Did you know that caffeine is one of the most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements?
It’s believed to help improve performance, strength, and endurance, especially in high-intensity sessions. In fact, studies have it that 86% of pre-workouts include caffeine.
Caffeine-containing pre-workout supplements can improve anaerobic power performance. But not all pre-workouts are created equal, and too much caffeine can be bad for you! So, how much caffeine should be in pre-workouts, and what’s too much?
Most pre-workout supplements contain around 150 – 300 mg of caffeine per serving. However, this amount greatly varies (and can be more than 300 mg) depending on the pre-workout supplement’s strength and brand.
We’d love for you to achieve your targets while also staying safe. So, we prepared this comprehensive guide to caffeine in pre-workouts.
Read on to learn about the caffeine content in some of the best brands, and find answers to those burning questions in your mind.
What are Pre Workouts & Do They Really Work?
Pre-workout supplements are nutritional supplements used before an exercise or training session.
Ingredients that can make pre-workouts effective:
- Amino acids (such as creatine, beta-alanine, and tyrosine)
Caffeine reduces the perception of pain and fatigue by affecting the adenosine receptors in the brain. This allows many athletes to train at higher intensities.
The ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) recommends using caffeine-containing pre-workouts for high-intensity exercise, including team sports like soccer and rugby.
Use pre-workouts to:
- Boost your energy levels
- Improve your strength and endurance
- Increase your concentration
Benefits of Pre Workout Caffeine
Studies show that caffeine in pre-workout has several benefits if taken before a workout or training.
Strength Exercises: It can increase muscle strength, power, and endurance
High-Intensity Exercise: It can enhance your focus and alertness and reduce exertion
Endurance Performance: It can promote aerobic endurance
Fat Loss: It helps your body use fat as your main fuel source while sparing glycogen stores.
Caffeine in Popular Pre Workout Brands
There are lots of brands selling pre-workout supplements. Some of the most popular choices, with their respective caffeine content (per serving):
Pre Workout Supplement
Caffeine Content (per serving)
|C4 Sport (Cellucor)||135 mg|
|The Curse (Cobra Labs)||145 mg|
|C4 Ripped (Cellucor)||150 mg|
|C4 Original (Cellucor)||150 mg|
|Intensive Pre-train (Crazy Nutrition)||200 mg|
|1.M.R VORTEX (BPI Sports)||approx. 200 mg|
|Pre-Workout Cosmic Stardust (Alani Nu)||200 mg|
|Psychotic Black (INSANE LABZ)||200 mg|
|LIT (Beyond Raw)||250 mg|
|Legend X Sonic (Ghost)||250 mg|
|Legend X Welch’s (Ghost)||250 mg|
|Legend X Warheads (Ghost)||250 mg|
|Legend X Swedish Fish (Ghost)||250 mg|
|Legend X Sour Patch Kids (Ghost)||250 mg|
|PRE-KAGED (Kaged Muscle)||274 mg|
|Pre JYM (JYM)||300mg|
|C4 Ultimate (Cellucor)||300 mg|
|ENGN (Evlution Nutrition)||300 mg|
|C4 Extreme Energy (Cellucor)||300 mg|
|LIT AF (Beyond Raw)||300 mg|
|PRE W.O. (Dymatize)||300 mg|
|Psychotic HELLBOY Edition (INSANE LABZ)||300 mg|
|Psychotic Gold (INSANE LABZ)||325 mg|
|Woke AF Nootropic (Bucked Up)||333 mg|
|C4 Dynasty (Cellucor)||350 mg|
|Mr.Hyde NitroX (Prosupps)||375 mg|
|I AM GOD (INSANE LABZ)||400 mg|
How Much Caffeine is in Pre-Workout C4?
Cellucor’s C4 is available in different variations, with varied caffeine contents per serving:
|Pre Workout type||Caffeine Content (per serving)|
|C4 Sport||135 mg|
|C4 Ripped||150 mg|
|C4 Original||150 mg|
|C4 Ultimate||300 mg|
|C4 Dynasty||350 mg|
How Much Caffeine is in Psychotic Pre Workout?
The caffeine contents per serving of Psychotic pre-workouts by INSANE LABZ:
|Pre Workout||Caffeine Content (per serving)|
|Psychotic Black||200 mg|
|Psychotic HELLBOY Edition||300 mg|
|Psychotic Gold||325 mg|
How Much Caffeine is in Ghost Pre Workout?
