Boost Your Energy: Coffee vs. Energy Drinks vs. Pre-workout
Whether it’s early morning grogginess, that post-work dip in motivation or you’re just looking to take it to the next level; sometimes you need an added mental and physical push to knock out a great workout.
Coffee, energy drinks, and pre-workout formulas are the main options that people turn to for that extra boost of energy, but these three options are not created equal. Today we’ll focus on the main differences between these products, to give you a better idea of what you should be taking to grind out that workout.
Pre-Workout Boost: Coffee
With the stimulating effects of caffeine, most people know their body gets a jolt of energy after a cup of morning Joe.
In anaerobic sports (such as weight lifting) however, caffeine exerts its effects by enhancing power production, primarily through inhibiting adenosine receptors, resulting in a mild pain-inhibiting effect (1).
One cup of coffee (usually containing 80-100 mg of caffeine) before a workout might be all you need to get that added push to exercise harder. But coffee isn’t for everyone, as caffeine can have detrimental effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and cause feelings of nervousness or anxiety in some people. It also has diuretic properties, so you need to pair it with enough water so that you don’t become dehydrated.
Pre-Workout Boost: Energy Drinks
Need more than a cup of coffee to kick start your workout and have moved onto energy drinks as the next step up.
Still packed with caffeine (usually even more than what you will find in a cup of coffee), energy drinks often provide other energy boosting ingredients such as B vitamins and taurine. Combined with caffeine, these nutrients provide a synergistic stimulatory effect of increasing energy and alertness (2). Unfortunately, these added ingredients are usually only added in in minuscule amounts, more for marketing purposes than a true effect on the body.
Pre-Workout Boost: Pre-Workout Supplement
A good pre-workout supplement will often contain caffeine, plus a bounty of other cognitive workout enhancing ingredients such as Huperzine, L- Theanine, β Alanine, Dendrobium Nobile, Citrulline Malate, and Nitrosigine (3, 4). Compared to energy drinks, the levels of these added ingredients are usually higher; therefore the effects of these supplements are not primarily based on the stimulatory effects of caffeine.
Now a lot of products will have major differences in their ingredient profiles, but overall, pre-workout supplements will be the gold standard for giving you extra energy compared to coffee and energy drinks (3). For those of you who want to avoid caffeine, there are also plenty of non-caffeinated pre-workouts that still contain some great ingredients for that added push.
Individually, each product offers some benefit to power your workout, but for best results, a pre-workout should be your first choice. We love Hard Magnum or SuperNova to crank up our energy levels for an intense workout.
Peacock A, et al. Energy drink ingredients: Contribution of caffeine and taurine to performance outcomes. Appetite. 2013;64:1.