Trending pre-workout drinks promise a purer hit of performance-enhancing juice, but can they beat the original booster: the humble espresso? Here’s the pep talk.
Espresso: There is 264mg of caffeine in a double shot of Devil Mountain, the self-proclaimed “World’s Strongest Coffee” – more than half your RDA in 60ml.
Pre-workout: There’s 180mg of caffeine in a 330ml can of Nocco energy drink. That’s a little less from a lot more liquid, but still plenty to fire up your session.
Espresso: One very robusta meta-analysis* found that the caffeine in your pre-gym shot can boost muscle strength by 20 per cent, speeding up your route to a squat PB.
Pre-workout: On top of caffeine’s benefits, the University of Córdoba found the citrulline added to pre-workout drinks helps you add up to 53 per cent more bench press repetitions per workout.
Espresso: Coffee helps you use up more fat during exercise: the caffeine releases adrenalin, which stimulates your fatty tissue to break down and release fat into your blood.
Pre-workout: The beta-alanine in many pre-workouts helps you train at a high intensity for 13 per cent longer. This helps you melt through more calories every time you don your Metcons.
Espresso: In a 10-year study, coffee drinkers cut their risk of premature death by as much as 16 per cent. Curiously, the positive effects weren’t linked to caffeine: decaf drinkers benefited equally.
Pre-workout: Newer brands such as Nocco have cleaned up the act, but scientists have linked the original class of energy drinks to diabetes, mental health problems and kidney damage.
Espresso: Whether it’s the gym or the rugby pitch, downing an espresso half an hour before go time will boost performance by 11 per cent, according to the University of Luton.
Pre-workout: Your citrulline-packed pre-workout can provide a potent boost. In one study, cyclists could bike 12 per cent longer before exhaustion – a tasty edge over the peloton.
The MH Verdict: Pre-workout Wins!
…with one major caveat: this fight took place in the gym. To kick-start your day and improve your health, espresso wins out easily. But when your training needs extra fizz, the micros in pre-workouts have an undeniable edge. Drink them more than that, though, and you’re opening a can of worms.
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