What to Do If You Have Taken Too Much Pre-Workout?

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: March 30, 2024
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Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts are tempted to take extra amounts of pre-workout in the belief that it would enhance energy and endurance.

But does taking too much really have a positive effect on your performance?

I partnered with a dietitian to study the effects of excessive supplement intake on my patients, aiming to grasp and remedy the potential consequences.

Read on and find out how to restore your balance after overindulging in pre-workout supplements.

Quick Summary

  • If you have taken too much pre-workout, it's essential to moderate the intake of pre-workout supplements, focusing on the recommended dosage to balance energy and endurance enhancement.
  • Overconsumption of pre-workout supplements can lead to issues like stomach upset, jitters, headaches, high blood pressure, and dehydration, requiring immediate attention and mitigation strategies.
  • It typically takes between 4-6 hours for the effects of pre-workout supplements to wear off, highlighting the importance of dosage management to avoid prolonged discomfort or health risks.
  • In my opinion, while pre-workout supplements can significantly boost energy and performance, the potential side effects of overconsumption underscore the necessity for informed usage and adherence to recommended dosages to ensure safety and effectiveness.

What Should You Do If You Took Too Much Pre-Workout Supplement?

person eating berries with a spoon, and another man drinking a glass of water

If you start feeling unwell, jittery, or itchy after taking some pre-workout supplements, it's most likely due to being overly sensitive to the ingredients or side effects from doubling up on the scoops.

I remember the first time my patient took too much pre-workout; he felt jittery and itchy, a clear sign he was overly sensitive to the ingredients or had simply overdone the scoops.

Trust me, it’s not a feeling you want to experience.

Here's what you should do if that's the case.

Eat Some Light Snacks

If pre-workouts upset your stomach due to a high protein dose, combat cramps and bloating with light, carb-rich snacks like toast with peanut butter, according to the MedicalNewsToday [1].

During pre-workouts, your snack time is important. Consuming a light snack before your workout can provide an additional source of energy to fuel your exercise session.

Opting for a combination of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein can help sustain your energy levels throughout the workout.

Drink Plenty Of Water

Stay Hydrated. Ingredients like caffeine can cause dehydration. If you're feeling jittery, drink water slowly to rehydrate [2].

Avoid Any Further Supplements For The Day

Even if you manage your gym session, avoid taking more supplements immediately. Wait at least an hour, or ideally, assess your intake the next day.

What Are The Dangers Of Taking Too Much Pre-Workout?

female in a gym exhausted and another with stomachaches

While many are aware of the immediate jitters and anxiety that can come with taking too much pre-workout, few discuss the long-term effects.

Over time, consistent overconsumption can lead to adrenal fatigue, sleep disorders, and chronic anxiety, impacting your overall health and wellness.

My patients been there, taking too much pre-workout and feeling the immediate jitters and anxiety.

But what haunted them more were the long-term effects that aren’t often talked about. It’s a lesson they learned the hard way.

So, if you realize that you've used the wrong scoop for a pre-workout supplement, then you need to look out for these side effects.

1. Stomach Upset

Many pre-workout formulas have very specific types of amino acids to help with energy metabolism and deliver energy to muscles. But under normal conditions, the amount of pre-workout you need to take should only be a small portion.

If you then suddenly take a large pre-workout shake on an empty stomach, it can quickly lead to aches, bloating, and cramps [3].

Related Articles:

2. Headaches

man holding his head in pain

This may happen to coffee drinkers who choose pre-workouts that also deliver a strong caffeine dose.

Large volumes of stimulants can quickly trigger headaches, which are partially due to dehydration.

And studies published by Harvard Health Publishing have also shown that it may bring on migraines [4].

If you tend to get headaches after coffee, it might be best to be more careful with your choice of pre-workout.

3. Buzzing

Stimulants like caffeine in pre-workouts can sometimes cause a jittery sensation, often described as an unpleasant buzz, according to the WebMD [5].

"By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in guarana might also speed up the nervous system."

- WebMD.com

It's more like your mind is going in ten different directions, which doesn't help you stay focused at the gym.

4. High Blood Pressure

medical person checking a person's blood pressure

Some pre-workout formulas contain citrulline to improve blood flow [6].

And when it's combined with caffeine, it may lead to blood pressure changes.

For people with existing heart conditions like hypertension, that's something to be careful about.

Optimizing blood flow is paramount for individuals dealing with high blood pressure.

Efficient blood circulation ensures that essential nutrients and oxygen are delivered to vital organs, promoting their proper functioning.

Regular physical activity, such as engaging in cardiovascular exercises or brisk walks, plays a pivotal role in enhancing blood flow by strengthening the heart and improving the flexibility of blood vessels.

Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contributes to maintaining healthy blood flow.

It is equally important to manage stress levels and embrace relaxation techniques as they positively impact blood circulation and effectively manage high blood pressure.

Related Article: Can You Die From Pre Workout?

5. Dehydration

Dehydration at the gym hinders muscle performance. Be cautious, as stimulants like caffeine in pre-workouts can trigger dehydration.

So, always check how much caffeine is in a pre-workout and drink plenty of water to make up for any loss.

Related: 6 Side Effects Of Taking Pre-Workouts

Avoiding Pre-Workout Supplement Problems

For those who have experienced the unsettling effects of overconsumption, I provide detailed recovery plans tailored to restore your physical and mental well-being.

These plans include dietary recommendations, periods of rest, and suggested medical check-ups to ensure a safe and healthy return to your fitness journey.

My patients sometimes fell into the trap of overconsumption, and the unsettling effects just a nightmare.

But with a detailed recovery plan, they managed to restore their physical and mental well-being. It’s a journey of learning and healing.

If you know that you're sensitive to stimulants or you've had a bad experience with beta-alanine tingles and side effects, there are some things you can do without avoiding a pre-workout supplement altogether.

First of all, avoid taking larger than recommended doses or mixing pre-workout supplements. Many of these products have overlapping ingredients in the pre-workout formulas, which may be the main reason for side effects.

Also, try to take a smaller dose of a supplement and wait for your body to get used to it. It's quite likely that side effects will go away after a few weeks.

FAQs

How Long Does It Take for Pre-workout to Wear Off?

It can take 4 to 6 hours for pre-workout supplements to wear off, according to the Healthline [7]. Some ingredients will only last for about an hour or two, like L-arginine, but caffeine could last up to 6 hours.

Can Pre-workout Damage Your Health?

No, pre-workout supplements aren't likely to damage your health unless you take very high doses of things like creatine [8]. Most side effects don't last long and are harmless, but it might be best to limit them if possible.


References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/pre-workout-side-effects#alternatives-and-reducing-side-effects
  2. https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/does-drinking-coffee-make-you-dehydrated/11220452
  3. https://www.mensxp.com/health/fitness/29014-5-reasons-why-your-protein-shake-is-causing-stomach-ache-and-making-you-bloat.html
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/if-you-have-migraines-put-down-your-coffee-and-read-this-2019093017897
  5. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-935/guarana
  6. hhttps://www.rxlist.com/supplements/l-citrulline.htm
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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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