What Happens If You Take Too Much Pre-Workout? (What To Do)

Pre-workout supplements are great for taking your training to the next level, but they can have some side effects. It can be tempting to get carried away and take too much pre-workout, but this isn’t necessarily going to be good for you.  

In this guide, we'll explain what happens if you take too much and why you should avoid it.

Pre-workout drinks and supplements are designed to give you an energy boost while you train.

They are usually made up of natural ingredients, including amino acids, caffeine, B vitamins, and a few other components. Even though these are all-natural, they can make you sick and have a negative impact on your body.  

People often take a lot of pre-workout because they think it will give them a massive energy boost, but the truth is that it has limits. Once you hit a certain level of performance, the pre-workout isn't going to help you anymore, and it’s more likely to give you adverse side effects which negatively impact your training 

Taking too much pre-workout can have serious implications on your health. It can disrupt your sleep, elevate your heart rate to dangerous levels, and even impact your mental health.

In fact, taking too much pre-workout can kill you (though only in massive quantities), and if you don't monitor your intake, you could end up in hospital.  

It's imperative to only take the right dosage of pre-workout so you can maximize performance and minimize any side effects. 

how much pre workout is too much

Jitteriness 

Caffeine is a primary ingredient in most pre-workout supplements because it's a stimulant. This means it will help to wake you up and improve your mental focus. This is useful before a workout, but just like when you drink too much coffee, it can make you jittery.  

You can buy some stimulant-free pre-workouts, but standard pre-workouts will have 150-300mg of caffeine in a serving. This is the equivalent of downing 2 double espressos.

This can lead to side effects that impact you very quickly, and if you take too much, it can make you jittery, increase your heart rate, and make you restless. That's why it's so important to monitor your pre-workout intake.  

Read More - How Much Caffeine Is In Pre-Workouts?

Skin Tingling 

Having too much pre workout can make your skin tingle and feel itchy. This is a side effect of an ingredient called Beta-Alanine, which is contained within most pre-workout supplements.

Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that increases exercise capacity and decreases fatigue but can cause paraesthesia. This is a side effect that gives you a prickly or burning sensation across your body and is mostly felt in your hands, arms, legs, and feet. [1] 

If your skin is tingling, it's probably a sign you've had too much pre-workout and need to lower your intake.  

Learn More - Why Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch?

Increased Water Retention 

Creatine is a popular supplement taken to improve training performance. There’s a lot of science underpinning creatine and its positive impacts, and many pre-workout supplements have some in the mixture. [2]

Creatine will help to boost performance, but it has some side effects. It causes your body to retain water which can lead to bloating and discomfort. This can also make you gain weight and leave you feeling sluggish.  

Creatine is an important supplement but should only be taken in the right amount. If you're feeling dehydrated and bloated, you're probably taking too much pre-workout.  

Increased Anxiety 

Caffeine is a severe trigger for anxiety, so if you don’t check your pre-workout dosage, then you may end up suffering from an anxiety attack.

This is because the caffeine within the pre-workout is stimulating your central nervous system, which is, in turn, triggering your fight or flight response. [3]

This is good for increasing your gym performance but can leave you feeling anxious and waiting for an attack that isn't coming. If you suffer from anxiety already, then you should consider a caffeine-free pre-workout and definitely limit how much you take.  

Digestive System Upset 

When taking supplements, you need to be careful that you aren’t causing yourself a stomach upset. Even though the ingredients are natural, the mixture can be disruptive to your digestive health and give you issues. Sodium bicarbonate is often found pre-workout, which can impact your body's digestive process.  

Magnesium and caffeine can act as a laxative, and taking too much pre-workout can lead to diarrhea. You can also dehydrate yourself if you’re not taking enough water with your pre-workout.  

If your stomach is starting to feel strange, then it's usually a sign you're taking too much pre-workout. Try to limit your intake, and hopefully, you'll feel better in a few days.  

Read Also - Does Pre-Workout Make You Poop?

Headaches 

Citrulline Malate is an amino acid that is usually added to pre-workout supplements. This boosts the nitric oxide levels in your blood which helps your muscles get what they need to perform at their highest.

