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Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements

Should You Be Worried?

Whether you’re a big-time fitness guru or you struggle to work out regularly, pre-workout supplements offer many advantages to enhance exercise. From muscle building to energy boosting - no matter your fitness goal, there’s a pre-workout supplement for that.

Unfortunately, pre-workout supplement advertising is usually much less upfront about a product’s side effects. In fact, some supplements cause just as many negative effects as positive ones.

Selecting the appropriate pre-workout supplement requires a balanced perspective of both positive and negative effects. This article outlines the major side effects of pre-workout supplements, from the annoying to the dangerous, as well as typical ingredients that cause them.

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    • [1] “CNS stimulants.” Wellness.com.
    • [2] Zelman, Kathleen. “6 Reasons to Drink Water.” WebMD. 2008 May 8.
    • [3] WebMD. “Creatine.”
    • [4] WebMD. “Caffeine.”
    • [5] FDA. “Stimulant Potentially Dangerous to Health, FDA Warns.” 2013 Apr 11.
    • [6] Consumer Reports. “Dangerous supplements: What you don’t know about these 12 ingredients could hurt you.” ConsumerReports.org. 2010 Sep.
    • [7] Zeratsky, Katherine. “Are high-protein diets safe for weight loss?” MayoClinic.com. 2012 Jun 19.
    • [8] “Too much protein may cause reduced kidney function.” Harvard University Gazette. 2003 Mar 13. News.Harvard.edu.
    • [9] Medline Plus. “Caffeine in the diet.” MedlinePlus.com. 2011 May 5.
    Leave a Comment

    Comments (45)


    January 14, 2014

    Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements

    I recently started taking Neurocore Pre-Workout and the first time i took it i started getting itchy and my heart started to race a little, What are some things i should look for to know i should stop taking a product and what are normal reactions to all pre workouts?

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      January 23, 2014

      Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements

      Hey Moses, that’s a great question and probably the one I get asked more than any other as it relates to pre-workouts supplements. The sensation that you’re feeling is called paresthesia and it’s triggered by the amino acid beta-alanine, one of the principle ingredients in your product. About 10 years ago beta-alanine broke through as one of the most promising pre-workout ingredients and since has become something of a staple in most pre-workout supplements because of how well it works. Unfortunately, it does cause that itchy feeling you’re noticing and sometimes can cause visible redness similar to a “niacin-rush.” There are no studies to suggest it’s in anyway harmful. If it’s something you’d rather avoid then look for pre-workout products that don’t contain either beta-alanine or niacin.

      December 3, 2016


      Thankful for this post. I too have extreme itchiness after about the 4 th time taking Six Star preworkout blend. Will stop taking it amd return it to Amazon. This is the only article I could find on the subject. Thanks.

    nick rossodivito

    January 23, 2014

    neon volt

    i have only one kidney is taking neon volt a bad idea. i work out 5 times a week,each time taking a scoop and a half of this product, i was just wondering if this can cause any adverse effect on my remaining kidney

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      January 23, 2014

      Re: neon volt

      Hey Nick good question. One thing we know about caffeine is that caffeine has the potential to damage kidneys and has been linked to a specific type of kidney stone, but the caveat in most studies is that this link is usually found in those that don’t drink enough water. Depending on how long you’ve had only one kidney, I’m sure you’ve become accustomed to high water intake. It’s impossible to know how much caffeine is in Volt since it’s part of a proprietary blend, even at half a scoop. I would guess that it’s in the 100-150mg range per scoop, but again, impossible to know. It’s certainly poses some risks, so I’d just caution you to drink lots of water, aim for a gallon a day.


    May 24, 2014

    Any ingredients I should avoid

    Hey, I’m looking to try either No Explode or C4. Would you say these would be bad for my health. I read somewhere that No Explode contains ingredients that would link to causing dementia and cardio vascular disease and also contains aspartame which people say to avoid. I want to take pre workout but I am a bit worried!!


      August 30, 2014

      eye twitching

      I’ve been using neon sport volt Pre workout for a week now.. is it normal for my eye to feel as its twitching?

      March 24, 2017

      C4 = raised liver enzyme/high blood pressure

      I have been a regular user of C4 for the last couple years. Recently I had my liver enzyme levels checked at a routine checkup, and my AST levels were elevated over twice the regular amount. I’m not a heavy drinker. I was only using C4 3 times a week, 1 scoop at a time. Also, my blood pressure, typically 120/80, was up to 130/85. Not sure if these were from prolonged use of C4 or if I’m just to old to use it–I’m only 35. Either way, I dumped out the C4 and have since felt great, and going in to get re-tested next week, but expect the levels to be back to norm based on some research I’ve done. I would stay away…Im drinking a small cup of coffee now before the gym and feel great.


