Coffee vs Pre-Workout – What to Take Before Workout?

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Last updated on September 5, 2022

On days when you are feeling so tired and like you cannot push through a workout, a pre-workout supplement feels like the only option to get you amped up. Among all the choices you have, most bodybuilders wonder whether to drink coffee or take pre work out supplements. In this article, we will compare coffee vs pre-workout.

Is Coffee Beneficial Before Workout?


You probably have coffee in your house. It has a great taste and a great aroma, which is why some people prefer coffee to workouts supplements. Coffee is taken before a workout for its caffeine content. When taken before exercise caffeine provides an energy surge to help you stay active and more focused during exercise. This way, you will perform better.

The consumption of coffee instead of a pre-workout supplement has been linked to reduced muscle pain after a period of strenuous exercise. According to a study conducted at the University of Illinois, taking two or three cups of coffee 30 minutes before a vigorous 30-minute session, helped participants experience less muscle pain while enhancing their performance.


Does Coffee Have Any Side Effects?


While coffee has its benefits, it is not advisable to drink coffee a lot. To stay healthy while taking coffee before a workout, take only two cups – or about 6 mg of caffeine for every kg of body weight.

Keep in mind that a lot of caffeine doesn’t mean a better workout. Some of the side effects of excess consumption of caffeine include:


  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive problems

Most of these issues will interfere with your performance for the worse. To enjoy the benefits of caffeine for performance and weight loss, stay within the recommended dosage. If you experience any of the side effects of coffee during a workout, drink a lot of water. Again, caffeine exacerbates conditions such as hypertension and as such, consult your physician if you suffer from a chronic illness. You can achieve weight loss through other proven methods.


Pre-Workout Supplements and Bodybuilding


Preworkout drinks or pre-workout powders are specially designed to help you perform to your optimum capacity. Most of these supplements are formulated with seven common ingredients, in which caffeine is one of them. Even though caffeine is part of the elements, they are still different thanks to the other ingredients.

When you hit the gym, having taken these supplements, helps increase heartbeat and consequently, blood flow around your body giving you a workout boost. This gives you improved focus and keeps your muscle cells nourished. However, these supplements do not offer the same benefits to everyone who needs to lose weight. The supplements contain different ingredients in different quantities. If you do research, you will come across supplements with no caffeine, which is great for people who do not take caffeine for medical or other reasons.

Most pre-workout supplements contain L-Theanine, Malate, Beta-Alanine, Guarana, L-Citrulline, branch chain amino acids ( BCAA supplements ) and Creatine Monohydrate ( creatine supplements ), among others. The supplements might also come in the form of protein drinks or be contained in energy drinks. Again, the supplements are not ideal for every kind of workout. For instance, creatine is excellent for increasing muscle strength. Citrulline increases energy levels and blood flow to tissues and can also help reduce muscle soreness.

Those who take protein drinks might feel nausea, which significantly affects their exercise. You can take protein supplements ( protein powders ) after and not before starting your workout session with fitness equipment.


Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements


While supplements are great, they have their side effects, which can affect your health and fitness including:

  • Overstimulation
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Addiction
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sudden energy crash


Picking the Right Pre-Workout Supplement


There are hundreds of supplement brands on the market today. To pick the right supplement for your workout session, look at the ingredients. Supplements that claim to contain proprietary blends, where the ingredients dosage used is not disclosed, will have small amounts of so many different components that they might not offer the benefits you need.

You can consult a professional who will explain the different ingredients in a supplement. You can buy individual ingredients separately and create your pre-workout supplement. When you have the individual ingredients, you can adjust the dosages to fit your workout needs.

You can also do your research online and pick the supplement with the best mix of ingredients. When shopping, always look at labels on the supplements. Ensure that the supplement you end up purchased has undergone testing in an independent laboratory. Again, check the percentages of each ingredient used in the supplement.

You May Want to Read: PhenQ VS Phen375: Which is Best? 

Who is Coffee Fit for?


Coffee may not offer you as much energy as you get from pre-workout supplements, but it gives you a pleasant boost in energy. Because you may not be able to weigh the amount of caffeine you take at home, test out the amount that is enough for you and stick to that. If you feel jittery during your workout, it shows that you have probably taken too much coffee, and you should reduce that next time. If you barely feel anything during the exercise, you may not have taken enough.

Coffee is suitable for your pre-workout if you love its other health benefits, including boosting focus and brain function. Unlike most supplements whose functions end in the gym, coffee continues to promote your health. You should also choose coffee if you do not trust the authenticity of supplements, especially proprietary blends with so many ingredients that you have never heard of. However, this does not mean that pre-workout supplements are dangerous – it means that not all brands can be trusted. You need to do your research before settling on a single supplement.


Who Needs to Avoid Coffee?


Bodybuilders who need the best pumps with extreme energy levels should avoid coffee and instead go for pre-workout supplements. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, and as such, it might slightly reduce blood flow to the muscles during strenuous exercise. Again, coffee beans do not have citrulline and arginine, which are known to increase muscle pumps. If you are already taking pre-workout supplements, avoid coffee. These two are not meant to be taken on the same day, seeing that most supplements contain caffeine. Too much caffeine in your system will cause side effects.


Who Should Choose a Pre-Workout Supplement?


If you need to train harder and longer, you can benefit from taking a pre-workout before hitting the gym. However, bodybuilders, those who are looking for maximum muscle gain, will benefit more from pre-workouts. They enhance your performance significantly and facilitate fast recovery. For those working out to keep fit, pre-workouts will be overkill.

Even though these supplements are great for those looking to gain muscle significantly, they are not miracle pills. The pre-workouts amp you up before you work out but they will not give you lean muscle mass. They will instead give you more energy so you can train harder and longer. With supplements, you tolerate more sets which will lead to muscle gain over time.

Some of the best ingredients are beta-alanine and citrulline. Beta-alanine buffers lactic acid that might interfere with your training to keep your working out for longer without muscle cramps. On the other hand, citrulline reduces the recovery period and offers you a better muscle pump to train harder.

Even though pre-workouts are great, you need to research the ingredients before picking a supplement for your training session.


Pre-Workout vs Coffee: Which Should You Pick?


Do you love coffee? The option you choose, at the end of the day, will depend on whether you answer yes or no to that question. Coffee is inexpensive and you can use it for a long time. Supplements, on the other hand, especially those that are formulated to do a decent job, are expensive.

If you want more energy and you need to burn more body fat, coffee might be the best option. However, ensure you do not go above the set limits to avoid side effects.

Supplements offer you energy depending on your fitness goals. Supplements will give you the same benefits with caffeine without the side effects that too much caffeine has. However, you have to ensure that the formula is right. The taste of coffee is better than that of supplements. Both these options are easy to prepare since coffee needs boiled water and preworkout pills and powders only need clean drinking water.

Coffee is considered safe and natural while many supplements are formulated in the lab. If you choose supplements, ensure they are formulated from natural ingredients.

Whichever option you choose to go with, it is always advisable to consult your physician. The physician will say whether you are in good health to take either coffee or workout supplements. Again, consider that there is no “magic pill.” Whichever wins, coffee vs pre-workout, you have to put in the work to get ripped.

If you want to learn more about coffee effects on intermittent fasting check our article on that.

Steve (Qualfied Personal Trainer and Nutritionist)

Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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