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Caffeine in Workout Supplements: What You Need to Know

a pack of supplements

Workout supplements are used by gymgoers and exercisers looking for extra energy and a means to enhance their workout performance. Such supplements, also referred to as pre-workouts, typically contain ingredients like taurine that are designed to enhance energy. Arguably, the most commonly seen ingredient in these supplements is caffeine. Caffeine has long been consumed as a means to increase physical energy and mental alertness, which are the same benefits that they give to a workout.

Below, we look at the role of caffeine in supplements, its benefits, potential pitfalls, and some of the other ingredients in typical supplements.

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What Are Workout Supplements and What Do They Do?

Many people have slow days. Going to the gym when you’re feeling tired or attempting a daily CrossFit workout when you are lethargic is not only physically and mentally challenging, it means that you are unlikely to perform at your best and the results can suffer as a result.

Workout supplements are meant to lift energy levels so that you can enjoy all of the benefits of your physical workout. They can also load your system with essential vitamins and minerals that can aid recovery and prevent muscle fatigue.

Some people swear by workout supplements, others debate their value, and some even say that they can be dangerous.

woman holding a cup of protein shake
Image Credit: Derick McKinney, Unsplash

The Benefits of Caffeine in Workout Supplements

Although there are many possible ingredients in workout supplements, caffeine is the one that is seen in the greatest number. Caffeine is a stimulant, and offers the following potential benefits to your workout:

  • Enhance Energy and Concentration – As a stimulant, caffeine activates the central nervous system and areas of the brain. It reduces tiredness and fatigue, which means that you may be more mentally ready to hit the gym. It also enhances alertness, so you should find it easier to concentrate on the task at hand and not lose concentration.
  • Increase Performance – Caffeine increases adrenaline. Specifically, it increases the epinephrine that leads to our “fight or flight” response, thereby increasing physical performance.
  • Burn Fat – Caffeine can burn down fat in the body’s cells, which means it can help to get rid of fatty deposits in the body.
  • Burn More Calories – It also increases the core body temperature which, in turn, burns more calories. So, as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan, this means that you may be able to burn more calories.
  • Enhance Mood – When people talk about the workout high they get, this is caused by a release of beta-endorphins. Caffeine stimulates the release of beta-endorphins and can encourage and promote the high that exercisers seek.
  • Increased Endurance – Because caffeine causes an increase in the amount of fat burned, it burns carbs more slowly. The end result is increased endurance so that you can exercise for longer and reap even greater rewards.

Negative Effects of Caffeine

Most of the negative effects of caffeine come from overconsumption. Such symptoms include feelings of anxiety, an increased heart rate, insomnia, shaking, and stomach discomfort.

caffeine powder
Image Credit: Casimiro PT, Shutterstock

How Much Caffeine Should You Have?

To avoid the side effects of caffeine, you mustn’t consume too much, but you still want to enjoy the benefits it has to offer in physical exercise, which means getting the balance just right.

The recommended dose for a pre-workout regimen differs according to tolerance levels and body weight, but it is recommended that people take between 200–400 milligrams of caffeine about 45 minutes before exercise. Do bear in mind that many sodas and caffeinated coffee also contain caffeine, so if you drink these, you may need to adjust the amount of caffeine you take as part of your supplement.

Other Ingredients Found in Workout Supplements

Although caffeine is a popular additive in workout supplements, most contain other ingredients that aim to benefit your exercise efforts. Ingredients can include:

  • CreatineCreatine is a popular supplement and is taken on its own by bodybuilders and weightlifters. Creatine is naturally produced by the body in the skeletal muscle and is responsible for energy production as well as muscular strength. Creatine can reduce recovery time after working out while also helping increase muscle mass and strength.
  • Beta-Alanine – This naturally occurring amino acid is included in supplements because it prevents muscular acid buildup. This means that you will be able to workout harder and for longer.
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids – Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) have similar benefits to creatine in that they can reduce recovery time and improve performance.
  • L-Arginine and L-Citrulline – L-arginine and L-citrulline are two examples of nitric oxide precursors. This means that they enable the body to produce nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and aids in transporting oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.

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In Conclusion

Workout supplements are designed to help you train harder and for longer, while potentially also reducing recovery time and preventing fatigue. Caffeine is one of the most commonly found ingredients in these supplements and is added because it is a stimulant that can enhance your energy and increase your alertness and concentration levels. It has also been shown to help with weight loss and fat burning, in the right circumstances. It is important not to take too much caffeine as part of a supplement, however, as this can have negative side effects that will detract from your exercise efforts.

Featured Image Credit: CHU Gummies, Unsplash


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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