Best Caffeine Pills
Caffeine is the world’s most beloved stimulant. Most of us can’t start work, much less get out of bed without our morning coffee.
But did you know the amount of caffeine you're receiving from any given coffee varies wildly, even if it's from the same coffee shop?
I'm not advocating you do away with your morning coffee, but in this article I'll explain why at times, you might want to consider caffeine pills instead of coffee.
How Caffeine Works
It doesn’t matter which form you take it in (pill, powder, coffee or energy drink) caffeine works the same way. It may be released in slower or faster doses but the science remains consistent.
When adenosine binds to adenosine receptors it slows down our nervous system, which makes us sleepy. Caffeine, also binds to adenosine receptors but when caffeine binds to those receptors our nervous system doesn’t slow down, it actually speeds the cells up.
As a result we get a jolt of energy causing us to feel sharper, more mentally alert and in general have more energy. This is why you often find caffeine in pre-workout supplements and why athletes will often take caffeine prior to working out.
Meanwhile, caffeine is also resulting in increased production of dopamine so our brains are not only feeling more alert but they’re also actually craving that dopamine hit that caffeine provides.
Although the science remains consistent regardless of whether you’re getting your shot of caffeine from coffee, tea or a pill An argument can be made that if you’re using caffeine as a supplement you may be best served to take caffeine pills.
The Benefits of Caffeine
For most of us, mental clarity, routine and that dopamine hit is a good enough reason to brew a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
I know I’m not alone, I love the routine. I love the way the pot sizzles, the aroma, the warmth of the mug on my hands and the taste. I’m literally that guy in the Foldger’s commercial deeply inhaling the steam rising off of his cup of coffee, with a broad ass smile stretched across his face.
You know the guy.
Yet, if I’m slammed and I need an extra bump in the afternoon or I’m feeling groggy before my workout I’ll reach for a caffeine pill.
But aside from the energy and mental awareness are there any other benefits of caffeine?
Caffeine coupled with carbs has shown to increase Glycogen post workout. Glyocgen is important because it’s one of the primary sources of energy during intense workouts.
Replenishing these stores is something that must be done daily to achieve peak performance.
There have been a number of studies trying to determine whether or not caffeine is beneficial for weight loss. There is some evidence that caffeine will increase your metabolism.
It’s probably not a great idea to only rely on caffeine as a weight loss mechanism but as part of your pre-workout supplementation there is lots of evidence that it can help.
Personally, during intermittent fasting I’ll drink black coffee which seems to dull the needs for food. Of course, that’s entirely anecdotal and far from a scientific study or proof that coffee works to suppress hunger. It’s also worth noting if your caffeine is coming in the form of coffee with 2 creams and 2 sugars that’s not going to help you lose weight.
There are dozens of other studies, which show a wide range of benefits. For example, there have been some compelling studies which link caffeine & coffee to increased memory and a decreased chance of Alzheimer’s.
However, the main ones we are interested in are those, which pertain to working out and post work out recovery.
Coffee Versus Caffeine Pills Versus Caffeine Drinks
One of the reasons I take caffeine pills prior to working out, even though I love coffee, is to get a consistent dosage.
The caffeine levels in coffee can have dramatic swings from day to day even if they’re coming from the same place. For example, on Saturday, your local coffee shop might serve you a cup of joe that has 178mg of caffeine. The next day you might wind up with the same blend, from the same barista and it’ll have 321mg of caffeine.
And that’s not some anecdotal bullshit, there have been enough studies to show coffee is a terribly inconsistent from of caffeine.
And so if you’re like me, if you workout at 3:00pm the last thing you need is an extra 121mg of surprise caffeine. Personally, that’s enough to wreck havoc on my sleep.
On the other hand caffeine pills and caffeinated beverages like Red Bull offer a consistent dose. It’s also worth mentioning, most people find that caffeine pills offer a slower steadier buzz as opposed to the sharp spikes that drinking coffee can often lead to.
Some other things that I like about caffeine pills
- They’re cheaper. You can get 200mg caffeine pills for as little as $0.05 a pill.
- They’re portable. If for whatever reason coffee isn’t available a caffeine pill’s are convenient.
- You won’t have to use the washroom. This isn’t a big deal in most circumstances. Personally I hate having to use the washroom mid workout, at my gym I have to physically leave the weight area and go down the hall to the rest room. This may sound dramatic but once I’m in a flow I really don’t like to break that.
- They're better for coffee naps. Slamming back a hot coffee and then lying down for a 20 minute nap may sound out there, but it’s amazing. It’s also a little bit easier if you just take a pill than to scald your tongue.
- In university I used to add cream to my coffee. Little did I know I was severely lactose intolerant (and much of the population is). If you don’t like black coffee, caffeine pills are a nice way to avoid it.
