Is Pre-Workout Bad Or Safe For Teens? (Should They Take It?)

Athletes are getting younger every year, and it's natural that they'd start to look for supplements to improve their performance, but is pre-workout bad for teens?

The scientific evidence is limited, but in this guide, we'll look at the benefits and risks of pre-workout to help you understand whether teenagers should be taking it or not.

Pre-workout supplements are designed to improve athletic performance and push you to train harder.

They contain:

  • beta-alanine and other amino acids to help reduce fatigue
  • nitric oxide to improve blood flow
  • creatine monohydrate to fuel your muscles
  • protein to improve muscle growth
  • caffeine to help focus your mind.

Taking pre-workout supplements can help you get more from your exercise routine, and it's no surprise that young athletes are starting to use them, but it raises some valid questions.

teenage guy working out in gym

Is pre-workout safe? Is pre-workout bad for teens? Should they be taking dietary supplements at all?

Many people are worried that a pre-workout supplement will impact many teenagers in a negative way, but there is no scientific evidence that shows negative impacts.

In fact, scientific evidence demonstrates that pre-workout can support a young athlete’s sport performance.

However, it’s not clear whether many teens need pre-workout. It is generally used to raise energy levels, but kids should have more energy than adults naturally, so they shouldn't really need it.

Energy drinks may be a better solution and remove the need for a pre-workout drink altogether.

If they need energy drinks or pre-workout, it may be worth considering if they're getting enough sleep.

Sleep is vitally important for teen development and helping them build muscle mass, so ensuring they're getting at least 8 hours is more important than taking any supplement.

If a teenager is going to have pre-workout, they need to be aware of the risks.

Taking supplements without being clear on what's in them can be risky, so you must check for harmful ingredients.

Unfortunately, not all pre-workouts are clear about their proprietary blend, and there’s also a risk of product contamination, so you’ll never know for certain what’s in there.

It’s really important that you choose a pre-workout that is high quality and comes from a reputable brand that you trust.

It’s also worth avoiding pre-workouts with excessive quantities of caffeine. If a teenager’s caffeine intake is too high, it can impact their nervous system and increase their blood pressure.

You only need one scoop of pre-workout at a time; anything more can be dangerous.

Teenagers can be reckless and take too much pre-workout powder in one go, so it's important for parents and coaches to explain the risks and keep an eye on how much pre-workout they are taking.

You may also want to switch to a stimulant-free pre-workout.

Ultimately, pre-workout can be useful for teenage athletes, but there are a lot of risks involved, particularly if you're taking multiple supplements.

While most pre-workout formulas aren’t technically dangerous, they really aren’t necessary, and the benefits don’t outweigh the risks.

Related Article - What Are The Side Effects Of Pre-Workout?

teenage girl working out in gym

Harmful Ingredients In Pre-Workouts That Affect Teenagers

Creatine

Creatine is naturally created in the body and provides energy for muscle contractions. It's therefore important in helping you build muscle, but it can have some nasty side effects.

These include cramping, nausea, headaches, and increased body weight from water retention.

There aren't many studies on the long-term impacts of creatine on teenagers, but the American College of Sports Medicine has published research that recommends that creatine use should only be for those over 18 years old. [1]

Read Also - What Are The Effects Of Creatine On The Body?

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Amino acids are used to help improve endurance and reduce the recovery time of your muscles.

 However, even adults have found mixed results, and there's no concrete evidence that amino acids boost your exercise performance.

Some amino acids can cause a stomach upset, and while there's no evidence of specific side effects for teenagers, there's also no conclusive evidence that they're safe.

Caffeine

Caffeine is included in pre-workout to give you an extra boost of energy.

This can help you get a good workout and gain strength more quickly because you have increased mental alertness.

However, there are adverse events that can occur if you take too much caffeine. It can lead to headaches, anxiety, an upset stomach, and trouble sleeping.

It can also lead to dehydration, so if you are taking pre-workout supplements, it's important to drink water during and after your workout.

