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As the manager of a supplement store for the past 10 years, I’m often asked about the benefits and drawbacks of taking pre-workout daily.
Can you take pre-workout every day? Taking pre-workout every day within the recommended serving sizes (1-2 scoops, depending on the brand) is safe, but you risk becoming numb to the effects of ingredients like caffeine. You’d then need to take more and more to feel the same effects, which can mean consuming dangerously high caffeine levels (>450mg/day).
While taking pre-workout every day within the recommended dose is regarded as safe, there are a few things you need to be mindful of to ensure you’re not causing long-term harm to your body.
In this article, I’ll go over:
- 3 reasons for taking pre-workout every day
- 3 drawbacks of taking pre-workout every day
- What to watch out for if you are taking pre-workout every day
- Should you cycle your pre-workout and how to know when to take a break
- My recommendations for pre-workouts you can take daily
Reasons For Taking Pre-Workout Every Day
Below are three reasons why you might want to take pre-workout every day.
Certain Ingredients Need To Be Taken Daily To Be Effective
Some pre-workout ingredients need to be taken every day to be effective. For example, creatine is commonly found in pre-workouts in doses of 1 to 3 grams. It plays an important role in energy production and has been scientifically proven to increase strength, muscle mass, recovery, and work capacity.
However, creatine requires anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks of consistent consumption at a dose of 3-5g for its levels to become fully saturated in the body to really reap its rewards. If you are only taking creatine in your pre-workout a couple of times per week, you will be missing out on its benefits.
Related Article: Creatine Every Other Day: Should You Do It? Pros & Cons
Beta-alanine is found in most pre-workout supplements, typically in doses of either 1.6g or 3.2g. It plays a key role in delaying the onset of muscular fatigue by lessening the burning sensation you feel in your muscles while training.
What many people don’t know is that in order to be effective, beta-alanine requires a minimum intake of 3.2g daily for at least 4 weeks. Just because you get the skin-tingling sensation from the beta-alanine in your pre-workout doesn’t mean you’re actually getting its full benefit.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are also found in pre-workout. These 3 amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are metabolized in muscle tissue and decrease muscle damage and promote protein synthesis. These results are found when BCAAs are taken daily for longer than 10 days at a dose of 200mg/kg (90mg/lb) of body weight.
For instance, pre-workout might have 1-3g of BCAAs, and most BCAA supplements on their own offer between 5g and 7g per scoop.
If you are only taking your pre-workout a few times per week without supplementing with creatine, beta-alanine, or BCAAs on the other days, you might be leaving a ton of benefits on the table.
You’re Dealing With Lifestyle Factors
If you work out early in the morning and struggle to wake up, pre-workouts can help you with the physical and mental energy required to help get you out of bed and to your workout space.
On the opposite end, if you typically work out after a strenuous day at work or school, you might feel fatigued or lethargic from the demands of your day. Taking pre-workout can help ensure that you are able to bring the same intensity and effort to each workout, regardless of your day, to optimize your results.
Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone
The Most Common Pre-Workout Ingredients Have Been Proven Safe
If you are following the dosing guidelines on the pre-workout supplement and are not mixing multiple stimulant-based products (like caffeinated fat burners or energy drinks), the doses and ingredients in pre-workouts should be safe for daily consumption.
The most common ingredients have all been proven safe for daily, long-term consumption. This includes citrulline & betaine (for pump and blood flow), synephrine (aka bitter orange extract, a stimulant), agmatine (for testosterone support), alpha-gpc (for mental focus), as well as creatine, beta-alanine, and BCAAs, which I outlined above.
With that said, you still want to ensure you are choosing a high-quality pre-workout supplement, especially if you will be taking it every day.
Here are a few ways to ensure that you are taking a safe product:
It Doesn’t Have a Proprietary Blend
A proprietary blend is one that contains a cluster of ingredients grouped together into a “blend” that doesn’t specify exactly how much of each ingredient you are getting. You want to look for products where the ingredient label shows the exact dose of every single ingredient.
Here is an example of what to look for (the doses of all ingredients clearly labeled), and here is what you want to avoid. You’ll notice that the ingredients in the second graphic are grouped together in such a way that you don’t know exactly how much of each is in the product.