    January 16, 2015

    Sweating at random moments.

    I find myself sweating at random times, like in my bosses office or when somebody calls my name. Whenever I get nervous. I am not a nervous sweater. But ever since taking pre-workout I sometimes feel like my sweat glands just pour out sweat all the time. Is this a side effect from the pre-workout?



    March 21, 2015

    Excellent link to pre-workout side effects

    This is really good stuff, but I dint see the reply to Hellen’s qustion on NO Explode and C4 and what to take instead for energy?



    May 11, 2015


    First time i took c4 icy blue razz pre workout my whole body was itching and i had purple marks everywhere and looked like i was bruised it was also followed by severe itchyness.


    Marc Ghorayeb

    July 7, 2015

    Chest pain, left pec in particular.

    I started taking n0 xplode 2 days ago. I had a really efficient workout and felt great the whole time. About 6 hours later, I started feeling a really severe chest pain that lasted for an hour or two. What does this pain mean, and should I stop using the product?

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      July 7, 2015

      Re: Chest pain, left pec in particular.

      N.O. Xplode does contain compounds that may cause you to experience chest pains such as ingredients that activate nitric oxide production, creatine, and caffeine. This combination of ingredients can dilate the blood vessels and increase your heart rate which may be the cause of the chest pain localized in the left pec. It is best that you discontinue your use of N.O. Xplode and talk to your doctor about any other concerns you may have.

      July 16, 2015


      That’s the niacin in the c4, it isn’t bad for you. It’s a natural vitamin, in moderation that cleanses your system. People take it to cleanse their body before a drug test.

      February 9, 2016

      It's not worth your life!

      My 21 year old son took c4 and worked out pretty intensively. 2 days later had a heart attack! A heart cath determined that his heart is extremely healthy and thankful that no damage was done but he will be on heart meds for a year only as a precaution. If you value your life please use all natural ways to increase energy prior to working out! It’s not worth your life!


    July 21, 2015

    c4 and red volt

    i was wondering if i could still take my c4 pre workout when i start taking red volt?


    prince kumar

    August 8, 2015

    please help me

    Dear sir
    1 year ago I have taken GAT preworkout. But I have taken it in wrong way . I take this preworkout in night before exercise and my mistake is also that I have never take so much water and diet in proper way .after some days I feel some side effect on me like nervousness and some pressure on my left side please given to me some suggestions because I can’t enjoy my life

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      August 10, 2015

      Re: please help me

      It is highly recommended that you discontinue your use of pre-workouts and focus on eating a healthier diet and drinking plenty of water. If you find that the side effects you are experiencing do not diminish within a few days, it is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor as they will better know how to combat those negative side effects.

    mohammed moiz

    September 8, 2015

    pre work out

    hi sir i have one qustion im work out in gym mostly 5 years 5 days a weeks daiy 2 hours a day
    i have high b.p also im taking medition any problim to pro work out

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      September 8, 2015

      Re: pre work out

      Most often pre-workout supplements contain caffeine and stimulants to boost your workout energy and enhance your performance. Unfortunately, these ingredients can negatively affect those with high blood pressure and those taking medication. It is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor before using any pre-workout supplement as they will be able to provide you with a better answer regarding possible interactions of caffeine with your medication and high blood pressure levels.


    September 22, 2015

    Pre work out

    I took one serving of Arnold Ironman pre workout and I had a very bad reation that lasted two days. i never had that happen with the others that I took. I will never take that stuff again.



    November 4, 2015

    pre workout question

    Hi sir i started working out and i ma using this pre workout suppliment which i forgot the name, it is high in caffaine, it has imino accide, its also good roe muscle recovery, i take twoo scoops befor i work out. now after my trainnig after i cool down i was feeling cold, i hsd lots of energy, i only do 45min class, is this normal?

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      November 4, 2015

      Re: pre workout question

      Sounds like you may be sensitive to the effects of high doses of caffeine. A few of the side effects of an excess amount of caffeine are chills and excess sweating. You may want to reduce your intake of your pre-workout. If you still have other concerns, it is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor about the side effects you are experiencing.

