, or other concerning symptoms, they should stop using the supplement and seek medical attention.

Are there any pre-workout supplements designed specifically for teens?

Some brands market their products as being suitable for teens, but it's important to remember that these products are not regulated in the same way as food and drugs.

What are the signs of pre-workout misuse or overuse?

Signs can include restlessness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and in extreme cases, seizures or heart failure.

Can a 14-year-old take a pre-workout?

While there's no legal age limit to buy pre-workout supplements, many manufacturers recommend their products for adults 18 and over.

However, if the product has safe ingredients and is used correctly, a 14-year-old may use it.

Always consult a healthcare provider first.

Can a 13-year-old take pre-workout?

Similar to the above, it's usually not advised for a 13-year-old to take pre-workout supplements. If a 13-year-old is considering using a pre-workout supplement, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider first.

Do you have to be 18 to buy pre-workout?

No, there's no legal age limit to buy pre-workout supplements. However, many supplements indicate 18 and above on their labels, but if the product has safe ingredients, there's no reason a young teenager can't use the supplement as well.

When is it not okay to take a pre-workout?

It's not okay to take pre-workout late in the day as it can interfere with sleep due to its caffeine content.

To be safe, you should take a pre-workout before 1 pm, maximum by 5 pm and even 5 pm is too late, especially for stimulant-heavy pre-workouts.

Also, it's not recommended to take a pre-workout if the product has unclear information, such as unlisted ingredients or proportions, or lacks safety regulations for its usage.

Are pre-workouts natural?

Some pre-workouts may contain natural ingredients, but not all are natural.

It's important to check the ingredient list and opt for products that use safe, high-quality ingredients and are third-party tested.

Will pre-workouts kill us?

While pre-workout supplements, when used correctly, are generally safe, misuse or overuse can lead to serious health issues.

Always follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Bottom Line 

So can teens use pre-workouts? 

Pre-workout supplements can enhance athletic performance, but their safety for teens is not fully established. 

They often contain potent ingredients like caffeine, which can have side effects, especially in high doses. 

Lack of regulation also means quality and safety aren't guaranteed. 

While not inherently harmful, misuse can lead to health issues.

Therefore, it's crucial for teens to consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen. 

A balanced diet, adequate hydration, and proper sleep are safer and more effective ways for teens to boost their athletic performance.

So while pre-workout supplements can offer some benefits, they also come with potential risks, especially for teenagers. 

It's crucial for teens and their parents to understand these risks and to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. 

Remember, the key to enhancing athletic performance isn't found in a supplement – it's a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.

This article is not intended to replace professional medical advice. 

Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulks it up into this site.

Having to be stuck as a 110lb skinny guy in the early days, he has had no choice but to keep improving himself until he cannot.

Click here to check out his 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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