Pre-workout supplements have gained immense popularity among fitness enthusiasts in recent years. These supplements boost energy, focus, and endurance during workouts.
However, many people are unaware of the risks of pre-workouts at night. In this blog post, we will discuss the risks associated with consuming a pre-workout at night and provide tips on how to avoid the potential side effects.
If you’re interested to learn more, keep reading.
But first, let’s define what a pre-workout is.
What is a Pre-workout Supplement?
Pre-workout supplements (or simply pre-workouts) are a type of dietary supplement that individuals consume before exercise or any physical activity. These supplements are formulated with ingredients that increase energy and improve athletic performance.
These supplements also come in various forms, such as powders, capsules, and drinks. They also contain a combination of ingredients that work synergistically to enhance physical performance.
So, How Do They Work?
These supplements provide essential nutrients that improve blood flow, energy, and mental focus.
Additionally, the caffeine in these supplements stimulates the central nervous system, which leads to increased energy levels and mental focus. Meanwhile, the amino acid improves muscle strength and endurance, ensuring you can work out longer.
When to Take Pre-workouts For The Best Results
Taking your pre-workouts at the right time is essential for the best results. Most pre-workout supplements should be taken 30-45 minutes before your exercise for the ingredients to kick in, giving you the energy and focus to power through your workout.
It’s also important to note that many pre-workout supplements contain stimulants, such as caffeine and beta-alanine. These ingredients cause insomnia and disrupt sleep if taken too close to bedtime.
Therefore, if you plan to take a pre-workout supplement, it’s best to avoid it at night. Instead, take it at least 30 minutes before your exercise, preferably in the morning or early afternoon.
Furthermore, the timing of your intake also depends on your personal preferences and workout schedule. For instance, if you’re a morning person and prefer to work out early, taking it in the morning makes you feel more energized and focused during your workout.
Meanwhile, if you prefer to work out in the evenings, taking pre-workout supplements in the afternoon prevents you from the crash that often occurs after the effects of the stimulants wear off.
How Long Does It Take For Pre-workout To Kick In?
The time for a pre-workout supplement to kick in varies on the brand and ingredients. However, most pre-workout supplements take effect within 30-45 minutes of consumption. 
You will begin to feel an increase in energy levels and focus, which will power you through workouts.
How Long Does It Take For Pre-workout To Wear Off?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the pre-workout supplement you take, tolerance level, body weight, and overall health.
Generally speaking, most pre-workout supplements take effect within 20 to 30 minutes of consumption. Depending on the potency and formulation, they can also last one to four hours.
Meanwhile, some pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, a stimulant that increases energy and focus. Caffeine has a half-life of approximately five hours, meaning it takes about five hours to eliminate half of the caffeine from your system.
In addition, this means that if you take a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, you may still feel the effects several hours after consumption.
Other pre-workout supplements may contain ingredients like beta-alanine, creatine, or nitric oxide boosters, which can also have a lasting effect. For instance, beta-alanine can cause a tingling sensation in the skin, which can last for up to an hour.
Creatine, on the other hand, can take several hours to be fully absorbed by the body, and its effects can last for several hours after consumption.
It is important to note that the effects of pre-workout supplements vary from person to person. Some people may also be more sensitive to the pre-workout ingredients, while others may have a higher tolerance level.
So, Should You Take a Pre-workout At Night?
While a pre-workout supplement is a great way to boost energy levels and improve exercise performance, taking a pre-workout supplement late at night can be risky and affect sleep quality, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Additionally, they can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can be dangerous if taken before bed.
5 Side Effects of Taking a Pre-workout At Night
Taking pre-workout at night can lead to several side effects, which can harm your health. Some of these are:
1. High Blood Pressure
Pre-workout supplements contain beta-alanine, taurine, and nitric oxide boosters, increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.
However, these ingredients also cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, leading to potential health risks such as heart palpitations, chest pain, and even heart attacks in extreme cases.
So, avoiding pre-workout supplements at night is best if you have high blood pressure.
Pre-workouts typically contain high levels of caffeine, which stimulates the nervous system and leads to sleep deprivation.
Insomnia also significantly impacts your health and fitness goals, such as decreased energy levels, reduced motivation, and increased stress levels. Chronic insomnia also increases your risk of developing health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Many pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that cause you to sweat more than usual, leading to dehydration if you don’t drink enough water. It also causes headaches and muscle cramps.
