If you workout on a regular/consistent basis, there is a pretty good chance that you have considered or you currently use a pre-workout supplement. They have gained in popularity over the years and a common question that I quite often get is; “What pre-workout supplement do you currently use?”
Since 2009, when I first really got into fitness and nutrition, I have used several different pre-workout supplements with mixed results along the way. I was always a bit hesitant/nervous to try some of the pre-workout supplements, especially after some of them gained notoriety in ways that weren’t good…like people were dying or having some serious side effects!
A few unpleasant pre-workout supplement side effects are:
- Tingling/numbness in the face, lips, or extremities
- Flushed and red skin
- Trouble sleeping
- High blood pressure
- Kidney damage
- Chest pain
The good news is that companies are removing ingredients that are killing people, either by choice or by law. For example, USPlabs, (maker of Jack3d) removed DMAA from its products after a link to a U.S. Army soldiers death was reported. What they replaced it with might not be as effective, but at least it’s potentially less of a risk.
Why Use a Pre-workout Supplement?
After reading the above, you may be thinking; “Why the heck would I want to take a pre-workout and risk any of that?”
In order to answer that, you have to understand how a pre-workout supplement works and identify the key ingredient that triggers the response people who take them are looking for.
Most people use of a pre-workout supplement to give them a little “boost” of energy and/or motivation before hitting their workout. If you read the labels on many of the pre-workout supplements on the market today, they offer more than just a boost of energy. “Improved focus”, “Extra Pump”, “Increased Strength” are just a few of the other bullet points you may seen stamped on their labels.
Do all or any of these products actually follow through on their claims? It really depends on who you ask… I suspect that given a group of 100 people who all take the exact same pre-workout supplement and are put through the exact same workout; you will hear up to 70 different responses to the effects that the pre-workout supplement may have had on their performance that day.
Taking any one of the these popular powders will most certainly give you a boost in energy, focus, motivation, and even strength. I do have to attribute a certain amount of these to the placebo effect, but overall, they do work.
Long story, short…the effectiveness of a pre-workout supplement can vary greatly from person to person. Given that, it many cases you simply just have to try one or two of them for yourself in order to determine how you will respond to a particular pre-workout supplement.
Most Pre-workouts Contain Caffeine
The common ingredient that you will find in the majority of the most popular pre-workout supplements on the market today is; Caffeine.
The reason: it works! Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It can temporarily make you feel more awake and energetic, but it can also give you the jitters depending on your sensitivity to it.
Of course, what do you think of when you think of caffeine? Coffee!
Back in the day, coffee was the original pre-workout and energy drink. The thought was that whenever you needed energy, coffee was the one, singular, yet ever dynamic solution.
Now days, there are more options – yet many people still keep it simple and stick to the black magic.
I large percentage of Americans start their day with coffee, and according to recent study, working out after downing a cup of java may offer a weight loss advantage. The Spanish study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-workout burned about 15% more calories for three hours post-workout, compared to those who ingested a placebo. The dose that triggered the effect was 4.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight.
Coffee gives you energy through the caffeine found within, you get that. But here are some other benefits that may not be on your radar:
- Fat Loss
Additional Benefits of Pre-workout Coffee
Drinking a 1 or 2 cups (8 oz) of coffee before a workout could actually make it feel more enjoyable, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
The study basically simulated your average morning: a mug of coffee to wake up, a little gym time, another cup with breakfast, followed by lunch. Fourteen participants completed two moderate workouts on a stationary bike: one where they took caffeine (equal to two 8-ounce cups of coffee or 4 cups of black tea) 90 minutes before the workout, and one where they took a placebo. When caffeinated, the participants reported the ride as way easier than it was without the stimulant.
Bulletproof Coffee – A Magic Potion?
My pre-workout ritual is pretty consistent; 6 eggs (2 whole eggs, 4 egg whites), a couple pieces of whole wheat toast and a cup of coffee.