While this amino acid does increase blood flow, it can also have some side effects, and it can impact the blood vessels in your brain. If you have too much pre-workout, this will lead to headaches and migraines, which you just can’t shake.  

If you're experiencing headaches after pre-workout, you need to check your dosage because you're probably taking too much.  

What Happens If You Take Too Much Pre-Workout?

Pre-Workout Supplement Correct Consumption 

If you want to avoid the side effects, you need to take the right amount of pre-workout at the right frequency. Ideally, pre-workout should be taken about 30 minutes before a training session.

This gives it time to be digested and enhance your performance. Every pre-workout blend is slightly different, but most recommend taking 1-2 scoops with water before you exercise. Any more than this could start giving you adverse side effects.  

You also need to limit how much pre-workout you take in a day. Most experts recommend taking no more than 1-2 servings a day. This is primarily because of the caffeine content, and for some brands, even having 2 servings can mean you've had double your recommended daily caffeine intake.  

Just bear in mind that pre-workout will start to wear off after 2 hours but will remain in your system for 6-8 hours. If you're training twice a day, try to leave as much time as possible between pre-workout servings to minimize any side effects.  

It's also important to limit your weekly intake of pre-workout to give your body time to reset back to normal levels. You shouldn’t take it on more than 3 days out of 7 and ideally not on back-to-back days.

This may mean you have to do some training without a pre-workout, but it will be better for you in the long run.  

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when taking pre-workout because every brand and blend is different.  

what to do if you take too much pre workout

What To Do If You Take Too Much Pre-Workout? 

If you take too much pre-workout, you'll likely feel the side effects almost instantly. Your heart rate will start to rise quickly, and you'll probably become jittery. Then, as the amino acids break down, you may begin to feel itchy and get a headache.  

Pre-workout will stay in your system for about 6 hours, so you're probably just going to have to ride it out. It would be best if you drank a lot of water to help flush some of the pre-workout from your system faster and eat fatty foods to absorb it.

This should lower the recovery time, but unfortunately, you’ll probably still take a few hours to feel normal.  

In extreme circumstances, you can also make yourself throw up to get it out of your system. This isn't recommended, and it's not guaranteed you'll actually be able to remove the pre-workout from your body anyway.

However, if you have taken massively too much pre-workout, then this is a good way to remove some of it quickly 

If you start to feel really anxious and feel your heart rate spike too high, then you may be about to experience a panic attack. These can be severe, so it’s a good idea to take yourself to an emergency room where they can look after you.

They may decide you don’t need anything, or they may decide to pump your stomach and give you fluids, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  

Generally, if you take too much pre-workout, you'll be fine. You'll just have to put up with the side effects for a day, and you should feel better afterward.  

too much pre workout side effects

Taking Too Much Pre-Workout FAQs 

How long does it take for pre-workout to wear off? 

The positive impacts of pre-workout will generally start to wear off in 2-3 hours, but the ingredients will stay in your system for around 6-8 hours. 

Related Article - How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?

Are pre-workouts bad for your heart?  

Pre-workout will cause your heart rate to increase, but if you take the recommended dosage, you should be fine. However, if you regularly take too much, then you run the risk of getting high blood pressure, arrhythmias, or even having a heart attack.  

Are pre-workouts bad for your kidneys?  

Caffeine and certain amino acids can put a strain on your kidneys because they'll struggle to break it down. However, your kidneys should be able to cope unless you’re regularly taking too much.  

Is it OK to drink pre-workout without working out? 

Yes, you can drink pre-workout even if you aren’t going to the gym, but it’s not recommended because of the potential side effects.

Pre-workout supplements are specifically designed to increase your performance, so if you just want an energy boost, you're better with a coffee or an energy drink.  


Conclusion

Pre-workout is a powerful tool, but it needs to be taken in the right quantities. Taking too much pre-workout won't enhance your performance anymore; it will just cause side effects, so always stick to the recommended dosage.

Hopefully, this guide has helped explain the risks associated with pre-workout, and you now know the warning signs to look out for. 

Last Updated on July 28, 2022