I’d like to kick this article off by saying pre workout isn’t a supplement.
By this, I mean that pre workout from brand A can be A LOT different to pre workout from brand B.
Whereas, for example creatine from brand A is extremely similar, if not the same, as creatine from brand B.
So unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer to the question: Does Pre Workout Cause Growth Problems?
But if we were to simplify things…
Does Pre Workout Stunt Growth?
There’s no evidence to suggest that pre workout stunts your growth. In fact, some ingredients in pre workout like BCAAs, Citrulline Malate and Vitamin B12 help you grow.
In this article, we look at the common ingredients that are in most pre workouts and see if there’s any evidence to suggest they cause stunted growth. We also look at some common causes of stunted growth.
Does Caffeine Stunt Your Growth?
Caffeine is believed to be the most popular drug in the world. It’s naturally found in fruit, beans, and leaves of over 60 plants worldwide.
Most pre workouts contain caffeine anhydrous which is a dehydrated form of caffeine that’s super concentrated.
Some research shows that consuming caffeine may result in the body excreting more calcium, which is important for bone growth. However epidemiological studies suggest that this poses little risk to osteoporosis.
One study investigated how caffeine affects bone development in girls aged 12 to 18.
The girls were split into 3 groups:
- Group 1 consumed less than 25mg of caffeine per day
- Group 2 consumed between 25mg and 50mg of caffeine per day
- Group 3 consumed over 50mg of caffeine per day
By the end of the study, there was no correlation between caffeine intake and the average bone gain of the 3 groups.
Does Beta Alanine Stunt Your Growth?
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that combines with histidine to make carnosine, which is a substance that reduces lactic acid accumulation in your muscles.
The less lactic acid build up, the less “burn” you feel in your muscles when exercising, which means you can squeeze out a few more reps.
And as the saying goes, every rep counts.
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence to suggest that Beta Alanine can stunt growth.
The only study of Beta Alanine in teenagers was done on 15 young water polo players. The results found that Beta Alanine improved their performance.
Does Citrulline Malate Stunt Your Growth?
Citrulline Malate is a compound derived from L-Citrulline and malic acid.
L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid which helps boost nitric oxide production. Whereas malic acid is a substance found in fruits like apples and grapes.
Combining L-Citrulline with malic acid to form Citrulline Malate is believed to help improve absorption and bioavailability.
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence to suggest that Citrulline Malate can stunt your growth.
In fact, Citrulline Malate may even help you grow.
Well, the kidneys convert the L-Citrulline into another amino acid called L-Arginine.
And research has shown that L-Arginine significantly increases growth hormone and IGF-1.
Do BCAAs Stunt Your Growth?
BCAAs (Branch Chained Amino Acids) are the amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
They’re classed as essential amino acids as the body can’t produce them, and so they must be obtained through dietary sources (or supplementation).
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence to suggest that BCAAs can stunt your growth.
Interestingly, research suggests that a lack of essential amino acids like those found in BCAAs can lead to stunted growth.
For example, a study of 313 children found that those with stunting had significantly lower levels of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine in their blood.
Does Taurine Stunt Your Growth?
Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that’s naturally found in the body. It’s primarily concentrated in the eyes, heart, brain and muscles.
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence to suggest that Taurine can stunt your growth.
What’s interesting is that Taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in breast milk, suggesting that it may help infants grow.
For this reason, formula milk is usually supplemented with Taurine.
Does Vitamin B12 Stunt Your Growth?
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is important for proper nerve functioning and for producing red blood cells and DNA.
It’s naturally found in animal foods, like fish, meat, eggs, and dairy, so vegans are advised to supplement with it to avoid deficiency.
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence to suggest that Vitamin B12 can stunt your growth.
In fact, the current evidence suggests the opposite – Vitamin B12 is vital for growth.
In one study, 1000 Indian children were given either Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 + Folic Acid, or a placebo.
According to the results, the children who received Vitamin B12 increased their average weight-for-age scores significantly.
This led the authors of the study to conclude that low levels of Vitamin B12 contributes to poor growth.
Do Artificial Sweeteners Stunt Your Growth?
Pre workout supplements often include artificial sweeteners such as Acesulfame K, Sucralose, and Saccharin.
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners can stunt your growth.
A review of the literature of artificial sweetener use in children concluded that:
In order to recommend consuming or avoiding artificially sweetened products as a weight control strategy, more studies evaluating the effect of artificially sweeteners on hormonal and metabolic response and on sweet craving must be conducted in children.
Can A 14/15 Year OId Take Pre Workout?
As always, this depends on what ingredients are in the pre workout.
If it includes the ingredients covered in this article, then that’s a promising sign.
I’d also pay attention to the amount of caffeine included.
While caffeine appears to be safe for teenagers, some pre workouts contain a ridiculously high amount, and teenagers may be more prone to side effects.
What Causes Stunted Growth?
Stunted growth can have a variety of causes. Here are some of the most common causes.
Turner syndrome is a rare genetic condition that affects females who are missing an X chromosome. It results in your body not using growth hormone properly which can stunt your growth.
If your parents or relatives are small, you’re more likely to follow suit.
As mentioned earlier, children who are deficient in essential amino acids often experience stunting. Since amino acids are found in protein, it’s important to eat a protein rich diet for healthy growth.
Hypothyroidism is the condition of having an underactive thyroid gland. In healthy people, the thyroid releases hormones which help normal growth, but those with hypothyroidism may have less circulating levels of hormones which can stunt their growth.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
Most children have normal growth hormone levels which helps the growth of tissue and bone. But children with a growth hormone deficiency may encounter stunted growth.
Wrapping up, it’s probably best to stop pre workout if you’re worried that it may stunt your growth.
(Just for your peace of mind.)
But as you’ve seen in this article, many of the ingredients featured in pre workout may actually help growth.
So, before you select a pre workout, due diligence is key to ensure it has a range of health promoting ingredients.
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.