In this article, you will find a research-backed answer to the question:
“can pre-workout cause anger issues & Mood Swings?”
You might have been seeing sullen faces at the gym or come across Reddit users complaining of anger and irritability that they suspect to be linked to their pre-workout consumption.
But no more probing into the mystery of the relationship between the black moods and pre-workouts.
Because this article will explain how pre-workouts can alter attitudes/cause anger issues and the ways you can cope with those undesired effects.
However, if you’re in a hurry, here’s the quick answer- Pre-workout stimulants do mess with your hormones to modulate specific systems in your body for better performance. And that’s the most probable reason why they make one irritable soon after the effects start kicking in.
Keep reading to find out the details of underlying reasons and how science has addressed your suspicions about pre-workouts.
Can pre-workout cause anger issues?
Yes, pre-workout can definitely cause anger issues, depending on the person and the dosage. For some people, pre-workout energizers can make them feel very amped up and anxious, which can lead to irritability and anger.
In fact, many pre-workout supplements contain high levels of caffeine and other stimulants that can easily lead to irritability, a short temper, and other anger-related issues.
You get so excited to throw some weights after your pre-workout drink because the ingredients such as caffeine stimulate the ‘fight and flight response’ to whip you up to achieve your training goals, and this same response is what causes aggression.
Caffeine, for instance, does this by prompting the adrenal glands to flood your body with cortisol and adrenaline.
These stress hormones may make you eggy after your energy drink.
Moreover, pre-workouts are mainly giving you an energy boost, and all that energy flowing in your body may make you want to punch someone in the face and cause irritability and restlessness.
In many threads on Reddit, I saw users complain about the anger issues different pre-workouts gave them.
Some pre-workouts that users suspect of setting them off are Cellucor C4, Gat Nitraflex, etc.
However, this small pilot study on only seven males and seven females could not report any effect of pre-workouts on mood changes.
And neither did this clinical trial report any relation between energy drinks with worsening of negative moods such as anger.
Thus, a link between pre-workouts and mood changes may be rightly suspected by users but needs more extensive trials and more research to prove it.
Nonetheless, we have scientific evidence for the impact of certain ingredients on moods, like caffeine and artificial sugars used in pre-workouts, and you can find what these are by scrolling down to the next section.
There is also a good chance that pre-workout supplements can cause mood swings in some people because of the stimulants and some ingredients.
Why do Pre-Workouts cause anger issues?
Pre-workouts are made by bringing together stimulants, vasodilators, and cognitive enhancers.
In short, the powdered concoction is mainly filled with stuff that is believed to tinker with your brain and body to enhance performance.
But the same pre-workout that improves your motivation and causes a surge in energy to pump you up for some gymming may see a shift in its potential and cause irritability, anger, mood swings and make you sulk instead.
Following are the ingredients in pre-workouts that may give you the blues.
Caffeine is used as a stimulant in pre-workouts, and it enhances workout performance by meddling with the central nervous system to trigger a state of fight or flight response.
And as I stated above, this may be the same reason behind your aggressiveness after pre-workouts.
The energy rush due to caffeine may also bring some sleepless nights, and the lack of sleep might also be one of the reasons causing irritability.
Pre-workouts use a caffeine content that can be as high as 380 mg.
Research supports the hypothesis that excessive caffeine consumption may have detrimental effects on mood.
According to this early clinical trial, caffeine consumption increased feelings of anger in young men aged 19- to 26-year-old.
You can find another evidence in this clinical trial performed with inmates that concluded that excessive caffeine caused irritability, anger, and frustration, which are symptoms of ‘caffeinism.’
The American Psychological Association has also listed irritability as one of the downsides of excessive caffeine consumption.
Moreover, some study also reports psychological distress and poor moods even in participants with an average daily intake of 292 mg.
Most pre-workout supplements consist of about 1g to 5g of creatinine per serving to volumize muscles and boost energy.
But this creatinine supplementation might make you cranky as well.
The clinical trials included in this review paper have reported some kind of psychological changes in their participants, such as aggression, either due to high dosing or long-term intake of creatinine.
One clinical trial included in the same review has also reported mania and hyper mania with just 3g to 5g daily supplementation of creatinine in participants with bipolar disorder. Moreover, long-term high dosing of creatinine may also cause dysfunction of creatinine kinase activity which may adversely impact emotional regulation.
Most pre-workouts use artificial sugars like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, or others to enhance their taste.
According to this review, aspartame increases the level of phenylalanine and aspartic acid, which act as suppressors of certain neurotransmitters that improve your mood.
These are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, respectively.
And on top of this, aspartame also elevates the levels of cortisol and free radicals, which increases your vulnerability to become irritable over the pettiest things.
This research has also evaluated the potential of Acesulfame Potassium and sucralose to induce stress.
You can find the evidence of the potential of many other artificial sweeteners to cause mood swings that pre-workouts may contain, in chapter 7, ‘Sweeteners’ of this book.
How to deal with anger issues caused by Pre-Workouts?
People around you might be pushing you to give up on pre-workouts as the simplest solution to all your mood problems.
But, I will recommend you some easy hacks that may help calm down your overhyped system that is disrupting your mood.
This research paper assessed the correlation between amino acids and aggression.
It concluded that amino acids like leucine, tyrosine, citrulline, and arginine were lower in people with aggression.
Opting for pre-workouts with a better amino acid content may help keep your mood stable and tone down the aggression.
Or, adding amino acids such as taurine, beta-alanine, and the ones that I named above to your existing drink may help as well.
You may try cutting down on all the triggers that may cause your anger to pile up and come out in ugly ways.
For instance, If you are consuming pre-workouts to add an energy boost for a fasting state workout, the hunger pangs might be one reason that vexes you.
So, as soon as you are done with your training, munch on some carbs and protein to satisfy your appetite.
Since all those stimulants in your system are getting you worked up and affecting your mood, you may try chugging in a lot of water before and after your pre-workout so that they are flushed out of the system sooner.
Moreover, the best thing is to experiment with different workouts and try modulating with the daily dose to see which is working best for you.
The Reddit users say that low caffeine and non-stim pre-workouts might help.
To wrap it up, stimulants and certain other ingredients in pre-workouts may turn on your mood swings as they affect your central nervous system and hormones.
These ingredients might be caffeine, creatinine, artificial sugars, or others.
Look out for pre-workouts that don’t mention ingredients clearly and rather hide them behind the label of ‘proprietary blend’ as this may not help avoid suspected triggers or trace them at all in the first place.
Buying third-party verified pre-workouts may also reduce the risk of side effects like mood disorders, as the quality of these pre-workouts is tested.
So, always spend on NSF International or U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) approved pre-workouts.
You may be affected a bit more by the stimulatory potential of pre-workouts if you are diagnosed with certain psychological disorders like depression or bipolar disorder or can’t hold certain ingredients well.
Talk to your doctor or discontinue using pre-workouts if you face concerning symptoms, as this may also affect your mental health and social relations.