The Wavelength

Is Your Pre-Workout Working Against You? Try Low-Caffeine Pre-Workout

If you're looking to build lean muscle and take your workouts to the next level, pre-workout supplements might be just what you need. These supplements are designed to improve exercise performance, increase energy levels, and help you achieve your fitness goals faster.

However, not all pre-workout supplements are created equal. Most options on the market are high in caffeine, which may actually work against your fitness goals. Yes, you read that right, some pre-workout supplements may actually be counterproductive to all that hard work you're putting in at the gym.

Let's take a closer look at the potential drawbacks of these high-caffeine, or "high-stim", pre-workout supplements and what you can take instead to get the strength and endurance-boosting benefits, without the excess caffeine.

Man flexing in sunset

The Benefits of Caffeine in Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements are a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts, and for good reason! The right pre-workout supplement can help take your workouts to new heights by boosting energy and endurance during workouts, building strength, and increasing muscle growth.

Most pre-workout supplements are high in caffeine, with a typical caffeine dose of 300 mg per serving – the equivalent of about three cups of coffee.

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, which accounts for the "stim" part of "high-stim." When taken before physical activity, caffeine can help:

  • increase energy levels
  • improve focus and concentration
  • boost exercise endurance

Additionally, caffeine has been associated with increasing metabolic and fat oxidation rates, potentially aiding in weight loss and body composition goals.

Too Much of a Good Thing? How Excess Caffeine Works Against You

When it comes to caffeine, more isn't always better. It's important to consider the potential drawbacks of high-stimulant pre-workout supplements.

One significant concern is the risk of caffeine-induced insomnia. Due to its stimulatory effects, consuming high doses of caffeine, especially later in the day, can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep. Even if it doesn't prevent you from falling asleep, it can impair the quality of your sleep. This can have a negative impact on fitness goals as sleep is crucial for recovery, muscle repair, and muscle growth. Inadequate sleep can also hinder exercise performance, impair cognitive function, and lead to increased fatigue during workouts.

Furthermore, poor sleep resulting from caffeine consumption can also disrupt hormone regulation, particularly the hormones that control appetite and satiety. Sleep deprivation can increase cravings for sugary and high-carbohydrate foods as the body seeks quick energy sources to combat fatigue. This can work against weight management goals, as it may lead to a higher intake of calorie-dense foods that can hinder progress towards achieving a desired body composition.

When it comes to high-caffeine pre-workout supplements, another important thing to consider is the effect they have on our cardiovascular health. While caffeine can give us an energy boost, it may also increase our heart rate and blood pressure. For low to moderate intensity workouts, this may not be a major concern for most people, but when you're pushing your heart to the limit with high intensity workouts or prolonged cardio, adding high doses of caffeine to the mix can put a lot of strain on your heart, and might increase your risk of adverse effects.

Woman checking heartrate

The Best of Both Worlds: Low-Stim Pre-Workout Supplements

Low-stim pre-workout supplements are becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts who want to maximize their workouts and get better results, while avoiding the negative effects of caffeine.

Promote Sleep Quality

One of the biggest advantages of low-stim pre-workout supplements is that they contain significantly less caffeine than traditional pre-workouts. This means that, even if you consume them later in the day, they're less likely to disrupt your sleep.

Quality sleep is essential for exercise recovery and muscle building – it's during this phase that the body repairs and builds muscle tissue. Even conventional and primary care doctors are increasingly promoting muscle-centric health, the idea that muscle is a critical organ for overall health and longevity. Building and maintaining lean muscle mass supports healthy metabolic function, hormonal balance, and body composition.

By using low-stim pre-workout supplements, you'll be able to get the rest you need to build lean muscle mass and support your body, brain, and overall healthspan.

Enhance Focus and Energy

Low caffeine doesn't have to mean low energy. Low-stim pre-workout supplements offer a balanced alternative to their traditional counterparts by reducing caffeine content while harnessing other ingredients that enhance focus and energy levels. Keep an eye out for dopamine-boosting Tyrosine and botanical wonders like Ginkgo, Rhodiola, and Ashwagandha.

