The pros and cons of pre-workout

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Pre-workout is a trend people are looking to to add a boost to their workouts. There isn't a shortage of pre-work out supplements, as one trip to the nutrition store will leave you with dozens of options.

While pre-workout supplements are advertised to give you that extra pep in your step before heading to the gym, some contain banned ingredients, and others aren't even approved by the FDA.

The questions are: Do they really work, and are they safe?

Professional bodybuilder Guy Cisternino  says yes to both.

"Supplements play a huge role in everyday life. They help the most elite athlete to just your every day person who might not even go to the gym, they're just trying to get healthy," Cisternino said.

But if you ask a doctor, they'll likely tell you to leave them on the shelf.

"Pre-workout supplements are really sort of a bust," says Dr. Jason Smith, medical director of sports medicine for Mercy Health in Toledo.

He says not only do they not work, they can also be dangerous.

"The dangers are very much caffeine-related. The diarrhea, heart palpitations, increase in blood pressure and dehydration," Dr. Smith said.

Just last year, an athlete and patient of his took ten times the amount of supplements than what was on the label, leading to a scary situation on the football field.

"It was extremely dangerous. We actually had to hook him up to a cardiac monitor," said Smith.

Paul Callahan, owner of Bull Frog Nutrition and Abiotic Factorz, agrees with both sides. He says pre-workout supplements are worth the while, as long as you use the right kind and take the right amount.

"Pre-workouts can help with everything. When you have a pre-workout that's based on blood flow, vasodilation that's going to help with your whole supplement regiment. They can help break down food a little bit better. So things like that are very beneficial to having a pre-workout, you just have to make sure you have the right one," Callahan said.

Callahan suggests low or non-stimulated pre-workout supplements for anyone 18 and under, while Dr. Smith said teens shouldn't take any.

"We really need to make sure our kids aren't taking these," said Smith.

If you feel like you need a boost before you a workout, Smith suggests eating right.

"It's about better nutrition. Getting people to go five meals a day. Smaller meals, better food intake and proper hydration throughout the entire process," said Smith.

Cost is also something to consider when buy pre-workout supplements. Many average out to at least a dollar per serving, adding up to at least $30 for one jar.

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