Listen up, stim-heads. It’s time to talk about that post-workout crash that is destroying your productivity. No, you’re not ‘sleepy’ after a big day. You’re falling to a sword called the pre-workout crash. We’re going to tell you how to prevent pre-workout crash so that you can make the most out of every performance.
What is Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout is a supplement that is designed to be taken before exercise to maximise performance during the workout. It is a combination of ingredients such as caffeine, amino acids, and creatine that work together to increase energy levels, improve focus, and enhance overall physical performance. Taking pre-workout before exercise can help you power through a tough workout and push past the plateaus that threaten to make you quit. Pre-workout formulas offer differing levels of stimulants, meaning you can experience a caffeine crash, better known in the fitness industry as a pre-workout crash (WebMD. 2023).
What does a Pre-Workout crash feel like?
Crashing from caffeine feels like life and energy are being drained from your body. Because caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world, and pre-workouts are built using caffeine as a key pillar, those pre-workout crashes hit harder than a brick wall.
One of the common pre-workout crash symptoms is nausea. After the initial surge of energy fades, many people experience a caffeine crash, which can lead to unwanted symptoms like nausea. The reason is that caffeine is a stimulant that speeds up our central nervous system, which in turn increases our heart rate and blood pressure. When the effects of caffeine begin to wear off, our bodies return to their regular speed, often leading to a drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This sudden shift can be jarring to our system, causing us to feel sick and uneasy (Golick, A. 2021).
After a vein-bursting session at the gym, you might find yourself feeling tired and fatigued. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s because you trained hard. It’s because you’ve hit that post-pre-workout crash. A key factor that causes the caffeine crash is the fact that it blocks the effects of adenosine, which is a molecule produced in your body that makes you feel sleepy. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors when it reaches your brain, blocking the effects of adenosine. This is why you feel energetic when you train in the morning. The compromise is that after your session, your body can experience a buildup of adenosine that hits you like a fully loaded bench press at the end of a heavy session (Casper. 2021).
That pre-workout crash can affect more than just your energy levels. Caffeine can trigger headaches when consumed regularly, making a committed athlete who trains every morning more likely to experience the symptoms. When caffeine is consumed too often, the body becomes dependent. Caffeine causes the blood vessels around the brain to constrict, only enlarging when consumption stops. This means increased blood flow around the brain and pressures surrounding nerves. This can lead to headaches caused by withdrawal as your body adjusts to the task of performing without caffeine (Tornstrom, K. 2020).
Lack of focus or concentration
Another symptom of the pre-workout crash is the impact on focus and concentration. Too much caffeine can cause a drop in serotonin levels, which can inhibit focus, concentration, and overall mood. Additionally, consuming caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. This, in turn, prompts the liver to release glycogen, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels and a temporary surge of energy. However, this surge is short-lived, as the pancreas responds by releasing insulin to regulate the excess sugar. Once sugar levels drop, feelings of lethargy and fatigue set in, commonly referred to as the pre-workout caffeine crash (Blackmore, S. 2023).
Why does Pre-Workout make you crash?
Pre-workouts leave you crashing from caffeine, which is the powerhouse ingredient that fuels the majority of them. The pre-workout crash symptoms present themselves within hours of consuming high or moderate doses of caffeine. We touched on the symptoms above. Let’s discuss why it makes you crash.
In a nutshell, caffeine fires up the central nervous system, giving you the focus, energy, and alertness to train beyond your limits. It can also increase adrenaline, which can raise your heartbeat or blood pressure slightly. Your brain plays a role in caffeine metabolism and provides energy by blocking adenosine from attaching to the brain's receptors. When the caffeine wears off, the adenosine hits at once, which leads to the pre-workout crash (Pedre, V. 2022).
Tips on how to avoid a Pre-Workout crash?
Stop letting the pre-workout crash impact your performance. You’re better than that. Follow these tips to take control and avoid caffeine crashes.
Avoid taking too close to bedtime
Sleep is one of the most important processes that your body undergoes. When you’re over-tired, your body is more susceptible to the post-workout caffeine crash. The issue with caffeine is that when you consume too much, it can negatively impact your sleep. About half the total amount of caffeine you consume stays in your body after five hours. As a result, the best option to avoid impacting your sleep is to avoid consuming caffeine within five to six hours before sleep (Van De Walle, G. 2020).
Assess your tolerance
When you consume caffeine regularly, your body will build up a tolerance over time. This can impact blood pressure, performance, alertness and cognitive function. If you’re consuming too much caffeine for your body to handle, you may experience a caffeine crash. A single dose of more than 200mg at once can cause a caffeine crash, so if you’re pumping a high-stimulant pre-workout, you may find yourself on the negative side of a pre-workout crash (Kallmyer, T. 2020).
Ensure you keep hydrated
Hydration is a vital part of your day-to-day performance, whether you’re training or not. If you’re getting hit with the pre-workout crash symptoms, you should consider how much water you’re consuming. You might be dehydrated. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should consume about 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of water, and women should consume about 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) of water each day to maintain hydration. To avoid the caffeine crash, increase the amount of water that you drink (Golick, A. 2021).
