If you enjoy drinking Red Bull, it’s natural that you might wonder about using Red Bull as a pre workout, instead of traditional supplements.
So, should you drink Red Bull as a pre workout? Red Bull is good as a pre workout drink as the caffeine, taurine, and B vitamins can increase energy, alertness and focus, leading to improved workout performance. The effects of Red Bull will be felt within 20 minutes or less, so it should be consumed just prior to starting your workout to get the full effect.
It’s important to know that while Red Bull can be a quick and convenient pre workout drink, there are a few key ingredients found in standard pre workout powders that aren’t found in Red Bull, and if used regularly in place of pre workout, you may be missing out on additional benefits.
After reading this article you’ll learn:
- Which is better between Red Bull and traditional pre workout powder
- The benefits of using Red Bull as a pre workout
- The drawbacks of using Red Bull as a pre workout
- When you should use Red Bull as a pre workout drink
- Which version of Red Bull should you choose
Is Red Bull Better Than Traditional Pre Workout Supplements
Red Bull is a better pre workout than not using one at all, however, traditional pre workouts contain additional ingredients that can improve workout performance, that Red Bull does not.
So my recommendation is to only use Red Bull as a pre workout if you’re in a pinch. Long term, you should rely on traditional pre workout supplements to maximize your performance in the gym.
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Benefits of Using Red Bull As A Pre Workout
If you’re using red Bull for a pre workout, here are the top benefits:
Red Bull is Convenient
Perhaps you’re headed to the gym after a long day at work, and when you’re almost there, you realize you left your pre workout at home. No problem, you can duck into almost any convenience store and you’re almost guaranteed to find Red Bull in the fridge there.
The Caffeine In Red Bull Will Improve Workout Performance
With 111mg of caffeine, Red Bull contains approximately the amount found in a medium cup of coffee. The caffeine will provide a boost in energy, alertness, and focus, all of which can improve your workout performance.
Red Bull Has Fast-Acting Carbs
On top of that, a can of Red Bull will provide you with 27 grams of sugar, which, in this case, can be fast-absorbing carbohydrates ready to use immediately, and at 110 calories, there’s little concern that these won’t be used during your workout.
Red Bull Contains Taurine
The other ingredient that is added to Red Bull to boost performance is taurine, which, when combined with caffeine, can provide additional cognitive benefits such as improved reaction time and increased feelings of wellbeing (mood booster).
Drawbacks of Using Red Bull As A Pre Workout
There are some drawbacks of using Red Bull as a pre workout:
Red Bull Lacks Common Pre Workout Ingredients
When comparing Red Bull with traditional workout drinks, Red Bull falls short, in that you won’t find other performance-boosting ingredients such as:
- Citrulline Malate (increased blood flow, better endurance)
- Beta-Alanine (increased muscular endurance, delayed onset of fatigue)
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs – prevent muscle breakdown during training; improved recovery)
- Betaine Anhydrous (improved muscle endurance)
- L-Theanine (increased alertness and focus)
- Creatine (increased muscular endurance)
Red Bull Is Carbonated
In addition to that, Red Bull being carbonated means that it is sensitive to being shaken, and if it’s kept in your gym bag, could lead to an accident where your gym bag ends up sticky and smelling like Red Bull.
On top of that, the carbonation can lead to an upset stomach before working out, causing gas and bloating.
Also, if you are bulking, carbonation can lead to feeling full, making it more difficult to consume the necessary calories.
Related Article: 9 Pre Workout Alternatives That Won’t Make You Crash
Red Bull Is More Expensive Than Traditional Pre Workouts
The cost of a single can of Red Bull, especially if purchased at a convenience store, is likely to be much higher than the cost per serving of a traditional workout powder. A can of Red Bull will typically cost between $3.99 and $4.79 if purchased as single cans.
The average cost of a scoop of pre-workout will depend on the formula and the concentration of key ingredients, however, the average range is between $1.00-$2.00 per serving of the most popular pre-workout formulas.
Related Article: Pre Workout vs Caffeine Pills
Red Bull Isn’t Ideal If You Need A Stim-Free Pre Workout
If you happen to have a sensitivity to caffeine, or if you suffer from high blood pressure, Red Bull may not be a suitable option. Side effects may include racing heart, nausea, and dizziness.
As well, if you happen to be training at night, or within 4 hours of your normal bedtime, you may need to use a stim-free pre-workout so that your sleep isn’t affected by the caffeine.
The Controversy Surrounding Red Bull & Pre Workouts
The main issue is not the energy drink itself, but rather, how many energy drinks you’re consuming at once since too much caffeine in a short amount of time can lead to unintended consequences.
According to the Mayo Clinic, doses of up to 400mg of caffeine per day can be safely tolerated for most individuals.
Therefore, if you are going to use Red Bull as a pre workout, you need to consider how much caffeine overall you’re consuming over the course of the day, and ensure that you’re within the normal consumption limits.
Top Tips For Taking Red Bull As Pre Workout
- Because Red Bull lacks some of the key ingredients found in most pre workouts such as creatine, citrulline malate, BCAAs, and beta-alanine, only use Red Bull in a pinch if you don’t have a proper pre-workout available.
- The effects of caffeine are typically felt within about 20 minutes of consumption, as such, Red Bull should be consumed within 15-20 minutes of starting your workout to gain the maximum benefit.
- If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to consider using a sugar-free version, as excess sugar intake has been shown to lead to weight gain.
- Because Red Bull already contains a significant amount of caffeine, it is not recommended to mix with other pre workouts, as the excess caffeine may lead to jitters and irritability.
- If you are doing a workout that involves squatting and/or wearing a weight belt, it is best to avoid carbonated beverages as this can lead to burping, bloating, and digestive discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Before A Workout Should I Take Red Bull?
The effects of caffeine are typically felt within about 20 minutes of consumption, as such, Red Bull should be consumed within 15-20 minutes of starting your workout to gain the maximum benefit.
Can The Sugar In Red Bull Ruin Your Workout Gains?
If you are trying to lose weight, adding 27 grams of sugar to your daily intake is not going to be helpful, as sugar is very easily stored as fat. You would be better off choosing one of the sugar free options. However, if you are on a bulking cycle, and looking to consume extra calories, the sugar in Red Bull won’t be a problem.
Can You Mix Red Bull With Pre Workout?
It is strongly recommended that you don’t mix Red Bull with a pre-workout, if the pre workout powder contains additional caffeine, as this may lead to unintended side effects such as nausea, jitters and inability to focus.
Can You Consume Red Bull WHILE working out?
If the gym you are in isn’t concerned about open beverage containers, sipping Red Bull during your workout will help you to have a more steady release of caffeine, rather than one large shot. This is particularly helpful if you are engaged in a workout longer than 60 minutes.
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About The Author
Jon McLernon (aka Coach Jon) is a Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certified Master Coach. With a background in chemistry and psychology, Coach Jon has a passion for supplement/nutrition science and behavioral psychology. When he’s not helping his clients crush their nutrition goals, he’s usually trying to wrangle a busy toddler (and get him to eat more veggies), or he and his Aussie wife are off on another globetrotting adventure!