Equality is a beautiful thing, but not when it comes to pre-workout supplements. When it comes to working out, men and women are very different and their bodies have very different needs. Women don’t usually want something that is going to increase their hair growth, drop their voice, or shrink their bust, which are precisely what some supplements will do. For women there are a range of better pre-workout supplement options that are ideal.
1. Whey Protein
Whey protein is important for everyone, but it is especially useful for a woman’s body pre-workout. It will help increase blood flow and supply unbonded proteins that can be used to build lean muscle.
For a woman’s body, whey protein often takes the place of mass-building supplements like creatine. Creatine can cause severe water-retention as well as bloating, which no woman enjoys, while whey protein just improves energy levels for longer workouts rather than strenuous ones that add bulk.
2. EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) and Caffeine
These two items should be used in conjunction for those that are looking to burn fat. EGCG comes from green tea extract and is one of the best things a woman can put into her body. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that it helps with fat oxidization so as you move you are shedding more weight.
EGCG to Combat the Jitters
The reason to combine EGCG with caffeine is to reduce the amount of caffeine you put in your body without sacrificing energy. When you combine approximately 300mg of EGCG with 200mg of caffeine you get a fat-burning energy boost that doesn’t have the same crash as taking caffeine alone. It also removes the caffeine jitters, so you won’t suddenly find your hands shaking halfway through a set.
As you exercise your body produces hydrogen ions which raise the acidity in your muscles. The more acidic they become, the more tired and sore they are later. Taking Beta-Alanine can fight off these hydrogen ions.
The way Beta-Alanine works is through helping the body create more carnosine in your blood stream. Carnosine helps clean out hydrogen ions so by making more of it, your muscles won’t tire as quickly and won’t be nearly as sore down the line. This means longer workouts with higher intensity and less recovery time. Check out the video below for more information.
Women suffer greatly from exercise-induced calcium loss. The harder you train, the worse this can become, which means taking a calcium supplement is of dire importance both in the short and long terms.
By taking it immediately before a workout your body has more calcium to help rebuild your bones as some is being used to keep your body in action. This will improve your overall bone density so that even over time you won’t suffer nearly as much calcium loss.
The true benefits of this will come up much later in life when the dreaded menopause beast looms large on the horizon and your risk of osteoporosis increases.
The University of Texas did a study of some of the most impressive female athletes in the world. What they discovered that was even though these women were otherwise in peak physical condition, they were iron deficient.
Iron is imperative in moving oxygen to the muscles and to the brain. Anyone that doesn’t have sufficient iron will suffer from lethargy, moodiness, increased injuries, lower cognitive function, and loss of interest in exercise. These become especially pronounced in women who typically consume less meat and therefore less iron than men.
A study done by the U.S. Army found that female recruits who took iron supplements not only performed better athletically, they also had more energy and improved test scores showing it makes you stronger and smarter. You can’t lose.
What to Avoid
The biggest thing to avoid for most women is creatine. The reason for this is creatine builds muscle partly by working with testosterone. Since women don’t produce as much testosterone as men, they don’t get nearly as many benefits from creatine. However, there’s much debate as to whether or not women should take creatine. See this article for the other side of the debate.
Women should also avoid D-Aspartic Acid, Tribulus Terristris, and anything else that claims it will help increase your testosterone levels. Even if your intent is to gain muscle mass, the effects on mood and hormonal composition can be dangerous.
Word to the Wise
Before you take any supplement or pre-workout protein drink, check the label. Even if they claim to be “correctly balanced for a woman” the company has often just slapped a pink label on a supplement meant for a man.