Learn More - Can Pre-Workout Be Addictive?

Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Alcohols

High-quality products don't tend to contain too many artificial ingredients, but some pre-workout supplements include them to make it easier to consume.

These can make the supplement full of sugar and calories, so it’s a good idea for teens to avoid them if they can.

teenager doing planks

Benefits Of Pre-Workout for Teens

The benefits of pre-workout for teens are fairly similar to the benefits for adults.

They can give you greater endurance when you exercise so you can push yourself harder, lose weight, and lose fat.


What Pre-Workout Are Safe For Teens?

Pre-workout powders and pre-workout drinks can be risky for young athletes, but teenagers can take other pre-workout supplements to help them get the most from their training.

A protein supplement, usually in the form of a protein shake, has been proven to boost athletic performance and increase muscle growth.

This supplement is perfectly safe for kids and can even improve the muscle protein synthesis in their body. [2]

One of the best pre-workout activities is to have a healthy meal.

Teenagers who want to build muscle and train harder should look for protein-rich foods combined with vegetables.

You can also use vitamin supplements to make sure they're getting everything your body needs to grow.

This isn't exactly a supplement you can buy off the shelf, but it's one of the best ways to support your training.

is pre-workout safe for teens

Are Pre-Workouts Necessary For Teen Athletes?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of supplements for anyone under the age of 18 because of the potential side effects.

If you're a parent or a coach, there are still some ways to help increase performance. [3]

13 Year Old Athletes

At this age, there's a significant risk if you introduce supplements into their diet.

Pre-workouts won't be necessary to increase performance, but it's important to make sure they get plenty of sleep and have a nutritious diet full of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

14 Year Old Athletes

At 14 years old, children will start to develop at different rates, but it's still not advisable to introduce any supplements to aid performance.

Just make sure they have a balanced diet and eat an hour or so before training.

15 Year Old Athletes

At 15 years old, a teenager will start to develop more quickly, and several pounds of muscle will likely start to grow naturally.

It's important that they get a lot of sleep and a protein-rich diet to aid this development, but at this age, you can start to introduce protein supplements to help support their performance.

16 Year Old Athletes

Teenagers this age will start to see significant changes, and protein-rich food with protein supplements can aid their performance and development.

There is evidence that creatine can start to have a positive impact from this age, but it should be taken carefully, and it's generally advisable to wait until they are 18 years old.


Frequently Asked Pre-Workout & Teenagers Questions

Can you buy pre-workout under 18?

Yes, it is legal for under 18s to buy pre-workout supplements in 49 states and most countries worldwide.

How often should teenage athletes take pre-workout when weightlifting?

Under 18s should avoid taking pre-workout supplements completely, but if you are taking them, you should only have 1 scoop a day, and less than 3-4 scoops a week.

You should always avoid taking multiple supplements because this can have an unknown effect on your body.

Should teenagers eat before a workout?

Yes, eating a balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables about an hour before a workout has been shown to improve performance.

Is there a difference for teenage boys or girls when talking about pre-workouts?

Generally no, teenage boys and girls should avoid supplements in most cases. However, girls can be more sensitive to caffeine, so a lower caffeine pre-workout is generally safer.


Conclusion

So is pre-workout bad for teens? In all honesty, there just haven’t been enough studies or third-party testing to determine whether pre-workout is safe for teenagers.

However, a lot of the evidence about the individual ingredients shows that there are risks involved.

Most teens won't actually need or benefit from it, so it's a good idea to avoid it or use other supplements (like protein).

The best pre-exercise activity to boost a teenager's performance is ensuring they've gotten enough sleep and eaten a nutritious meal.

Hopefully, this guide has helped to explain whether pre-workout is bad for teens and has given you some useful information about alternative ways to maximize your workout.

References:

1.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10731017/
2.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11440894/ 
3.https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/139/2/e20161257/60108/Dietary-Supplements-and-Young-Teens-Misinformation

Last Updated on September 16, 2022