I remember when I was first saw those obnoxious neon-colored drinks in the weight room of my college gym. Everyone had a shaker cup filled with green, blue, or red water that they chugged before they exercised.
“Is that Kool-Aid?” I asked one of my friends.
“No,” he said, laughing. “It’s a pre-workout supplement.”
The look on my face said it all.
“You drink it before you work out to get more energy.”
Since I jumped on the bandwagon years ago, these supplements have become commonplace on kitchen shelves across the globe. Let’s discuss the benefits of pre-workout supplements and how they are an ideal travel companion for anyone who wants to boost mental and physical energy for walking city tours, hiking, scuba diving, and other travel-related activities.
What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?
A pre-workout supplement is a powder, capsule, or liquid-based product that is used to increase energy and support performance during physically demanding activities. In general, these supplements will fall into one of two categories: stimulant and non-stimulant.
Stimulant-Based: Contains high-octane energy boosters that work their magic by directly influencing the body’s neurochemicals, blood pressure, and central nervous system. The best examples are caffeine and yohimbine.
Non-Stimulant: If you don’t drink coffee or tea because they give you anxiety or the jitters, you’ll want to opt for the non-stimulant variety. This type of supplement provides a nice and easy energy boost without the anxiety and rapid heartbeat that stimulants can cause. Non-stimulant supplements are usually made from a combination of plant-based, herbal, and sports-nutrition ingredients. Vitamins and minerals are also commonly used. Examples of non-stimulant ingredients include ginger (plant-based), panax ginseng (herbal), and beta alanine (sports nutrition).
My Experience Using Pre-Workout Supplements for Travel
Before I embarked on a few weeks of hiking through Peru, I wondered how I was going to keep my energy levels high during those rough days of bad weather and fourteen-hour treks. Locals suggested coca leaves, but outside of being a pleasant tea, coca is a terrible energy booster.
Looking through my kitchen cabinet, I came across my pre-workout supplement. Realizing that hiking is just another form of exercise, I decided to give it a try. I took a half-scoop serving before a strenuous day of hiking on an empty stomach. If I felt sluggish, I took the other half.
During my hike through the Salkantay, my muscles always felt ready to take on another long day of hiking and climbing despite being a bit sore. Even after hiking a dozen miles the day before, a pre-workout supplement helped me stay alert, motivated, and ready to tackle the next section of a trail.
There were nights when the tent was pounded by rain and days when I had to traverse through calf-high mud, but after drinking my pre-workout things always seemed better.
Although it’s taken before a workout, I noticed an improvement with how I felt after my hike. My guess is that with the increased blood flow, lactic acid was efficiently flushed and nutrients got to where they needed to be to help with recovery.
How You Can Use a Pre-Workout Supplement When You Travel
While hiking, there was a huge boost in my physical energy, mental focus, and overall exercise performance. It was because of that trip that I began using a pre-workout supplement while traveling. Here are several ways that it can improve your travel experience:
Adventure Activities: Whether you’ll be hiking for a week, surfing for a full day, or cycling for hours, a pre-workout supplement can help to keep your mental and physical energy levels at the top of their game.
Sightseeing: Poorly lit museum tours and long days of sightseeing become much easier to handle, especially if you haven’t gotten much sleep.
Working: As a fitness writer who works while on the road, there are only so many cups of coffee I can drink in a day. If I’m working on a lengthy project and I’m spent on coffee, I’ll drink my pre-workout supplement to help me focus on my writing. I also use it while I’m studying another language.
Better Mood: Ever notice how your mood seems to perk up after drinking a cup of coffee? It’s not a coincidence. Energy-boosting ingredients such as caffeine, theobromine, and theacrine have a direct impact on your mood and outlook.
Social Life Energy: Did you promise newfound friends in your hostel that you’d hang out with them before you knew that you’d have a long and exhausting day? Taking a pre-workout supplement can ensure that you show up to dinner, the bar, or the party with a chipper and upbeat attitude.
Have You Used a Pre-Workout Supplement for Travel?
Did you experience any of the same benefits that I have? What did you like about it? Or what did you not like about it? Have questions about the supplement? Let me know in the comments below.