The benefits of post-workout nutrition has been researched According the the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, nutrient timing is a popular nutritional strategy that involves the consumption of combinations of nutrients--primarily protein and carbohydrate--in and around an exercise session. Specific nutrients needs post workouts of 60-90 minutes or more includes protein and carbohydrate combinations as well as other minerals like potassium and sodium. However, limited research abounds on the pre-workout supplementation or meals.
On a recent study of Cross Fit Athletes by the JISSN, there was limited improvements on lean body mass after both pre and post; however, keep in mind that these were trained athletes. The more highly trained one athlete is, the less improvement is seen from outside factors. Just as it's easier to lose the first 50 pounds than the last 5 for weight loss participants. In either case, if you are considering a pre-workout supplement, here are some things to keep in mind.
1) Powder vs. Pill
A pre-workout powder supplement should be mixed with water. This way your body will absorb the ingredients faster than a pill formulation. It is recommended to take a pre-workout supplement 20-30 minutes before exercise. Powders are thought to be absorbed at a 80-90% rate while pill forms for nutrient intake are only about 15% absorption rates.
2) They contant Stimulants
Most of the pre-workout supplements contain stimulants and almost all will have some level of caffeine. According to the JISSN, "The ergogenic value of caffeine on mental and physical performance has been well-established". But keep in mind a cup of coffee may also provide these benefits.
3) Some Other Ingredients you might see
They also can contain various nitric-oxide boosters, and electrolytes as well. L-arginine is converted in the body into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to open wider for improved blood flow. L-arginine also stimulates the release of growth hormone, insulin, and other substances in the body.
Pre Workout Supplements:
Pre F.A. from Pink Nutrition, Ignite from Fitmiss, and Women's Elite from Promera, are examples from the women-specific pre-workout market. Each one has it's advantages and disadvantages.
Women's Elite contains creatine as well as Capsicum extract. Capsicum comes from red peppers and is thought to help decrease inflammation in the body and possibly increase fat loss.
Ignite from Fitmiss comes in stick-packs which is nice for the on-the-go convenience. It contains good BCAA's that help with your body’s muscle recovery, and caffeine for energy (although it doesn't say how much). They also include a complex called Advantra Z, which contains an ingredient called Synephrine. Synephrine is a relative of ephedrine, in other words a thermogenic, commonly found in diet pills and can have some serious side effects. Synephrine is banned by the NCAA.
Pre F.A., from Pink Nutrition, comes in the same convenient stick-packs as Ignite does. The ingredient list on their website discloses their caffeine amount, which is only 25mg (roughly amount in one cup of green tea). It also contains Quercetin, an anti-oxidant found in apples, which is also contained in FRS. Pre F.A. has the highest serving size of this ingredient.