It Has An Informed Choice Seal
The Informed Choice checkmark indicates that a product has undergone rigorous third-party testing and is certified safe for elite athletes who undergo drug testing for their sports. Even if you’re not an elite athlete, you can rest assured that the product is high quality and safe for daily consumption.
Informed Choice helps to ensure the purity of a brand’s products and reduce the risk of banned substances entering the products.
It Has A USP or ConsumerLab Label
USP is an independent non-profit organization that verifies the ingredients and quantity in a given nutritional supplement.
If you see the USP Verified mark on a dietary supplement, that means it’s been third-party tested. The lab has verified that the product inside the bottle contains the same ingredients and dosages as what’s listed on the label.
ConsumerLab is a similar organization and functions as an independent third-party evaluator of dietary supplements. It publicly publishes all of the results of its testing and what the quality criteria and standards are.
Drawbacks of Taking Pre-Workout Every Day
Despite the fact that pre-workout is safe to take every day, there are some drawbacks of doing so.
The majority of pre-workouts contain caffeine. Though its use is widely accepted, caffeine is still a drug that you can become dependent on. Caffeine dependence can develop quite quickly even in doses as low as 100mg daily.
Caffeine dependence appears in approximately 50% of the population who consume caffeine regularly. The symptoms of withdrawal begin as soon as 12-24 hours after stopping caffeine intake, peaking in 20 to 48 hours and lasting from 2 to 9 days.
Withdrawal symptoms are generally mild and can include headache, fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, and depressed mood.
Caffeine works in the brain by blocking molecules in the body that signal the brain to make us drowsy. When it does this, it delays drowsiness and releases dopamine, the “happy hormone.”
If you consume caffeine consistently, the body adapts by making more of those molecules. This adaptation is responsible for the feeling of tolerance that develops — feeling like you need to consume more and more caffeine to feel its effects.
I have lost count of how many conversations I have had with customers who say things like, “I don’t feel my pre-workout anymore” or the more alarming, “I take two servings and still don’t feel anything.”
Constantly chasing the energy boost from caffeine by increasing how much you take can lead to dangerous side effects. Researchers identified that individuals who drank more than six cups of coffee per day (a cup defined as a dose of 75mg of caffeine) had an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.
In pre-workout supplement terms, that equates to a dose of 450mg. Many pre-workouts contain up to 420mg of caffeine per serving, and the majority of caffeinated pre-workouts start at 200mg.
Double scooping these pre-workouts can lead to ingestion of up to 840mg of caffeine in a single dose – well above the dose that puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease or other side effects such as increased anxiety or jitters.
Related Article: 9 Pre Workout Alternatives That Won’t Make You Crash
Pre-workout supplements range from $0.80 to $3.00 per serving. If you are taking your pre-workout every single day, you could be looking at up to $1,095 per year.
We discussed above that several ingredients like beta-alanine, creatine, and BCAAs are often under-dosed in pre-workout supplements. If you add these supplements to your pre-workout routine, you could be adding an additional $600 per year or more.
What To Watch Out For If You’re Taking Pre-Workout Daily
Effective Doses of Certain Ingredients
You want to be mindful of your total daily dose of specific ingredients to make sure that you are taking enough of them to get their performance benefits.
You want to make sure you are taking a high enough dose of BCAAs (10-20g), creatine (3-5g), and beta-alanine (3.2g). Since most pre-workouts contain some of these ingredients, but not necessarily all of them, double-check your formula so that you know how much to supplement with on the side.
Total Daily Caffeine Intake
You also want to keep your total daily caffeine intake lower than 450mg to avoid putting yourself at long-term risk for cardiovascular disease and minimize the effects of caffeine tolerance and dependence.
In the short term, caffeine intake has known side effects including jitteriness, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, dehydration, and heart palpitations. While it is generally considered safe to consume up to 400mg daily, each person is unique in the way that they metabolize caffeine.
This might mean that you notice these negative side effects in lower doses or build up dependency more quickly. I recommend starting with a small serving size (¼ to ½ scoop) of pre-workout and slowly increasing it to assess your personal tolerance.