Tyrosine acts as a precursor to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that supports your innate willpower. Rhodiola, with its centuries-old reputation, enhances memory, sharpens alertness, and bolsters endurance. Research even suggests its potential for improving physical performance and reducing mental fatigue. As for ashwagandha, it exhibits beneficial effects on cellular energy production and athletic prowess.

When combined, these ingredients deliver a potent energy and focus boost without excessive caffeine or the tingling sensation often caused by Beta-Alanine, which is commonly found in pre-workouts.

Moreover, low-stim pre-workout supplements greatly minimize the likelihood of anxiety or headaches—common side effects of high caffeine doses—that can impede your workout performance and focus.

Support Heart Health

Low-stim pre-workout supplements are an excellent option for endurance athletes, cardio sessions, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, as these types of workouts place a significant demand on the cardiovascular system.

For some people, the stimulatory effects of caffeine can lead to a rapid heart rate, or heart palpitations. Caffeine intake can also lead to an immediate spike in blood pressure. One scientific review found that drinking 200-300 mg of caffeine — what you'd consume in a high-stim pre-workout — increased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for up to three hours after consumption.

By using low-stim pre-workouts instead, athletes can benefit from improved oxygen utilization, reduced fatigue, and enhanced muscle endurance without putting excess strain on their cardiovascular system.

In addition, low-stim pre-workouts can help avoid dehydration and boost thermoregulation, which is essential for optimal performance in endurance and HIIT activities. Overall, low-stim pre-workout supplements offer a safe and effective way for athletes to boost exercise performance while maintaining optimal heart health.

Man doing mountain climbers

How to Choose a Low-Stim Pre-Workout Supplements

When it comes to maximizing your workout performance, facilitating recovery, and achieving desired results, a low-stim pre-workout supplement can make all the difference. Given the abundance of options flooding the market, choosing a pre-workout can be a daunting task. To make it easier, here are the 3 important factors to consider before making your purchase:

  • Amount of Caffeine: Look for less than 100mg of caffeine per serving. This will ensure you're getting no more than ⅓ of the caffeine dose you'd get from a typical high-stim product.
  • Active Ingredients: Look for active ingredients that have been shown to promote athletic endurance, strength, and stamina. Caffeine, essential amino acids, and nitric oxide agents are among the most researched for their performance-enhancing properties.
  • Flavor & Sweeteners: While flavor is often a personal preference, many pre-workout powders are made with artificial sweeteners and flavors. Take the time to read labels diligently to ensure you find a clean-label product that supports your overall health goals too, not just your workout performance.

When searching for a top-notch low-stim pre-workout solution, Blueshift Nutrition's Pre-Workout checks all the boxes. It not only incorporates research-backed levels of key ingredients like clinically-proven S7® (nitric oxide enhancer) and KSM-66® Ashwagandha but also steers clear of added sugars, artificial sweeteners and flavors, and undesirable fillers. This clean-label formulation is packaged in single-serving pods, eliminating the mess of bulky tubs of powder. Simply toss the pods into your gym bag and enjoy a refreshing drink whenever you're ready to power through your workout.

Kettlebell with Blueshift Sidekick and pods

The Bottom Line

When it comes to optimizing your fitness journey, it's crucial to consider the potential downsides of high-stim pre-workout powders. While they may provide temporary benefits like heightened energy and focus, excessive caffeine intake can disrupt sleep, hindering your exercise recovery and muscle growth. Moreover, poor sleep often leads to cravings for unhealthy foods, derailing your weight management efforts.

Low-stim pre-workout supplements, on the other hand, offer a low-caffeine alternative without compromising on the benefits. These supplements harness the power of other ingredients to not only boost focus and energy levels during workouts but also promote better sleep, aiding in overall performance and recovery.

With a modest but effective 55 mg of caffeine, Blueshift's Pre-Workout is the ultimate low-stim solution. It boasts a comprehensive selection of scientifically-backed ingredients with the convenience of single-serving pods. The refreshing Wild Grape flavor is free from added sugar, artificial sweeteners and flavors, and other unwanted ingredients. With these game-changing Pre-Workout pods, you can boost your performance and build lean muscle mass, without compromising on sleep quality or essential recovery.