What Are The Best Stimulant and Caffeine Free Pre Workout Supplements in 2017?
The pre workout supplement market is saturated with stimulants and caffeine, however not everyone wants or needs that artificial boost. There are plenty of high quality caffeine free pre workout options out there.
In this article, I’m going to detail some of the reasons you might want to leave caffeine out of your exercise routine. Then I’m going to look at some of the pre workout supplement options available and share their pros and cons. Hopefully by the end you’ll be able to decide on the best stimulant free pre workout supplement for you.
Why Go Stimulant Free?
The purpose of stimulants (including caffeine) in a pre workout supplement is to give you a boost of energy. The dose of caffeine in most is equivalent to one or two huge mugs of coffee. Higher energy is a good thing, but stimulants aren't always the best way to achieve this. Here are some reasons you might consider going stimulant free.
1. Caffeine can interfere with your sleep
Many people work out in the evening or at night after work. If you're taking caffeine in the late afternoon, you might not be able to sleep well that night.
Your central nervous system remains alert for an average of five hours after you take caffeine or any similar stimulants (source).
2. It’s not safe for people with high blood pressure.
Stimulants work by vasoconstriction, which means tightening of the blood vessels. As a result, it becomes harder you for to pump blood throughout your body. This leads to spikes in blood pressure. For those of you who already have high blood pressure, stimulants can be very dangerous. If you have an ongoing health condition or take a prescription medicine, always check with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine.
3. Some people just don't benefit from stimulants
Stimulants can have adverse effects on some people, ranging from nausea and stomach pain to anxiety. In those cases, the benefit simply doesn’t outweigh the side effects.
4. Stimulants can be addicting.
Caffeine and most stimulants provide not only a physical boost but a mental one. Stimulants increase dopamine levels in the brain, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
5. Even people who use stimulants regularly should take breaks.
It's not safe to take supplements with a high stimulant content for extended periods of time. Taking a break from stimulants gives your body a chance to regain its natural energy.
Your body will also adjust to stimulants over time, making them less effective the longer you take them.
One fitness expert recommends cycling off stimulant pre workouts approximately every two months. Check out his video for reasons why you should give your body the occasional rest from caffeine and other stimulants:
Common Stimulant Substitutes
So what do the best stimulant free pre workouts use to give you a boost? The answer is usually amino acids. There is a wide variety of amino acids with an even wider array of benefits. The right amino acids can do anything from improving endurance and giving you more power to helping with muscle recovery.
The following are the most common amino acids and nutrients you’ll find in the best caffeine free pre workout supplements:
Creatine is one of the most well-researched workout supplements on the market. It's an amino acid known to increase strength and stimulate muscle growth (source).
Many studies have revealed creatine's benefits for athletic performance (source). Taking creatine can have long-term cumulative benefits too - including greater strength, less fat mass, and more muscle mass (source).
Today many companies have devoted time and resources to developing enhanced varieties of creatine for their supplements.
Creatine monohydrate is the original, while creatine HCL is another common version known to cause less water retention and produce muscles that appear slimmer. Micronized creatine is a finer powder that is easier to blend into a drink and absorb into the body.
However, some people have trouble absorbing creatine simple due to their genetics. Creatine also isn't that effective for endurance-based exercises like running (source). For these reasons, I didn't choose any creatine-only supplements to review in this article.
Citrulline, sometimes listed as L-citrulline, is an amino acid that helps the body produce more nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which helps the body with blood circulation.
With the opposite effect of stimulants, NO widens blood vessels and allows for greater blood flow to your muscles. Healthy blood flow lets your body deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and improves your performance.
One study tested the time it took cyclists to complete an exercise with and without citrulline. The participants who took oral supplements of citrulline not only completed the task faster but reported less muscle fatigue and better concentration (source).
Many supplements combine citrulline with L-malate. You might see the ingredient listed as citrulline malate. Malate, which is just the addition of malic acid, boosts your energy levels.
A study on citrulline-malate for professional male weightlifters resulted in more lower body repetitions (source). A similar study looked at professional female tennis players. The result was increased grip strength and greater lower body power when players took eight grams of citrulline malate before exercising (source).
In addition to improving performance in athletes, citrulline malate also reduces muscle soreness, making it useful for those new to the gym too (source).
Beta-alanine is naturally produced in the liver. You also get beta-alanine from meats like beef and poultry. It's known as a "non-essential" amino acid since it’s not necessary to consume it. However, beta-alanine supplements can provide additional benefits.
When you take beta-alanine, it goes to the muscle fibers. There it combines with histidine - another amino acid - to form carnosine. Carnosine is responsible for maintaining your blood pH. It acts as a buffer between hydrogen ions to promote less acid build-up.
Maintaining the right pH in your blood is important. Too much acid in the bloodstream results in muscle fatigue. During exercise, your body naturally produces more acid, and you begin to feel worn out (source). Beta-alanine mitigates and holds off these effects.
Studies on beta-alanine show impressive results. Participants who took beta-alanine supplements during high-intensity interval training workouts increased their lean muscle mass. They also saw improvements in their overall performance (source).
Beta-alanine can give you a tingling or "pins and needles" sensation, so don’t be surprised if this happens when you take a pre workout with this ingredient.
Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are also great workout boosters. The primary BCAAs are L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine. Leucine is the most impactful BCAA and has a large volume of studies to support its benefits (source).
One study found that participants who look BCAA supplements with a resistance-training workout had greater muscle strength. They also experienced fat loss and lean muscle gains.
Best Stimulant and Caffeine Free Pre Workouts for 2017
I've reviewed five of the best stimulant free pre workout supplements. It might surprise you how simple some of these products are, but all of them are proven to give you a boost during a workout. Take a look at this list to help you find the best caffeine free pre workout.
I recommend Kaged Muscle's Citrulline powder as the best stimulant free pre workout. It's priced a little higher than other citrulline powders, but their quality is among the best.
Guaranteed safe for athletes and GRAS-approved, Kaged Muscle Citrulline has many additional benefits that other brands don't. While they only use citrulline to enhance your workout, I challenge you to try a simple supplement.
Many pre workouts are packed with so many ingredients that we don't know what is helping you get positive results. Several studies have proven the effectiveness of L-citrulline as a workout supplement. It increases blood circulation, muscle growth, and overall performance.
Try one of the best caffeine free pre workout supplements around and do something good for your body.