All these Ghost pre-workout products contain 250 mg of caffeine per serving:
- Legend X Sonic
- Legend X Welch’s
- Legend X Warheads
- Legend X Swedish Fish
- Legend X Sour Patch Kids
How Much Caffeine is in Total War Pre Workout?
REDCON1’s Total Warpre-workout contains 250 mg per serving.
How Much Caffeine is in Bloom Pre Workout?
The caffeine content of Bloompre-workout products isn’t disclosed, but the brand claims that it’s naturally sourced from green tea leaf extract:
- Bloom Original Pre Workout
- Bloom High Energy Pre Workout
How Much Caffeine is in Woke AF Pre Workout?
Bucked Up Woke AF Nootropic Pre-Workout contains 333 mg of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine is in Alani Nu Pre Workout?
Alani Nu Pre-Workout Cosmic Stardust contains 200 mg of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine Is In Lit Pre Workout?
|Pre Workout Supplement||Caffeine Content (per serving)|
|Beyond Raw LIT Pre Workout||250 mg|
|Beyond Raw LIT AF Pre Workout||300 mg|
Which Pre Workout Has the Most Caffeine?
From my research, I AM GOD by INSANE LABZ appears to have the most caffeine among the popular brands. The brand markets this pre-workout as their strongest ever for increased strength, stamina, and endurance.
I AM GOD by INSANE LABZ is a 400 mg caffeine pre-workout supplement. So, what’s the caffeine content of the other brands?
What’s the Best Pre Workout?
We recommend Intensive Pre-train by Crazy Nutrition as the best pre-workout. It doesn’t contain excessive caffeine that could send you to the restroom several times during your session.
With just 200 mg of caffeine, it has enough to keep you stimulated but with reduced risks of having jitters, increased heart rate, digestive issues, or stomach cramps. And if you’d rather have a supplement that doesn’t have caffeine, you can also try their caffeine-free green apple flavor.
Crazy Nutrition’s Intensive Pre-train contains 19 powerhouse ingredients carefully crafted into a unique blend that can help you focus and have enough energy for each training session.
It’s available in three flavors:
- Fruit punch
- Blue raspberry
- Green apple (caffeine-free)
Still, each person has different training styles and caffeine sensitivity so the best pre-workout can vary. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all pre-workout supplement that works for all.
How Much Caffeine Should be in a Pre Workout?
Most pre-workouts have caffeine, but the amount can vary, and some supplements are caffeine-free.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, caffeine can significantly affect your workout session if taken in low-to-moderate dosages or around 3-6 mg/kg. This means around 135-405 mg for a person weighing 150-lbs (68-kg).
Because caffeine effects and sensitivity can vary among individuals, it’s ideal to start with around the lower limit of 150 mg. Again, the upper limit varies among individuals, but 400 mg of caffeine appears to be safe for healthy adults.
Note that this amount of caffeine is equivalent to the following:
- Two energy drinks
- Four cups of brewed coffee
- Ten cans of soda
Because the pre-workouts have different caffeine concentrations, the caffeine content of 1 scoop can greatly vary from 150 mg to 400 mg. Read the label on your pre-workout to know for sure.
More caffeine content shouldn’t be the deal-breaker in choosing your pre-workout.
Taking more caffeine doesn’t guarantee better endurance and strength. Studies show that higher caffeine intake doesn’t result in further performance enhancement.
Is Too Much Caffeine in Your Body a Big Deal?
Yes! While caffeine is good, too much can be toxic to your body.
In January 2021, a personal trainer died after accidentally drinking too much caffeine, equivalent to 200 cups of coffee.
Tom Mansfield tried to weigh a powdered caffeine drink within the safe 60-300 mg range but made a calculation error. The brand didn’t sell its products with a scoop but changed after the incident.
According to Tom’s wife, Suzannah, he started clutching his chest moments after drinking, saying his heart was beating too fast. Shortly afterward, his mouth began foaming, and he lost consciousness. His wife called emergency services, but they couldn’t revive him.
Of course, it’s an extremely rare situation, but this devastating experience shows the effects of too much caffeine in your system.
