Can Pre-workout Help With ADHD? According to a Physician

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: March 30, 2024
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Apart from medication, behavioral therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques, are there alternative ways to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD?

As a medical doctor with experience in ADHD cases, people often ask me if pre-workouts can help manage ADHD symptoms.

Explore the scientific viewpoint on how these widely-used fitness aids might provide surprising benefits for focus and energy.

Quick Summary

  • Pre-workout supplements can help people with ADHD by boosting their energy and focus during exercise.
  • Ingredients like caffeine and L-tyrosine can improve ADHD symptoms such as lack of focus and restlessness.
  • Pre-workout stimulants affect dopamine concentrations in the brain, which improves brain function.
  • Having seen the challenges of ADHD firsthand, I believe pre-workouts can be a beneficial tool for maintaining concentration during exercise.

Pre-workout and ADHD

A pre-workout stimulant may assist with ADHD by increasing energy and attention span, but it'll not treat it.

Pre-workouts are like energy drinks; they boost your endurance and focus, providing you with the strength you require to get through strenuous workouts.

Although exercises help to calm the mind, I've found out from the patients I treat, that they can be a little challenging for people with an ADHD diagnosis.

Pre-workouts help with ADHD and hyperactivity by stimulating the brain's synthesis of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

See, exercise accomplishes the same effect on the brain as ADHD medication does. The problem is that physical activity impacts only lasts a few hours after the workout.

ADHD and Its Symptoms

A person with symptoms of ADHD

Ever since a friend's struggle with ADHD caught my eye, I've been hooked on learning about this condition. WebMD says ADHD is a brain developmental disorder, affecting both kids and adults [1].

Kids with ADHD often struggle with focus, impulsive actions, and being super active. ADHD signs in young kids often mellow out with age, but many adults still face major symptoms that mess with their daily lives.

Adults with ADHD might find focusing tough, act on impulse, struggle with sleep, and feel restless. ADHD's impact varies, but your health and genes are big factors. Common ADHD symptoms include:

  • Lack of attention
  • A lack of concentration
  • Ineffective time management
  • A lack of impulse control
  • Exaggerated feelings
  • Hyperfocus
  • Restlessness
  • Executive incompetence

Impact Of Pre-workout on Individuals with ADHD

A person holding pills for ADHD

My friend with ADHD really digs pre-workouts. He finds they sharpen his focus, kick-start his gym routine, and keep him pumped the whole time.

Ingredients like caffeine and L-tyrosine, known for boosting focus, help folks with ADHD amp up their attention and gym motivation.

If you're dealing with ADHD, the right food, meds, and pre-workout drinks can help you stay on track with your fitness. And being fit comes with perks, especially for ADHD:

  • Less anxiety and tension
  • Better impulse control and less obsessiveness
  • Sharper working memory
  • Improved planning, organizing, and remembering skills
  • Increased neurotrophic levels, which are key for brain function but often low in ADHD, according to the National Library of Medicine [2]

Things to Look for in a Pre-workout if You Have ADHD

A bunch of pills and supplements for ADHD on a table

Through my experience and feedback from patients with ADHD, I've pinpointed some pre-workout ingredients that can make a real difference.

Ingredients like creatine, magnesium, and certain vitamins can improve ADHD symptoms such as lack of focus and restlessness.

Let's look at the ingredients in detail:

Caffeine

As per studies published in the National Center of Biotechnology Information, caffeine improves alertness in patients and children with ADHD disorder [3].

For people with ADHD, caffeine can have a calming effect by reducing hyperactivity and aiding in focus. Because it is a stimulant, it mirrors the impacts of stronger supplements used to manage ADHD, like amphetamine medicines.

Creatine

Creatine is a stimulant in muscle. According to a 2018 report published in the National Library of Medicine, it may significantly improve memory performance and cognitive capacity when taken as a pre-workout supplement [4].

Creatine aids inattentive ADHD since increased brain creatine levels are linked to better neuropsychological function.

Here is a list of the best pre-workouts with creatine that we personally tried and tested.

Magnesium

According to a 2016 study published on Science Direct, the Magnesium concentration in the blood may help children with ADHD calm and focus [5].

Magnesium also helps the neurotransmitters engaged in attention functioning.

 "Adequate levels of magnesium have a calming effect on the brain."

- Richard Brown, M.D. 

Vitamin D

Clinical trials conducted in 2018 and published on NLM show that medication and supplements containing vitamin D improve ADHD overall scores, lack of concentration scores, restlessness scores, and behavioral performances in children in a significant way [6].

FAQs

Can I Take Pre-Workout With ADHD Drugs?

No, you cannot take Pre-workout with ADHD drugs. Pre-workouts and ADHD medications are both stimulants. Mixing them can strain the heart and can lead to possible health issues. If you're on ADHD meds, consult a doctor before considering using a pre-workout supplement.

Can Pre-Workout Help You Focus?

Yes, pre-workout can help you focus and improve your overall performance.

Does Caffeine Energize People With ADHD?

Yes, caffeine energizes people with ADHD by increasing their focus and concentration.

Does Excess Caffeine Aggravate ADHD?

Yes, excess caffeine aggravates ADHD because sometimes it can increase dopamine levels excessively.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23363778/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209050/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6093191/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110863015000555
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29457493/#
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About The Author

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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