Sometimes it’s not just what you do in the gym, but what you do before and after a workout that makes all the difference. Many of us have our post-workout routine on lockdown (protein shakes, amino acids, B vitamins), but pre-workout supplements are a little trickier. That’s because many of them share a controversial ingredient: caffeine. While caffeine can wake up your body and make you feel energized, its lasting effects might throw off your fitness game entirely. If you’re hoping to crush your fitness goals while holding the caffeine, or if you want to cut back on your caffeine intake in general, we’ve got you covered.
What Is a Pre-Workout Routine?
Taking a recovery day, soaking sore muscles in Epsom salts, and enjoying a post-workout protein shake are all important parts of a post-workout regimen. But a pre-workout routine is just as important when it comes to improving your performance, getting results, and boosting overall wellness. A complete pre-workout routine can even start the night before. Getting proper sleep, staying hydrated, fueling up with energizing snacks and supplements, and taking time to stretch and warm up your muscles all count.
Why Take Pre-Workout Supplements?
Ever find yourself feeling wiped out mid-workout or hit with a sudden loss in energy before even getting started? You might not be giving your body the nutrition it needs for peak performance. That’s where pre-workout supplements come in. Taking them is sort of like gassing up a car with premium fuel before a road trip—they’re packed with key vitamins and nutrients and deliver the energy you need to get the most out of a workout from start to finish. Here are more benefits you can expect from this sometimes overlooked category of supplements.
Get an Energy Boost
Feeling too sluggish to hit the gym? Pre-workout supplements can give you the boost you need to get moving—especially when taken 30 minutes to an hour before your workout. Look for energizing ingredients like beetroot, antioxidants (which help get blood flowing), and B vitamins.
Another benefit of pre-workout supplements is the ability to ward off a mid-session crash by helping to sustain stamina. This is crucial because keeping your workout at a powerful but controlled pace enables you to torch calories, burn fat, and maximize results. Look for stamina-supporting ingredients like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which have been shown to combat exercise fatigue.
Aid in Muscle Recovery
Setting yourself up for a successful workout also includes seeing to proper muscle recovery. Recovery is an important step in your fitness routine, and one of the disadvantages of caffeinated pre-workout supplements is that they can potentially disrupt sleep. Look for supplements with vitamin C, which helps the body manage with metabolic stress, and tart cherry juice or powder to combat inflammation.
Why Choose Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplements?
Consumed in moderation (a healthy adult can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day), caffeine can without question perk you up. That’s why caffeine is a common ingredient in many pre-workout supplements. But if you also enjoy a morning cup of coffee or two or an afternoon tea break, adding caffeinated workout supplements to your daily routine may leave you feeling overstimulated, wreak havoc on your sleep (which is essential for muscle recovery), or cause other unwanted side effects (see below).
Caffeine Side Effects
You might be surprised to learn that caffeine is actually classified as a drug. That’s because it impacts the workings of the brain by blocking the chemicals that cause drowsiness. Like other drugs, caffeine is also addictive and, if used in excess, can compromise your health. While the stimulating effects of a moderate amount of caffeine typically last four to six hours, if you go beyond your usual intake, you might experience the negative side effects of too much caffeine, including:
If you’re worried about increasing your caffeine intake or hoping to avoid possible side effects, a caffeine-free pre-workout supplement is an ideal solution.
Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplements
These caffeine-free favorites set you up for results without compromising restful recovery.
This certified organic supplement is formulated to naturally boost energy and endurance. The concentrated powder is made with organic beets, which contain nitrates that may improve blood flow to muscles, along with yerba mate and rhodiola.
Prep for performance and muscle recovery with this ethically sourced supplement, which you can take before or after hitting the gym. It contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin to support endurance, rhodiola and cordyceps mushroom for stamina, and ginger, which is thought to reduce inflammation and help relieve pain.
More Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Energy Boosters
Looking for more ways to fuel up before a workout session? These pre-workout snacks are energy-packed. Find even more recipes here.
Did you know slow-digesting carbohydrates like oatmeal are great for sustained energy? All you need is hot water and you’ve got a hearty, warming serving of whole grain oats, chia seeds, and flaxseeds to rev up your routine.
What’s better than a portable packet of sustainably farmed almond butter? Each serving supplies 6 grams of protein, plus there’s a touch of maple syrup to give you a little pep in your step.
This tangy blend of cranberries and whole almonds provides 50 percent of your recommended daily vitamin A, C, and E intake and keeps you feeling full (but not weighed down) thanks to a little healthy fat.
Put your metabolism into overdrive with a quick and easy blend of kale (which is low in calories and carbs but provides antioxidants and nutrients like fiber), coconut water, frozen pineapple, banana, and coconut oil.
These grab-and-go muffins combine protein and carbs for a perfect pre-workout bite. Bonus: They’re also also gluten-free and a great way to use up leftover pancake mix.