Best Caffeine Free Pre Workout Supplements
updated December 11, 2018
There’s a lot of hype surrounding pre-workout formulas nowadays. Often you’ll see promotional copy that makes all sorts of outrageous claims. Inevitably the copy will be accompanied by images of professional bodybuilders growling as they tear through their workout. All of this is achieved, naturally, as a result of taking a stimulant heavy pre-workout.
However, there is also a growing market for stimulant free - and specifically caffeine free - pre-workout supplements. These gym goers have no desire to endure the jittery, unnatural ‘wired’ feeling that comes with a caffeine heavy pre workout, or the post workout crash that is also part of the deal. Caffeine free supplements can, if you get the right ones, provide you with all of the benefits of stimulant based formulas, but without the side effects.
In this article, we identify the top 5 caffeine free pre workout supplements on the current market. We’ll also highlight just what’s wrong with taking a caffeine heavy pre-workout supplement and we’ll let you know just what you should be looking for in a good caffeine free pre-workout supplement.
Top 5 Caffeine free pre workout Supplements
Why Caffeine Free?
Taking a caffeine free supplement will spare you from some of the most obvious side effects of taking caffeine. The majority of mainstream pre-workouts contain anything up to 400 mg of caffeine. Most people who take these supplements will produce an energy high, but this will be followed by a post exercise crash. Caffeine is a central nervous system (cns) stimulator. By inhibiting adenosine and dopamine, adrenaline levels are elevated. Adenosine promotes sleep and leads to the arousal of excitement. The consumption of caffeine suppresses adenosine, which leads to a sudden rush of energy, along with increased focus and performance.
The problem is that, as the caffeine starts to wear off, adenosine comes back and causes tiredness. This results in the infamous caffeine crash. Many people want to avoid the effect and so turn to caffeine free products.
Many people also find that taking caffeine in their pre-supplement formula experience an unnatural tingly sensation that they do not enjoy. This makes them feel unnaturally ‘wired’ during their workout. It can also produce excess sweating and shaking of the extremities. Not surprisingly, many people also wish to also avoid these effects of having caffeine in their pre-workout.
Taken over a prolonged period of time, caffeine laden pre-workouts can also shut down the production of your adrenal glands. This leads to adrenal fatigue. Taking a pre-workout that is caffeine free - or, at least cycling to a stimulant free pre-workout periodically - will prevent adrenal fatigue.
Side Effects of Caffeine
When it comes to caffeine, it is a matter of weighing up the risk / benefit analysis. It is a proven fact that caffeine can assist your performance, but at what cost? Here are a dozen side effects of caffeine that you need to be aware of.
- Caffeine is extremely acidic. Too much coffee will interfere with your pH balance. The more acidic your body, the more likely you will be to suffer from mood swings, and unnecessary food cravings. An acidic system will also make you more prone to stress, elevating your cortisol levels. Cortisol has been directly related to abdominal fat. Be especially aware of roasted coffee beans, which contains oils that will quickly become rancid and clog up the liver. This will make it doubly difficult for the liver to clear out toxins and burn fat.
- Caffeine can be bad for your brain, your mood and your psychological well-being. The main reason for this is that it disrupts your serotonin levels. Seratonin regulates your mood and regulates your sleep cycles and your appetite. Caffeine also blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. This prevents your body from receiving GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid), which is a neurotransmitter that enhances calmness without sleepiness.
- Coffee stresses the liver. Most other drugs are detoxified by both the kidney and the liver. Caffeine however, relies entirely on the liver. This places way too much stress on the liver, interfering with its metabolic functioning.
- Caffeine actually robs you of energy. Prior to popular belief, you do not get energy from coffee. What it actually gives you is a state of stress. This leads to adrenal fatigue. After the initial buzz, your energy levels will plummet and you will feel like death warmed up. You won’t feel like cooking, and you certainly won’t feel like exercising.
- Coffee interferes with the quality of your sleep. Coffee can reduce the amount of time throughout the night that we enter Stage Four deep sleep. This is the part of sleep that makes you feel refreshed when you open your eyes. In order to achieve a more restful, peaceful deep sleep – and you know how vital that is for fat loss and detoxification – you simply have to take control of your caffeine consumption, especially in the evening.
- Caffeine increases your blood sugar levels as well as your insulin levels. Both of these things are inflammatory for your body, and disastrous for fat loss.
- Caffeine can rob your body vital minerals such as iron. It also diminishes B Vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium and other important minerals and nutrients.
- Research out of Harvard Medical School indicates that caffeine may help to reduce the incidence of the skin disease basal cell carcinoma. Caffeine consumption also increases the amount of calcium that is excreted in the urine. For this reason, heavy coffee drinkers (four or more cups per day) should eat extra rich calcium foods to compensate for this potential bone loss.