Therefore, staying hydrated before, during, and after an exercise is essential.
4. Digestive Problems
Another side effect of pre-workouts is digestive problems, including nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Using pre-workout supplements at night can increase the risk of digestive issues, especially if you take them on an empty stomach.
Some pre-workouts also contain large amounts of amino acids, such as arginine and citrulline, which cause gastrointestinal distress when taken on an empty stomach.
One of the main reasons for nausea from pre-workout supplements is the presence of stimulants. For example, caffeine is a common stimulant that can cause nausea, especially in high doses.
Other stimulants like yohimbine and synephrine also cause nausea in some people, particularly those with sensitive stomachs.
Related: How to Make Pre-Workout Taste Better
5. Hinders Recovery
A pre-workout powder can hinder recovery by increasing cortisol levels, leading to muscle breakdown. Using them at night can also affect recovery, making it difficult for your body to repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
Sleep is also a massive contributor to muscle growth and healing, and lack of it can hinder muscle recovery.
How to Avoid The Side Effects of Taking Pre-workout At Night
Use a Stim-Free Pre-workout
A stim-free pre-workout is an excellent alternative to traditional pre-workout supplements. They contain ingredients that increase energy and improve focus without consuming caffeine or other stimulants.
Among the most popular non-stimulant-based supplement ingredients is creatine, a naturally occurring substance in meat and fish. It also increases strength and power output, leading to better performance during workouts. Not to mention, the body also produces it in small amounts.
Beta-alanine is another non-stimulant-based supplement ingredient that is gaining popularity. This amino acid is found in meat, poultry, and fish and is also naturally produced by the body.
Additionally, it has been shown to increase muscle endurance and reduce fatigue, improving performance during high-intensity exercise.
Nitric oxide (NO) boosters are also non-stimulant-based supplements that improve performance during workouts. NO is a molecule naturally produced by the body and is responsible for dilating blood vessels, which increases blood flow to muscles.
NO boosters, such as arginine, citrulline, and beetroot extract, increase nitric oxide production, improving endurance and reducing fatigue.
Here’s a supplement guide for finding the perfect stim-free pre-workout that’s safe to consume at night.
Take Your Pre-workout At The Right Time
The ideal time to consume supplements is 30 to 45 minutes before an exercise. Doing this allows the body to effectively absorb the ingredients and start working by the time the exercise begins.
However, the exact timing may vary on the product and individual factors, such as metabolism and stimulant sensitivity.
Additionally, it’s essential to consider the timing of food intake when planning to take pre-workouts. For instance, a heavy meal before taking them might affect their absorption and delay their effects.
Meanwhile, consuming pre-workout supplements on an empty stomach can lead to discomfort or nausea.
Another crucial factor to consider when timing pre-workouts is the duration of the workout; For shorter workouts, such as a 30-minute jog, using pre-workout supplements 30 minutes before may increase energy and focus.
However, taking them too early may result in a crash midway through the workout for more prolonged and intense activities, such as weightlifting or high-intensity workouts. We recommend consuming the supplements 15 to 20 minutes before the exercise to ensure a steady energy supply throughout the session.
Take Sleep Supplements
If you have trouble sleeping after taking pre-workouts, try taking sleep supplements. Melatonin, valerian root, and magnesium are all-natural supplements that improve sleep quality.
Drink Chamomile or Lavender Tea
Chamomile and lavender tea are known for their calming properties and for promoting relaxation and sleep. Drinking a cup of chamomile or lavender tea before bed counteracts the stimulating effects of pre-workouts.
Alternatives to Taking Pre-workouts At Night
If you are looking for alternatives to taking pre-workouts at night, there are several options available. For instance, a cup of coffee or green tea before your exercise boosts energy and improves focus.
Additionally, eating a healthy meal before your workout gives your body the necessary nutrients to power through your workout.
While pre-workouts are a great way to increase energy and improve workout performance, taking a late-night pre-workout supplement can be risky. It affects sleep quality, increases blood pressure, and causes digestive problems.
To avoid these potential side effects of pre-workouts at night, it’s essential to use stim-free pre-workouts, take them at the right time, and try natural sleep supplements.
Alternatively, choose pre-workout alternatives such as coffee, green tea, or a healthy meal before your workout. Always consult a medical professional before taking any pre-workouts, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
If you found this article helpful, check other fitness-related articles on 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.