Can Pre-Workout Cause Anxiety?

Potential Triggers & How to Avoid Side Effects

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: April 19, 2023

Pre-workout supplements are popular among everyone, from newbie lifters to hard-core bodybuilders. Most end up using them because the energy and focus help amplify their workouts.

However, some people may experience anxiety when taking pre-workout. If you’re one of those people, then you’re looking for answers as to why it happens and how you can prevent this unwanted side effect.

Can Pre Workout Cause Anxiety

Can Pre-Workout Cause Anxiety?

Yes, pre-workout supplements may cause or exacerbate anxiety symptoms in some people. And the main reason is that they often contain high levels of stimulants, which can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels.

Moreover, these effects can lead to feelings of anxiety or nervousness, especially in people who are sensitive to stimulants or have pre-existing anxiety disorders.

Therefore, it’s important to read the labels carefully and speak with a healthcare provider before taking any new supplements, particularly if you have a history of anxiety or other medical conditions.

Why Does Pre-Workout Cause Anxiety?

Pre-workout supplements can contain several stimulants and other ingredients that may cause anxiety symptoms. Many of these stimulants are used to increase energy and focus during workouts. While others are used as fat-burning agents.

However, stimulants also activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight or flight response. And this heightened state can also trigger anxiety or panic attacks in some people.

Here are ingredients commonly found in pre-workout supplements that may contribute to anxiety:

  1. Caffeine: a central nervous system stimulant that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels, leading to feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or jitters.
  2. Yohimbine: a compound derived from the bark of the yohimbe tree that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels. And it may cause feelings of anxiety or panic in some people.
  3. Synephrine: a stimulant that can increase heart rate and blood pressure and may cause feelings of anxiety or jitteriness.
  4. Beta-alanine: an amino acid that can cause a tingling or prickling sensation in the skin, which may be uncomfortable or anxiety-provoking for some people.

Related: How to Prevent Pre-Workout Itch

Pre-Workouts Most Likely To Cause Anxiety

Pre-workouts containing the most stimulants are generally more likely to make you feel anxious or jittery. And the most common stimulant in pre-workout is caffeine.

Most of these supplements contain 100% caffeine anhydrous. However, you might also see ingredients like 75% or 50% caffeine malate or citrate.

In addition, many supplements disguise caffeine under a “stimulant blend” or similar title. So read the label carefully to ensure you know what you’re taking.

Here are some pre-workout supplements that contain the most caffeine per serving:

  1. Alpha Lion Superhuman Extreme: 420mg
  2. Psycho Pharma Edge of Insanity: 400mg
  3. Rich Piana 5% Nutrition 5150: 400mg
  4. Spazmatic Pre-Workout: 400mg
  5. KXR Pre-Workout: 400mg
  6. Ryse Loaded Pre: 390mg
  7. Kaged Elite: 390mg
  8. Pro Supps Mr. Hyde Xtreme: 380mg
  9. Legion Pulse: 350mg
  10. Gorilla Mode: 350mg
Highest Caffeine Pre Workouts

It’s important to note that everyone reacts differently to pre-workout ingredients. And the amount and combination of ingredients can vary widely between products.

In addition, many pre-workouts contain ingredients like kanna and theobromine, which may have anti-anxiety effects. So it’s difficult to pinpoint which pre-workouts will trigger anxiety the most.

Pre-Workouts Least Likely to Cause Anxiety

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, to prevent insomnia, jitteriness, and anxiety. And people who are sensitive to caffeine may need to limit their intake even further.

To put that in perspective, 400mg of caffeine is roughly two standard energy drinks or three 8 oz cups of coffee.

Related: Coffee vs Pre-Workout Before Exercise

As you’ve seen, some pre-workouts have a day’s worth of caffeine in one serving! So if you’re concerned about the anxiety-inducing effects, you should look for a supplement with less caffeine or no stimulants.

Here are some of the most popular stim-free pre-workouts available:

  1. Genius Pre-Workout
  2. Gorilla Mode Nitric Stim-Free
  3. Legion Pulse Stim-Free
  4. Nutricost Stim-Free
  5. Ghost Pump Nitric Oxide

Among these supplements, Genius Pre-Workout has the most reviews and contains several natural nootropic ingredients that may help with calm focus. Gorilla Mode also has a lot of reviews, but the formula is lacking, in my opinion.

By comparison, Legion has effective dosages of all the ingredients you want in a pre-workout. Nutricost does as well and is, by far, the best value. Finally, Ghost tastes fantastic, but it’s expensive, and the supplement is geared toward getting a pump.

Therefore, Legion Pulse Stim-Free or Nutricost Stim-Free are good options for getting all the performance and blood flow benefits of pre-workout without caffeine.

Pulse Stim-Free Pre-Workout for Anxiety
Nutricost SF Pre-Workout for Anxiety

How to Prevent Pre-Workout Anxiety

Avoiding or reducing caffeine and other stimulants is an excellent way to prevent anxiety before workouts. But stimulants are only one simple piece of a larger, more complex puzzle.

Here are some additional ways to reduce anxiety:

  1. Exercise: Working out will help you burn off the caffeine and reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins, improving mood, and reducing stress.
  2. Breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety by slowing your heart rate and promoting relaxation.
  3. Mindfulness: Meditation can help reduce anxiety by training the mind to focus on the present moment while cultivating a sense of calm.
  4. Therapy: Talking to a therapist can be a helpful way to learn new coping skills and work through underlying issues contributing to anxiety.
  5. Sleep: Getting enough restful sleep is essential for managing anxiety. It’s recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Remember, anxiety usually doesn’t have a single root cause. So it’s vital to take a holistic approach to your mental health and implement multiple strategies to manage your anxiety.

Can Pre-Workout Cause Anxiety Male

More Pre-Workout Answers

Now you know how your pre-workout supplement may be contributing to anxiety. But you may have more questions than you had before reading this article!

So here are some additional articles answering common pre-workout questions:

What’s the Least Expensive Pre-Workout?

Should You Take Pre-Workout On An Empty Stomach?

Can I Take BCAA and Pre-Workout Together?

How Long Does Pre-Workout Take to Kick In?

Why Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch or Tingle?

Does Pre-Workout Make You Poop?

How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?

Creatine vs Pre-Workout – Which Is Better?

Does Pre-Workout Cause Acne?

Or, if you have no more questions about pre-workouts, check out some of my other fitness-related content below. You’ll find information on everything from supplements to workouts and nutrition!

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