    Sir mike jasson My name is owaix qadri, I have taken part in a marathon so i want to take a pre work out i am 15 years old can i take this pre Work out plzz Reply me fast

    November 16, 2015


    Sir mike jasson My name is owaix qadri, have taken part in a marathon so i want to take a pre work out i am 15 years old can i take this pre Work out plzz Reply me fas

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      November 20, 2015

      Re: rashidqadri03455@gmail.com

      Unfortunately, pre-workout supplements are not intended to be taken by anyone under the age of 18 years old as it may interfere with proper growth and development.

    Robert Wright

    November 17, 2015

    Pre workout Beta Red Endurance Forumla

    I just purchased Bata Red Pre-Workout Endurance formula to use before riding my bike. Normally my heart rate runs around 100 to 110 at the pace I ride. But when I took the Bata Red my heart rate was over 120 and at times reached over 150. Each time I would slow my pace my heart rate would drop some but still was higher than normal. The next day I rode and did not use Bata Red and my heart rate was back to the usual around 100. I have only used Bata Red one time and am fearful of using it again. Should I be? I am 75 years old, ride about 1.5 to 2 hours, 5 days per week, and 4 hours on Saturday. Sometimes I will ride 7 days per week.I have taken BeetElete but did not notice an issue with my heart rate. Thanks. If you can, please respond with an email so I can be sure to see your advice. Robert


    Rita wazen

    November 22, 2015


    My son was using preworkout supplement s every day for a long time then he got a full time job with long hours was unable to go to the gym regularly , not eating or sleeping properly all of sudden he started experiencing anxiety, lack of appetite, no interest in socializing, feels the need to stay home and with family only , racing thoughts.we took him to the emergency they checked him physically what can we do to get him bck to normal



    December 2, 2015

    What's the right product?

    I have son who works out on a regular basis, he will be 18 in January. He has asked for Physchotic by insane labz. I have read mixed reviews on this product? My question is how do I find the right pre work out that isn’t harmful? Is Physchotic by insane labz ok to use? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      December 3, 2015

      Re: What's the right product?

      It is common to see mixed reviews for pre-workouts as the formula can affect people differently. The caffeine and stimulants that are used within pre-workouts can be a problem for those who are sensitive to those ingredients as it may cause a person to experience the side effects listed in this article. Other ingredients such as Beta-Alanine or Niacin may also cause side effects such as a tingly or itchy feeling, flushing, or increased heartbeat. It is recommended that you check your son’s sensitivity to caffeine or stimulants and always read the warning label on the pre-workouts he would like to try. The most popular pre-workouts that seem to produce little to no negative side effects are: Myonox, Cellucor C4, and BPI 1.M.R. Vortex.


    January 8, 2016

    i want to start a workout schedule

    hi i like start my work out back can you suggest any pre workout supplement for me.My weight was 72 i want to build some musscles

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      January 8, 2016

      Re: i want to start a workout schedule

      eSupplements.com offers a list of the top 10 best pre-workout supplements. Currently, the top 4 supplements are Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk, XPI Myonox, BPI 1.M.R Vortex, and Cellucor C4.

    Brandor Velasquez

    June 24, 2016

    I Have A Question

    Hey I have a question , I have been taking Six Star Pre Workout Explosion for about a week already and I like the effect it gives when I work out , just that I’ve been noticing some really bad allergic reactions on my arms I wasn’t really sure at first if it was the pre work out so I didn’t really mind it & just tried curing my arms but every day I notice more allergies coming into my arms what do you think I should do ? Should I try another pre workout ?

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      June 24, 2016

      Re: I Have A Question

      It is highly recommended that you discontinue your use and talk to your physician about your allergic reaction. Stopping use may eliminate the reaction. It is also recommended that you check the ingredients of pre-workouts in the future. Make sure to compare the ingredients listed to the one you have been using.

    Lynn Hintz

    August 5, 2016

    Pre Workout and Sleeplessness

    Hi almost 18 year old son has started taking a pre workout, C4. He has mentioned the tingly feeling that other have experienced. But, he keeps mentioning he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. This has been since taking the C4. But of course I told him it was most likely the C4 and since all teenagers know everything, LOL, he insists it’s not that. I disagree!! What do you think?

