Posted on 18 January, 2017

Are Pre and Post Workout Supplements Good or Bad?

By Jacob Andreae in Balls 'n' All, Nutrition, Performance Are Pre and Post Workout Supplements Good or Bad?

[Photo credit: California Cow]

This week on Balls 'n' All, I responded to a listener question about pre workout supplements. I gave a recount of a seminar I attended with a nutritionist from the ACT Brumbies Rugby Union team, what my dentist told me about sports drinks and discussed the psychology of performance and supplement use.

Are Pre and Post Workout Supplements Good or Bad?

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Transcribed Text:

Jackson - Welcome back to Balls ‘N’ All here on Mix 104.9. We’ve got Jacob Andreae back in the studio. Now Jacob, when I was a young fella, so playing a bit of under 14’s football, we had a grand final and I remember I was thinking I was doing the right thing before we played, about an hour before we played I cracked open a can of energy drink, I’m not sure which one it was. But I sculled it and then thought I could run through a brick wall. I was pumped up and ready to go. And then Sharon Smith saw the energy drink sitting next to my locker and was running around like a mad woman working out “Who had that energy drink? Now they’re going to have to rehydrate. This, this, this, and that.” But my question today is what are your thoughts probably not so much energy drinks, but there’s a big trend now of course we mentioned before with the bodybuilding community booming. All these different pre-workout supplements and stuff like that. So as a guy that has plenty of information about nutrition and athlete development, are they good or bad?

Jacob - Let’s first go back to that day back as a young 13 year old or whatever you were. And you probably did have heaps of energy and just about could run through a brick wall for about 15-20 mins but after that you would have absolutely crash and burned. And you would’ve really struggled to get through for the rest of the game. So what I think of energy drinks, I think they’re a huge waste of time and money to tell you the truth. I think it’s a real… expensive donation to the Darwin Sewage Farm. And there’s a lot of information out there, you know on energy drinks and all that but a lot of it is promoted by sugar companies. So in a lot of energy drinks and pre-workout supplements and post-workout supplements, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that you really just don’t need. So I went to a seminar one time - through Sports Nutrition Australia and a guy who was working with the ACT Brumbies Rugby Union side; he was a nutritionist there, was talking to us. He actually said that there’s nothing that you really need in any supplement and the only thing if you did actually want something… or need something was just some whey protein. Whey as in W, H, E, Y. So having that small amount, it was a very small amount, was all you really needed. And anything else was just a waste of time, it was just going to go straight through to the toilet.

Jackson - So what would you say to those people that stand by it. I know there’s plenty of footballers out there, not naming names but they live off this stuff. They will take scoops and scoops of pre-workout supplements I’d suppose you call it. And then they live by it, they say well if I don’t have it… Do you think it’s a bit of that placebo effect where if they don’t have it they’ll feel as though their performance will go down and then in turn play poorly. Or do you think that once you get accustomed to taking this every week that you do actually notice physical effects of not taking it?

Jacob - Yeah I think so, and I’m going to name names. I’m going to name a player, Daniel Weetra is the guy I’m going to call out. And I give him a bit of stick every week ‘cause each week he’s got his little concoction of stuff he’s mixing up before a game. And after the game he’s got his concoction and I always walk over and just sort of smile at him and he tells me to “Go away,” “Stop teasing me.” You know like “What’s in it today? This is not a workout this is a game. You’re going to get too big and bulky,” just joking around. But um, yeah. It’s definitely mind over matter, mind is stronger than the body and it tells the body what to do. And so if you believe it’s going to have a benefit for you then it probably is but you don’t really need it. And he asked me before the game yesterday: “Why what’s wrong with it? Just tell me, just tell me.” I didn’t want to tell him before the game because I didn’t want it to impact his performance and he played great. So, I, it’s just… If you believe it’s going to help you then it probably is. Like the Space Jam movie where I think Michael Jordan against the characters. That water and it’s in a bottle and they needed some magic elixir and it’s just water or it might actually be Powerade or Gatorade. Those two sports drinks by the way are just full of sugar and are very very high in acid. And my dentist keeps telling me that I shouldn’t be drinking - I haven’t drank them for a very long time. And uh, what he - the reason he knew I was drinking energy drinks as a teenager was because I’d striped all the enamal off the front of my teeth from drinking them straight in. And he said if you do absolutely need to drink those sports drinks, drink them through a straw. And also if you can mix them 50/50, so water them down. But a lot of the research comes from those big sugar companies and big energy drink companies and sports drink companies, like Gatorade and Powerade and that. Gatorade is actually better than Powerade if you do want to choose one over the other. But as for any pre or post workout supplement really just a waste of time. If you’ve got a good diet, which I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, full of healthy fats and proteins, you know, that you can find out there in the environment. So from chicken and fish and red meat and lots of veggies, particularly green veggies, along with your healthy fats like your avocados and your nuts and that. Even coconut oil, that’s full of saturated fats. But that’s another topic that we can talk about which there’s a lot of research now out there about how that’s actually not so bad for you. And, yeah so… If you’ve got a diet full of that then it’s, then that’s all you really need. You don’t need to have anything before and after a game because you’re already fully energised with all the appropriate nutrients that you need.

Jackson - Do you think that it’s a concerning trend? So, I know there was an article about Sonny Bill Williams who said he had up to 6 No-Doz tablets before he’d play Rugby League. I think he was playing at the time. And I No-Doz tablets before, not every game but I used to get into the habit where I was taking them before games but I sort of stopped doing it recently because I did think back to myself and think: “I reckon this might be a bit of a placebo effect.” But I do know people every time you’re in the locker room, oh locker room that’s a bit of an American term isn’t it? Every time you’re in the change room you see different people take different tablets and different powders and stirring them up and whatever it might be. So, do you think it’s a concerning trend that it’s almost like these guys are becoming human lab rats?

Jacob - Yeah look I think it is a concerning trend because we are so vulnerable to marketing. Because there’s so much marketing out there telling us that we should be having this and we should be having that, that people think they need that to get that edge or to get that boost in performance. And I find it very interesting that you bring up Sonny Bill because he works very closely with a guy called Coach Keegan. So Keegan Smith whose dad is Bryan Smith, former Roosters coach in the Rugby League side and in the NRL. And Coach Keegan worked with the Roosters back when they won the Premiership back in 2005. And he worked very, very hard on trying to get them to eliminate all those sports drinks, the Gatorades and Powerades, but he couldn’t do it. At the time Sonny Bill was a player there and he now works one on one with Coach Keegan. Coach Keegan is no longer there. I follow him on Instagram and his workouts, I was looking at one just before. Before we went on air, and he tried to get that whole team to get rid of it and it was just, the marketing dollar was too strong. And they couldn’t get it out of the club and that’s, you know, obviously it didn’t make too much difference because they went through and won the Premiership. But, the New Zealand All Blacks are a side who have taken all this innovative type thinking, given it a go based on the research and look at where they are. So they eat primarily Paleo or Keto type diets, at certain times of the year, and they got rid of their energy drinks I believe. And they, you know, perform exceptionally well.

Jackson - They are an amazing sporting outfit the New Zealand All Blacks, you could really talk all day about them but we’ll save that for another time, there’s still plenty more to come here on Balls ‘N’ All.

What's your take on pre/post workout supplements? 

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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