Coffee is the original stimulant for almost anything in life. From waking us up in the morning to getting us through that afternoon sleepy time. Pre workout is a workout supplement that also contains large amounts of caffeine among other things, that some athletes and gym-goers absolutely cannot do without.
Coffee vs pre workout seemed like a great topic since some people think that the two are interchangeable. This is actually a difficult choice for some. Both drinks will give you similar effects.
That being said, I’m going to compare the differences between pre workout vs coffee, and which one of them you should be taking for what activity. We will briefly discuss the effects for each one on your body and the role that caffeine plays in it.
Now let’s find out the differences are between coffee and pre workout.
The Key Ingredient in Common
The differences between coffee and pre workout may seem like an obvious question at first glance, they are very different in a lot of ways, like they aren’t even the same color or consistency. But there is a main common thread called caffeine. This little drug controls a lot of our lives. It is highly addictive and easily obtainable and 80% of us use it daily. The more you take the more amped up you get, though it is not recommended to take over 400mg per day.
400 mg is a little more than 4 cups of coffee, and is present in only the higher caffeine quantities for a pre workout. Caffeine does not contain any nutritional value, but fortunately it is a natural ingredient so it is not harmful to your body.
An important thing to remember, whether you are drinking coffee or pre workout is that if you consume them on a regular basis, your body will eventually develop a tolerance to it. If this happens, the best thing to do is to take a couple of weeks off to let the tolerance go back down. Do not keep increasing your dose trying to get it to work like it had been.
Factors like your age, body mass, metabolism and overall health will dictate your tolerance to caffeine, so always watch how much you are taking especially with pre workouts. I’ve made the mistake of doing this with both products. I hate the anxiety that comes from drinking too much coffee in the evening. There is a lot of research and information available about what caffeine does for your body, but I will save that for a later date.
What are the Coffee and Pre Workout Differences
Starting with pre workout, what really sets it apart is the additional ingredients that coffee doesn’t have, so you are getting more than just caffeine. These ingredients are specially formulated around the challenges that your body faced while exercising or working out.
Besides the caffeine, pre workout contains elements that will help you meet your goals. I’m talking about increased vascularity because of the blood flow to your muscles, increased power to go that extra mile, be able to push even harder or get that additional repetition.
Pre workout companies have engineered a perfect product for a well rounded workout, whether you are weight lifting, cross-fit, exercise classes, running of bicycling. Not only do you have the energy from caffeine, but the additional oxygen to your muscles increases power, muscle recovery, muscle building and boosts endurance which in turn motivates the mind.
There is a certain intensity that the caffeine mixed with the aminos and other ingredients in a pre workout gives you that you can’t get with caffeine, including extra endurance and focus.
It had also been shown that pre workouts boost your endurance and increase the length of time that you can train. The obvious advantage is that pre workout will help you have a more intense workout to go longer and stronger. These other key active ingredients are Beta Alanine, Creatine, Argenine which creates Nitric Oxide, and several essential amino acids like L-tyrosine, Citrulline, and N-acetyl.
Here is a post that I go more into detail explaining pre workout ingredients telling you how they work.
Coffee does much more than just keep you awake or your morning wake up. The good news for caffeine as far as working out is that in addition to giving you more energy, it does also help you maintain focus and increase motivation. Focus is very important to have in regards to exercise, as it enables you to have a harder more intense workout.
So the main pros to coffee before a workout is the boost of energy and increased focus. It has also been proven to increase reaction time and to help ones general mood and mental functions.
The cons to coffee for one, is that you need to drink an awful lot of it to get the caffeine that you would need in a pre workout. This could even cost you up to $15 per day at Starbucks. Coffee does take longer to kick in. Coffee can take up to one hour where pre workout is 15-30 minutes.
If your taking coffee as a pre workout, you may want to try an expresso since not only does it come in a smaller serving, but it is 125mg of caffeine per serving. I researched that light roast coffee has more caffeine(which I was surprised by), so I would go with this for a bit more energy.
The major con of using coffee rather than pre workout for your exercise is the muscle building and muscle endurance ingredients. You won’t be getting that muscle pump, the vascularity or the muscle recovery to be able to do that last movement.
However, coffee is an easy, temporary solution if you get caught in a jam on the way to the gym. It is quick and easily accessible to get almost anywhere.
More Benefits for Pre Workout and Coffee
A great reason to drink coffee or pre workout is that it helps to boost fat loss. When you drink coffee or pre workout before you start your workout, your fat cells will start being used as an energy source instead of your muscle’s glycogen.
You are going to be burning more calories because of the boost in your metabolism. The fact that you are using caffeine will ensure that you are going to go longer and harder. This will even further increase the process of burning additional calories, therefore leading to weight loss. Of course, this only works if you follow a daily exercise routine.
Studies have found that people that drink coffee on a regular basis have a much lower risk of having Dementia or Alzheimer’s. It also cuts the suicide risks significantly. The USDA even recommends a couple of cups a day as being good for overall health and risk of disease. I’m not sure of the effects from other caffeinated drinks.
The effects from the caffeine for both coffee and pre workout can last for up to 6 hours, so I don’t recommend taking either in the evening. I have actually burned off the caffeine during a hard workout before enough to be tired and get to sleep early.
The Stimulant Conclusion
I think that we have come to the conclusion to recommend pre workout supplements for a exercise program over coffee. Of course, what you choose is ultimately dependent on the one you prefer, and you should choose both if you are on the fence.
Pre workout is much less expensive and kicks in much faster than coffee. I mentioned the advantages that a pre workout brings and you just can’t beat the additional performance benefits. Coffee may have more health benefits, but pre workout is the best for exercising.
We also discussed the mutual ingredient between coffee and pre workout which is caffeine. It the basis for the energy part during a workout for either product discussed. Your basic choices are energy drinks, coffee, pre workout or nothing at all, so hands down I recommend the pre workout since you just can’t get nearly the same effects from coffee or an energy drink.
I still drink a cup of coffee each morning but as far a pre workout vs coffee for my workouts, I’m going to stick with my pre workout supplements.
If you have any comments on either coffee or pre workouts, please leave me a comment in the box below and I will respond.