- Caffeine will increase some of the normal stress responses as a result of the increased amount of adrenaline that is active in the body under stressful situations. So, caffeine users who find themselves under stress, or who use it during such stressful activities as working out, may experience more of the effects that stress can produce. Adrenaline release increases blood pressure during stress.
- For some people, caffeine may contribute to the experience of panic attacks. These usually come on suddenly and involve powerful feelings of threat and fear. Caffeine is more likely to bring on panic attacks in people who have had them before. However, relatively high doses of caffeine (in excess of 700 mg) have been reported to lead to panic attacks in people who have never had them before.
- Caffeine affects the heart in two ways. It acts on brain centers that regulate the cardiovascular system, and it acts directly on the heart. In people who are not tolerant to caffeine, a high dose (above 500 mg) can increase the heart rate by as much as ten to twenty beats per minute. In some people, this can result in brief periods of irregular heartbeat.
- The well known bathroom break that follows that morning coffee is probably caused both by a direct effect on the kidneys and by effects in the brain. There are adenosine receptors in the kidneys and caffeine acts on these, causing effects similar to those of diuretics, which increases urine production. Caffeine may also slow the release of an antidiuretic hormone from the brain that normally slows urine production.
Benefits of Caffeine Free Pre Workout
Stimulant free pre-workout supplements provide you with the same benefits as stimulant based products, but they do so without the side effects that are inherent with consuming caffeine. Let’s consider the benefits of switching to a caffeine free pre-workout supplement:
Caffeine Free is Healthier
Let’s face it - that wired, off the wall buzz that you get from high stimulant pre-workout is hardly natural. And,as we’ve explored in the above section, neither is it good for your health. That post workout crash is also unnatural and undesirable. Going with a stimulant free option is a cleaner greener, more natural option. It’s also healthier, which is the reason that you started exercising in the first place, right?
Amino Acid Benefits
Stimulant free pre-workouts will replace caffeine with any number of substances. A popular option is amino acids. There are some key amino acids that will increase your energy levels. Two of them are Beta-alanine and Citrulline. They are most effective when used together as they produce a synergistic effect. Other amino acids, such as L-Carnitine, have an overall body enhancing effect. In fact, L-Citrulline will enhance fat loss as well as producing an energy boosting effect.
Non stimulant pre workout formulas require the manufacturers to be a little more creative when it comes to producing an enhanced workout effect. As a result, they tend to use more and better ingredients. With more ingredients, you are able to choose the specific ones that are best for you.
The ingredients that are used in stimulant free formulas have been designed to provide a sustained release of energy throughout the entire life of your workout. This is in contrast to many caffeine based products, where the crash will kick in after about 45 minutes, leading to a terrible end to your workout performance.
Weight Loss with Caffeine Free Supplements
Often, non stimulant pre workout formulas will include ingredients that are specifically designed to enhance the weight loss effect of your workout. This is in contrast to stimulant based formulas where the sole focus is on enhancing training energy.
Non stimulant based pre-workouts will generally provide more ingredients with nootropic benefits than stimulant based ones. Primarily, they allow for enhanced focus during your workout. This is, arguably, the most important aspect of the workout. When the mind-muscle connection is enhanced, your workout will be improved greatly. Amino acids have nootropic benefits, as do the B-complex vitamins.
Getting a great pump during your workout does not simply look and feel great. It also speeds up the supply of both blood and nutrients to the working muscle cell, while also taking such waste products as lactic acid away from the area. When you take a caffeine free pre-workout it will provide a greater pump effect than one with caffeine, regardless of the actual pump inducing ingredients.
Caffeine, along with other stimulants, acts as a vaso-constrictor. That means that it actually closes up the blood vessel. This prevents the very thing that the pump is trying to achieve.
How Does a Caffeine Free Supplement Work?
Caffeine free supplements replace the stimulant inducing ingredients that are found in caffeine containing pre-workouts with other natural products that are designed to promote energy as well as bringing about such other desirable benefits as better mental focus, a muscular pump and anabolic support.
Despite the many benefits of going caffeine free, there are still a large number of gym junkies who feel that they need to receive a crazy buzz like what that they get from stim based formulas to allow them to take their training to the edge. For those people, we advise cycling your stimulants. To do this, take your stimulant based product for 6 weeks and then switch to a caffeine free formula for 3-2 weeks.
You should take your pre-workout formula about 30 minutes prior to starting your workout. Often the pre-workout formula will be mixed with water.
If you want to run at a decent and constant speed, you really need something in addition to your legs in order to power the running belt. The best you will be able to achieve with a manual treadmill is to run at a slow jog. In contrast, electronic treadmills will allow you to run very smoothly at a speed, depending on how much you want to pay, of up to 20 mph.
What to Look For in a Caffeine free pre-workout Supplement?
The Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) are leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are 3 of the essential amino acids and the main ones that drive muscle protein synthesis.
BCAA supplementation is great for people who work out in a fasted state by having a workout first thing in the morning. Numerous studies show that BCAA supplementation significantly increases testosterone levels, growth hormone levels and muscle protein synthesis.