Recently, I was asked to replace my normal cup of coffee with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, share my experience and offer some feedback. At the time I had never heard of it, so it was off the internet machine to do some initial research.
What Is Bulletproof Coffee?
This is the exact question I typed into Google to start researching this stuff. Here’s what I found.
Bulletproof Coffee is a blend (literally) of Grass-Fed Butter + MCT (Medium-chain triglyceride) Oil + Coffee. Plus, it is low toxin, high performance coffee & full of healthy fats to fuel your body It is marketed as a product that can improve cognition and assist with weight loss.
Oil and butter in my coffee??? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing… Being a guy who is really interested in nutrition, I was a bit concerned with how this might affect my fat intake on any given day.
Fat content 1 in cup of coffee – 27 grams!
13 grams of fat from the ghee and 14 grams of fat from the MCT Oil. This would likely require some adjustments to my nutrition and immediately raised my suspicions on its claims to assist with weight loss. However, I was intrigued by its claims and some of the articles I found had shown that in fact, some people were seeing some positive benefits. The Bulletproof Coffee Brain Octane Oil does contain 16x the healthy fats of coconut oil and coconut oil is definitely one of the healthier options when it comes to oils and it has shown to improve your health and energy with regular use.
A lot of the content that you will find on the Bulletproof Coffee blog, suggests that the adoption of Intermittent Fasting, a nutrition protocol that boosts metabolism, burns fat, improves cognition, and builds muscle. I have not tried intermittent fasting myself, so I can’t really offer a lot of personal experience related to this subject. I was able to find a couple great resources on intermittent fasting, so that you can review this topic in further detail.
How to Make Bulletproof Coffee
Here is a short video I created on how I make my Bulletproof Coffee.
It should be noted that I didn’t have the French press coffee maker initially…I originally used my Kurig, which I have had for years. However, these ground coffee that was included in my kit was ground to a really fine texture and all it did was clog things up during the brew cycle…
Bulletproof Coffee Recipe
- Brew 1 cup (8-12 oz.) of coffee using filtered water, just off the boil, with 2 1/2 heaping tablespoons freshly ground Bulletproof Coffee Beans. (French Press is easiest.)
- Add in 1-2 tablespoons of Brain Octane™ to the hot coffee (It’s STRONG – start with 1 tsp. and work up over several days).
- Add 1-2 tablespoons grass-fed, unsalted butter or grass-fed ghee
- Mix it all in a blender for 20-30 seconds until it is frothy like a foamy latte
Download the Bulletproof Coffee recipe card here.
My Experience with Bulletproof Coffee
First off let me say; I am a pretty much a robot in the AM and my routine has been for the most part the same over the past 8-9 months. That being said, it took a couple of days to get myself into a rhythm with the new method of preparing my coffee with breakfast. You may find that this is the case with you as well…
- French press coffee maker
- Measuring cup (4 cup capacity)
- Measuring spoon (tbsp)
- Stick blender
- Coffee cup (8oz+)
The first couple of cups of Bulletproof coffee were just kind of…”ok”… I think a lot of that had to do with how I was preparing it. Kurig brewing and simply not enough blending. The lack of blend time resulted in a oily cup of coffee that while it still tasted good, it certainly didn’t look that great.
After switching over the French press method and giving the brewed coffee a good mixing with the stick blender, I had achieved what appeared to be an official looking cup of Bulletproof coffee. Bulletproof Coffee does have a variety of coffee products (French press, grinders, kettles, mugs, etc..) that are available online, and in stores.
Impact on my Workout
As I mentioned earlier, I have been using a pre-workout supplement, specifically ON Pre. During this week of giving Bulletproof coffee a try, I left that on the shelf and was strictly using this coffee as my pre-workout.
Being that caffeine is typically the primary ingredient found within most pre-workout supplements, let’s first compare the milligrams of caffeine found in coffee and my pre-workout supplement.
