It can be difficult to find the time to work out and exercise daily with the rest of our busy schedules weighing us down. While many people will turn to pre-workout powders and energy drinks filled with caffeine, these will only lead to negative side effects down the road.
Believe it or not, there are ways to increase energy without the use of caffeine. Giving up caffeine is a tough subject for anyone that relies on it throughout the day. The decision will be much easier once you understand what caffeine is really doing to your body.
Don’t worry, we’ll break it all down for you below. Not only will you learn the cons to caffeine, but you’ll be introduced to a variety of alternatives that produce long-term results. Let’s dive in!
Why Avoid Caffeine in Pre-Workout?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a diet composed of less than 400mg of caffeine per day is viewed as safe. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s actually a considerable amount of caffeine. At the same time, the negative side effects of caffeine make that number more dangerous than you’d think.
Two of the biggest reasons you should avoid caffeine during a workout is because we already consume enough of it daily and our bodies will build a tolerance for it over time.
To put it in perspective, we’ve listed some of the most popular drinks with caffeine in it — many of which are a part of your daily diet:
- A can of Coca-Cola has about 35mg of caffeine per 12 fl. oz.
- A can of Red Bull has about 110mg of caffeine per 12 fl. oz.
- A cup of coffee has about 100mg of caffeine per 8 fl. oz.
- A cup of green tea has about 25mg of caffeine per 8 fl. Oz.
You might be looking at that and thinking you’re safe because you’d have to drink a 12-pack of Cola to reach your limit. For the average American, they’ll consume 1-2 cups of coffee every day, a soda for lunch, a red bull to keep them going in the evening, and maybe a green tea to finish the day.
The point is, you are constantly consuming caffeine throughout the day. Contrary to popular belief, the effectiveness of caffeine continues to decline the more you consume it. You’ll build a tolerance for it, much like you do alcohol. You’ll eventually need more caffeine to feel the effect, which will put you at greater risk of consuming too much.
One cup of coffee per day will lead to 3-4 cups per day. You’ll go to the store to buy 1 red bull, but see that they’re on sale if you buy 2 — both of which are empty by the end of the day.
And then we make it worse when we consume a pre-workout right before exercising, many of which contain 150-400mg of caffeine per serving. With the caffeine we’ve already pumped into our body, this will definitely put us over the edge.
Breaking Down the Science
Avoiding caffeine during a workout has to be a top priority. Luckily, this will be easy when you understand what caffeine does to your body and mind. You’ll find that there are countless other ingredients that have similar effects on your body — with added benefits as well. We’ll get more into those later.
When you consume caffeine, it affects many different parts of your body. It will block certain neurotransmitters and receptors in your brain, causing you to feel more awake and focused. It will help increase the levels of adrenaline and dopamine. It’ll also increase your metabolism and help produce glycogen to improve recovery time.
At the same time, it comes with plenty of cons to it. If you haven’t been persuaded to cut your intake down thus far, here are some more cons to caffeine use:
- You’ll build a dependence for it, which could lead to withdrawal symptoms later on
- It’ll interfere with your quality of sleep
- Higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
- Jitters followed by a massive crash
You can avoid a lot of these intense side effects by turning to proven ingredients with positive research backing them. They are plentiful if you know where to look. We’ll be here to guide you through the way.
Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Ingredients
Caffeine will be a preference among most people. While avoiding caffeine is easier said than done, it’s something that should be considered if you want to protect your energy levels over the long-term. Instead of searching for pre-workouts and energy drinks high in caffeine, try replacing it with some of the ingredients below.
Much like caffeine, ensuring you receive the proper dose of each ingredient will give you the best results — and keep you safe in the process.
- What It Is: Our body naturally makes Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and stores it in the mitochondria in our cells. This compound is essential to producing energy and making ATP, also known as the currency of energy. Our CoQ10 levels decrease as we age.
- Recommended Dose: 100mg-400mg daily
- Side Effects: nausea, upset stomach, and loss of appetite in high doses.
