Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Pre-Workout Bad For You?



Short answer

Different pre-workout supplements have different ingredients. Several of those supplements, however, have ingredients that seem to be dangerous.



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Long answer

The content of pre-workout supplements varies widely. There's reason for concern, however - what evidence we do have shows that supplements like Jack3d may be unsafe. It's important to keep in mind that supplements are not evaluated for safety or for effectiveness by the FDA.

Pre-workouts generally blend caffeine, creatine, and branch chain amino acids, or BCAAs. They're designed to give you energy and focus and to promote faster growth of muscle mass from working out.

Creatine is safe. Caffeine is likely safe in moderation. Pre-workouts, however, often come with some other ingredients that may not be safe. 1,3 dimethylamine, or DMAA - an ingredient previously in Jack3d -  is one of those ingredients. It induces a laser-like state of focus that allows people to lift more and lift longer. It's also been linked on an anecdotal basis to a terrifying range of symptoms including insomnia, adrenal gland damage, and lockjaw. It's also been linked to the death of a marathon runner in Australia.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has banned DMAA. In April 2016, the FDA sent a series of warning letters to pre-workout manufacturers to pull DMAA from their products. It's still available in some supplements, however, and should be avoided.

Another worrisome ingredient in pre-workouts is BMPEA. It's found in Jacked Power and has been linked to serious heart problems. It's also banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and it's also triggered a round of warning letters from the FDA. A 53-year-old Swedish woman suffered a stroke after making a single change to the workout she'd practiced for years, according to Forbes. The change? Adding a spoonful of BMPEA.

The point here isn't just to avoid pre-workouts with these specific ingredients. It's to maintain a skepticism towards pre-workout supplements in general. As stated above, they aren't evaluated by the FDA for their safety or their efficacy. If you're taking a supplement that has stimulating ingredients which have not been vetted and evaluated at length, you may be putting yourself at risk.

Possible short-term side effects

  • itching
  • flushing
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • insomnia
  • dehydration
  • cramps
  • headaches
  • increased blood pressure

Possible long-term side effects

  • varies depending on the ingredients

Ingredients to be aware of


  • boosts energy
  • boosts focus
  • boosts endurance
  • boosts strength
  • promotes faster muscle growth

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Vega Sport Pre-Workout

  • Boosts energy & focus
  • Electrolyte replenishment
  • Vegan-friendly formula
  • Keto & Gluten Free
  • Non-GMO ingredients
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources | Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 10-08-2016
Last updated: 12-08-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 10-08-2016
Last updated: 12-08-2023

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