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Go Back   Anabolic Steroids Discussion and Bodybuilding Forum > Diet, Nutrition & Supps Section > Diet, Nutrition & Supplements Discussion

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When should you take your preworkout?
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When should you take your preworkout? - 10-16-2016, 09:03 AM

There's a good rundown of caffeine and it's use an ergogenic. It gets into timing it for the maximum benefit preworkout. Turns out it's a lot sooner than most of us probably think. The links to the studies referenced are at the bottom of the page.

When Timing Matters: When is the Best Time to Consume Caffeine Before a Workout? Is it 0, 5, 30, 60, 90 or 120 Min? - SuppVersity: Nutrition and Exercise Science for Everyone

I assume you believe that the statements in the "recommended usage" box on your pre-workout are science-based, right? Well, that's pretty naive. After all, 99% of the pre-workout formulas contain at least 3 ingredients that are just in there to be able to have more than just caffeine, creatine and beta alanine on the label. Against that background, it's only logical to question whether the recommendations on the label (usually "take 20-30 minutes before your workout") are valid or also just there , because "the others have it" ;-) And since caffeine is the main and in many case the only working stimulant in these products you don't want to use it in ways that doesn't allow caffeine to do its performance enhancing job optimally, right?

So let's see if we can put faith in recommendations that are not in line with the standard protocol in pertinent studies, in which caffeine is usually administered roughly 60 minutes before the workout.

As Graham points out in his 2001 review "[t]his protocol has been selected because caffeine is rapidly absorbed and plasma concentrations approximate a maximum level in 1 hour" (Graham. 2001). Whether this is actually optimal, though, had never been questioned when Graham wrote his review; and it is, as Graham rightly points out "remarkable how rarely the investigators have measured the circulating concentration of the drug they are studying" (Graham. 2001). This did not prevent Nehlig et al. (1994) and Palmer et al. (1995) to write in their reviews of caffeine as an ergogenic that waiting 3 hours would be "optimal" because this is when the caffeine-induced lipolysis produces the highest free fatty acid levels, of which the authors believe that it would be ideal for (endurance) athletes.

As logical as Nehlig's and Palmer's advise may be, is was, when Graham, who questions the validity of their advise, wrote his review in 2002, based only on logical assumptions, not on scientific evidence. The latter was published only one year after Graham's paper by Bell and McLellan (2002). Their study which was conducted at Defence R&D Canada-Toronto and examined the duration of caffeine’s ergogenic effect on the longest time-scale of any of the hitherto published studies(see Figure 1 for an overview of the timing) clearly suggests that Nehlig's and Palmer's reasoning can stand the test of experimental science.


Figure 1: Time line for arriving, blood sampling, delivery of Gatorade, cereal bar, meal, and measurement of oxygen consumption (VO2) during the treatment trials. ER, exercise ride to exhaustion interval; 1, 3, and 6, 1-h trial, 3-h trial and 6-h trial, respectively. aProcedure was done at this time for all trials (Bell. 2002).


Figure 2: Time to exhaustion at 80% maximal V ˙ O2 in caffeine users and nonusers 1, 3, and 6 h after caffeine ingestion. *Nonusers users. Caffeine placebo (Bell. 2002).

**Firstly, the ergogenic effect, which was measured only as the time it took the subjects until full exertion, differed between users and nonusers - with the ergogenic effect being greater and lasting longer in nonusers.
**Secondly, the ergogenic effects of caffeine lasted for 6h only in the nonusers. In the caffeine users, the effects lasted for "only" 1-3 h - an observation that is in line with the previously established increase in caffeine clearance with regular consumption.
**Third- and lastly, the non-significant advantage of working out 3h after the consumption of caffeine in the habitual consumers is interesting. It's not statistically significant, though.

So, 1-3h before your workout depending on whether you are a caffeine abstainer (1h) or habitual consumer (3h) it is, then? No, let's not jump to conclusions. If we look at the results of Edward J. Ryans' 2011 dissertation on "Caffeine timing and cycling performance" there's another parameter that may significantly influence the "optimal" timing: The route of administration.

Not so fast, it does always make sense to consider all the evidence

In his study, Ryan tested the effects of chewing gum with 300mg of caffeine on the performance of moderate (<300mg/day) caffeine users during a standardized time trial cycling exercise.


Figure 3: Cycle time trial performance across experimental treatments (Ryan. 2011).

As you can see in Figure 3, the caffeine chewing gum is best taken according to the previously cited recommendation on the pre-workout products. After all, the only significant performance benefit was observed in the -5 minute trial which took place roughly 20 minutes before the time trial (the subjects started chewing the gum 5 minutes before a steady-state warm-up and thus 20 minutes before the time-trial Ryan used to test the effects).

What do we make of the contradictory evidence

In his study, Ryan also cites the previously discussed study by Bell and McLellan and states that the differences between his and Bell's results are probably related to the different routes of administration. While he used chewing gums , Bell and McLellan relied on classic caffeine capsules. Now, the questions we have to answer are: Which is more like a pre-workout? Pill or gum? And, more importantly, what's the optimal timing for pill, gum and pre-workout?


Figure 4: Peak value, half-life and the time it takes for the levels to peak differ significantly for caffeine capsules and caffeinated drinks like coffee and cola (and presumably pre-workout products). The respective times for the peak to occur are similar times for coffee (42 +/- 5 min) and cola (39 6 +/-5 min) but delayed for capsule (67 +/- 7 min | Ligouri. 1997).

