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Fitness supplements are great. For regular gym-goers or those who work out, they can provide them with essential nutrients that are missing from their diet. And pre-workout supplements are undoubtedly one of the best types of supplements available.
They give you a big boost of energy and strength before you hit the weights. And they’ll also help you last longer in the gym. For an hour or so, you become a Super Saiyan!
However, there are some concerns about commercial pre-workout supplements. They can be expensive, and they might have a lot of filler, low-quality content inside.
The good news is you can make a pre-workout supplement yourself. It’s a much cheaper strategy for creating a FAR superior supplement.
Read on if you want to learn how to make your own pre-workout.
What are the Benefits of Making Your Own Pre-Workout?
There are some great advantages to be had when it comes to creating your own pre-workouts. The biggest one is that at least you’ll know what you put inside the supplement (supposing that you buy high-quality ingredients, though).
1. It’s Cheaper
A good quality pre-workout supplement will cost you anywhere between $50 and $100 (for 60 servings). The prices will fluctuate, but if you want something on a bit higher level, you’ll need to spend somewhere within that range.
Buying ingredients separately can cut costs significantly. Plus, you’ll know that these ingredients can last you significantly longer than the same amount you get with pre-workout supplements.
2. You Know What Goes Inside
A major benefit of creating your own pre-workout is that you’ll know what goes inside. As long as you buy high-quality ingredients, you’ll be able to create a high-quality supplement yourself.
With commercial pre-workouts, there’s normally a lot of filler content. And this content is there just to make up the numbers, while not bringing too much quality to the supplement itself.
You can mitigate that risk when you add only the ingredients you’re sure are useful to you when you consume them.
3. You Can Customize the Dosages
Not every workout is the same. Sometimes, you’re aiming for strength. Other times, it’s more about fat loss or perhaps about improving your endurance. So the ingredients inside the pre-workout aren’t going to be relevant for every scenario.
Every time you train for strength, it might make sense to add a bit more creatine and caffeine to the mix. But when going for endurance, you might want to stick to beta-alanine, for example.
The beauty of creating your own pre-workout is in the customizability of your shakes. Not every shake will be the same.
4. You Can Avoid Sugars and Artificial Flavors
A lot of pre-workout supplements these days have high sugar content. This is because the providers of these supplements want to improve the taste of the pre-workout.
They taste great, but the problem is that many of them will use artificial ingredients to cover up the taste. You can still use sugar for your own pre-workout, although it’s better to stick to naturals such as lemons or other fruits, or even flavor powders.
The Cons of Creating Your Own Pre-Workouts
Most of the time, creating your own pre-workout supplement is a good thing. However, there are some things for you to keep in mind:
- It takes more time. Be prepared because it will take you slightly longer to prepare your supplement rather than just mixing it as you do with commercial supplements.
- The taste is not great. Yes, this is somewhat expected. Commercial supplements contain a lot of sugars and artificial flavoring ingredients. When creating these on your own, you’ll have to know that they might not taste great unless you add some flavoring to them (we’ll discuss it later on).
- You’ll have to know the ingredients. It’s important that you know what the ingredients inside the pre-workout are for. Almost everyone knows caffeine, but not everyone knows what creatine or beta-alanine is for. So this means that not every ingredient is appropriate for everyone (it depends on your goals).
What You’ll Need to Make Your Own Pre-Workout
Let’s move onto the ingredients you’ll need to craft the perfect pre-workout shake for you. We’ve split the ingredients into two categories: key ingredients and then the optional ingredients. Let’s start with the key ones.
Here’s what cannot be missed with a pre-workout.
Caffeine will be the main driver when it comes to pre-workout supplements. You probably already know that it boosts your performance in the gym by waking up your body, it improves your focus, makes you more awake, and it enhances the power output during your workout.
It’s a part of every pre-workout supplement out there in the market. And with the major benefits it has, there’s no surprise about it, too.
When you’ll be making your own pre-workout, you might want to add anywhere between 150mg and 500mg of caffeine. This is a bit more than you’ll get when drinking a cup of coffee, for example (where you get around 95mg of caffeine per cup).
You’ll have two different options to add caffeine to your pre-workout supplement:
- Caffeine pills: these come as 200mg pills so you can add one or perhaps two to your pre-workout. For just $17.95, you’ll get 500 pills. So if you make your pre-workout on a daily basis, then these pills can last you for several months. They’re great because they don’t have sugars inside, and they’re natural and also gluten-free.
- Guarana Powder: for around 1g per serving, you’ll get around 220mg of caffeine. So you can add 1g of this powder to your pre-workout or perhaps slightly more to get the benefits of caffeine.
The powder is easier to mix, although the pills will last you for much longer, and they’re a bit cheaper. We prefer pills, but powder is also great. So if you do opt for the pills, you also need to know that you’ll need to crush them before you mix them with the supplement.