If you’re taking pre-workout daily, you should modify other factors in your day like switching to decaf coffee, choosing caffeine-free energy drinks (like caffeine-free Bang), and avoiding caffeinated fat burners.
Taking products with caffeine and other stimulants before bed can negatively impact sleep. Some ingredients you might not realize are stimulants include:
- Yohimbine – works by stimulating your “fight or flight” nervous system which releases adrenaline and noradrenaline
- Theacrine (Teacrine®) – a naturally occurring compound that affects the brain similar to caffeine and is used for wakefulness and improving memory
- Guarana – works similarly to caffeine by stimulating the heart and central nervous system
Impact On Sleep Quality
When I talk to customers in my supplement store about possible side effects of taking pre-workout in the evening, they often shoot back with “Oh, caffeine doesn’t affect me. I can drink a pot of coffee and fall asleep.”
This is a huge red flag for multiple reasons I’ll discuss below.
Aside from that, being able to fall asleep quickly is not the only indication of good sleep. There are other indicators of sleep quality such as staying asleep throughout the night and getting into multiple sleep phases.
One study showed that caffeine taken even six hours before bedtime affected total sleep time by approximately 1 hour. Another study indicated that caffeine taken in the evening reduced how quickly participants fell asleep and reduced their total sleep time and the quality of sleep they got.
That last part is key because even if you feel like you are falling asleep quickly, your quality of sleep might be poor. For example, you may not spend enough time in the non-REM sleep phase (also called NREM or deep sleep).
The body releases a lot of human growth hormone (hGH) during NREM. HGH helps to maintain, build, and repair the body’s tissues and organs.
If you’re not getting as much deep sleep, you’re missing out on essential recovery and muscle growth. You’ll also feel more tired the next morning, which can impact your results in the gym.
Pre-workout can also cause symptoms like naseua. Learn more about why this happens and how you can fix it in my article Pre Workout Sickness: How Common Is It, Causes, & How To Fix.
Should You Cycle Pre-Workout?
From a health perspective, cycling your pre-workout isn’t necessary. However, there are two ways you can optimize results and minimize the effects of caffeine tolerance.
Option 1: Don’t Use a Stimulant-Based Pre-Workout Daily
The best way to avoid caffeine tolerance and dependency is to not take caffeine every single day. There are a few ways to navigate this.
First, you could buy a caffeine-free pre-workout and supplement with coffee or caffeine pills only on days when you really need the additional energy boost, up to a maximum of four days per week.
On days when you are not taking caffeine with your pre-workout, you should avoid caffeine altogether (including coffee, fat burners, and energy drinks) to avoid developing a caffeine dependence.
Another option is to buy a caffeinated pre-workout and a caffeine-free pre-workout and alternate them throughout the week, depending on what your needs are for that particular day (for example, using the caffeine-free option for evening workouts).
A third option is to buy a caffeinated pre-workout and also buy any ingredients that you want to get effective doses of individually (like creatine or beta-alanine for athletic performance or citrulline for blood flow). With this strategy, you would use your caffeinated pre-workout occasionally but take your other products on a more consistent basis.
Option 2: Take a Caffeinated Pre-Workout for 3-4 weeks, Then Take One Week Off
In order to reset your tolerance, coffee researcher Joseph Rivera recommends cutting your caffeine intake by 50% per day every day. By the end of the week, you should be back to where you were before you started taking caffeine.
Alternatively, you could just quit cold turkey for a week or two, wait for the withdrawal symptoms to subside, and then pick it back up again. It’s likely that the symptoms will subside within a couple of days, but it’s possible that you’re part of the population who experiences them for up to 9 days.
Neither method is perfect; one is more meticulous while the other might lead to more side effects. The best method is whichever one suits you best.
When To Know If You Need To Take A Break From Pre Workout
There are three main indications that you need to take a break from pre-workout:
You Stop Feeling Its Effects
Quite frankly, if you’re not feeling any effects or benefits from your pre-workout supplement, stop wasting your money.
If you have reached a point where you are no longer feeling the energy, strength, or pump effects and are considering taking more than the recommended dose to feel its effects, then it’s time to take a break.
