Can Pre-Workout Cause Anxiety?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 26, 2023

You're about to hit the gym.

But your palms are sweaty. 

Knees might be feeling heavy. 

And anxiety is coming up like no tomorrow. 

You've already consumed your pre-workout. 

But what could be causing you anxiety?

Could it be the pre-workout? 

If it contains stimulants like yohimbine, caffeine, and synephrine, then it may very well be. 

Especially caffeine at high dosages and even worse when it’s combined with other stimulants. 

Let’s explain why this happens.

Here’s Why Pre-Workouts May Cause Anxiety

Pre-workout supplements, while beneficial for boosting energy and performance, can sometimes lead to anxiety due to certain ingredients.

Stimulants like caffeine, yohimbe bark extract, and creatine are often the culprits.

These components can trigger anxiety symptoms, especially in individuals sensitive to their effects.

Understanding Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements are a staple in many gym bags.

But what are they?

Common Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workouts are typically packed with various ingredients designed to boost your energy and improve your performance.

Some of the most common ingredients include caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and sometimes, creatine. But how do these ingredients work?

And could they be causing you more harm than good?

The Role of These Ingredients in Boosting Workout Performance

Each ingredient in a pre-workout supplement has a specific role.

Caffeine, for instance, is a stimulant that can help increase alertness and delay fatigue.

Amino acids, on the other hand, can aid in muscle recovery and growth.

But while these ingredients can provide benefits, they can also have side effects, especially when consumed in large amounts.

How These Ingredients Can Potentially Cause Anxiety

While pre-workouts ingredients can help boost your performance, they can also potentially cause anxiety.

For instance, caffeine, a common ingredient in many pre-workouts, is a known trigger for concern.

But why is this the case?

And are there other ingredients you should be wary of?

The Science Behind Pre-Workout and Anxiety

Let's delve deeper into the science behind pre-workout supplements and anxiety.

The Physiological Effects of Pre-Workout Ingredients That Can Lead to Anxiety

When you consume a pre-workout supplement, the ingredients interact with your body in various ways.

For instance, caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, leading to increased heart rate and feelings of alertness.

However, in some individuals, this stimulation can also trigger feelings of anxiety.

But how exactly does this happen?


Caffeine and other stimulants can trigger anxiety by increasing certain chemicals in your brain, such as adrenaline.

This can lead to feelings of restlessness, nervousness, and even panic. 

Pre-workout supplements can also impact your heart rate and nervous system.

For instance, caffeine along with other stimulants can cause your heart rate to increase, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.

Additionally, some ingredients can overstimulate your nervous system, leading to restlessness and jitteriness.

Learn more: Comprehensive Guide to Pre Workouts

Spotlight on Yohimbine, Synephrine, and Super Synephrine

Yohimbine: A Double-Edged Sword

Yohimbine, a compound derived from the bark of the African Yohimbe tree, is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements due to its potential to enhance athletic performance and aid in weight loss. [1]

However, it's also known to stimulate the release of norepinephrine, a stress hormone that can trigger symptoms of anxiety. [2]

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that adults with social anxiety disorder who were given yohimbine experienced faster improvement and better outcomes on self-report measures of social anxiety disorder severity. [3]

However, it's worth noting that this was a small study and further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between yohimbine and anxiety.

Synephrine: Stimulating Anxiety?

Synephrine, found in the peel of bitter orange and other citrus fruits, is another common ingredient in pre-workout supplements due to its stimulant properties. Like yohimbine, synephrine can increase the release of norepinephrine, potentially leading to increased anxiety. [4]

A study assessing the cardiovascular and hemodynamic effects of synephrine found that it was well-tolerated in healthy subjects. [5

Based on anadecotal experiences, as well as our own, synephrine can increase anxiety for a solid half hour when consumed. But this tends to subside, although it does remain for a few hours after..

Super Synephrine: A Higher Dose, A Higher Risk?

Super synephrine, also known as p-synephrine, is a more potent form of synephrine.

While it's often touted for its ability to enhance fat oxidation during exercise, it also has the potential to increase anxiety due to its stimulant effects. [6]

A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that daily intake of p-synephrine was well-tolerated and did not result in any adverse cardiovascular effects. [7]

However, the study did not specifically investigate the effects of p-synephrine on anxiety.

So while yohimbine, synephrine, and super synephrine can potentially enhance athletic performance, they may also increase anxiety in some individuals due to their stimulant properties.

If you're prone to anxiety, it's important to be aware of these potential side effects and consider alternatives if necessary.

But what can you do if you're experiencing these side effects?

Identifying Pre-Workout Anxiety

So, how can you tell if your pre-workout supplement is causing you anxiety?

Common Symptoms of Pre-Workout Anxiety

Pre-workout anxiety can manifest in several ways.

You might feel jittery or restless or have a rapid heart rate.

In some cases, you might even feel a sense of impending doom.

But how can you differentiate between normal workout stress and pre-workout-induced anxiety?

How to Differentiate Between Normal Workout Stress and Pre-Workout Induced Anxiety

Feeling a certain level of stress or anxiety before a challenging workout is normal.

However, pre-workout-induced anxiety is often more intense and can interfere with your ability to perform your workout.

But what can you do if you.

Managing and Preventing Pre-Workout Anxiety

If you're experiencing anxiety after taking pre-workout supplements, don't worry.

You can use several strategies to manage and even prevent this anxiety.

Tips for Reducing Anxiety Caused by Pre-Workout Supplements

  1. Monitor Your Intake: Be mindful of how much pre-workout you're consuming. Too much can overstimulate your nervous system and lead to anxiety. Try reducing your dosage and see if your symptoms improve.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Make sure you're drinking enough water, especially during your workouts.
  3. Practice Mindfulness: Techniques like deep breathing and meditation can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety. Try incorporating these practices into your pre-workout routine.
  4. Consider Alternatives: If pre-workout supplements continue to cause anxiety, consider trying a different brand or switching to a natural alternative.