Try a stim-free pre-workout
It might be hard to break the wheel, but training without caffeine can help you train hard without any pre-workout crash symptoms. If you’re serious about your results, you should be able to perform without extensive caffeine. Carnitine RX is a suitable stimulant-free solution that is free from caffeine and harnesses three different types of L-carnitine to support energy and performance.
Avoid additional caffeine from things like coffee
Don’t forget where caffeine comes from. If you’re starting your day with a high stimulant pre-workout, you probably have the equivalent of several cups of coffee in your system. When you start your day with pre-workout, avoid other caffeinated drinks like coffee, energy drinks, and even a can of Coke. The FDA recommends a maximum of 400mg of caffeine per day for adults, so be careful if your pre-workout already touches that threshold. Avoid sugary drinks because these can cause a spike in your blood glucose, leading to a sugar crash to match your caffeine crash, and if you insist on coffee, switch to decaf in the afternoon (Casper. 2021).
Get sufficient sleep
Sleep is the most important factor when avoiding a pre-workout crash. If you’re crashing from caffeine, it may be a sign that you’re getting insufficient sleep or consuming caffeine too close to bed. It isn’t always easy to get a good night's sleep, but it is important to make an effort to prevent pre-workout crashes after training. If you want to know how to prevent a pre-workout crash, look at your sleep. Five hours isn’t enough. The energy-boosting effects of caffeine are stronger when you’re sleep-deprived, making you more prone to crashing from caffeine. If you’re waking up early without much sleep and hitting the gym with a high-stim pre-workout, you’re going to get hit with those pre-workout crash symptoms. Getting more sleep will help you reduce your reliance on caffeine, which can help you reduce the pre-workout crash symptoms.
Our picks for the best non-crash pre-workouts
Here are the solutions to help you avoid the caffeine crash anxiety.
Pyro is one of the best pre-workouts with no crash. With a moderate dose of caffeine to provide energy without sending you over the edge, Pyro supports mental performance enhancement and thermogenesis, harnessing a core of cutting-edge components like L-taurine, beta-alanine, N-acetyl tyrosine, caffeine anhydrous, and more. Pyro delivers a hard-hitting formula designed to help you achieve your fitness goals. Unlike other high-stimulant pre-workouts, Pyro ensures you don’t suffer any pre-workout crashes or post-workout slumps.
Evolve Carnitine RX
Carnitine RX is among the best pre-workouts with no crash, offering a stimulant-free solution that stands out for its remarkable qualities. Completely plant-based and vegan-friendly, this caffeine-free formula can deliver energy without any pre-workout crash. It features three powerful forms of carnitine: L-carnitine fumarate, L-carnitine tartrate, and N-acetyl L-carnitine. These forms are synergistically designed to help you achieve your goals without any pre-workout crash. Whether you need an early morning energy boost or a formula to support regular training, this energy-boosting formula is suitable for men and women of every sporting level.
The Run Down
Stop letting the pre-workout crash derail your progress and ruin your productivity. Be real with yourself. Assess your tolerance, improve your sleep, and monitor how much caffeine you’re consuming. Stop trying to be a hero by pumping 400mg of caffeine on five hours of sleep. Real results come from taking care of yourself. Avoid the caffeine crash and take your performance to the next level.
For more information about how to optimise muscle recovery after training, chat with our knowledgeable team at Evolve Nutrition today or reach out online.
WebMD. 2023, ‘Health Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements’, WebMD, accessed September 2023, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/health-benefits-pre-workout-supplements
Golick, A. 2021, ‘What Does a Caffeine Crash Feel Like? | Drink Marquis’, Marquis, accessed September 2023, https://drinkmarquis.com/blogs/marquis-world/how-to-get-caffeine-without-the-crash#:~:text=A%20caffeine%20crash%20can%20look,experience%20with%20nausea%20and%20headaches.
Casper. 2021, ‘The Caffeine Crash: Why Does Coffee Make Me Sleepy?’ Casper, accessed September 2023, https://casper.com/blog/why-does-coffee-make-me-sleepy/
Tornstrom, K. 2020, ‘Does caffeine treat or trigger headaches?’ Mayo Clinic Health System, accessed September 2023, https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/does-caffeine-treat-or-trigger-headaches#:~:text=And%20because%20caffeine%20narrows%20the,as%20a%20caffeine%20withdrawal%20headache.
Blackmore, S. 2023, ‘Why do I feel wiped out after too much caffeine?’ Science Focus, accessed September 2023, https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/why-do-i-feel-wiped-out-after-too-much-caffeine
Pedre, V. 2022, ‘What Is A Caffeine Crash? Plus, 4 MD Tips To Prevent It From Happening’, MBG Health, accessed September 2023, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/caffeine-crash
Van De Walle, V. 2020, ‘What Is a Caffeine Crash? Plus 4 Tips for How to Avoid It’, Healthline, accessed September 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-crash
Kallmyer, T. 2020, ‘Caffeine Hangover and Crash: What It Is and How to Avoid It’, Caffeine Informer, accessed September 2023, https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-hangover-caffeine-crash