- Bulletproof Coffee: 145 mg
- ON Pre: 200 mg
In this case the pre-workout supplement has roughly 40% more caffeine than you would find in an 8oz cup of Bulletproof coffee. 145mg of caffeine is a bit higher than your standard for a cup of coffee, but nothing too crazy here… However, if you were to have 12 or 16oz of coffee, the amount of caffeine would exceed that of the pre-workout supplement and provide nearly 300mg!
Anytime that you are trying something new with a pre-workout, there is always a mental factor involved. You know you are taking something that is supposed to provide you with a little extra energy and focus, so the placebo effect can certainly be in play.
For me personally, I didn’t really feel any significant difference in my performance for my workouts during the course of the 7 days I tried Bulletproof coffee. However, I did noticed that my hunger levels, post-workout, were not as high. This is likely due to the extra amount of fat that is contained within the concoction via the Brain Octane Oil, which would be nearly half of my normal fat intake on a daily basis. It is said that the Brain Octane Oil’s effects can near-always be felt instantaneously, and while I did feel a bit more focused during my workout and through the mid-morning, I didn’t feel like it was a light-switch had been turned on and suddenly I was in another zone. It was much more of a calming/relaxing state than anything else, which was kinda cool.
However, the appetite suppression effect created a bit of a problem for me. Not only is my morning routine pretty robotic, but my eating schedule for my entire day is pretty consistent and planned in such a way that I am able to eat smaller meals/snacks throughout the day to reach my caloric and macronutrient goals. My lack of hunger required me to simply eat without the actual presence of hunger, which is not a habit I have ever had, nor would I recommend…
Where Bulletproof Coffee Makes Sense
With the higher amounts of fat found in Bulletproof coffee, it totally makes sense that it is recommended to pair it with the Intermittent Fasting protocol. With a cup of Bulletproof coffee first thing in the AM, fat is about the only macronutrient that you are consuming and enough of it that it would sustain you until your normal eating window later in the day.
If you are an incredibly busy person that has little to no time to prepare a substantial breakfast in the AM and you combine that with a workout that takes place in the late afternoon or evening hours, a cup of Bulletproof coffee would be a great way to kick start your AM!
I really enjoy the taste of it and I plan to continue to use Bulletproof Coffee for a few more weeks to see how its consistent use over a period of a month and see how much different my body feels. I think that amount of time is suitable to get a clear idea of the differences that it could have on my daily routine.
Before you do consider doubling down on your caffeine intake, here are some things to keep in mind as you leverage your cup of joe on a daily basis.
5 Ways to Leverage Coffee/Caffeine
- Don’t overdo it. The maximum amount of caffeine recommended for enhancing performance with minimal side effects is up to 6 mg per kg body weight, which is about 400 mg per day (or about 16 ounces of coffee) for a 150-pound woman.
- Incorporate it in healthy ways: doctor up coffee with almond milk and cinnamon instead of cream and sugar, or whip coffee or tea into a fruit smoothie, along with other nutrient-rich ingredients like almond butter and oats or quinoa.
- Be consistent with your intake. Research shows that when your caffeine intake is steady, your body adjusts, which counters dehydration, even though caffeine is a natural diuretic. In other words, don’t reach for two cups one day and four the next.
- Keep drinking good old H2O your main beverage of choice.
- Nix caffeine at least six hours before bed to prevent sleep interference, and listen to your body. If you’re relying on caffeine as an energy booster because you’re tired, get to the root of what’s causing fatigue. Perhaps it’s too little sleep, overexercising, or an inadequate diet. If something’s off kilter, you won’t see progress, and you’ll likely get weaker rather than stronger. Striving for balance is always key!
The idea of replacing your current pre-workout supplement with a strong cup of coffee may not be for you. In fact, Bulletproof Coffee itself may not be for you either…However, it is something to consider if you enjoy coffee and want to try something new where you may experience some of the benefits mentioned above.
I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.
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