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

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 30, 2022

While I get many of my clients to start taking pre-workout supplements regularly, I also have to warn them not to get carried away and be tempted into taking too much in one go.

As a personal trainer, I have seen and experienced some negative effects of pre-workouts. The reality is that these products only go so far to boost energy levels and endurance. And taking more of a supplement may actually hold you back.

To better understand and determine whether my clients have taken too much of a supplement, I got together with my dietitian to help me research what exactly might happen with many pre-workout supplements if you take the wrong dose.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Pre-workout supplements are generally based on natural ingredients, especially amino acids, but they can make you sick in large volumes.
  • Once you hit a certain exercise performance, taking more pre-workouts is likely to cause several side effects that are not pleasant.
  • There are a couple of things you should immediately do if you've taken high doses, but prevention is always better than cure.

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.

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

Eat Some Light Snacks

If you feel that your stomach isn't feeling well after taking pre-workouts, it could be down to the sudden high dose of proteins. You could feel cramps, bloating, or gas, and it's a good idea to rebalance your stomach contents.

Eat some light carb-rich snacks, for example, some toast with peanut butter to rebalance things [1].

Drink Plenty Of Water

Some ingredients can cause dehydration, and that's one of the side effects you don't want at the gym. If you have noticed side effects like feeling jittery, it could be down to overstimulation with caffeine [2].

Drink a few glasses of water slowly to keep your body hydrated.

Avoid Any Further Supplements For The Day

Even if you fight through the side effects at the gym and get to the end of your sets, don't be tempted to add more supplements then. Give it at least an hour, but ideally, wait until the next day to reevaluate your supplement intake.

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

female in a gym exhausted and another with stomachaches

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].

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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 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

Because many pre-workout supplements rely on stimulants like caffeine and guarana, it's possible to get a bit jittery [5]. Some people refer to it as a buzz, but it's generally not a pleasant experience.

"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.

Related Article: Can You Die From Pre Workout?

5. Dehydration

Dehydration is never a good thing at the gym when your muscles are reliant on fluid. But because most pre-workout supplements contain stimulants like caffeine, there is a risk of them triggering some level of dehydration before you even start your warmup [2].

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

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 [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.

Do You Know How To Deal With Pre-Workout Side Effects?

These supplements are great for boosting high-intensity exercise capacity but don't be fooled into thinking that taking twice the dose will have twice the effect.

The ingredients in pre-workout products have a limited impact, and the body can only absorb and process so much of them.

And if there's too much caffeine in your diet and supplement, then you'll likely get some unpleasant effects.


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. https://www.rxlist.com/l-citrulline/supplements.htm
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/how-long-does-pre-workout-last
  8. https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_creatine_creatine_phosphate/drugs-condition.htm

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