Raise the bar, one more repadmin
There is no denying that the importance of exercise has been recognised today as an inalienable part of a healthy lifestyle. Cutting across strata’s, in different age groups, more and more people are taking to some form of activity to ramp up the heart rate. Parks are full of walkers; beach fronts are teeming with joggers and yoga enthusiasts are rolling out their mats. And of course, gyms are mushrooming. From a simple bare bone set up to modern facilities replete with innovative equipment, gyms are almost ubiquitous. Many celebrity sports and film personalities are promoting these ventures either by lending their name, or themselves investing large sums. A whole new career of personal training has now emerged, and a few of them are in great demand.
However, once the initial flush of enthusiasm, inspired by seeing others exercise starts to wane, many start to slacken in will and spirit. While there are those who may have seamlessly woven exercise as a part of their daily rituals, there are also many who come up with excuses to give it an occasional miss and then some who quit altogether. Well begun is fine but sustaining becomes a challenge for a few. It then becomes a case of the-mind-is-willing-but-the-body-can’t-keep-up.
To address this, health and fitness companies came up with products which could assist people in maintaining the tempo of their work outs, mild or strenuous. Though essentially these are stimulating energy drinks, they gave this category a name – Pre workout drinks. Though finally it is all in the mind the expected outcome of consuming these potions was that it mentally you would be ready for your routine and physically your body would hold through. Before we move further let us just look at some of the commonly offered pre workout products and their underlying ingredient:
- Creatine – Many lifters and strength training enthusiasts vouch for its efficacy. However, not recommended for people who engage in milder forms of exercise which would exclude a large number.
- Caffeine- Found in coffee, tea and beverages it stimulates parts of the brain to increase alertness and make one feel less tired. Caffeine forms a part of many a pre workout formulation.
- Beta-Alanine- It’s an amino acid that helps fight muscle fatigue. Again, only for the use of those into intense training.
- Citrulline – Though its an amino acid found naturally in the body; it is found in some foods. Citrulline is metabolised into Nitric Oxide which relaxes the blood flow to muscles.
- Sodium Bicarbonate – Sounds surprising, but your common household baking soda is also a supplement. Intense muscle training leads to acid production in them which leads to muscle fatigue. Sodium Bicarbonate helps prevent acid build up in the muscles.
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) – These are the three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine. Found naturally occurring in whey these they are believed to improve endurance performance and relieve fatigue and soreness.
- Nitrate – Is extracted from sources such as spinach, turnips, beetroot and a few others. It improves performance by decreasing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise.
While the above are the generally used key ingredients of commercially available pre workout energy drinks, it is pertinent to note that this is one area where anything goes. That is to say that as opposed to a post workout, muscle repair supplement, anything can count as a pre workout so long as it helps you sustain and endure the rigour. In its extreme form some even use products bordering on narcotic just to keep going. We, however will ignore them as outliers and focus on commonly used products.
A cursory glance at the above listed ingredients tells us two things, one, most are for the heavy lifting, strenuous workout type and two, they are generally processed and many could have some adverse impact on the body. An ideal energy drink would be one that could address the needs of people who may have diverse activity levels from the swimmer to the brisk walker to the dumbbell pusher. That’s where we need to think of natural sources. There are a host of herbs such as Ashwagandha, Amla, Muesli, Amaranthus and many more which if blended scientifically can have the same impact as any other energy drink.
Of what use is an energy drink if after answering your energy needs during a session leaves you with questions in mind of its adverse effects. So, while there is a trend towards going natural as opposed to synthetic for most consumables, the need for the same is more so for energy drinks. Herbal preparations have a long history and are not some shot in the dark formulations of today. These herbs have a proven record of having worked and since the extracts are natural, safety will never be an issue.
Ideally one should indulge in daily exercise without supplementation, but if to raise the bar and to push for that extra rep or the additional circle round the park you need something, by all means go ahead. But, do it with your eyes open because there is simply a clutter out there which makes the choice very confusing. Play safe, go natural choose herbal.