- What It Is: These water-soluble vitamins are essential to a lot of our body functions. Among the many benefits, the main function of these vitamins is turning food into energy. Any B vitamin will work, but the most popular are B6, B9, and B12.
- Recommended Dose: B6 (1.3mg), B9 (400mcg), B12 (2.4mcg)
- Side Effects: Skin conditions, thirst, dizziness, and nausea in high doses.
- What It Is: Creatine is another chemical naturally produced by our bodies. It is stored in our skeletal muscle. It is an extremely popular pre-workout supplement that will help recycle ATP in our muscles and brain tissue.
- Recommended Dose: 3-5g daily
- Side Effects: Nausea, cramping, and headaches can occur with extremely high doses and limited water intake.
- What It Is: This non-essential amino acid comes from the Latin word for watermelon. When consumed in the body, it is changed to a L-arginine and nitric oxide — which is essential for improved blood flow and relaxed arteries. These effects will make you feel more alert.
- Recommended Dose: No more than 9g daily.
- Side Effects: No reported side effects.
- What It Is: Beets contain a healthy dose of nitrates, which are transformed into nitric oxide in the body. Unfortunately, you would need a lot of beets to get a sufficient amount. Beetroot powder dehydrates beets so you get a higher concentration. With increased blood flow throughout the body, nitrates will also keep your heart from working too hard and boost endurance.
- Recommended Dose: 4,000mg daily
- Side Effects: High doses can lead to beeturia, kidney stones, and kidney damage.
L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine
- What It Is: These two amino acids make for a great combination. Tyrosine helps increase levels of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Theanine will promote a relaxed feeling without losing focus.
- Recommended Dose: Tyrosine (500-750mg daily) and Theanine (200mg daily)
- Side Effects: Nausea, upset stomach, dizziness, headaches, and GI discomfort in high doses.
Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workouts
Taking the above ingredients into consideration, you can start to find some quality pre-workout supplements without the use of caffeine. Where caffeine will require higher doses for the same effect over time, the right ingredients will help replenish your energy and store it for later.
Here’s a list of our favorite caffeine-free pre-workout supplements that you should add to your daily workout routine.
Transparent Labs PreSeries STIM-FREE
This powdered formula contains a variety of ingredients listed above. It’ll give you a healthy dose of Citrulline, Creatine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, and BioPerine (helps the body absorb nutrients). There will also be plenty of other key ingredients like BCAA, Beta-Alanine, L-Norvaline, and Taurine.
It won’t contain any stimulants and comes in four different flavors — Blue Raspberry, Sour Grape, Strawberry Lemonade, and Green Apple. One jug will give you 30 servings (scoops) for $50, but you can save $10 when buying 2 and $30 when buying 3. You can mix and match flavors when buying multiple and still receive your savings.GET THE BEST PRICE ON TRANSPARENT LABS PRESERIES STIM-FREE
NutraBio PRE Stim-Free
Another stimulant-free pre-workout, NutraBio PRE will contain many more ingredients than Transparent Labs’ stim-free pre-workout. In regards to the ingredients detailed above, NutraBio PRE contains Vitamins B3, B6, and B12, Creatine, L-Citrulline, and L-Tyrosine.
A majority of the other ingredients in NutraBio will be for other workout-related benefits like focus, power, strength, and hydration optimizers. There will also be a healthy helping of other minerals.
It will come in two different flavors — watermelon and dragon fruit candy — and will cost $40 for a 20-serving jug. You’ll need just 1 scoop before your workout.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NUTRABIO PRE STIM-FREE
A much simpler ingredient list than the one before, Evogen EVP-3D will give you a healthy dose of Citrulline, Creatine, and Tyrosine. It will also include popular cognitive enhancers Lion’s Mane Mushroom and DMAE. The Beta-Alanine will also help to increase energy.
One jug of Evogen EVP-3D will cost you $50, but you will get 40 servings. You’ll also have a choice between two flavors — peach rings or tropic thunder. It’ll help every aspect of your workout including stamina, energy, focus, vascularity, and intensity.GET THE BEST PRICE ON EVOGEN EVP-3D