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Using cannabis products and pre-workout together before physical activity is not a good idea. The reason is simple: There is no research into the effects; however, some of the compounds present in both substances may have undesirable effects when used together.
What Is Pre-workout?
Pre-workout is a supplement that many people take approximately 30 minutes before exercise to improve their workouts. It increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles and can result in the following benefits:
- Energy boost
- Increased focus
- Increased stamina
- Improved athletic performance
Caffeine. Consuming caffeine before a workout can increase blood flow, power, and endurance during exercise and make workouts feel more effortless. Pre-workout supplements tend to contain high levels of caffeine — some the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee (150-300g).
Creatine. Creatine is a naturally made compound in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas to maintain energy supplies. Roughly half of the body’s supply of creatine comes from foods such as red meat, seafood, and milk. However, the body doesn’t make much creatine, about 1 gram daily. So some people take creatine supplements for muscle growth and strength benefits.
The benefits of adding creatine to pre-workout include:
- More energy
- Improved strength
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Better post-workout recovery
Creatine is particularly beneficial in heavy weightlifting, where exercises are done with a few repetitions, but explosive power is required.
BCAAs. The branched-chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – are essential. The body cannot synthesize them; you must obtain them through food or supplements. Protein-rich foods such as meats, chickpeas, milk, and soy contain BCAAs.
The benefits of adding BCAAs to pre-workout include:
- Muscle growth stimulation
- Decreased muscle soreness
- Decreased tiredness from exercise
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Without amino acids, your body won’t synthesize all the proteins needed to build and maintain muscle mass.
L-glutamine. L-glutamine is another amino acid important in protein and muscle building, and L-glutamine may help speed up recovery and repair muscles after intense training. It is also interesting to note that the recovery effects of L-glutamine may be more significant in men than in women.
L-citrulline. L-citrulline produces nitric oxide, a chemical that causes the blood vessels to expand – a process called vasodilation. Vasodilation increases blood flow by widening the blood vessels, allowing more blood flow space.
Vasodilation is beneficial during a workout because increased blood flow to the muscles increases the amount of oxygen, nutrients, and hormones delivered to the muscles, increasing energy.
Vasodilators. Like L-citrulline, other molecules that cause the blood vessels to dilate are often found pre-workout.
Beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid. Nonessential doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need it; instead, the body can produce it on its own. When the body turns glucose into energy, it creates lactic acid. This mainly occurs when oxygen levels are low such as when exercising. Beta-alanine reduces lactic acid build-up, delaying the onset of muscle soreness and allowing you to get more reps in.
Mixing Pre-workout and Weed
Pre-workout is not regulated for safety by the FDA, and many supplements contain active ingredients that can interact with cannabis. Thus, mixing cannabis with any unregulated supplements can be dangerous.
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the activity of the central nervous system and can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and is also a stimulant. The effects of THC on the central nervous system are increased by caffeine.
Consuming too much caffeine or THC on their own or in combination can cause shakes, hypertension, and increased heart rate, and this could lead to a heart attack or stroke in more severe cases.
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Creatine is essential for generating energy in the body. Research has shown that cannabidiol (CBD), another cannabinoid in cannabis, increases the activity of the energy-producing pathway. There is no research into whether these two compounds are harmful when used together; however, it is generally thought that low doses of CBD used before exercise may give you more energy for a better workout.
One important thing to note is that CBD has been shown to increase the creatinine levels in the blood. Creatinine is a waste product that is spontaneously formed from creatine. Increased creatinine levels are not thought to affect healthy kidneys, but they may worsen previously existing kidney disease. It would be best to avoid using CBD and pre-workout together if you have kidney issues.
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Pre-workout supplements often contain vasodilators to improve blood flow during exercise, and some cannabinoids in cannabis are also vasodilators. By increasing blood flow, vasodilators increase the flow of oxygen, amino acids, and hormones such as insulin growth, which are essential for muscle growth.
Vasodilation causes a reduction in blood pressure, and in many cases, this is beneficial. However, too low blood pressure (hypotension) can cause dizziness, blurry vision, and heart palpitations. In severe cases, the body can go into shock, increasing the risk of death.
While there is no direct research investigating the use of cannabis and pre-workout, it would be best to be wary of using too many vasodilating substances simultaneously to avoid hypotension.
Does Cannabis Provide Workout Benefits on Its Own?
The consensus is to avoid using cannabis before a workout as cannabis is a psychoactive substance and may impair decision-making, which can be dangerous when exercising. Moreover, one study suggests that “exercise may elevate blood THC levels by releasing dormant THC from fat stores.” This means mixing exercise with pre-workout THC may increase intoxication, especially in regular cannabis consumers.
Research has shown that cannabis does not improve strength or performance during intense workouts. However, there may be some benefits to using cannabis when working out, particularly after exercise. These include:
- Easier short-term recovery.
- Long-term brain recovery.
- Ability to push yourself more.
- More enjoyable workouts.
The Bottom Line: Is It Safe to Use Pre Workout and Weed Together?
Ultimately, there is no clinical research on the safety of using cannabis with pre-workout. It is generally not a good idea for cannabis users to mix unregulated supplements with anything derived from the marijuana plant — including CBD oil — as they contain active ingredients that could interact.
If you choose to use cannabis to aid your workouts, it may be best to use it after a workout to improve the recovery stage.
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