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Pre workouts are pretty fantastic supplements. While they’re often underestimated, they can really help boost training performance and results including strength, power, endurance and pump. One of the main set of ingredients used in pre workout supplements are stimulants, but they’re also ingredients which you can become tolerant to very quickly. In this week’s Q & A, we take a look at your options if you’ve grown used to and are tolerant to stimulants in pre workouts.

1. What do I do if I become tolerant to stims? What are the best pre workouts if I’m stimulant or caffeine tolerant?

The term stimulants refers to compounds which are known to create temporary improvements in mental and/or physical functions. The effects vary, but they tend to help:

  • Increase energy levels and wakefulness
  • Increase alertness, focus and concentration
  • Support motivation and productivity
  • Boost endurance
  • Suppress appetite

Stimulants are most commonly found in pre workout supplements and fat burners, thanks to the above effects. Some of the more common ones include caffeine, synephrine from citrus aurantium (bitter orange), DMAA (dimethyl amyl amine), AMP Citrate among others. While they are quite effective in helping to promote improved performance and weight loss, the biggest issue is tolerance. Simply put, you grow accustomed to the effects of these stimulants and would require more frequent or larger doses to have the same effects. Depending on the type of stimulant, tolerance can develop quite quickly as well.

The stimulant induced energy boost is often the most noticeable effect of a pre workout or fat burners; save for the beta alanine tingles and thermogenesis from certain ingredients. As such, once stim tolerance develops, individuals often complain that their pre workout or fat burner no longer works; as they can no longer feel the energy boost. However, the other ingredients and effects of the supplements may still be working. So how do you solve the problem of stimulant or stim tolerance? Here are three methods:

  • Cycling – One of the easiest methods to avoid becoming tolerant to stimulants is to simply stop using them. So for a specific period of time, you would avoid anything with stimulants, both in terms of supplements but also in your diet. This would include pre workouts, fat burners, coffee, tea, coke, and anything else that may contain caffeine and other stimulants.
  • Pterostilbene – A compound that’s similar to resveratrol, pterostilbene occurs naturally in grapes and blueberries. A combination of pterostilbene and caffeine has actually been shown to improve the amount of caffeine absorbed and the length of time the caffeine is active for. This has excellent implications for products as it means less caffeine is required and less tolerance. The novel combination is marketed under PURENERGY by ChromaDex.
  • Rutaecarpine – A compound derived from Evodia Rutaecarpa, this compound has been shown to increase the metabolism of caffeine. As tolerance develops due to the length of time caffeine and other stimulants stick around in the body; taking rutaecarpine can help to increase the metabolism of caffeine so that it only sticks around for when the effects are required.

Take Away Point – Go Stim Free to Reset Stim Tolerance

Stimulant ingredients in pre workouts and fat burners are always going to be around. Rather than try to avoid these supplements though as a way to prevent stim tolerance from ever happening, there are some really simple ways to reset your tolerance. You can use novel ingredients such as pterostilbene and rutaecarpine or you could simply just abstain from having any stimulants for 7-10 days. For the majority of people, this should easily reset your caffeine and stimulant tolerance. Abstaining from stimulants doesn’t necessarily mean abstaining from supplements altogether. There are a huge range of stim free pre workouts and fat burners that you can utilise these days; designed for those who are sensitive to stimulants or who are on their off cycle. 

1. ChromaDex - PURENERGY Caffeine . 2015. ChromaDex - PURENERGY Caffeine . [ONLINE] Available at: https://chromadex.com/Ingredients/PurEnergy.html. [Accessed 31 July 2015].
2. Noh K, Seo YM, Lee SK, Bista SR, Kang MJ, Jahng Y, Kim E, Kang W, Jeong TC. ‘Effects of rutaecarpine on the metabolism and urinary excretion of caffeine in rats.’ Arch Pharm Res. 2011 Jan;34(1):119-25.
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