Coffee Vs Pre-Workout: Which is Best?

Table of Contents

Introduction

Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, a pre-workout boost is essential for a successful workout.

There are two popular options for a pre-workout boost: coffee and pre-workout supplements.

While coffee is a staple for many people, pre-workout supplements are becoming increasingly popular. On the other hand, not every athlete likes to use a pre-workout supplement.

That´s why  we’ll take a closer look at the question “Coffee vs Pre-workout?”.

Both options might improve exercise performance so we want to compare their pros, cons, and effects on performance.

FAQs

Q: What is the history of coffee?

A: Coffee is believed to have originated in the highlands of Ethiopia, and its use spread throughout the Middle East and eventually to Europe and the rest of the world.

Q: How does coffee affect performance?

A: Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a natural stimulant to increase energy levels, metabolism, endurance, and mental focus.

Q: What are the pros and cons of drinking coffee for performance enhancement?

A: Pros: Increased energy, improved endurance, enhanced mental focus. Cons: Increased heart rate, jitters, and potential for tolerance over time.

Q: What is “bulletproof coffee”?

A: Bulletproof coffee is a high-fat coffee recipe popularized by Dave Asprey, consisting of coffee blended with butter and MCT oil to provide sustained energy and focus.

Q: How do pre-workouts work in the human body?

A: Pre-workouts contain ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, nitric oxide boosters, and B-vitamins, which work together to increase energy, endurance, and muscle performance.

Q: What are the pros and cons of pre-workouts?

A: Pros: Increased energy, improved endurance, enhanced muscle performance. Cons: Potential for jitters, increased heart rate, and potential for tolerance over time.

Q: What is the minimum amount of ingredients necessary to show performance-enhancing effects?

A: It varies, but pre-workouts typically contain around 150-200mg of caffeine, 1-6g of beta-alanine, 3-5g of creatine, 2-5g of nitric oxide boosters, and varying amounts of B-vitamins.

Q: Can coffee replace pre-workout supplements?

A: While coffee does contain caffeine and can provide a boost in energy and focus, pre-workouts are specifically formulated with a variety of performance-enhancing ingredients, making them a more comprehensive option for workout support. However, everyone is different, so it’s important to experiment and see what works best for you.

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Coffee

Drinking coffee is more than just a morning pick-me-up, coffee actually has ingredients that enhance performance in the human body.

The main ingredient that contributes to this is caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that works by blocking the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired.

When adenosine is blocked, other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, are increased, leading to improved alertness, focus, and mood.

The amount of caffeine needed to show an effect varies from person to person and depends on factors such as weight, tolerance, and individual sensitivity.

On average, most people will feel the effects of caffeine with just one cup of coffee, which contains about 95mg of caffeine.

However, keep in mind that too much caffeine can cause jitters, anxiety, and trouble sleeping, so it’s best to consume it in moderation.

If you’re looking for a quick and convenient option to enhance your performance, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the benefits of caffeine.

a cup of coffee being prepared
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History

Coffee has a long and storied history, dating back to the 9th century in Ethiopia.

The story is quite entertaining: it goes that a goat shepherd in Ethiopia once stumbled upon coffee by chance. He noticed that his goats were all hyped up and couldn’t sleep after munching on the berries from a certain tree. Being curious, the shepherd tried the leaves himself and felt like he had a boost of energy.

So, the shepherd – Kaldi – took some branches from the mysterious tree to the Abbot of the nearby monastery.

The Abbot listened to the whole story and decided to give it a try by brewing the branches. But to his disappointment, the result was a bitter, undrinkable brew.

As he was about to toss the pot into the fire, he caught a whiff of an amazing aroma coming from the roasting “cherries.”

And that’s when the idea struck him – why not make a drink out of these roasted beans? And that’s how coffee, as we know it today, came to be.

It wasn’t until the 15th century that coffee was introduced to the Arabian Peninsula, where it quickly spread to Europe and the rest of the world.

Today, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, and it’s enjoyed by millions of people every day.

a map of ethiopia

How Coffee Affects Performance

Coffee contains caffeine, which is a natural stimulant that has been shown to improve physical and mental performance.

It works by blocking the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired. When adenosine is blocked, other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, are increased, leading to improved alertness, focus, and mood.

Over time though, one can produce a caffeine tolerance leading to the necessity to consume even more caffeine for the same effect.

By then, one might want to reconsider the increased caffeine intake for the desired energy boost. Especially when unwanted effects like stomach upsets or significantly increased blood pressure levels arise.

a cup of coffee and a heart beat line

How Coffee can Improve Physical Performance

Increases Energy Levels

The caffeine contained in coffee stimulates the central nervous system, which increases energy levels and helps you power through your workout.

Boosts Metabolism

Metabolic rate is affected by caffeine, which can help your body burn more calories during exercise.

Enhances Endurance

Caffeine can increase endurance and delay fatigue during intense exercise. This allows you to push yourself harder and longer, leading to improved performance.

Improves Mental Focus

In addition, the mental alertness and focus levels are improved by caffeine, which can assist in sustaining your workout focus and motivation.

Note that the effects of coffee on physical performance can vary from person to person and depend on factors such as weight, tolerance, and individual sensitivity.

