Do you work out first thing in the morning? If you do, then there’s a chance that you sometimes feel sleepy and force yourself out of bed for an early gym sweat session.
Take a pre-workout or coffee to feel more organized. However, can you take a pre-workout instead of coffee? How do you also know if a pre-workout is working for you?
Let’s find out today!
So, Can You Take Pre-Workouts Instead of Coffee for a Workout?
While several health and fitness studies claim that coffee is an excellent enhancement to any workout, pre-workout supplements also contain coffee or caffeine.
However, there are also caffeine-free pre-workout supplements for people with hypersensitivity to caffeine.
In addition, we’ll discuss later on why you can take them instead of coffee for muscle building. For now, let’s focus on pre-workouts.
Common Ingredients in Pre-workout Supplements
Pre-workout ingredients vary depending on the brand or product. However, most of them have the same components. Usually, they contain the following:
- Creatine supports muscle growth, training intensity, and recovery.
- Caffeine increases energy and focus. It also improves exercise performance, memory, and mental alertness and reduces body fat.
- Beta-alanine may prevent acid buildup in the muscle tissue, allowing the muscles to work longer and harder.
- Nitric oxide precursors enhance athletic performance. And lastly;
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) decrease muscle soreness and increase muscle growth when taken before a workout.
Must Read: Best Pre-Workout Fat Burner
7 Reasons to Take a Pre-Workout Supplement Instead of Coffee
1. Contains High Caffeine
Caffeine is the main ingredient in both pre-workouts and coffee. This stimulant blocks the signals of fatigue in the body. As a result, it makes a person feel more energized.
However, the amount of caffeine in a coffee and a pre-workout is different. The caffeine dosage in coffee depends on how strong you want your drink to be. While for pre-workout supplements, it depends on the brand and how much you take.
Caffeine in Coffee vs. Pre-Workout
Usually, an 8-ounce of coffee (1 tbsp of grounds) contains 144 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, a scoop of pre-workout includes 100 to 300 mg. of caffeine.
Simply put, pre-workout supplements contain three times more caffeine than one cup of coffee. Therefore, a pre-workout is the best option if you want a quick, natural energy boost. It’s even better than energy drinks, which usually only add minuscule benefits that a good pre-workout supplement can provide.
2. Improves Your Gym Performance
Sometimes, you need an extra energy boost to crush your gym goals. Luckily, pre-workouts give you precisely that.
One of the main differences between pre-workout supplements and coffee is the amino acids. Unlike coffee, pre-workouts contain various amino acids to improve or boost performance.
Amino Acids In Coffee vs. Pre Workout
The most common amino acids are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), beta-alanine, and l-arginine, which you won’t find in coffee.
A study published in the Amino Acids journal showed that β-alanine significantly improved the subjects’ exercise capacity and duration.
In conclusion, combining caffeine, creatine, and amino acid content in a pre-workout helps you ease fatigue and recover after an intense workout.
3. Prevents or Delays Fatigue
Caffeine in coffee helps delay fatigue during exercise. However, some people find drinking coffee does not provide them with the desired outcome.
For instance, it could be due to caffeine tolerance (for people who consume caffeine regularly), dehydration, blood sugar changes, genetics, and caffeine metabolism. In addition, the adenosine levels could signal the body to become drowsy.
Although, a good quality pre-workout works differently from coffee. Aside from caffeine, it usually contains ingredients that may prevent or delay fatigue for better workout performance.
For example, some pre-workouts contain Cordyceps and L-Carnosine. These ingredients have the potential to prevent fatigue and enhance your workout.
4. Increases Blood Flow
Pre-workout supplements typically contain nitric oxide (NO) agent, which helps the body produce nitric oxide naturally and lower blood pressure.
Nitric Oxide For Blood Flow
A review published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism demonstrated that nitrite supplementation helps the blood vessels expand, regulating blood flow and vascular tone.
Thanks to the increased blood flow caused by the NO content in a pre-workout powder, nutrients are easily transported to the muscles to improve muscle endurance and speed up recovery.
Such a benefit further allows you to recover faster and push harder. As a result, it increases your ability to enhance muscle growth.
Moreover, L-arginine is an amino acid that allows more blood to pass through the blood vessels. The enhanced recovery and muscle growth caused by such an amino acid help extend the pump.