- Some people find coffee gives them stomach ache. This isn’t uncommon, as coffee is highly acidic. If you get stomach aches from coffee, the first step would be to stop drinking coffee on an empty stomach. If that doesn’t work, try caffeine pills.
- Caffeine pills won’t stain your teeth. If you’re into sparkling white teeth, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to skip the tea or coffee. Coffee is one of the worst offenders when it comes staining teeth. It’s got three ingredients that stain teeth:
Tannins which make it easier for stains to stick to your teeth:
Chromogens which do the actual staining
Acidity, which weakens the enamel making it more prone to stains.
- Despite the articles that claim coffee is good for you, it’s probably a lot like those articles that claim wine is good for you. In moderation it’s probably got some good impacts, but overall? It’s probably doing a bit more damage than good.
Again, that’s entirely anecdotal, but if there is one thing I’ve learned when the media continually publishes articles about how good a delicious food is for us, it’s probably trying to hide something.
What about energy drinks? Is that a better way to get your caffeine hit?
Personally I’ve always felt that energy drinks taste like garbage. In many cases these energy drinks have less caffeine then a standard cup of coffee.
A few of them have very high levels of caffeine. Bang Energy Drink & Redline have 357 and 316mg respectively but for the most part they have less caffeine than a cup of coffee.
So why would I take a caffeine pill or drink a coffee before I reached for a can of NOS?
- They’re crazy expensive. Caffeine pills are cheap. Coffee can be expensive but it can also be really cheap. Energy drinks are just expensive.
- They’re filled with sugar and other garbage I don’t need.
- They taste terrible.
I don’t really buy into the idea that energy drinks are dangerous, five-cent candy’s are dangerous if you eat an entire 7-11 worth of gummy bears and worms. You don’t need to Google for very long before you find an article stating that a teen had to go the hospital after overdosing on Xplode N-R-GE. That teenager probably isn’t very smart.
Poison is in the dose.
But with that being said, I think there are far better sources of caffeine (caffeine pills, coffee and green tea). I don’t need to help you find your favorite tea or cup of coffee, you probably already know that.
Below are the top caffeine pills to help you kick start your workout or to give you an extra bump in the afternoon.
The Top 4 Caffeine Pills
Price: $0.08 per pill
These are a little bit more expensive than some of the other brands on this list but overall a quality product.
They’re not scored in the middle so if you’re looking for a half dosage you’d be better off using Vivarin Caffeine Pills or Jet Alert 100mg.
Dosage: 100mg or 200mg
Price: $0.06 per pill
The nice thing about Jet Alert is they come in both, 100mg or 200mg. There aren’t a lot of brands that sell 100mg caffeine pills and depending on how you react to caffeine 100mg might be plenty.
Aside from the packaging which makes it look like a gift gag these are pretty solid. They’re among the cheapest options on this list.
Price: $0.06 per pill
I’m not entirely sure why they called them “High Caffeine”, as you’ve probably noticed the majority of caffeine pills are going to be 200mg tablets.
These guys will dissolve in water if that’s your jam. Otherwise you can take them like any other pill.
Price: $0.20 per pill
Vivarin caffine pills are probably the best known caffeine pill on the market. Unlike a lot of companies they advertise that they’ve been recognized by the FDA as both a safe and effective way to increase mental alertness.
If you’ve never taken caffeine pills before, you might find that they deliver a much steadier dose of caffeine. If you want to take this one step further you can split Vivarin tablets in half.
It’s nice because unlike other tablets on the market Vivarin pills are pre-scored so splitting them is easy.
One thing to note is these are very expensive for caffeine pills. Most of them will range between $0.05-$0.1 per pill, while these are $0.2.
A List of Pre-Workout Supplements that Contain Caffeine
If you’re already taking a pre-workout supplement you might be surprised to find out that you’re probably already additional caffeine.
Lots of pre-workout supplements actually provide more caffeine than a straight caffeine pill. Unfortunately, often times it’s hard to determine just how much caffeine you’re actually getting.
Legion Pulse - 330mg per serving
Optimum Nutrition Platinum – 217mg per serving
Citadel Nutrition Tier 1+ - 318mg per serving
Vintage Blast – 220mg per serving
Citadel Nutrition Tier 1 - 213mg per serving
Sheer Strength Pre-Workout – 131mg per serving
MyProtein Pre-Workout – 235mg per serving
Evlution Nutrition – 260mg per serving
Top Secret Nutrition Pump Ignitor– 265mg per serving
Ubervita ROCT Workout Ignitor – 200mg
If you’re working out in the afternoon you might want to consider finding a pre-workout supplement without caffeine, so you don’t destroy your sleep. Ultimately, no pre-workout supplement is more valuable than sleep when