Pre-workout vs Coffee

Pre-workout vs Coffee

Table of Contents

With increased awareness, fitness freaks are gradually turning to self-claimed performance-enhancing juices.


However, can they beat the era-old, pure booster – some great espresso shots or a cup of strong black coffee?


In a battle of caffeine against pre-workout, who will be the winner? Pre-workouts or coffee? Keep reading and learn everything involved!

Coffee as an Energy Booster - The Analysis

If you want to dig deeper into the history of using coffee as an energy booster, it’s crucial to be familiar with an era-old legend.


Once, an Ethiopian goat herder found his goats eating coffee cherries. Surprisingly, after eating those cherries, the goats became so energetic that they didn’t sleep for the next two days.


Probably, those goats guided the way of humans, and people started consuming coffee for energy.

This includes sipping cuppa joe before heading for strenuous sweat sessions.


Though caffeine’s effect as a performance booster is still understudied, a 2018 study claims that moderate amounts of caffeine may give you a natural energy boost, enhanced endurance, and ease conditions like muscle soreness.


Besides, it may help reduce the onset of fatigue.

Benefits of Coffee

Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and caffeine, a cup of coffee before a workout may benefit you significantly.


Besides boosting energy, joe can enhance your cardiovascular stamina and strength. In addition, it may improve your mental alertness and reduce oxidative stress, preventing various life-threatening diseases.


What’s more, coffee can keep the signs of aging at bay.

Pre-workouts at a Glance

Pre-workout supplements or pre-workouts refer to a multi-ingredient dietary formula to enhance energy levels and boost athletic performance.


You can find uncountable pre-workout supplements in the market; however, most need to be more consistent regarding ingredients.


While every pre-workout claims to pack creatine, beta-alanine, amino acids, and often, caffeine, the quantities of the said components depend on the manufacturer.


Moreover, there are proprietary blends that hardly disclose their secret formula or ingredients. So, you end up taking something that you are little aware of.



Benefits of Pre-workouts

Pre-workouts claim to offer additional health benefits like enhanced muscle strength, improved blood flow, boosted overall health, etc.; however, these claims are hardly backed by any scientific studies.

Pre-workouts vs Caffeine - Ingredients

Now that you have a cursory idea about coffee and pre-workouts, let’s walk you through their ingredients.

Caffeine Content

Caffeine is the common ingredient in pre-workouts and coffee, and it works as a stimulant and obstructs fatigue signals, allowing you to go more energized.


However, the amount of caffeine in pre-workouts and coffee may be significantly different, which may alter both boosters’ efficacy.


The general measuring unit for caffeine is milligrams or mg. The typical dosage of caffeine should range from 100mg to 350 mg, depending on your body type, tolerance, and objectives.


Typically, an 8oz cup of coffee made with one tablespoon of coffee grounds contains approximately 144 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, one scoop of pre-workout usually contains 100-120 mg of caffeine.


However, the amount may vary depending on the coffee beans used or the brewing method. Likewise, the caffeine amount in pre-workouts may vary based on the manufacturer.


The cause of concern is that pre-workouts with proprietary blends don’t mention the amount of caffeine used in the formula. If they overdose on caffeine, it may have severe consequences in terms of their health.


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Amino Acids

Besides caffeine, pre-workouts claim to pack an array of amino acids that can help boost sports performance. Coffee, on the other hand, doesn’t contain those amino acids. The most common amino acids present in pre-workouts are listed below.


Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine may help delay fatigue by buffering the pH levels when combined with lactic acid. Consequently, you can enjoy longer and more vigorous exercising sessions.


L-citrulline: L-citrulline is said to be effective in extending the heart pump. The extension of the heart pump eventually aids in enhanced capacity, allowing you to attain more rigorous training sessions.


L-arginine: L-arginine may help relax the blood vessels, facilitating improved blood flow. The enhanced blood flow, consequently, boosts vascularity and muscle volume temporarily. As a result, your muscles receive more nutrients and oxygen.


However, it’s essential to monitor the dosage of these amino acids, as overdosing may lead to various side effects like elevated blood pressure, degraded cardiovascular health, and so on.


The challenge is that most pre-workout manufacturers hide the dosage of the said amino acids, but they claim their product to be extraordinarily efficient.


What’s fueling this efficiency? Hopefully, you are not buying them at the cost of your health.

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A Side-by-Side Comparison Between Coffee and Pre-workout


Pre-workout supplements may be more effective at boosting performance as they contain particular amino acids. Coffee doesn’t have them naturally; thus, it scores less in this parameter.