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Pros and Cons of Coffee

Pros

    • Improves focus and alertness
    • Increases energy levels
    • Boosts metabolism
    • Enhances mood
    • Reduces fatigue

Cons

    • Can cause jitters and anxiety
    • Can disrupt sleep
    • May lead to dependence
    • Can cause an upset stomach
    • Might increase blood pressur

What we like

We love that coffee is a convenient and affordable option for a pre-workout boost.

It’s easy to find and can be consumed quickly, making it a great option for those on the go.

Additionally, it can be customized to fit your individual needs, whether you prefer a strong, black coffee or a flavored latte.

What is "Bulletproof Coffee"?

The story goes like this: Back in the day, around 2004, a tech dude from Silicon Valley named Dave Asprey went on an adventure trip that took him to Tibet.

One day he was feeling cold and tired after a long trek, and when he stumbled into a little guesthouse near a village close to Mt. Kailash, he was offered some Yak-butter tea – a local specialty.

And let me tell you, after just one sip of that tea, he was suddenly bursting with energy.

After returning back home, he decided to replace tea with coffee, drop some butter and MCT oil into the drink and sell the recipe which made him millions.

Well, that is how the story goes…

As yak-butter tea is really a high-energy drink or even meal in Tibet, the result of the story is this:

“Bulletproof coffee” in our western world is a type of coffee that is blended with unsalted butter and medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil).

The idea behind this type of coffee is that it provides a slow-burning energy source that can help improve focus and mental clarity.

Apart from the mental aspect of bulletproof coffee, many athletes swear that the drink enhances their physical performance.

The effect may or may not help an individual and finding out about if bulletproof coffee really boosts your exercise performance is totally up to you.

Many people prefer to work out on an empty stomach, but still want to boost performance without consuming pre-workouts.

Here bulletproof coffee might be a good way of a natural energy boost.

a cup of bulletproof coffee
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Pre-Workout Supplements

A pre-workout supplement is designed to enhance physical performance and increase energy levels.

Both coffee and pre-workouts contain caffeine.

Pre-workouts typically also contain a combination of ingredients, such as beta-alanine, vitamins, and creatine, that work together in an effort to improve performance.

In detail, the main pre-workout ingredients that many pre-workout supplements usually include are:

Caffeine

Just like in coffee, caffeine is a natural stimulant that increases energy levels, metabolism, endurance, and mental focus. However, the average pre-workout supplement contains a much higher amount which lies around 150-200mg of caffeine.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps increase muscle endurance and delay fatigue during intense exercise. Most pre-workout supplements contain 1-6g of beta-alanine.

Creatine

Creatine is a natural substance that helps increase strength and power during high-intensity exercise in various ways. There is a whole lot to say about creatine and creatine is a topic that is worth an article on its own. But we will leave it like this for now here. Pre-workout supplements often contain 3-5g of creatine.

Nitric Oxide Boosters

Nitric oxide boosters such as arginine, citrulline, and beetroot extract help improve blood flow and increase oxygen delivery to muscles, leading to improved performance. Pre-workout supplements typically contain 2-5g of nitric oxide boosters.

B-Vitamins

B-vitamins such as B12 and B6 help convert food into energy and support metabolism. Pre-workout supplements often contain B-vitamins in varying amounts.

Keep in mind that individual tolerance and sensitivity to these ingredients can vary, and some people may not see performance enhancing effects with standard pre-workout doses.

Additionally, it’s always best to speak with a doctor before starting a new supplement regimen to make sure it’s safe for you.

containers for pre workout supplements

Pros and Cons of Pre-Workouts

Pros

    • Improves physical performance
    • Increases energy levels
    • Enhances endurance
    • Boosts mental focus
    • Can help to reduce muscle soreness

Cons

    • Can cause side effects, such as jitters and anxiety
    • Can be expensive
    • May not be suitable for all individuals
    • Some ingredients may not be safe

What we like

  • Pre-workouts are designed specifically for athletic performance and can be customized to fit an individual’s needs. Additionally, they are convenient and easy to use, making them a great option for those who don’t have time to prepare a coffee before their workout or who do not like to drink coffee at all.
a man mixing his pre workouts

Can Coffee Replace Pre-Workout?

The answer to this question depends on the individual’s needs and preferences.

In fact, the pre-workout comparison is not fully fair if one breaks it down to an ingredient level. Pre-workouts can contain much more than just caffeine – most pre-workouts also contain additional nutrients that are added in an effort to decrease muscle fatigue and increase blood flow. Also, caffeine levels in pre-workouts are much higher than in your classic coffee brew.

And finally, you got added ingredients like vitamins, beneficial amino acids, creatine, and beta-alanine that you would not find in a cup of coffee either.

So the decision between coffee and pre-workout boils down to the question “Do I accept artificial ingredients in my sports nutrition?”

Or do look for a purely natural source to boost performance?

If you’re looking for a quick and convenient option, coffee may be the better choice.

However, if you’re looking for a more tailored and specific solution, pre-workout supplements may be the way to go.

Ultimately, as said before, the best choice will depend on your individual needs and goals.

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