Should You Chug Pre-Workout or Is It Better to Sip It?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 20, 2024
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As a fitness trainer, one of my clients' frequent concerns is knowing the right way to take their pre-workout supplement before coming to the gym.

Most ask if they can chug their pre-workout supplement and if it's safe to do so. To assist them, I talked to a friend doctor and spent days researching this topic.

If you have similar concerns, continue reading this article to find out why you should or shouldn't chug your pre-workouts.

Quick Summary

  • Sipping pre-workout supplements gradually is better than chugging, as it allows for proper digestion and absorption of complex ingredients.
  • Chugging pre-workout supplements primarily containing caffeine and creatine can provide an instant energy boost, but may lead to adverse effects like increased heart rate.
  • A 2012 study from NCBI suggests that nitric oxide in pre-workouts enhances energy and strength by improving nutrient delivery to muscles during exercise sessions.
  • I recommend sipping pre-workout supplements to avoid potential risks such as high caffeine intake and to ensure a steady and safe boost in energy and focus for workouts.

Pre-Workout Chugging vs. Sipping

A woman drinking supplement drink

In my experience as a fitness trainer, I've noticed that the complex ingredients in pre-workouts need time to be digested properly.

If you are galloping down everything in milliseconds, you are preventing the biochemical processes from effectively breaking down the substance and maximizing the benefits to your body and nervous system.

When you're running a little behind schedule, chugging everything sounds reasonable. However, this can sometimes pose some adverse health complications.

With sipping, the body can warm up nicely for what's coming through the gastrointestinal route.

Pros Of Chugging Pre-workouts

Chugging pre workout in one sitting

Here are the benefits of chugging pre-workouts before your gym session.

Instant Energy Boost

Pre-workouts increase energy and strength in several ways. They strengthen your metabolism for enhanced strength as you exercise and for long-lasting power after your workout.

Creatine is a component of pre-workout supplements that may be crucial for boosting strength.

Per a 2002 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it increases the metabolic processes in your body that boost energy at the cellular scale and fastens body weight loss. This compound also improves muscle mass and endurance [1].

Pre-workout with nitrate enables your body to transport more amino acids and other minerals to your muscles.

Insights from a 2012 paper in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) indicate that, as a result, you get more energy as you work harder throughout a session. Your muscles receive the nutrients they need to function well thanks to the nitric oxide levels, and strength is increased as a result [2].

Better Pumps

A man holding a shaker bottle in the gym

Chugging pre-workout supplements with ingredients like Nitrosigine will enhance blood flow and give you more effective pumps [3].

This is particularly helpful to muscle builders who want to achieve the appearance of puffed-up muscles.

More oxygen and nutrients will be given to your muscles during and after your workout, thanks to increased blood flow.

When this occurs, your training stamina is enhanced, and there’s sufficient post-workout body time recovery.

Instant Motivation And Focus

Chugging quality pre-workout supplements of different flavors will also improve your concentration and mental clarity while you train.

You can prevent mental and physical exhaustion by taking caffeine and other popular pre-workout supplements like Citrulline malate, TeaCrine, and L-Theanine [4].

They make it simpler for you to focus on completing those sets and resist getting sidetracked.

6 Side Effects Of Chugging Pre-workouts

Chugging a pre workout

While pre-workouts have amazing carbohydrates and energy benefits for the body, here are the downsides of chugging that energy drink before your gym session.

1. Feeling Anxious And Jittery

Chugging pre-workout means you're chugging caffeine along.

Caffeine is the main component of coffee and pre-workouts, enabling you to maximize your exercise. 

While it lessens tiredness during exercise, drinking caffeine can have some adverse side effects, mainly if you take it on an empty stomach.

These effects are more potent and lead to anxiety, so you might feel light-headed if the caffeine intake is high enough.

Although I’ve never personally experienced this side effect when drinking pre-workout, I did have some clients rushing for a training session from work, telling me that they’d experienced jitters and nausea after chugging their pre-workout.

"Many pre-workouts contain large doses of caffeine, sometimes as much as 500 mg per serving. Chugging this same amount is risky to your heart rate, and it's better to sip slowly and introduce the caffeine to your body in bits as you go along"

- Alejandro Pena Jr., MD

High doses are known to cause anxiety symptoms; those who suffer from social anxiety disorder and panic disorder are particularly vulnerable.