Some will argue that creatine does not necessarily have an immediate impact on you as caffeine does. And it’s a valid argument. However, scientific research clearly points towards the positive benefits of using creatine in the long-term.
It promotes faster muscle growth, improves the aerobic performance of your body, as well as increasing your endurance.
Creatine has long-term positive effects on your body, and it doesn’t have an instant impact like caffeine. However, I’ve found it more convenient to use it in my pre-workout rather than taking it afterward.
In terms of dosages, you can use anywhere between 3-5g per serving. When combined with caffeine, creatine can have a big boost to your workouts.
There are several types of creatine out there, but creatine monohydrate is the most commonly used type and the one we recommend you use. You have many great options in this department, as it’s a highly popular supplement these days:
Beta-alanine is a very effective ingredient to have to increase endurance when you work out. It’s been proven to increase endurance and muscle strength during your workouts as well as in the long run.
It’s also great for reducing the soreness the day after your workout. About 3-4g per serving is the standard dosage for creating a good pre-workout shake.
If you’re all about longer workouts, beta-alanine will boost your endurance massively. That’s been supported by many studies, too. Here’s the beta-alanine powder that will last you for at least 100 days and it’s a quality one, too:
4. Citrulline Malate
If you truly want to have longer and more powerful workouts, then you must consider citrulline malate. The offset of this supplement is that it can be quite expensive.
However, the benefits of using it can be incredible. The main benefit is that it boosts your power and strength during your workout. It also improves muscle recovery after your workouts.
The best dosage per serving is at around 6g. That’s when you start to see BIG results when you try and go for those heavy lifts.
You can use this citrulline malate supplement to start with:
- PrimaForce Citrulline Malate Powder (200g) – as you can see, there’s around 200g in the bottle, so it can last you for about a month or slightly longer if you use it every day.
- Nutricost L-Citrulline Malate (600g) – a good quality option that brings more content for the money. Both of these are great, although the PrimaForce is a bit more focused on workouts.
So that covers the main ingredients inside a pre-workout. But there are some other ingredients you can consider to further enhance your workouts and improve the taste of your supplement.
- Betaine – Betaine is certainly an underrated ingredient, but if you can afford the extra cost, you should certainly try and include it. It’s great for improving endurance for your workouts.
- A taste-enhancing ingredient. You have several options in this department. You’ll obviously want to improve the taste of your supplement. If you want to do that naturally, you can use natural ingredients such as fruits. You can also use a lemon powder like this one. Or, you can choose Gatorade to enhance the taste of the pre-workout.
- L-carnitine – now, this is an ingredient that some pre-workouts have, but it’s definitely not a must. If you’re looking to lose some fat, you can include it, but it’s not an essential ingredient.
To summarize, this is what you’ll need to create your own pre-workout (I also included the costs – but note that these costs are for larger portions that will last you significantly longer than a commercially-bought pre-workout):
- Caffeine ($17.95 for 500 pills)
- Creatine (around $30 for 120 servings)
- Beta-Alanine ($13.95 for 300 grams)
- Citrulline Malate ($27.99 for 600 grams)
Optional ingredients include:
- Flavoring powder
These ingredients can last you for 3-4 months, if not longer. And you’re still saving money compared to a commercially bought pre-workout, which will last you for 1-2 months.
How to Make Your Own Pre-Workout – the Dosages
Now it’s all about mixing those ingredients together. It’s best to use water to mix them and then to add a flavoring powder to the mix. Or, you can use Gatorade to mix it, but know that it contains quite a lot of sugar, plus it’s a bit more expensive.
Depending on your goals, you’ll need to customize the ingredients and how much of them you put inside the mix. So we’ve designed a mixture for each scenario.
If you’re looking for a strength boost…
It might make sense to go a bit heavier on creatine and caffeine, as well as add a bit of citrulline malate and betaine.
Citrulline malate 4g
That’s a great mixture right there. It’s sure to increase the strength when you workout as well as provide more gains in the long-term. This, we believe, is the best all-around mixture that almost everyone will benefit from.
Looking for endurance?
Do you like long workouts? I mean really looong workouts? Or do you need more endurance for those long cardio sessions? Then you can try this mixture.
Citrulline malate 4g
Notice that we added beta-alanine to the mix, which is one of the best ingredients to have when you’re looking for extra endurance.
For fat loss
Now, if you want to get more fat loss, you’ll probably need more endurance as well as an ingredient to promote weight loss. Caffeine is still a key ingredient here.
Citrulline malate 4g
For all of these mixtures, you can mix it with water and take them at least 60 minutes before the workout, and it will last you for anywhere between 1-3 hours after you take it.
As you might have seen from the recipes above, you have quite a lot of freedom when you want to make your own pre-workout.
It depends on your goals, but if you’re looking for a good budget and quality alternative to commercial pre-workouts, you can’t go better than this!