I’ve heard I should take “pre workout” supplement powder before exercising to improve my performance. Is this safe?

There is no need to take a pre workout supplement. It’s important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the production of supplements (such as vitamins, performance enhancers, pre-workouts, etc.) in the same way they regulate food and medications. This means that some supplements might contain ingredients that are harmful to your health, especially as a young adult.

Most pre workout supplements are advertised to help give you energy to improve your performance. Often they do this through ingredients such as carbohydrates and caffeine. Fast acting carbohydrates can be consumed before a work out easily and much cheaper through food such as a banana or apple sauce. Avoid complex or high-fiber carbohydrates just before a workout so that your body doesn’t have to do a lot of work digesting while you are exercising. Caffeine is not suggested for people under the age of 12, and it’s recommended that teens limit their intake.

Before taking any type of supplement talk to your health care provider (HCP) about whether or not it’s safe for you. You should also ask yourself what might be influencing your decision to take it, and who might be making money off of you if you do.