Since the studies we'd need to answer this question are not available, we have to make some assumptions: Firstly, it is only logical to assume that the caffeine capsules Bell and McLellan used in their study will take longer to deliver the full load of caffeine than chewing gums or coffee. If we secondly assume that pre-workout powders you'd solve in water will have similar effects as caffeine and cola we can resort to the 1997 study by Ligouri et al. which (luckily) has all the data we need in one figure (Figure 4).

As you can see in Figure 4, cola and coffee had a very similar serum caffeine profile with a peak after 39-42 minutes. When caffeine was administered in capsule form, though, the caffeine levels peaked almost 30 minutes later and thus 67 minutes after the ingestion. If we take this as a reference and assume that caffeine may exert its neurological and performance enhancing effects even faster when it is administered as a chewing gum, we can state the following recommendations.

When do I take my caffeine? The answer to this question depends on how you are going to take it. Specifically, ...

if you want to use a caffeine chewing gum, take it ca. 20 minutes before the workout,
if you plan to drink it either in form of coffee, a pre-workout, cola or an energy drink, use it ca. 35 minutes before your workout,
if you rely on capsules or pills take them ca. 60 min before you need peak performance

to achieve "optimal" results. Since your habitual caffeine consumption, the type of exercise, nicotine and alcohol consumption, your liver health, menstruation and a dozen of not fully researched genetic polymorphisms will all influence the pharmacokinetics of caffeine (Smits. 1985; George. 1986; Joeres. 1988; Cheng. 1990; Kamimori. 1999), it may yet be worth experimenting with these recommendations.

Your personal optimum timing may well 50-100% earlier, i.e. 45-90 minutes before your workouts. On the other hand, it's very unlikely that anything less than 20 minutes will yield optimal results.
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Lightbulb 10-16-2016, 06:11 PM

This is very interesting, thank you for sharing.
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10-19-2016, 02:49 AM

I notice less effect or no effect at all from caffeine/preworkouts if they are not taken on an empty stomach. I never notice much effect from energy drinks unless I drink the larger ones. On an empty stomach I feel it in about 20 minutes. If I drink only coffee, the energy seem to last much longer after I leave the gym.
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10-24-2016, 08:12 PM

Hmm...I may start taking caffeine again.

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Lightbulb 10-24-2016, 08:40 PM

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Originally Posted by trainlikeaboss View Post
I notice less effect or no effect at all from caffeine/preworkouts if they are not taken on an empty stomach. I never notice much effect from energy drinks unless I drink the larger ones. On an empty stomach I feel it in about 20 minutes. If I drink only coffee, the energy seem to last much longer after I leave the gym.
I like COFFEE because it doesn't over stimulate me and gives me a decent energy kick with no crash.
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04-14-2017, 09:25 AM

I usually take 400mgs of caffeine 30mins before I work out...
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04-14-2017, 09:27 AM

Also caffeine seems better then most prework outs that can make you feel sick.
   
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04-15-2017, 06:08 AM

Stims definitely work better on an empty stomach. Sometimes too good.

As far as how far out to take them, iI think everyone reacts differently. So a little trial and error will help YOU decide when the optimal time is.
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04-17-2017, 06:07 AM

mug of coffee pales in comparison to a little Pre-Jym if you ask me.
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04-29-2017, 03:38 AM

In my usual routine i do not take any food, just have a cup of tea. And it works for me.
   
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05-10-2017, 07:30 AM

Agreed, if I take a big dose of stims on an empty stomach, more often than not I just feel too jittery or even sickly.

Over the years what I've found works best for me is a solid food meal about 2 hours before I work out, then a pre-workout (when necessary) about 30-40 minutes before the gym.

Quote:
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Stims definitely work better on an empty stomach. Sometimes too good.

As far as how far out to take them, iI think everyone reacts differently. So a little trial and error will help YOU decide when the optimal time is.
   
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05-23-2017, 12:31 AM

I like one hour before my workout
   
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05-23-2017, 12:31 AM

Also, I always need to go #2 before I go to the gym
   
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05-23-2017, 10:08 PM

Sip in it while working out. Gets me kind of sick though. Been doimg it for almost 3 years now. It does help get that extra rep in.
   
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07-22-2017, 08:21 PM

Good post. I kind of figured between 20-45 minutes
   
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10-22-2017, 11:55 PM

Caffeine hits me really fast. I guess it would go by when you had your last meal. I take preworkout about 15mins before training.
   
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11-11-2017, 01:28 PM

I like caffeine hitting me around the time I walk into the gym so dose it about 10 mins prior.
   
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11-12-2017, 08:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by striffe View Post
Caffeine hits me really fast. I guess it would go by when you had your last meal. I take preworkout about 15mins before training.
I am the same. I train on an empty stomach a lot so caffeine hits me in minutes so I time it as close to the workout as possible. If I am driving to another gym I will get a coffee on the way.
   
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11-12-2017, 11:30 PM

Good article. Thank you for sharing. I dose about 20-30 mins pre workout.


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11-13-2017, 03:10 PM

Good info. Diet and type of pre workout are big factors for timing.

◾if you want to use a caffeine chewing gum, take it ca. 20 minutes before the workout,
◾if you plan to drink it either in form of coffee, a pre-workout, cola or an energy drink, use it ca. 35 minutes before your workout,
◾if you rely on capsules or pills take them ca. 60 min before you need peak performance.
   
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