How Many Scoops Of Pre Workout Should I Take? Is It Safe?

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If there’s one thing in pre-workout that necessitates moderation, it’s caffeine. No one should sit down and eat 20 scoops of pre-workout, whether it has caffeine or not. But caffeine is the most immediate danger from taking too much. 

Depending on the brand, the recommended amount of scoops of pre workout that should be taken daily is 1 or 2. Which is the equivalent of about 400 milligrams. It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s nutritional guidelines before using more.

How you take it is up to you but 400mg is usually the sweet spot. For those who have never taken pre-workout, you should start with a low dose of 100mg. This will give you an opportunity to see how it affects you without any real health risks. 

Caffeine Intake

If you’re just getting started, caffeine is the biggest concern. If you’re a regular coffee drinker or consume caffeine on a daily, you probably don’t have much to worry about. If you’re a health nut and generally abstain from caffeine, you’re probably going to have to get over that if you want to take pre-workout. 

Popular Pre Workout Powder Caffeine Per Serving

Pre Workout BrandCaffeine Per Serving (mg)
Optimum Nutrition100mg
Sierra Fit Pre-Workout135mg
Vintage Blast Pre-Workout Powder150mg
Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout150mg
Huge Wrecked Pre-Workout 30G+250mg
Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout Powder275mg
BS Supplements Final Call Pre-Workout300mg
Final Call Flame Pre-Workout v2350mg
Many Pre Workout Powders Are At The Recommended Daily Amount Of Caffeine

As you can see, all of the above pre-workouts are popular, highly-rated formulas that contain caffeine. Some of them contain an immense amount of caffeine. A single can of NOS Energy Drink contains 150mg of caffeine, which isn’t half as much as Final Call Flame Pre-Workout v2.

Caffeine isn’t bad for you but some people don’t react well to it, especially in amounts that exceed 100mg, which is more than the average cup of coffee. If all you’ve ever had was the occasional cup of coffee and you decide to bump heads with a full dose of Final Call, you may just feel a little something.

The last thing you want to do is end up in the ER. Caffeine isn’t going to kill you. However, for the uninitiated, inexperienced users, the side effects of tremors, rapid heartbeat, and flushed skin often induce panic, which makes things much worse. 

Is Two Scoops A lot?

All of the above numbers, in terms of caffeine, represent the amounts in an entire serving. In many cases, that’s two scoops. In some cases, that’s one scoop. So, it’s not a lot when the directions state that you should take two scoops. 

You shouldn’t take more than the directed amount on the container. If you reach a point where you feel that the pre-workout serving size is no longer doing it for you, you’re probably gaining a tolerance and should cycle off for 6 to 8 weeks. 

  • Don’t stack other ingredients unless you are familiar with them and understand the potential interactions
  • Refrain from taking more than the directed dose on the package
  • Always drink plenty of water, which is something you should be doing anyway (3.7 liters a day for men and 2.7 liters a day for women)
  • Always pay attention to the servings/ingredients and never exceed the recommended dose

If you have a history of any heart-related medical conditions or if your family does, it’s worth your time and effort to have a chat with your family doctor. Pre-workout formulas aren’t inherently dangerous but that doesn’t mean caffeine or some other ingredient won’t negatively impact your health. 

Will Excessive Pre-Workout Doses Affect Your Health?

For most people, getting excessive with a pre-workout formula each day will cause minor symptoms, such as jittery feelings, nervousness, and mild anxiety. For some, it could kickstart a rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. 

I’ve also published an article about the effects of taking pre workouts every day.

There are various ingredients found in pre-workout that can cause symptoms if you consume too much. It’s possible that they will cause symptoms the first time you ever take a dose. Fortunately, those instances are usually mild and a good reason to start your first pre-workout on a ¼ dose. 

  • Too much caffeine can cause rapid heartbeat, headaches, irregular heartbeats, anxiety, and acid reflux
  • Too much niacin can cause intense flushing
  • Too much creatine can cause excess water retention and bloating, along with raising diastolic blood pressure in women (according to a 2018 study). 
  • Too much beta-alanine causes mild neurological effects, mostly in the form of tingling in the extremities

Many of the other ingredients, while considered safe, haven’t gone through much in the way of intense studies on the potential side effects of too much consumption. These include taurine, citrulline, tyrosine, guarana, and inositol. 

The best thing to do is always play it safe. If you’ve never consumed something before, you probably shouldn’t start by taking more than the recommended dose. You don’t just pick up a mushroom in the woods and start chomping down before you know what it is and what it does. 

If your body is used to the daily recommended dose, you’ll be better equipped to handle an extra half or full scoop.

The problem with adding extra scoops to the normal, daily amount is tolerance levels. It leads to the more important question—When does it stop? If your tolerance levels are high, you might feel that you have to take more of the stuff to get the same energy levels you’re used to. 

When you reach this point, it’s best to take a step back and take stock of your progress to this point. The best path forward is to cycle off. That means taking a break from the very thing your body has grown a tolerance to. 

Cycle Off Rather Than Take Higher Doses

Some sites will tell you not to and some will tell you that you need to cycle to reset your tolerance. If you can go without increasing your intake on pre-workout then there really isn’t much need to cycle off it. 

However, you will reach a point of diminishing returns as your body adapts to the ingredients over time. Your caffeine tolerance will skyrocket quicker than you think. If you do cycle off of it, that doesn’t mean you have to drop all of the ingredients for 6 to 8 weeks. 

Most of the ingredients in pre-workout are available on their own. If you’re a big fan of creatine, you can find the stuff in abundance (and it’s cheap too!). To avoid the caffeine headache that comes with withdrawal, start drinking a cup of black coffee in the mornings (which has about 100mg of caffeine). 

Black coffee is best because creamer and sugars are full of unhealthy fats and sugars you should avoid prior to working out. Plus, you would be surprised at how good a hot cup of organic, black coffee is, especially when you acquire a taste for it. 

After the 6 to 8 weeks is up, cycle back on your pre-workout. You may want to start off with half a dose, depending on your caffeine intake throughout that period. 

All Things Considered

For the most part, the number of scoops in a pre-workout formula is going to be two. However, there are also plenty of pre-workout formulas that direct you to take one. You should take the amount that’s directed and start off at a ¼ dose if it’s your first time. And sticking with the manufacturer’s recommended amounts is always safest.

References & Citations

Cameron, M., Camic, C. L., Doberstein, S., Erickson, J. L., & Jagim, A. R. (2018). The acute effects of a multi-ingredient pre-workout supplement on resting energy expenditure and exercise performance in recreationally active females. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 1.

Should You Cycle Off Pre-Workout? (+How Long To Cycle Off)

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Jeff Carpenter

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