So, how much is too much? Continue reading to find out.
How Much Caffeine is Safe to Take & What’s much?
The FDA recommends limiting your caffeine intake to 400 mg per day. This includes all the other caffeine-containing food and drinks you take during that day.
Most pre-workout brands contain 150-300 mg of caffeine which is safe and enough for a pre-workout.
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Sport Science Institute recommends that athletes should limit caffeine consumption to less than 500 mg per day. Anything in excess can lead to adverse effects.
High consumption levels of 600-800 mg (6-8 cups) taken 2-3 hours before a competition can make an athlete test positive for caffeine as one of the NCAA’s banned substances.
Aside from being a banned substance, caffeine can impair performance at these amounts. You might experience shaking, nausea, and gastrointestinal issues.
IMPORTANT: 1,000 mg of caffeine is too much even for healthy adults!
Consumption of around 1,200 mg of caffeine can cause seizures and other toxic effects.
How Do You Know You’ve Had Too Much Caffeine?
Symptoms of caffeine overconsumption:
- Faster heart rate
- Upset stomach
- Dysphoria – a feeling of unhappiness
Is Pre Workout Bad for You? Side Effects & Risks
Pre-workouts are designed for high-performance athletes and those who do intense exercise. These might have contents that can be considered unhealthy for the average person or a beginner.
It’s also important to understand that, like supplements, pre-workouts aren’t regulated by the FDA. That’s why some have gotten away with putting questionable ingredients in their products.
For example, a brand was accused of lacing their pre-workout products with a chemical similar to a recreational drug, methamphetamine. Even after the brand was called out for the chemical, it continued selling the items.
Perhaps their regular customers loved their products, but that doesn’t make them healthy or safe items for consumption. Although most brands are probably clean, it might be difficult for the average consumer to know the difference.
We recommend choosing products with a third-party testing seal.
Coffee can cause an upset stomach, make you frequently pee, increase your heart rate, or cause jitters and other symptoms even if you just consumed one cup. So, it might affect your workout.
Pre Workout After-effects & Sleeping Problems
Are you having trouble sleeping after taking pre-workout supplements? You’re not alone. Many experience insomnia because of these supplements’ caffeine content.
You can try moving your workout sessions as far away from your bedtime.
If you can’t avoid taking caffeinated pre-workouts close to your bedtime, try these methods to help you relax and sleep:
- Take a cold shower to relax your mind
- Create a regular bedtime routine
- Make your bedroom more conducive to sleep
- Dim or turn down the lights
- Put your electronics/gadgets away and turn off the TV
- Avoid other stimulating activities
- Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee
- Try not to smoke
Creatine & Caffeine In Pre Workout
You might be wondering whether you can mix creatine and your pre-workout.
- Check if your pre-workout already has creatine because it might not be necessary to take more of it.
- Try taking a small amount of the mixture and monitor your progress.
If the combination appears to negatively impact your performance or make you feel unsafe, quit using it.
Is creatine better than pre-workout? They work differently, so it’s difficult to say that creatine is better than a pre-workout. Creatine can aid in muscle endurance, muscle building, and improved brain function.
However, many pre-workouts also contain creatine. So, you can get the benefits of creatine while also enjoying the caffeine-boosted effects of pre-workouts.
Caffeine in Pre Workout vs Coffee
Did you know that a pre-workout cup can have several times the amount of caffeine than coffee?
It depends on the pre-workout’s caffeine concentration, but a serving of 400-mg caffeine pre-workout supplement can have four times more caffeine than coffee (around 100-120 mg).
However, you might notice that caffeine in pre-workouts works faster than coffee. That’s because it’s in anhydrous form. This special formulation makes these supplements have faster-acting caffeine to quickly feel more awake and prepared for your training, even when you’re tired.
Because coffee and pre-workouts contain caffeine, avoid drinking coffee or any coffee-like product if you’re already taking pre-workouts.
How Much Caffeine Will Wake You Up?
You might be surprised at how some people can stay up all night after drinking 150 mg of caffeine, yet another sleeps soundly after taking a 400-mg caffeine pre-workout supplement.
If you aren’t sure yet about how much you can tolerate, it’s best to start with the lower dosage.
Why are Pre Workouts Not FDA Approved?