5. Builds More Muscle
Another reason you can take a pre-workout instead of coffee is that it helps you build muscle.
A good pre-workout supplement combines ingredients that improve your gym performance and develop endurance for training. Ultimately, the result is helping you create more muscle.
Furthermore, the added amino acids for building muscle are an obvious benefit. Like BCAAs, amino acids reduce muscle soreness while promoting muscle protein synthesis even after a workout.
Meanwhile, the creatine content in a pre-workout also enhances strength, endurance, and muscle mass.
6. Some People Don’t Like the Taste of Coffee
Pre-workout supplements can be an excellent choice for people who want caffeine but dislike the taste of coffee. (Yup, as shocking as it may be, some people find coffee too bitter. Instead, they prefer tea or hot chocolate.)
Luckily, pre-workout supplements come in different flavors, such as:
- Icy Blue Razz
- Fruit Punch
- Green Apple
- Blue Razz
- Green Apple Envy
- Cherry Limeade
- Wild Berry
- Pineapple Mango
- Strawberry Margarita
- Sour Watermelon
With these flavors, you can benefit from a pre-workout in your gym performance while keeping your palates satisfied!
7. Increased Mental Alertness and Focus
Some people drink coffee because it makes them focus afterward. This benefit can be credited to the caffeine content.
Most pre-workout supplements give you that perk and other benefits. One study claims that caffeine in pre-workout supplements helps improve your verbal memory, spatial awareness, and reaction time.
Some pre-workout supplements keep your focus more. For instance, some contain an herb called Rhodiola Rosea, which is known to improve mental performance. Night shift workers in one clinical trial took Rhodiola Rosea. As a result, they had improved performance and less mental fatigue than the placebo takers.
Must Read: Pre-Workout Vs. Protein Powder
How Do You Know The Pre-Workout Is Working?
You’ll know the supplement you’re taking works if you notice increased strength and muscle in a relatively short period while using it.
How long the changes occur depends on the type of training you do, your physiology, and your training goals. Below are some key things you will likely notice:
- You become intensely focused on your activity.
- You’ll increase the number of reps you can handle and the weight you lift.
- A sudden increase in energy level.
- Beta-alanine in pre-workouts may cause tingling sensations in some people. If you are among them, you’ll feel this effect right away.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Workout
Can I replace coffee with pre-workout?
Yes, of course. You can replace coffee with a pre-workout.
Many pre-workout supplements provide enough caffeine content to give the same caffeine buzz. They do as advertised – they help break the fitness plateaus and boost performance and energy.
Is it better to drink pre-workout or coffee?
If you’re an individual who engages in high-intensity training, it is better to drink a pre-workout supplement than coffee. It is also suitable for exercise that creates potential exhaustion and real burn.
Meanwhile, those with caffeine insensitivity can limit their caffeine intake with a stim-free pre-workout.
Is caffeine the best pre-workout?
No, caffeine isn’t the best pre-workout. However, it is an essential aspect of many pre-workout supplements. Taking only coffee isn’t enough to energize some people during their training.
This explains why choosing a pre-workout with caffeine and other ingredients is essential. It can help other aspects of your health.
What can replace caffeine in pre-workout?
If you want to crush your gym session stim-free, some research-backed power-ups you can try instead of caffeine are food (obviously), creatine, nitric oxide boosters, BCAAs, tomato juice, and beta-alanine.
Final Verdict: Which Drink Is Better for a Workout?
Simply put, it depends on your goal.
If your health and fitness goal is to build muscle, then pre-workout is the better choice. The main ingredients in most pre-workout supplements are amino acids.
These organic compounds contain essential amino acids that go well into muscle protein synthesis. In other words, it is a significant part of how the body builds and maintains muscle.
However, if you focus more on getting just the right amount of energy, coffee has the edge over a pre-workout.
Pre-workout and caffeine typically contain about 100 to 300 milligrams per serving. But with coffee, it’s easier to decrease or increase the caffeine content based on the amount. It also varies on the type of beans or grounds you use.
Overall, a pre-workout is better for committed athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It gives them the advantage they need in their training than coffee does.
For access to more exercise and fitness articles, lifestyle tips, celebrity workouts, nutrition and health info, visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.