Coffee has enough caffeine, so you can surely use it as an effective energy booster. You can feel the difference if you drink coffee before hitting the gym. Moreover, if you have caffeine sensitivity or your body is less tolerant of the substance, you can adjust the dosage at your convenience.


On the other hand, pre-workouts may or may not contain the equivalent of caffeine, like a cup of coffee. Besides, their caffeine content may be foggy, which, in turn, may lead to severe health issues.



Coffee is way more cost-efficient than pre-workouts. A cup of black coffee at home will cost you around 10 cents, and if you want a more powerful caffeine shot, the cost may go up to 20 cents but not more. Pre-workout supplements, however, usually cost you around $2-3 per serving, depending on the manufacturer and blend.


While a pre-workout supplement may contain multiple ingredients, including fillers and additives, coffee grounds consist of natural oil, caffeine, and a few acids. Therefore, coffee may be a safer bet and can effectively boost performance and fuel high-intensity exercise without harming your health.

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Coffee vs Pre-workout - Verdict

To summarize, a conventional cup of joe scores higher in the coffee vs pre-workout comparison. Its primary ingredient, caffeine, is highly admired in sports nutrition for its energy-boosting and antioxidant properties.


Unlike a synthetic pre-workout supplement, coffee won’t damage your health unless you are caffeine sensitive. However, you may want the best of both worlds, and you can do that easily by adding a few ingredients to your regular cup of joe. Let’s check them out now!


Turning Coffee into an Effective Pre-workout

If you want your cuppa joe to work more effectively, you can try the following infusions.


You can mix protein powder into your coffee to enhance its efficacy. To obtain the best results, you should mix 20 grams of protein powder with 8 ounces of coffee.

Amino Acids

Amino acids like l-citrulline and beta-alanine can be purchased independently, and you can mix them into your coffee. Doing this will help you avoid those typical additives in conventional pre-workouts, but you will be able to achieve identical results.


Moreover, amino acid supplements are way less costly than the stereotypical pre-workouts. Besides amino acids, you can add other boosters like MCT oil for better results. Your body usually absorbs the fats in MCT oils more quickly, producing instant energy and leading to better fat metabolization.



According to traditional medicine, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties. Adding it to your coffee may help reduce muscle soreness, which may help improve exercise performance.


Though it may sound weird, adding fat to your coffee may help boost energy. Given this, consider infusing your coffee with grass-fed butter. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support the connections between the neurons, allowing you to achieve better focus and enjoy enhanced productivity.

Cacao Powder

Cacao powder refers to the raw base of chocolate before it’s infused with sugar. The substance is rich in nutrients, which help boost endorphin secretion, allowing you to exercise better.


Ashwagandha is an ancient herb, and Ayurvedic medicine uses it heavily. The ingredient may help reduce stress and increase physical stamina.

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People Also Ask

1. Can you substitute pre-workouts with coffee?

Drinking coffee may certainly boost your energy. And besides, a cup of coffee packs loads of antioxidants, which can help you with your workouts. Thus, consider including coffee in your workout regime. You can use additional ingredients to enhance your cuppa joe’s efficacy as a performance booster.

2. What is safer - pre-workout or coffee?

Though every manufacturer claims their product to be safe, many pre-workout supplements contain synthetics, additives, and excessive caffeine and amino acid dosages. Thus, it’s not easy to bet on your safety. Moreover, the FDA doesn’t approve such supplements. On the other hand, coffee is a natural beverage that hardly packs impurities. Therefore, coffee is probably safer than pre-workouts.

3. What stays in the system for long - pre-workouts or coffee?

That ultimately depends on the dosage and the brand! Usually, a cup of strong coffee contains more caffeine than a scoop of pre-workout. However, coffee doesn’t have any synthetic enhancers, and thus, it may not stay in your system for longer. On the other hand, pre-workouts contain additional boosters so that they may render effects for longer.

4. Can you mix pre-workout in coffee?

You can, but you shouldn’t! Pre-workouts and coffee share a common ingredient – caffeine. When you blend them, you unknowingly increase the dosage of caffeine. If you mistakenly exceed the recommended daily dose of caffeine by more than 400 mg, it may lead to significant side effects. They include increased heartbeat, tremors, nausea, irritability, and nervousness.


There is no shortcut to achieving a healthy and fit body. Thus, avoid relying on synthetic supplements that promise to offer too good to be authentic results. Coffee is a natural substance that may not work like a magic remedy, but it won’t harm your health like chemical-stuffed pre-workout supplements. Therefore, make an informed choice.


Even if you are buying pre-workouts, avoid the trap of proprietary blends. The safest and most effective way is to infuse it with efficient boosters like the ones mentioned above and cherish the incredible benefits.


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