The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, and pre-workers are considered as one.
What Amount of Caffeine is Illegal?
In the US, carbonated beverages have a limit of 65 mg per 12 liquid oz. However, there isn’t any regulation regarding caffeine in other products, such as pre-workouts.
What Pre Workout Ingredients Should You Avoid?
- Caffeine dose over the recommended limit (400 mg per day)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Artificial colors
- Sugar alcohols
- Geranium extract or DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine) is related to amphetamine, but you can legally buy it.
- “Proprietary blend” by the brand that a third-party laboratory hasn’t tested
- Yohimbe (an extract from the West African evergreen) – can cause nausea, dizziness, and other signs of a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Can Coffee Make You Fail A Breathalyzer?
Consuming too much caffeine can lead to false-positive breathalyzer results. It doesn’t help that some symptoms (increased heartbeat, restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, and blurred vision) are similar to that of a drunk person.
Due to jitters or other caffeine physiological effects, you might also fail the common field sobriety test.
If you’ve consumed plenty of caffeine (pre-workout, coffee, etc.), relax for at least 15 minutes before driving. If you aren’t feeling good, it’s best to stop instead of driving erratically and increasing your risk of getting caught or crashing.
Does Pre Workout Have Calories?
Yes. It depends on the pre-workout formulation, but it can range from 10 to 100 calories.
What Foods Counteract Caffeine?
Slow-digesting, fiber-rich foods like whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds, and nuts might help slow the caffeine release into your bloodstream.
Is Caffeine Good for Wrinkles?
As an antioxidant (protects skin from damage caused by harmful free radicals), caffeine can help prevent wrinkles.
Is Pre Workout Bad for Your Heart?
The high doses of caffeine in pre-workouts can increase your risk of a heart attack, especially if you’re taking other caffeine forms (coffee, tea, energy drink, etc.).
Is Caffeine Good for the Skin & Tighten Skin Dimples or Cellulite?
Yes, caffeine might help tighten skin dimples (such as cellulite) by dilating blood vessels. It’s also good for the skin, thanks to its antioxidants.
Can Pre-workout Cause Acne?
The exact cause of acne from pre-workouts isn’t known, but changes in your body’s chemical balance from your pre-workout intake can increase your risk of having this skin problem.
Is Caffeine Good for Hair?
Yes. Studies show that caffeine can help stimulate hair growth and stop hair loss.
Also read: Do Pre-Workout Supplements Cause Hair Loss?
Is Caffeine a Blood Thinner?
Caffeine can act as a blood thinner and slow blood clotting. So, it’s important to avoid using caffeinated pre-workouts if you’re taking warfarin and similar medications.
Can Caffeine Anxiety?
Drinking too much coffee can cause jitters, but it isn’t likely to cause anxiety. However, it can worsen the symptoms of those who are prone to anxiety or diagnosed with a mood disorder.
Why Does Caffeine Make You Pee?
Coffee is a diuretic, so it can cause your body to produce more urine.
Why Does Caffeine Make You Poop?
Studies show that caffeine can directly affect the digestive tract and excretory system by relaxing the anal sphincter and making the large intestine contract, causing you to poop.
Does Caffeine Cause Brain Fog?
No. Unless you’re experiencing a coffee crash wherein you can experience momentary brain fog, caffeine itself isn’t likely to cause it. After all, numerous studies show that coffee can help improve concentration, increase alertness, and improve your mood.
Can Caffeine Clog Your Arteries?
No. Studies show that caffeine doesn’t clog or stiffen your arteries.
Will Quitting Coffee & & Pre Workouts Lower Blood Pressure?
Too much caffeine (in pre-workouts and other sources) can increase your blood pressure, leading to hypertension and other possible complications. So, quitting can help you manage your blood pressure.
It can be good for your body if it isn’t a sudden blood pressure drop.
Is Pre Workout Safe For Teens?
No, unless they’re caffeine-free. Experts recommend limiting the caffeine intake of teens to 100 mg per day. However, most pre-workouts contain double that daily limit.
What’s Pre Workout Caffeine Timing & Dosage?
Caffeine supplementation is usually done 30-60 minutes before a workout or exercise. However, the optimal timing depends on the caffeine source and dosage.
How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?
