Should you pump up your workout?

(NPN) - Getting to the gym is one thing, but getting in a great workout is another.  Some people now prefer to pump it up with a little something extra.

They're called pre-workout supplements and they're popping up in all the places - promising to enhance performance.

As a firefighter, Kevin Culver has to be in tip-top shape and counts on his workouts to keep him that way. He also counts on pre-workout supplements.

"One is super caffeinated for the days that I'm just dragging my tail and I don't want to be in the gym early morning, 5 o'clock and morning workouts," Culver said.

He says the other helps him focus.

These supplements, commonly called "pre-workout," are usually power drink mixes or capsules. The idea is to take them right before you hit the gym to boost performance. These are numerous brands, formulas and ingredients.

"Carbohydrates, proteins that are broken down to what they call amino acids, and the derivatives of those as well as sometimes electrolytes, or B vitamins, antioxidants, creatine, and caffeine."

Registered dietitian Jessica Crandall says some ingredients may be safe and energy-boosting, but others can be pointless, or worse.

"A lot of these are overpriced with potentially some bad side effects that could impact your health negatively," Crandall said.

Including, she says, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and digestive distress. Like with all supplements, pre-workouts are not regulated by the FDA for safety or efficacy.

Crandall says there are third-party groups that certify supplements for content and purity. However, she suggests getting what you need straight from the foods you eat.

"I think that food can be our first line of fuel and it's really important on focusing on good nutrition to better enhance our cardiovascular and strength."

Culver says he will do right and count on his pre-workout. "I don't think I would ever go back to working out without supplements," he said.

Crandall says part of the issue is the variation in formulas, with a wide variety of the amounts of different ingredients, from caffeine to various herbs, not always clearly marked as to how much of each is included.

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