Need extra fuel in your tank to power your workout? Several supplements say they can help, but one size doesn’t fit all.
What’s right for you—if anything is right for you at all—depends on your goals, body type and medical history, according to Jim White, RD and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Real food should provide enough energy for your workouts,” White says. “But if an athlete lacks energy or feels as if they need an additional boost, a supplement protocol may help.”
If you’re supplement shopping, pay attention to labels. An endurance athlete who logs lots of long runs may want chews or drinks with simple carbs for quick energy. But sodium levels may be even more important for athletes who are heavy sweaters and may need salt during extended exercise sessions.
All athletes should be aware that some supplements include ingredients like caffeine, which can affect your heart.
Here are three pre-workout supplement options, along with a breakdown of what’s inside them. But before you take any of them, listen to White’s advice.
“Don’t be sold by a storeowner—a lot of times they’re looking to push product,” White says. “Get advice from a registered dietician or your physician first.”
Gatorade’s tasty chews combine simple carbs with B vitamins that help turn those carbs into fuel. Bonus: cramp-fighting electrolytes.
A nice on-the-go option, this powder provides carbs and a proprietary mix designed to buffer lactic acid production.
Running vegans rejoice: Clif Shots are organically sourced, vegan-friendly, and include caffeine for an extra pick-me-up. Non-caffeinated versions also available.