What’s Better…Pre-Workout or Coffee?
At some point in your fitness journey, you will no doubt be looking for things that will help you push through training plateaus. Things that will boost your energy and give you that extra 5%.
You will then come across articles saying that pre-workout or coffee will help to give you this boost, but does it work? Is one in fact, better than the other?
In this article we will go through the pros and cons of both to help you make a more informed decision.
Benefits of Coffee
One of the main reasons people drink coffee is for it’s caffeine content. Caffeine is widely accepted as a performance enhancer. In fact, some organisations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have started to ban it when taken in high doses.
Research has shown that consuming 3-6mg per kg bodyweight can help improve muscular endurance. And 3-9mg per kg can improve muscular strength.
- Cost and Accessibility
Coffee can be extremely cheap and easy to get. Yes, you could go to your local Costa or Starbuck’s and pay upwards of £3 for a cup, or you could go to your local supermarket and buy a tub of instant or some coffee pods for a fraction of the price.
Regardless of where you are or what you are doing, you will always be able to find a coffee around the corner for that performance boost.
What you may not realise is that coffee is filled with antioxidants. These help to protect our body from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is damage to our cells, which can cause things such as premature ageing and chronic disease.
Heavy resistance training can increase oxidative stress, that’s why it’s so important to have a nutrient-rich diet that includes antioxidants. You need a variety of foods to help with this, but coffee can also play a part.
Cons of coffee
- Over Reliance
Due to the fact coffee is so cheap and accessible, people can become overly reliant on it. A huge percentage of coffee drinkers rely on that first morning coffee to wake them up and start their day.
At the beginning this works, but as your body starts to get used to it, the effects of the caffeine diminish. Then the only thing you can do is drink more, and more, and more. Until you feel you can’t function without coffee in your system.
- Anxiety and sleep disruption
Consuming too much coffee can cause anxiety, jitteriness, heart palpitations and even panic attacks.
It can also reduce your sleep quality and in doing so will affect your body’s ability to recover from workouts.
Although there is a massive number of people who drink coffee daily, there are a lot who do not actually like the taste of coffee on its own (Black Americano). They tend to jazz their coffees up with milk, sugar, syrups, all of which start to increase the caloric intake which can lead to an increase in body fat.
Pros of Pre-workouts
Just like coffee, pre-workouts are full of caffeine. The amount does vary from brand to brand, but some provide more caffeine than a standard cup of coffee.
A normal cup of coffee will have around 100mg of caffeine, while many pre-workouts contain 150-450mg per serving.
Creatine is a chemical compound already produced in the body. It plays a huge role in energy production and muscle health.
Supplementing creatine helps to improve your creatine phosphate energy system, this Is what you use for power and strength-based training.
Most pre-workouts now have added creatine, so you do not then have to go out and buy another supplement, just take pre-workout and kill two birds with one stone.
A huge benefit of pre-workout is the variety of flavours. Anyone can find a pre-workout that they enjoy drinking. If you enjoy drinking it, you are more like to be consistent with it and see the benefits.
Cons of Pre-workout
A high-quality pre-workout brand can range from £25-£35 per tub. Having 30 servings in a tub means each one costs anywhere between 83p and £1.17. This may not sound a lot but compared to a coffee pod which is around 20p per serving it can really make a difference.
- Side effects
Because some pre-workouts have a higher dose of caffeine compared to coffee. You are more likely to experience the side effects such as anxiety, jitteriness and stomach upset.
Just like coffee it can also reduce your sleep quality and in doing so will affect your body’s ability to recover from workouts.
- Trustworthiness of Ingredients
When looking at pre-workouts it is important to remember that they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means there is no guarantee that the claims made on the product packaging are accurate, or assurance on the quality of the product.
Because of this it is important to choose a pre-workout from a trustworthy, high-quality company. Look at pre-workouts that have third party certification which helps ensure the products include the ingredients mentioned on the packaging.
Final Thoughts – Pre-workout or coffee?
As you can see, both coffee and pre-workout have advantages and disadvantages.
If you are on a budget and looking for a quick, easy caffeine hit. Coffee is the one for you. A large cup of coffee around an hour before a workout is an easy way to boost your performance in a training session.
On the flip side if you are an experienced gym-goer who is looking to hit PB’s or break through a plateau, pre-workout may be a good option.
The additional caffeine and creatine can certainly help give an increased boost in performance in your training.
Really you must decide whether pre-workout or coffee is best for you. Weigh up all the pros and cons and think about what the best option is for you.
The Level 3 Personal Trainer course goes into a lot of detail on nutrition and covers some of these topics, you can get started with us today from as little as £29 a month.