A two-week break should be enough to get over the withdrawal side effects and reset your body’s caffeine tolerance. If you have been using pre-workout daily for an especially long time (longer than 6 months) then I recommend taking a full month off of pre-workout.
You Feel Like You Can’t Do Your Workouts Without It
While it’s not technically possible to build a physiological addiction to pre-workout, my experience managing a supplement store has shown me that people can absolutely build up a psychological dependence on it.
In order for something to be considered addictive, it has to activate specific reward centers in the brain. Caffeine has mood boosting effects, but not enough to activate these specific reward centers in the same way that drugs like morphine or nicotine do.
It is possible, however, to develop a dependence on it, where the central nervous system gets accustomed to its presence in the body and suddenly stopping caffeine intake can result in withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of dependence can also be found in the things you say.
There’s a difference between enjoying the effects of a pre-workout (for example, liking the tingling sensation of beta-alanine or tasting your pre-workout and knowing it’s “go time”) and having a dependency on it.
If you hear yourself starting to say things like “I can’t workout without it,” it’s probably time to take a break.
Other Factors in Your Life Have Changed
Pre-workouts are safe to take consistently for people who have no underlying health conditions. But factors in your life may change that will affect if you should take a break from pre-workout.
If you get diagnosed with or discover an underlying medical condition (e.g. hypertension, thyroid disease), you should abstain from pre-workout or consult your doctor.
If you are put on prescription medication or if your medication changes, take a break from pre-workout or consult your doctor. Common medications which interact with pre-workout include SSRIs, blood pressure or heart mediation, and thyroid medication.
Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding should abstain from pre-workout or consult their health care provider.
Are Non-Stim Pre-Workouts Better For You To Take Daily?
Non-stim pre-workouts are better for you to take daily. The key concern around taking pre-workout daily is developing a dependency on caffeine. This would require you to take more and more to elicit the same results, which can be dangerous for your health. Non-stim options allow safe, long-term performance benefits.
3 Pre-Workouts You Can Take Every Day
Magnum Opus is marketed as an intra-workout supplement but is an ideal pre-workout option. It is stimulant-free and clinically proven to increase athletic performance by 21.6%. It has a high dose (4g) of pharmaceutical grade leucine, which is a powerful amino acid for muscle building.
Opus also has a full 3.2g clinical dose of beta-alanine and added electrolytes and vitamins to fuel and hydrate the body. The most effective way I have found to use Opus is to take one scoop 30 minutes prior to training and one scoop while training, while supplementing with 5g of creatine on its own.
Creatine lovers, this one is for you! ATP E-Nos is a fully dosed creatine supplement that also offers increased muscle mass, power, and strength. It contains HMB (a chemical naturally produced by the body but also found in many supplements), which evidence shows may play a role in increased performance and muscle growth.
It also contains a patented ingredient called Peak ATP®, a clinical form of ATP that results in increased strength, power, muscle size and reduced fatigue. ATP (Adenosine Triphospate) is the main energy molecule in the body. By supplementing with ATP, you are literally providing the body with more energy.
Beyond Yourself Superset Stim-Free
Beyond Yourself Superset Stim-Free is the ultimate pre-workout for anybody who wants to optimize pump, endurance, and muscle growth. It contains the full clinical servings of beta-alanine (at 4g) and citrulline (at 9g) to offer you great endurance and pump.
It also contains a high dose of an ingredient called HICA. When leucine (an amino acid) is broken down in the body, HICA is created as a by-product. HICA has been shown to be effective at stimulating muscle protein synthesis, meaning it’s able to signal the body to build muscle.
Learn More About Pre-Workouts and Caffeine Consumption
- Red Bull For Pre Workout: Pros, Cons, & Should You Do It?
- Monster For Pre Workout: Pros, Cons, & Should You Do It?
- Caffeine Pills vs Pre Workout: Pros, Cons, & Which Is Best?
- Can You Take Pre-Workout On Keto?
Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?
About The Author
Jennifer Vibert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Nutrition Coach, and supplement store manager. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a major in Fitness and Lifestyle and a minor in Psychology from the University of Regina. She is a Certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition, with a passion for helping clients learn the fundamentals of nutrition and supplementation in order to build healthy, sustainable habits.