Drinking too many energy drinks on an empty stomach might cause symptoms comparable to psychiatric diseases like insomnia, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms [5].

2. Less Time For The Body To Process

A shirtless man drinking a pre-workout

With pre-workouts primarily made of complex compounds like Beta-alanine, your body might need a little more time to process the pre-workout and digest these complex substances [6].

Chugging a pre-workout drink and hitting the gym immediately switches your body from processing to power mode.

This means breaking down the complex substances from pre-workouts is slightly buffered, as the body now focuses on sourcing energy to keep you going through the exercise activities.

3. Consuming Undissolved Pre-workout

From what I've seen with my clients, trying to save time by quickly mixing and chugging pre-workout often backfires.

I've had clients tell me they ended up swallowing undissolved chunks of powder, leading to discomfort and negative side effects.

It's better to take a moment to properly dissolve the pre-workout in water to avoid these issues.

4. Instant Motivation And Focus

Chugging quality pre-workout supplements of different flavors will also improve your concentration and mental clarity while you train.

You can prevent mental and physical exhaustion by taking caffeine and other popular pre-workout supplements like Citrulline malate, TeaCrine, and L-Theanine [4].

They make it simpler for you to focus on completing those sets and resist getting sidetracked.

Related ArticleThe Best Pre-Workout For Focus 

5. Risk Of Choking

Choking woman after drinking

Chugging a pre-workout poses a risk of pulmonary aspiration. This happens when one hurriedly swallows or drinks food, which goes into the windpipe and the lungs.

This is dangerous, especially when chugging powdered pre-workout that hasn't dissolved well [7].

When you chug pre-workout energy drinks, the compounds can irritate the lungs and partially restrict the airways, which can cause coughing, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms.

Aspiration can cause the lungs to absorb dangerous pre-workout compounds, leading to more issues.

For instance, chugging down the aspirating material into the lungs that contain harmful germs can result in infection, inflammation, and heart attack [8].

6. Instant Motivation And Focus

Chugging quality pre-workout supplements of different flavors will also improve your concentration and mental clarity while you train.

You can prevent mental and physical exhaustion by taking caffeine and other popular pre-workout supplements like Citrulline malate, TeaCrine, and L-Theanine.

They make it simpler for you to focus on completing those sets and resist getting sidetracked.

Taking Pre-workout The Right Way

A man drinking supplement drink slowly

Timing when you consume your pre-workout supplement is more beneficial.

Eating it too early with no proper meal will metabolize and do you no good. You will also not reap full benefits if you take it too late.

Suppose you're using powdered pre-workout, mix it well in water or other recommended liquids and drink accordingly. As for pill supplements, swallow with sufficient water.

I advise you to take pre-workout supplements 15 to 30 minutes before you start exercising. This enables the caffeine to kick in and allows more complex components to begin circulating in your blood.

As far as dosage is concerned, a basic dose of 20 to 30 grams is ideal. Remember that every pre-workout dietary supplement is unique, and the amounts of the active substances vary.

FAQs

Are You Supposed To Drink Pre-workout Fast?

No, you're not supposed to drink pre-workout fast. Drink at a pace that is comfortable to swallow.

Should You Sip On Pre-workout Or Chug?

You can either sip or chug your pre-workouts a few minutes before your workout. Just don't force it down your throat.

Is It Okay To Swallow Pre-workout?

Yes, it's okay to swallow pre-workout if they come in the form of capsules or pills.

How Bad Is Dry Scooping Pre-workout?

Dry scooping pre-workout is bad as it can cause severe health problems like heart attack, blood pressure, and lung irritations.

Is Dry Scooping Pre-workout Bad For Your Teeth?

Yes, dry scooping pre-workout is bad for your teeth. Most sports products have undiluted citric acid that can damage your enamel.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11851597
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23174856/
  3. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4663612/
  5. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-psychiatric-treatment/article/neuropsychiatric-effects-of-caffeine/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4501114/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324611#
  8. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21954-aspiration-pneumonia
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
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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