What Does Alpha-GPC Do in Pre-Workout? – Is it Worth Using?

Alpha-GPC is bragged about in wellness circles and by supplement companies because of its brain-boosting benefits, but its other superpower is what it can do for your workout. 

Like any other compound, you need to know what you’re taking and how it affects your bodybuilding goals. This post explains all of that in simple language so you can decide whether or not it’s something worth trying. 

What is Alpha-GPC? 

Alpha-GPC (or a-GPC) is short for Alpha-glycerophosphocholine, a chemical the body makes from choline.1 It can also be found in some foods or be man-made for use in dietary supplements. A-GPC is most commonly derived from egg, soy, or sunflower lecithin. 

It’s considered one of the best types of nootropics and workout supplements because it directly delivers choline to brain cells since it bypasses the blood-brain barrier. Alpha-GPC supplements seem to increase levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, which helps with muscle contraction and brain cognition. 

Unfortunately, this powerhouse supplement is still in its early stages of research, so there isn’t a lot of conclusive data on some of these claims just yet. 

What Does Alpha-GPC Do for You? 

There’s a long list of reasons to take a-GPC supplements, but the following are the most noteworthy. 

Improves Cognitive Function 

Alpha-GPC improves communication between neurons in the brain, which help with focus, attention span, responsiveness, memory, and more. 

Helps with Mood 

Some studies show that a-GPC increases dopamine and serotonin levels, resulting in happier moods and more motivation.2

Boosts Energy 

Limited research shows that taking an alpha-GPC supplement with caffeine can optimize energy levels and alertness.3 

Enhances Sleep 

On the flip side, taking a-GPC regularly and at the right times of your sleep periods may also improve the quality of sleep and REM cycles.4 

Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Improves Performance 

Studies show that taking alpha-GPC before working out can increase HGH, which helps build muscle and improve strength.5 

What are the Benefits of Taking Alpha-GPC Pre-Workout? 

More research still needs to be done on the benefits of supplementing with a-GPC as it relates specifically to working out, but so far, the following reasons are very promising. 

Helps You Stay Hyper-Focused 

Have you ever struggled to stay in the zone while working out or wanted to quit before you even got started? Alpha-GPC can help you bust through distractions and stay hyper-focused on the task at hand. Plus, as mentioned earlier, it can even help you feel more motivated to start in the first place. 

Increases Strength 

A double-blind study showed that males who took 600mg alpha-GPC for six straight days were able to increase their mid-thigh pull peak force by 140%.6 Additionally, another study has shown that taking 600mg of a-GPC two hours before bench press throws could increase peak force by 14%. 

Builds Muscle 

Consistent supplementation with a-GPC has been shown to contribute to muscle growth, thanks to its ability to boost acetylcholine levels, stimulating the release of HGH. Taking Alpha-GPC before your resistance workout can increase growth hormone 44 times compared to your baseline levels, allowing you to build muscle mass better than before. 

Prevents Exercise-Induced Decreased Levels of Choline 

Exercising causes a decrease in your choline levels, but a-GPC seems to help prevent that. Supplementation can restore or boost choline since Alpha-GPC is a choline-containing phospholipid and acts as a prodrug for choline and glycerophosphate.7 

What’s the Best Dosage of Alpha-GPC to take Pre-Workout? 

Exact dosage recommendations may vary depending on the brand and actual makeup of the supplement and your goals. Most studies on cognitive or bodybuilding outcomes used doses anywhere from 200-600 mg and were taken 30-90 minutes pre-workout. Some sources and alpha-GPC users recommend taking it on the lower end of the spectrum – around 250 mg – for workout and brain-boosting purposes. 

As with other supplements, it’s probably best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it until you know how your body will handle it. 

Just a note: higher dosages in the 700-1200mg range are almost exclusively used for treating cognitive damage, though some supplements and pre-workout drinks have around 700mg or more. There’s no hard and fast rule, so use your best judgment. 

Does Alpha-GPC Have Any Side Effects When Taken Pre-Workout? 

No supplement is immune to side effects, and unfortunately, a-GPC is still in the early stages of research. Even though most healthy adults take it without issues, there are a few reported possible things to look out for. 

Some of the minor side effects of Alpha-GPC are: 

  • Heartburn 
  • Headache 
  • Insomnia 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Skin rash 
  • Confusion8 

As always, check with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you have prior conditions or are on medications. 

Best Pre-Workout Supplements with Alpha-GPC 

If you decide to try out a-GPC, the following supplements are our top picks based on in-depth research. 

Our Pick

Cutler Nutrition Prevail Pre-Workout 

Prevail Pre-Workout leads with a potent 375mg dose of Alpha-GPC and other energy-boosting ingredients like N-Acetyl, L-Tyrosine, and Huperzine-A that help you get and stay in the zone without burning out. In other words, if you need a supplement that gives you focus, energy, and endurance, this mix is a great choice. 

Cutler Nutrition Prevail Pre-Workout
Runner Up

Brain Blitz Pre-Workout 

This pre-workout powder supplement from Phase One Nutrition is another good choice for boosting brain and muscle power. It includes its own unique blend of essential nootropics, including 600mg of Alpha-GPC, that aid in long-lasting concentration, energy, motivation, and neuro-body coordination.

Brain Blitz Pre-Workout

Does a Pre-Workout Really Need to Have Alpha-GPC? 

You definitely don’t need to take this supplement (or any others) to see results. However, if you decide to take it, using it during your pre-workout routine isn’t essential. Alpha-GPC can work regardless of when you take it, even though most studies are done with the consumer taking it before working out. 

It’s also worth noting that other pre-workout supplements without alpha-GPC, like Real Science Pureform or SFS Always Ready Pre-Workout, may be of better value with more time-tested ingredients. Like everything else, you need to decide what’s best for you based on your goals and preferences. 

Additionally, one of the main reasons these supplements are recommended before a workout or in the morning is their energy-boosting effects. So while growing muscle mass isn’t totally dependent on taking it pre-workout, your quality of sleep might depend on the supplement formula. 

Conclusion 

While supplementing with a-GPC isn’t necessary for your bodybuilding goals, limited research has found that it may provide promising results with the right dosage and consistency. Even if you don’t need it as a pre-workout boost, the brain benefits may make this supplement worth testing. 

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Courtney Smith
Courtney Smith

Courtney is a freelance wellness writer and aspiring health and fitness coach. When she's not writing, she's trying to keep up with her two kids, squeezing in a workout, or brewing another cup of adaptogenic coffee.

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