Getting ready for a workout can be just as important as the workout itself. Not only do you need the proper gear and motivation, but you also need to prep your body for the lifting and weights to come.
Part of that prep comes in pre-workout drinks and powders. The difficult part is finding a brand or product that can actually deliver what you need.
Knowing how much caffeine in pre-workout mixes and drinks is an important decision you need to make.
This guide will help you identify the right amount of caffeine, the products in that range, and which is best for your needs.
Table of Contents
- How Much Caffeine Is In Pre-Workout? (Overview & Average)
- Popular Pre-Workout Brands & Caffeine Per Serving
- How Much Caffeine Is Too Much For Pre-Workout?
- Caffeine in Pre Workout Vs Coffee (What’s The Difference?)
- Frequently Asked Caffeine In Pre-Workout Questions
How Much Caffeine Is In Pre-Workout? (Overview & Average)
Almost all caffeinated pre-workout and energy drinks, powders, or bars will compare their caffeine content to that of a cup of coffee.
We have found, though, that most people don’t know how much caffeine is in a single cup of coffee.
While there are different types of coffee, brewing methods, and caffeine content, the average for standard drip coffee is 95mg per 8-ounce cup.
If you have a larger cup or a different coffee blend, your milligrams may be different.
When dealing with pre-workouts, we mostly talk about powders added to water. You measure a scoop full or two into the water and stir.
When mixed, you drink, and in about 30 minutes you should have a boost of energy to get you started on your workout.
Pre-workouts also come in premixed drinks, energy drinks, and pre-workout bars you can eat. The average caffeine amount for the powder mixes is between 150 and 300 mg/serving.
What is also important to note, though, is that not all pre-workouts have caffeine at all.
Most will have some form of sugar, though. Therefore, it is crucial that you always read the labels and understand what your body can tolerate.
Caffeine intake has been shown to increase reaction time, reduce fatigue, and can stimulate the central nervous system .
The key, though, is in the balance. While moderate caffeine levels can have some health benefits, too much can be detrimental.
According to recent studies, that balance is around 3 to 4 cups of coffee per day, or 300 to 400mg of caffeine per day .
If you drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages and a pre-workout, you may start to slip into the negative effects side.
With the right balance of caffeine intake and preparation, your home gym workouts can be highly productive and rewarding.
With the jolt of energy from the caffeine, you should have enough energy and focus to start your training and get well into it.
By the time the pre-workout wears off, you will be into your routine and sipping on your water or workout mix to keep going.
Related Article - How Does Caffeine Affect Your Workouts?
Other Ways To Get The Effects
If you are sensitive to caffeine or don't want to worry about the energy rush falling off, you can get the same overall benefits.
The downside is that this can take more time, more planning and dedication to meal-prep days, as well as maintaining a constant intake of the foods.
Eating properly is always a step in working out, but for that pre-workout energy and motivation, you need specific things.
Amino acids, glucose, nitric oxide, and even creatine and caffeine are needed before your workouts.
A cup of black coffee with a spoonful of sugar can give you the caffeine you need. You can also get the rest from food.
Yogurt, eggs, cheese, and even tuna will provide amino acids, glucose, and nitric oxide.
For example, a whole-grain bread turkey sandwich and a cup of coffee about 30 to 45 minutes before your workout will be about the same as using a pre-workout mix.
You won't have as much caffeine intake, but it is healthier overall.
Read Also - BCAAs Vs Pre-Workout Drinks
Popular Pre-Workout Brands & Caffeine Per Serving
If you have been to the gym supply shops or the workout area of your local grocery store, GNC, or sporting goods shop, you know there are a lot of different brands selling pre-workout mixes.
In the chart below, we will compare the most popular and commonly found brands. We will look at their caffeine content per serving to see which brands offer the amounts you want for your pre-workout routine.
Caffeine Content (mg/serving)
135 - 300mg
DyNo by RSP Pre Workout
GNC Hyper-Ripped Workout
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much For Pre-Workout?
Is there such a thing as too much caffeine? The simple answer is yes, but there isn't enough research yet to define how much is too much.
Part of this depends on the person. Your body mass index, weight, height, metabolism rate, heart condition, and other factors all play a role.
There have been a lot of studies done on caffeine, and the results are a bit muddy. However, the Mayo Clinic, FDA, and other study groups have found that up to 400mg per day of caffeine is safe for most people .
However, if you are pregnant or nursing, under the age of 18, or elderly, these levels may be too much for you. Caffeine can also contribute to amplifying underlying heart conditions.
If you know or suspect you are sensitive to caffeine or have heart issues, you need to talk to your doctor before using a pre-workout powder or drink.
Because a pre-workout mix can contain a lot of caffeine, it is important to know your limits. It is also essential to know how much other caffeine you consume during the day.
Keep in mind the recommendations and limitations done by the studies and governing bodies use a daily intake level, not a per-drink level.
With pre-workout drinks offering over 300mg per serving, you can quickly reach the caffeine limit for the entire day. If this is the case, you may wish to look for a pre-workout brand that has less caffeine.
Caffeine in Pre Workout Vs Coffee (What’s The Difference?)
You may think that there is a difference in the caffeine effects or even the caffeine itself when it comes to pre-workout powders versus coffee.
However, this isn't the truth. Caffeine is caffeine, and once it is in the body, it doesn't matter how it got there.
The only difference between a pre-workout powder and coffee is that the powders use what is known as an anhydrous caffeine source.
This is essentially caffeine that is dehydrated to be added to powdered mixes.
It has no major difference from standard caffeine except that it is absorbed faster and therefore acts faster.
So drinking a pre-workout mix will have more rapid effects than drinking a cup of coffee. You will also need to drink less.
If you are not a caffeine-dependent person and don't drink coffee or tea regularly, a pre-workout is great for you.
You would need to drink 2 to 4 cups of coffee before your workout to get the same levels as a pre-workout.
While you can drink a cup of coffee before a workout, it isn’t the best suited replacement.
Especially if you need to add sugar to your coffee, which can cause a good sugar rush, but the crash after is quick and can kill your workout motivation.
Learn More - How Long Does Pre-Workout Stay In Your Body?
Frequently Asked Caffeine In Pre-Workout Questions
Is it better to drink coffee or pre-workout?
You get the same amount of caffeine to give your workouts a boost with either coffee or pre-workout powder mixes.
However, with the coffee, you will need to drink about 24 ounces or more to get the same caffeine levels as an 8 to 12 ounce glass of pre-workout. Having less fluid in your stomach during a workout is probably better.
How much caffeine does 5-Hour Energy have?
5-hour energy doesn't list the caffeine content for all of their drinks. However, the Extra Strength contains 230mg for a 2-ounce shot, and the standard formula contains 200mg. The flavors don’t affect the caffeine content.
Can you burn off caffeine with exercise?
Caffeine typically has a half-life of about 6 to 8 hours. This means that once ingested, you will have the effects for at least 6 hours before they start to fade off.
Performing exercises and working out can cut this time in half .
It is also interesting to note that exercise cuts the half-life further for heavy caffeine drinkers than light drinkers.
Pre-workout mixes, bars, and drinks have a lot of caffeine. To get the energy and motivation you need, caffeine is a great ingredient.
While there is a concern for some users, most of us can get away with 300 to 400mg of caffeine per day.
A single pre-workout drink can contain over 350mg, though, so balance is also needed. If you are a soda, coffee, or tea drinker, you may exceed the daily recommended limits.
However, with a workout, you can cut the half-life of caffeine in your system down to 3 or 4 hours which will help you recover faster.
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Last Updated on September 16, 2022