I’ve referred in the past to exercise being my performance-enhancing drug, but I must confess something more.
In addition to using caffeine, mostly in coffee form, to ‘get up’ for workouts and fuel my best performance, I have also dabbled in pre-workout supplements for the past decade-plus.
I started in high school, when creatine was just hitting the mainstream in the early 2000s. The consumption of creatine prior to a workout has scientifically shown to increase anaerobic (a.k.a., short-burst) muscle performance by as much as 15 percent, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
It’s unclear to me how much has been a placebo effect since then, but I’ve definitely become more reliant on creatine pre-workout formulas over the years. I haven’t found it enhances my aerobic performance much, if at all; however, I feel stronger and more physically resilient when I supplement with creatine.
That’s not all, though. Most creatine-based pre-workout drinks and powders also contain a stimulant, usually a caffeine-based cocktail. Whether the product has been called Trac, N.O. Explode, C4 or whatever, I have felt myself get hooked on the ‘high’ feeling I get after ingesting.
Now, much like creatine, caffeine has also been proven to help increase aerobic performance, help ignore discomfort during exercise, rev up the body’s fat-burning process and stimulate the brain-muscle connection, among other things.
So, combine caffeine and creatine and you’ve got a potent combo. I don’t drink these potions to get my jollies and move on. I just don’t want to leave anything on the table in terms of athletic potential.
I feel that I’ve handled any cravings I get responsibly, but part of me wonders how healthy it is to put these chemicals into my body, even if it’s with all the best intentions. I want to get the most out of my body — and these supplements are fully legal, to be clear — but there’s always part of me that wonders what I’ve gotten myself into.
For instance, just as I was sitting down to write this, I had to mix up a pre-workout drink to ward off a ‘withdrawal’ headache. I was also quite lethargic and irritable just about 15 minutes ago, only to feel fully engaged after a few sips of my magic energy booster. That’s at least some level of dependency, if not necessarily an addiction.
As far as I can tell, the biggest drawback to this habit is that feeling of withdrawal for a few days after I stop. Coffee doesn’t quite cut it for a while, at least it doesn’t until my body (and brain) adjusts. I’m good while I’m taking it, but immediately afterward, it’s a struggle.
Is this something to apologize for? I’m not sure.
Your Mom doesn’t like my spending money (about $30 a month when I’m on a pre-workout kick) on this type of thing. At the same time, if I feel I get the most out of my day when I’m drinking this stuff, is that ever a bad thing?
These might be questions for a different time, but I didn’t feel I was being completely honest with you if I didn’t confess to getting some chemical assistance.
Your Dad actually isn’t a superhero, even though he likes to pretend he’s Deadpool from time to time. And hey, Wade Wilson wasn’t anything special until he got some artificial, uh, adjustments.
DAILY STATS via Apple Watch
Calories burned (active): 782
Minutes exercised: 75
Hours stood: 16
Steps taken: 7,970
Activity: 45 minutes on stationary bike