The caffeine rush from a pre-workout depends on several factors:
- Caffeine concentration
- Your sensitivity to caffeine
- Possible intake of foods that can counteract caffeine (see below)
Caffeine has a half-life of around 5 hours. Half of it remains even 5 hours after you drink it, and a quarter (the half of the original half) after 10 hours. So, if you consumed 400 mg of caffeine, your body still has 200 mg of that left after 5 hours. The amount will be reduced to 100 mg after another 5 hours, and so on.
In comparison, if you only took around 200 mg, you’ll only have around 100 mg left in your system after 5 hours and only around 50 mg some 10 hours later.
How Long will 120 mg of Caffeine Last?
It depends on your sensitivity, but caffeine effects for a cup of coffee (around 100-120 mg) can last for around 5 hours.
How Long will 200 mg of Caffeine Last?
Again, it depends on your sensitivity, but 200 mg of caffeine might last for around 10 hours.
What’s a Caffeine Crash?
Caffeine is a stimulant (it makes you feel energized). However, it’s also known for the “caffeine crash,” which can cause sleepiness, fatigue, and other energy-draining effects. It can happen around 4-6 hours after taking pre-workouts or drinking coffee.
For many, the easiest solution to get out of this tired state is easy: drink another cup of coffee! Just make sure you don’t go beyond the 400-mg limit.
Is Pre Workout Addictive?
Unless it’s laced with questionable substances like the methamphetamine-like chemical mentioned above, pre-workouts aren’t likely to be addictive.
Caffeine can cause dependency, with many people experiencing varying degrees of withdrawal while trying to quit. Some call this a mild addiction. However, it’s not considered a drug you can be addicted to.
Can You Test Positive for Caffeine?
Yes. A urinary caffeine concentration that exceeds 15 mcg/ml (around 500 mg caffeine or 6-8 cups of brewed coffee) can result in a positive drug test two to three hours before competition.
How Much Caffeine Can A D1 Athlete Have?
NCAA athletes are given an acceptable caffeine limit of 15 mcg/ml of urine.
Why Does the NCAA Ban Caffeine?
Coffee is a banned substance by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). As a stimulant, consumption in higher concentrations can give the athlete an unfair advantage.
Because pre-workouts contain caffeine, be sure to monitor your intake if you’re an athlete.
Do All Pre Workouts Have Caffeine?
Nearly all pre-workout products contain caffeine, but you can also find some if you aren’t keen on having caffeine for your workout.
- Intensive Pre-train Green Apple (Crazy Nutrition)
- PreSeries Stim-Free (Transparent Labs)
- Pump Serum (Huge Nutrition)
- Pre Stim Free (Nutrabio)
Is Pre Workout Better Without Caffeine?
The answer depends on your needs, but some people believe that caffeine-free pre-workouts are better because they don’t cause a high coffee rash that turns into a coffee crash.
Will I Have More Energy If I Quit Caffeine?
You don’t need caffeine to provide you with energy while working out. However, if you’ve been dependent on caffeinated pre-workout, quitting can reduce your energy. You can experience withdrawal symptoms for weeks, sometimes even months.
But after around ten days, you can feel fully energized even without taking another shot of caffeine.
Is Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Safe?
Without the caffeine risk, pre-workouts can be safe. However, it’s still important to check the product label (and find the safety seal by the third-party tester) for the other contents of your pre-workout.
Is Quitting Caffeine Worth It?
It depends on you. For some, quitting caffeine made them feel good and led them to make healthier choices.
However, some might disagree because they prefer having caffeine. They aren’t prepared to handle the withdrawal symptoms they’re likely to experience while trying to quit caffeine or reduce their intake.
What are the benefits of Caffeine-Free Pre Workouts?
- Can enhance blood flow and reduce high blood pressure
- No jitters caused by stimulants
- Increased hydration (caffeine might increase your risk of dehydration)
- Better sleep quality (caffeine can cause insomnia)
What Are Symptoms Of Caffeine Withdrawal?
Some caffeine withdrawal symptoms you might experience include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle pain
So, how much caffeine is in pre-workout supplements? It varies depending on the brand, but it’s generally around 150-200 mg per serving. This is a lot of caffeine, so if you’re not used to it, start with a lower dose or avoid pre-workouts altogether if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
Be sure to check the label before you buy.