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      August 18, 2016

      Re: Pre Workout and Sleeplessness

      It is very possible that your son is experiencing sleep problems due to his use of C4. When more than the recommended serving amount of pre-workout is taken and/or the pre-workout is taken close to the time a person would go to bed, it may affect a person’s ability to get to sleep or stay asleep. However, there may be other issues that can cause a person’s sleep pattern to be disrupted such as stress. Talk to your physician if you have any more questions or concerns.

    ZaRgham Shah

    August 13, 2016

    Muscle tech hydroxycut

    Hey !!
    i just started taking muscle tech hydroxycut for burning fat.I just wanted to ask that does hydroxycut affect our kidney ?.Plz guide the correct way to take it.

      Mike Jackson

      Mike Jackson

      August 18, 2016

      Re: Muscle tech hydroxycut

      MuscleTech’s Hydroxycut, like other water loss promoting supplements, has the potential to affect your kidneys if you do not consume enough water. It is highly recommended that you watch your water intake as the kidneys flush out toxins with help from water. If there isn’t enough water in your body, it can cause the kidneys to become overworked which can lead to damage.


    November 10, 2016

    Eyes Red, dry and irritated

    Hello there! I recently started taking MTS Clash pre-workout. I’ve used it 3 times in the past 4 days and for the past couple nights i’ve noticed my eyes get really red and irritated almost as if they are drying out. I used eye drops but the still don’t really help. Was wondering if this could be a side effect from the MTS. Thanks much,



      January 24, 2017


      I have the same issue with cellucor C4! It’s the WORST, and it seems to be an uncommon reaction. I always thought my red, irritated, sometimes even watery eyes couldn’t be from a pre-workout…but it is. I now can only use C4 if I have no places to be after the gym, otherwise I look like a stoned, even sickly.


    December 30, 2016


    I have switched between Volt and C4 for a couple of years now pretty regularly. Recentlty within the past year or so ive used primarily Volt. However i am not lifting as much as i was. Im mainly doing cardio on my treadmill and then pushups, sit ups and some dumbells some times at home. My question is about long usage of pre workouts. Is Volt good for cardio and not as much lifting? Are pre workouts ok to take consistently for a few years as I have done? Ive often wanted to just ween off them but i go back and forth. Im mid 30s good health. But dont want to do any future damage to my heart. I average .5 to 1 scoop a day since i tend to run daily. I do feel the addictive affects as some days ill drink it even when not working out. Should i stop cold turkey or ween or am i worried over nothing since i never take more than 1 small scoop.



    January 7, 2017

    Itchy eye n back

    I have start taking gold standerd pre workout and its my first time taking it. And i have notice that after 2 day taking it i have having itchy eye n itchy back so i want to know if it normal or bad for u. Should i stop taking or not. Any help



    April 14, 2017

    Worst side effects of my life

    I’m not new to taking pre-workout supplements I’ve taken them before such as C4 and No-Explode and had side effects such as a “tingling” sensation, increased heart rate, eye switching, and a hard time falling asleep. These side effects were mild and after building up a tolerance became none existent. Well today i decided that i wanted to try a new pre-workout which was bpi sports – 1.M.R. I took a full scoop thinking that since i was taking full scoops of these other supplements i would be fine. I had the worst side effects of my life. After a few sets at the gym i had an increased heart rate, i felt like i had to vomit and i even felt more tired than i did before taking 1.M.R. Since i felt so bad i decided to leave and go home. As soon as i got home i had blurry vision, increased salvation, runny nose, was sweating and flushing but felt cold and was shaking. Its been a few hours and the side effects are just starting to subside. The thing that freaks me out the most is the blurred vision and from what little i could find about blurred vision on the web it was most likely the cause of a allergic reaction to this supplement. My advice to people is do research before taking any supplement and once you’ve done your research and have made a decision on a pre-workout do not just go straight to taking a full scoop. maybe take half a scoop and see how your body reacts and build up a tolerance slowly. its also not a bad idea to talk with your doctor before taking like it says on the back of the container. But if anyone else has any input about the blurry vision side effect please share.


    K Donaldson

    May 3, 2017

    Cellular C4 pre workout

    I take Cellular C4 pre workout before I work out bet it’s started marking my heart feel wired could it be hurting me


    Dennis H Dillman

    October 26, 2017

    Dyna Storm

    I’m 73 and thinking of trying the Dyna Storm Pre-workout enhancer. Would this be a bad idea at my age and are there more side effects then worth the effort.



      February 15, 2018


      That will be highly dependent upon your health and is a question that should be directed toward your doctor, Dennis.

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