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If you like to take a pre-workout, you might wonder whether it is safe to take long-term or if you should occasionally cycle off it.
If your pre-workout has become less effective at giving you a boost in energy, you should try cycling off it. Your body can build up a tolerance to caffeine (the main stimulant in pre-workout), making it less effective. If that’s the case, after 4-6 weeks of use, try cycling off your pre-workout for 2-3 weeks.
However, not all pre-workouts contain large amounts of stimulants or caffeine. If you have been taking a pre-workout consistently and have not noticed it becoming less effective, there is no need to cycle off it.
- Cycling your pre-workout can be very beneficial if you begin experiencing negative side effects from excess caffeine/stimulant intake.
- Although the suggested amount of time to cycle off your pre-workout is roughly two weeks, you can take a much longer break from your supplement until you feel like you are no longer dependent on the stimulant.
- If you plan on cycling off your pre-workout, ensure you get adequate sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat a well-balanced pre-workout meal to help give you energy for your training sessions.
What Does It Mean To Cycle Pre-Workout?
Cycling your pre-workout simply means taking a break from consuming your supplement for brief periods (usually around two weeks).
Since your body can build up a tolerance to stimulants commonly found in pre-workout supplements, such as caffeine, it can be beneficial to take breaks from your pre-workout to give your body a chance to reset.
3 Reasons You Should Cycle Pre-Workout
1. You Rely on Your Pre-Workout as Your Main Source of Energy
If you take your pre-workout before every training session to “get through” your workouts due to chronic low energy, it might be a sign that you are relying too heavily on your supplement and need to cycle off it.
This is especially true if you are taking a pre-workout but are simultaneously neglecting other factors that help contribute to optimal energy, such as proper sleep and an adequate calorie intake.
While your pre-workout supplement can give you a helpful boost in your workouts, it should not serve as your main energy source. Temporarily cycling off your pre-workout will allow your body to reset and become less reliant on caffeine.
- Related Article: Can You Take Pre-Workout Twice In One Day? (Risks Explained)
2. You Feel Negative Side Effects That Can Come From Excess Caffeine Consumption
Feeling negative side effects from excess caffeine consumption might signal that you need to slow down or take a break from consuming your pre-workout supplement.
● Feeling “jittery”
● Elevated heart rate
● Increased anxiety or nervousness
It is worth noting that every pre-workout will contain different amounts of stimulants/caffeine, with some containing as much as 500 mg per scoop.
While everyone’s caffeine tolerance is different, it is typically recommended to consume no more than around 400 mg of caffeine per day.
If you know that you have a lower tolerance to caffeine, you could also try taking a pre-workout with a lower caffeine content, such as the Vega Sport Sugar-Free Pre-Workout. It only has 100mg of caffeine per serving (one scoop).
You can also take a stim-free pre-workout, such as the Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout. It doesn’t contain any caffeine but provides other benefits, such as improved focus and an increased muscle pump.
3. You No Longer Feel the Effects of Your Pre-Workout Like You Used To
If you started taking a pre-workout supplement and initially had a noticeable increase in your energy levels, but you no longer feel the effects of the pre-workout, you have likely built up a tolerance to the caffeine. You would benefit from cycling off the supplement for a couple of weeks.
Caffeine tolerance occurs when the positive effects you once felt from caffeine decline over time when you regularly consume it.
The best way to avoid building up a caffeine tolerance is to temporarily reduce your consumption.
Cycling off your pre-workout for a few weeks can help ensure you are not building up a tolerance to the stimulant and allowing your body to reset.
3 Tips for Cycling Pre-Workout
Eliminating caffeine can cause negative side effects such as fatigue or headaches.
There are a few things you can do to help avoid them when cycling off pre-workout:
Eat a Well-Balanced Pre-Workout Meal
While your pre-workout can serve as a great source of energy for your training sessions, the majority of your energy should come from your food intake. Therefore, it is important to ensure you eat a well-balanced pre-workout meal with plenty of fast energy sources.
If you are in need of quick energy to burn before your workout, focus on consuming foods high in carbohydrates. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of fuel, and your muscles can utilize them quickly.
When you build your pre-workout meal, aim for a balance of protein and carbs while keeping your fat intake lower.
Fat takes a long time for the body to digest. Too much fat before a workout could result in feelings of sluggishness.
Salt before a workout can also help with endurance, hydration, and muscular contractions.
- To read more about the best foods to consume before your workout, check out the 12 Best Foods for Pre-Workout Pump.
Focus on Getting Good Sleep
Cycling off your pre-workout may come with side effects such as increased feelings of fatigue. While you should always prioritize getting enough sleep, it is especially important when reducing caffeine consumption.
Focusing on quality sleep is also important during a cycle off of pre-workout since your pre-workout supplement might have been affecting your sleep cycle and quality.
If this is the case, it should only take around 1-2 weeks for your sleep cycle to reset once you reduce your caffeine intake.
To ensure you get good quality sleep, focus on creating a consistent nighttime routine where you are going to sleep and waking up at the same time daily.
In addition, make sure your room is dark and quiet, and avoid using electronics such as your phone, TV, or computer right before bed.
- Related Article: Pre-Workout At Night: How To Take Without Negative Effects
Drink Plenty of Water
One of the most common side effects you may feel when cycling off a caffeinated pre-workout is headaches. These headaches can start within 12 hours of reducing caffeine intake and last up to 9 days.
In addition to getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can help to combat these headaches.
It is recommended that the average male consume around 3.7 liters of water per day, while the average female should try to drink around 2.7 liters per day.
How Long Should You Go Off Pre-Workout?
If you are going to cycle off your pre-workout, take a minimum of two weeks off the supplement to allow your body an adequate amount of time to reset.
However, if you have cycled off your pre-workout for two weeks but are still feeling the effects of caffeine withdrawal, you might benefit from taking a longer break.
I would personally recommend cycling off your pre-workout until you no longer feel like you are reliant on the supplement for energy.
The amount of time this will take will depend entirely on the individual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Take Pre-Workout Every Day?
You can safely take pre-workout every day to help give you a boost of energy before your training session. However, if you become dependent on the supplement as your main source of energy, you could benefit from cycling off it for a few weeks to allow your body to reset.
Should You Cycle Off Caffeine?
It can be beneficial to cycle off caffeine or reduce consumption if you’ve built up a tolerance and would like to feel its effects more. However, if you consume a healthy amount of caffeine per day (no more than 400 mg) and are not feeling any negative effects, there is no reason to cycle off caffeine.
More Tips for Taking Pre-Workout
- Pre-Workout On Empty Stomach: Good or Bad Idea?
- Can Teenagers Take Pre-Workout? (What Science Says)
- Is It Bad To Take Pre-Workout Before Running? (Coach Answer)
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.