It’s been a month since we started using BPI’s Pump-HD pre-workout supplement and it’s time for a review. This stuff is crap! Don’t waste your money on it or your time. As was the case for another BPI product we reviewed; BLOX, this is another case of good ingredients but included in amounts that are simply ineffectual and pointless. Just as it was with BLOX, BPI claims their results are based on clinical studies and they are; however they fail to mention that the study used doses in the range of 5-10 times higher than would ever be recommended on their product. Coming from the maker’s of 1MR; I’m pretty disappointed. Pump-HD tastes good but that’s about all it has going for it. Its chalky doesn’t mix well and if you’re used to any other pre-workout supplement it’s likely you won’t feel much of an effect at all. So far out of all the supplements we’ve tried BSN’s HyperFX remains the best performer.
This brings me to a larger question; are pre-workout supplements even necessary? The short answer is no. While I would argue that there is some benefit and advantage to taking them especially if your focus is heavy weight training, for the average person I think they’re just a waste of money and marketing hype. I’m going to be honest with you guys and gals. Over the last 12 years of training and training others I’ve seen just as much of a pump and effect from drinking coffee before and during my workout as I have ever gotten from any supplement and without the weird jittery side effects. I love pre-workout supplements. They make me feel jacked and strong but it comes at a cost to my adrenal system. It’s only a matter of time before your body develops a tolerance to any stimulant and the result is I often feel sleepy within 15 minutes of taking one these days. So as its recommended I’ve begun cycling down.
The supplement industry is first and foremost in the business of selling product. While many big names in sports and body-building swear by them you may be surprised to realize few actually use them. Of all the supplements ever made only two have ever been scientifically proven to aid in increasing muscle mass and size; creatine and protein. Even creatine has been shown to only have an effect on roughly half of those who take it though. Everything else is really a matter of anecdotal evidence and word of mouth. Even BPI’s studies were done on rodents and not people and again at doses 5-10 times higher than recommended. That makes for a lot of jacked up rats my friends.
So what would I recommend then? First I’d tell people what I tell my clients; to start by changing what they eat. If you find yourself lacking energy during exercise and your daily activities chances are your diet is too high in simple carbohydrates and low in healthy fats. It’s also likely that you’re deficient in several vital nutrients and vitamins like magnesium, zinc, vitamin-D, and omega-3’s. Supplementing with the things I just listed combined with 8 hours of uninterrupted quality sleep every night has produced pretty dramatic results in my own clients and me as well. As far as pre-workout supplements go I can’t really recommend any. I personally like BSN’s HyperFX, but then again only when weight-training. Over the last 18 months every supplement we’ve tested produced negative results when taken before CrossFit workouts. Those results ranged from dizziness to nausea and jitters. Lately I’ve been trying the combination of Coffee blended with MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil and pastured unsalted butter (made from grass-fed cows) with some success. This mix is widely known as “Bulletproof Coffee.”
The only supplement I ever recommend to my clients is protein. Again there are conditions to this though. As a nutritionist I have to be careful about supplements and my clients. All too often people are looking for a shortcut and without fail they will view protein shakes as meal replacement then wonder why they’re not seeing the results they desired. The only time I prescribe protein shakes is for athletes who have already achieved their weightloss goals and are trying to increase or preserve their lean muscle mass. For anyone else I think a sound diet should be their first concern. Taking protein supplements after working out can illicit an insulin spike similar to sugar or bread and if your body and metabolism has not achieved a stable state this spike can play havoc with your weight loss efforts by increasing fat storage and the use of carbs and protein for a fuel source instead of body fat.
Granted many people aren’t used to eating the needed amounts and portions of protein they’re body desires but this is a question of building sound habits and practices not of convenience. Sure it’s convenient to down a shake a few times a day instead of eating real food but it was also convenient to stuff your face with thousands of calories of empty carbs all day too and no one was complaining about all the eating then. This brings us back to pre-workout supplements. What they are is convenient. It’s much easier to spike your blood with caffeine and other ingredients to deliver a buzz before a workout than it is to maintain a healthy diet that insures high energy levels all the time.
Eating right is work. There are times when I come home from a workout or it’s late in the day and all I want is to rip open a container and shove something in my mouth. I don’t want to cook, or prepare but that’s where the test is. I’m not going to lie to you about it. It takes time to plan for healthy meals and to shop for the foods you need. The grocery stores and marketers certainly don’t make it any easier. Healthy foods are usually harder to find and more expensive and sometimes it can seem like you’re being punished for wanting better health. I’ve always wondered why it is that healthy food which contains fewer ingredients and requires less processing and manipulation always costs more than “fake” food. It does though. We offset this expense by wasting less money on junk and having to spend less on medicines and healthcare. The cost of CrossFit every month is a large expense to us but we find ways to justify it by letting go of other expenses we don’t need. You’d be surprised out how expensive it really is to eat out just twice a week compared to preparing all your meals at home. If you want lasting results you’ll learn to make lasting changes not just search for gimmicks and shortcuts.