Pre-workouts are one of the most popular supplements in the health and fitness industry. A few years ago, pre-workout supplements were only available in powder form. Nowadays, you can get ready-to-drink (RTDs) pre-workouts that provide extra convenience. However, they do come with an extra cost.
What’s more, the vast majority of RTD pre-workouts aren’t as efficaciously dosed as powders for a few reasons.
- Most people who opt for an RTD pre-workout are more concerned about taste rather than effectiveness. Several pre-workout ingredients are quite challenging to flavor, so using lower doses of ingredients, also known as window-dressing, makes it much easier to flavor.
- RTDs are already a lot more expensive to produce due to the manufacturing and packaging costs. Therefore, the only way to cut costs is by using cheaper ingredients at a lower dose.
- Some pre-workout ingredients degrade over time when mixed in a solution, so you won’t get the benefits from them.
If you do some research and find a supplement company that offers both pre-workout powders and pre-workout RTDs, chances are that the formulas are quite different. If you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on a pre-workout RTD that’s poorly formulated, then powders are the way to go. With that said, what if you want the convenience of an RTD without having to purchase one?
Well, one way to achieve that is by pre-mixing your pre-workouts ahead of time. However, as mentioned above, certain ingredients start to degrade over time. In this article, we are going to answer the commonly asked question, “how long does pre-workout stay good after mixing?”
How long is a pre-workout good for after mixing?
Depending on the pre-workout, it’s completely fine to mix most pre-workouts with water the night before and consume it in the morning.
However, it’s a good idea to keep the pre-workout solution in an environment that has a cold temperature, such as a refrigerator. This will help maintain the taste and freshness and prevent excessive degradation of the ingredients.
With that said, certain pre-workout ingredients are not stable in water and should be consumed relatively quickly after mixing. Keep reading to find out which ones to look out for and how long pre-workout lasts when combined with water.
Pre-Workout Ingredients That Degrade in Water
Here are some common pre-workout ingredients that should be consumed shortly after being mixed with water:
When creatine monohydrate is introduced to water, it will start to break down into creatinine. However, according to Creapure, one of the leading manufacturers of creatine, at the 8-hour mark, only 5% of the creatine is converted into creatinine.
This cycle is why you never see creatine monohydrate in pre-workout RTDs because the product could be sitting on the shelves for weeks, months, or even years before being consumed. Other forms of creatine may be stable in solution, but creatine monohydrate is the most recommended form.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine, or ALCAR for short, is a popular form of L-carnitine used in various fat burners and pre-workouts. Within the body, L-carnitine is crucial for transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria to be used for energy. So users supplement with L-carnitine in hopes that their body will burn more fat.
There are several types of supplemental L-carnitine, but ALCAR is amongst the most popular because of its potential nootropic benefits. After ingestion, the acetyl group will dissociate from the L-carnitine and be used to make acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter in the body. Now, why are we telling you all of this?
Well, it turns out that ALCAR is not very stable in solution, and as it sits, the acetyl group will disassociate from the L-carnitine. Not only does this negatively affect the taste, but it also reduces the ingredient’s effectiveness.
Common Pre-Workout Ingredients That Are Fine to Pre-Mix
As of writing this article, the two ingredients listed above are the main culprits you need to look out for if you are planning to pre-mix your pre-workout products.
Here are some common ingredients included in most pre-workouts that are likely fine to be mixed with water ahead of time:
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
- Essential amino acids (EAAs)
- Citrulline & Citrulline malate
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Betaine anhydrous
- Dynamine® (methylliberine)
- TeaCrine® (theacrine)
What’s the best way to take a pre-workout supplement?
All pre-workouts should have a suggested use section outlining the most optimal way to use the product. More often than not, it will be recommended to mix the pre-workout with 8-10 ounces of cold water and consume 15-20 minutes prior to training.
Since it doesn’t take long to mix up a pre-workout, if you can avoid pre-mixing it, that’s likely a good idea. With that said, as long as you consume the pre-workout within 8-12 hours after mixing, it’s still going to be safe and effective. Another option is to put the powder in the shaker cup the night before, add water in the morning, and head out the door.
Why do some pre-workout supplements clump?
If you’ve ever purchased clumpy pre-workout supplements, it probably contains a large amount of glycerol, also known as GlycerSize™, HydroMax®, or HydroPrime®. Glycerol is included in pre-workouts to increase muscle pumps, exercise performance, and hydration. Glycerol is very hydrophilic, which means it attracts water. Within the body, pulling water into the muscle cells is a good thing.
But when glycerol is attracting water within a pre-workout powder, a clumpy pre-workout is often the result. Glycerol can be mixed with water ahead of time and still provide you with all of its benefits. However, it may settle at the bottom of the shaker over time, so make sure you mix your pre-workout well before consuming.
To avoid clumpy pre-workout, either get pre-workout supplements that don’t contain glycerol or keep them stored in a dry, cool, and dark place, such as your refrigerator. As long as the pre-workout is not hard as a rock, a clumpy pre-workout doesn’t lose its effectiveness.
What are the benefits of pre workout supplements?
Besides what supplement companies lead you to believe, pre-workout supplements are not crucial for results. With that said, if a pre-workout is well formulated, you can expect an energy boost, increased blood flow, enhanced mind-muscle connection, and improved athletic performance.
All these effects will help you with muscle growth, fat loss, endurance, or any other health and fitness goal you may have.
When taken responsibly, there are little to no negative effects of pre-workout. Still, before taking pre-workout supplements, speak with a qualified health care professional to ensure you don’t have any medical conditions to consider or contraindications.
Pre-workout supplements are one of the most popular products in sports nutrition. Pre-workout isn’t magic, but they may be able to assist with increased muscle mass, endurance, exercise performance, energy levels, and focus. Pre-workout formulas are available in many different forms, such as capsules, powders, and even ready-to-drink beverages.
However, a powdered pre-workout supplement is the most common because it’s usually cheaper per serving, contains better doses of ingredients, and is extremely convenient. The majority of pre-workout ingredients are fine to mix in water the night before and drink in the morning. Taking pre-workout supplements 15-20 minutes before training is often recommended for optimal benefits.
If your pre-workout contains creatine and/or acetyl-L-carnitine, drink the pre-workout shortly after mixing it with water. If you are limited on time, you can always measure your pre-workout and place it in a shaker cup the night before. Then, all you have to do is add water to the pre-workout in the morning and head to the gym.
Just remember that supplements, especially pre-workout, are a small part of your fitness journey. High-quality food, a good training program, adequate hydration, and 7-9 hours of sleep per night will make the biggest impact on your body, performance, and energy levels. Most people will reach their fitness goals regardless of what other supplements they take, so don’t be fooled by any marketing tactics.