BCAA’s will also provide you with an immediate source of energy. They work best when administered in a ratio of 2:1:1 in terms of leucine: valine: isoleucine.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is used to make carnosine (a dipeptide made from beta-alanine and histidine). Carnosine is an important pH buffer in the muscles – it buffers the acidity (hydrogen ions) produced during high-intensity exercise, thus allowing you to keep going longer and combat fatigue.
Creatine is used to produce phosphocreatine, which in turn is used to provide energy to cells. Phosphocreatine is particularly used to provide muscles with energy during high-intensity exercise of short bursts of 15-30 seconds.
Using creatine supplements to increase stores of creatine in muscle may make more energy available to muscle cells when they need it. Creatine can help to increase lean body mass, reduce decreases in muscle strength and reduce cholesterol levels.
Panax ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to enhance longevity and the quality of life. The medicinal part of its slow growing root, which is harvested after 4-6 years, when its overall ginsenoside – the main active ingredient in ginseng (the main active ingredient in ginseng) content is at its peak. There are 13 different ginsenosides in all.
Ginseng has been shown to boost mental performance, improve Type 2 diabetes, increase exercise performance and lower blood pressure. The best form is Panax ginseng.
Guarana has long been used to boost energy, reduce appetite and increase libido, as well as to fight off malaria. It stimulates the central nervous system, allowing the brain to release neurotransmitters. It may also help to lose weight.
Tyrosine is one of many amino acids that acts as a building block of protein molecules. If you don’t have enough tyrosine your system, the thyroid cn become inactive. The two thyroid hormones T3 and T4 affect almost every physiological process in the body, including proper growth and development. When taken as part of a pre-workout formula, tyrosine can aid in increasing energy and metabolism. It also has nootropic benefits.
Coenzyme Q10, produced by the body, belongs to a family of compounds called quinones. In the last decade it has become one of the most popular dietary supplements around the world. Proponents of the nutrient use it to maintain general good health, as well as to treat heart disease and a number of other serious conditions.
The primary function of coenzyme Q10 is as a catalyst for metabolism – the complex chain of chemical reaction during which food is broken down into packets of energy that the body can use. Acting in conjunction with enzymes, the compound speeds up the vital metabolic process, providing the energy that the cells need to digest food, heal wounds, maintain healthy muscles and perform countless other bodily functions.
Look for formulations that contain coenzyme Q10 in an oil base. Because it is a fat-soluble compound, this nutrient is best absorbed when taken with food.
A Pump Complex
It is a great idea to include some kind of pump inducing complex in your pre-workout formula. This will include ingredients that help to boost nitric oxide production. You will get greater benefit from a pump complex in a stimulant free as opposed to a stimulant heavy pre workout formula. The reason for this is that caffeine and most other stimulants are also constricting. This means that they actually make the blood vessels smaller. This is the exact opposite to what a pump complex is meant to achieve, which is vaso-dilation.
Vaso-constriction, brought on by having caffeine in you formula, will decrease the ability of the muscle to achieve a pump. At the same time it will lower the ability to bring much needed blood and nutrients to the working muscle, while also slowing the removal of such waste products as lactic acid.
The top 6 ingredients for achieving vaso-dilation of the blood vessels, and therefore promoting the pump effect, are:
Beets are very rich in nitrates. When consumed these are converted into nitric oxide which has an enlarging effect on the blood vessels in your body. This allows more blood to rush to your muscle cells when you are workin them, resulting in the pump effect.
L-arginine is an amino acid which acts in the body arginine converts into l-citrulline via nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide is a byproduct of this process.
L-Norvaline is another amino acid that modulates nitric oxide activity. The body does not produce L-Norvaline so it must be brought into the body through diet or supplementation. In the body, norvaline can deactivate the enzyme arginase. This leaves more free arginine to be converted into nitric oxide.
Glycerol is not a nitric oxide enhancer. But it does bring water into the muscle cell to help promote the pump effect.
It is believed that Agmatine Sulfate acts to down regulate nitric oxide synthase which leads to the production of more nitric oxide.
Citrulline Malate is by far the most effective promoter of nitric oxide production in order to bring on a plum perfect. Citrulline alone does a great job of doing this. When combined with malic acid it is also a powerful energy enhancer.
The caffeine free pre-workout market has advanced rapidly over the last few years, so that now there are plenty of quality products to choose from that are able to provide comparable results to stimulant based formulas. We’ve reviewed the top 5 in this article. Our favorite caffeine free Pre-workout is BSN Xplode Pre-Workout, providing you with a great creatine blend, effective pump enhancers and plenty of vitamins. Coming in a close second is Genius Pre-Workout, with its nootropic and energy boosting effects . Completing our top 3 is Pump Surge, which contains 5 grams of Branch Chain Amino Acids, mixes well and tastes good.
My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.