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There is plenty of research indicating the efficacy of using pre-workout supplements to boost energy and improve performance before heading into the gym or hitting the pavement. However, there's also a lot of confusion out there when it comes to specific pre-workout supplements and the ingredients they contain.
Most of us are at least a little bit familiar with caffeine and its energy-increasing properties. What about other ingredients like TeaCrine, though? How do they differ from caffeine, and do they provide any added benefits that make them superior when included in a pre-workout supplement?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the difference between TeaCrine and caffeine. Armed with this information, you'll have an easier time figuring out which one is a good fit for you and which one you want to use in your pre-workout beverage.
What is TeaCrine?
You may have heard of the ingredient TeaCrine and seen it listed on the back of certain supplements (including our Mr. Hyde NitroX pre-workout). You might not know exactly what it is or why it's there, though.
TeaCrine (also known as Theacrine) is a naturally occurring chemical compound. It stimulates the central nervous system and increases one's energy levels when it's consumed in high doses. It also decreases the activity of the central nervous system when it's consumed in low doses.
Benefits of TeaCrine
TeaCrine provides a lot of benefits to athletes and gym-goers. In addition to increasing one's energy before a workout, it can also help to improve mental clarity and cognitive abilities. This, in turn, can help you to feel sharper and more focused during your training sessions.
TeaCrine can boost your mood, too, by increasing the levels of dopamine in your brain. Exercise already has mood-boosting effects, but when you use a pre-workout supplement that contains TeaCrine, you can enjoy even greater improvements.
The body does not seem to build up a tolerance to TeaCrine, either, even when it's consumed on a regular basis. This means that you don't have to continue increasing your dose the longer you take it.
TeaCrine may also help to improve the function of the liver and reduce inflammation (including the inflammation brought on by exercise) throughout the body. There's some evidence that suggests it has anti-aging benefits and may be helpful to those looking to fight off the common cold as well.
What is Caffeine?
Most of us know of caffeine as the magic ingredient in our morning coffee that helps us to get out the door and into our offices on time. What actually is it, though?
Caffeine is another naturally occurring chemical that stimulates the central nervous system to increase one's energy levels. Caffeine specifically works by blocking the effects of the neurotransmitter known as adenosine. Adenosine promotes relaxation and helps you to feel more tired as the day goes on (so that you can be ready for bed at night).
Benefits of Caffeine
Because it helps to increase energy levels, as well as feelings of alertness, caffeine can be very beneficial to those who need additional energy going into their workouts. It has been shown in numerous studies to enhance workout performance and increase one's cognitive abilities along with their ability to focus.
Caffeine's performance-enhancing benefits come, in part, from its ability to increase the strength of muscle contractions. It can also help one to become more tolerant of fatigue, meaning they'll be able to push through difficult sets and workouts with more ease. Whether you're lifting weights or racing around the track, caffeine consumed beforehand can help you get more out of every training session.
There are also some other health benefits of caffeine that do not have a direct relation to one's workout performance (although, of course, better health will lead to better workout performance overall). For example, it may help to protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and it can help to improve the health and functionality of the liver.
TeaCrine vs. Caffeine: Similarities
As you've likely started to gather, there are plenty of similarities between TeaCrine and caffeine. They're very similar in their molecular structures, and they both stimulate the central nervous system to increase energy levels.
TeaCrine and caffeine also both can promote better cognitive function and focus. They provide health benefits outside of increased work capacity and improved workout performance, too, such as improved liver function.
With so many similarities existing between these two ingredients, you might be wondering why people choose to quibble over which one is optimal as a pre-workout supplement.
As with many things, the devil's in the details. There are some significant differences between TeaCrine and caffeine that are worth considering when deciding what kind of pre-workout supplement you're going to take.
TeaCrine vs. Caffeine: Differences
The following are some of the most noteworthy differences between TeaCrine and Caffeine:
Most of us are all too familiar with caffeine tolerance. You know, one scoop of pre-workout used to leave you feeling ready to conquer any obstacle your workouts throes your way, but now you need two or three to get the same effect.
TeaCrine doesn't appear to cause this same level of tolerance buildup, though, and you don't have to continue adding more to your supplement stack to reap the same benefits you once did.
Some research suggests that TeaCrine can help to reduce pain as well.
A 2010 mouse study, for example, showed that mice that received oral doses of TeaCrine experienced reductions in pain that were similar to those provided by the pain-relieving drug indomethacin.
Caffeine, in contrast, has not been shown to have any similar analgesic properties.
In some people, caffeine consumption, especially in high doses, can lead to feelings of anxiety and “jitteriness.” On the flip side, TeaCrine may actually help to reduce stress.
The same mice study mentioned above also showed that mice who received TeaCrine experienced fewer signs of long-term stress (including liver damage) compared to the mice who did not receive any TeaCrine at all.
Smooth, Sustained Energy
In addition to the absence of jitters, TeaCrine also boasts smoother, more sustained energy. Instead of a sudden spike followed by a crash, TeaCrine can provide you with longer-lasting energy that gets you through your workout and doesn't leave you feeling like you need a nap immediately after.
That being said, the energy you get from TeaCrine isn't so long-lasting that you won't be able to get to sleep at night after taking it. As long as you give it time to wear off (i.e., you don't take it too close to your bedtime), you shouldn't experience any insomnia associated with its consumption.
Benefits of Combining TeaCrine and Caffeine
TeaCrine is starting to sound pretty great, isn't it? It definitely has its benefits, but you don't necessarily have to choose between TeaCrine and caffeine when it comes to pre-workout energy. In reality, you can see even greater benefits when you combine TeaCrine and caffeine than you would by relying on either ingredient alone to get you through your workout.
Some of the benefits of enjoying TeaCrine and caffeine together (as you can with supplements like Mr. Hyde NitroX) include the following:
Better Performance and Work Capacity
Both caffeine and TeaCrine, when taken alone, can improve your workout performance and work capacity. However, this is an example of a time when two heads are better than one.
When you take a supplement that contains both caffeine and TeaCrine, you can experience more significant improvements in your workout performance, which can lead to bigger gains outside of the gym.
You'll likely find that you can focus better when you take a supplement that combines TeaCrine and caffeine.
Paired together, these ingredients can provide you with a stronger ability to focus than either can alone. This will help you stay in the zone and continue pushing yourself to reach new goals and outperform your past self.
With caffeine and TeaCrine combined, you can enjoy longer-lasting energy. This, in turn, can help you get the energy you need without a major crash at the end of your workout (or, worse, when you're in the middle and really need that extra boost).
Finally, when your pre-workout contains TeaCrine and caffeine, you'll experience fewer (if any) jitters. You won't feel anxious or shaky, which, as most of us know, can impair our workout performance. Combining TeaCrine and caffeine allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds..
Get Pumped for Your Next Workout
As you can see, there are benefits to consuming either TeaCrine or caffeine before your workout. You can also enjoy them together for a longer-lasting energy boost that helps you push through tough training sessions without feeling fatigued or burned out.
Are you ready to harness the benefits of either -- or both -- of these powerful ingredients? If so, check out our full line of pre-workout supplements today. We have tons of effective, high-quality products available no matter what type of goal you're trying to reach.