The Role of Hydration and Exercise in Managing Pre-Workout Anxiety

Staying hydrated is crucial when taking pre-workout supplements.

Dehydration can increase your heart rate and exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

Ensure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after workouts.

Exercise itself can also help manage anxiety.

Regular physical activity increases the production of endorphins, your body's natural mood boosters.

It also helps regulate sleep, improving overall mood and reducing anxiety.

Strategies for Preventing Pre-Workout Panic Attacks

If you're prone to panic attacks, taking pre-workout supplements can sometimes trigger an episode.

Here are some strategies to help prevent this:

  1. Start with a Lower Dose: If you're new to pre-workout supplements, start with a lower dose to see how your body reacts. You can gradually increase the dose as your body gets used to it.
  2. Avoid Taking Pre-Workout on an Empty Stomach: Having food in your stomach can slow the absorption of the pre-workout supplement and reduce the intensity of its effects.
  3. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can help calm your mind and body.
  4. Talk to Your Doctor: If you're experiencing severe anxiety or panic attacks, it's important to seek professional help. Your doctor can provide additional strategies to manage your anxiety and help determine if pre-workout supplements are safe for you to use.

You might also like: Definitive Guide to Bodybuilding Supplements

Alternatives to Anxiety-Inducing Pre-Workouts

If traditional pre-workout supplements are causing you anxiety, don't worry.

Several alternatives can still help boost your workout performance without the unwanted side effects.

Natural Pre-Workout Alternatives

Green tea, bananas, oats, and beetroot juice are all-natural alternatives to pre-workout supplements.

They provide various benefits, from a quick energy boost to a steady release of energy throughout your workout.

  1. Green Tea: Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine to help increase your energy levels. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and can help balance out the effects of caffeine.
  2. Bananas: Bananas are a great source of natural sugars and potassium, which can provide a quick energy boost and help prevent muscle cramps.
  3. Oats: Oats are packed with complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady release of energy throughout your workout.
  4. Beetroot Juice: Beetroot juice has been shown to improve endurance and reduce oxygen consumption during exercise, making your workouts more efficient.

Read more: Ultimate Muscle Building Nutrition Guide For Skinny Guys

Low-Stimulant Pre-Workout Supplements

If you're sensitive to stimulants like caffeine, try a low-stimulant or [link to stimulant free pre workouts, named caffeine free pre workouts] stimulant-free pre-workout supplement.

These products can still enhance your workout performance but are less likely to cause anxiety or other side effects associated with stimulants.

The Role of a Balanced Diet and Regular Exercise

Remember, supplements are just that – a supplement to a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Eating various nutrient-rich foods and staying active are the most important factors in achieving your fitness goals.

If pre-workout supplements are causing you anxiety, it might be worth focusing on these basics instead.

Calming Ingredients in Pre-Workouts and Their Dosages


Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is a traditional remedy for insomnia and enhancing cognitive function.

It has been found to have calming properties that can improve the quality of sleep.

A study conducted on the effects of Ashwagandha extract (AE) on sleep onset and duration showed significant results.

AE at doses of 10, 25, and 50 mg/kg body weight showed a significant decrease in time to sleep onset and increased total sleep duration in the pentobarbital-induced sleep model.

At 50 mg/kg body weight dosage level, a 34% decrease in sleep onset time and 47% increase in sleep duration was observed. [8]

The study also showed that AE increases the expression levels of GABAA𝛾1 and histamine H3 receptors, which are known to improve sleep.

The induction of sleep, GABA-mimetic action, NREM sleep, and the effects on slow-wave cycles support the calming property of AE in improving the quality of sleep. [8]


GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain.

GABA functions as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication among brain cells.

GABA’s big role in the body is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, which in turn has a broad range of effects on the body and mind, including increased relaxation, reduced stress, a more calm, balanced mood, alleviation of pain, and a boost to sleep.

While the optimal dosage can vary depending on individual factors, a typical dose may range from 100 to 200 milligrams.


L-Theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms.

It’s known for its calming effects and is used as a natural remedy for anxiety and sleep disorders.

L-Theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness.

Many people take L-theanine to help ease stress and unwind.

While the optimal dosage can vary depending on individual factors, a typical dose may range from 100 to 200 milligrams.

Remember, it's always important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

They can provide guidance based on your individual health needs and circumstances.


Can pre-workout supplements cause anxiety?

Yes, certain ingredients in pre-workout supplements, such as caffeine, yohimbine, and synephrine, can potentially cause anxiety. These substances stimulate the release of stress hormones, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety.

What ingredients in pre-workout supplements can cause anxiety?

Stimulant ingredients like caffeine, yohimbine, and synephrine are known to potentially cause anxiety. They stimulate the release of stress hormones, leading to symptoms of anxiety.

Are there any pre-workout supplements that don't cause anxiety?

Yes, there are pre-workout supplements that contain ingredients less likely to cause anxiety. These may include supplements that are caffeine-free or contain calming ingredients like theanine or GABA.

Can I still use pre-workout supplements if I have anxiety?

If you have anxiety, it's important to be cautious when using pre-workout supplements, especially those containing stimulants. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

What can I do if I feel anxious after taking a pre-workout supplement?

If you feel anxious after taking a pre-workout supplement, try to stay calm and practice deep breathing exercises. If your symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention immediately.

Are there natural alternatives to pre-workout supplements?

Yes, there are natural alternatives to pre-workout supplements. These may include foods and drinks high in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, such as bananas, oats, and almond butter.

Can I build tolerance to the anxiety-causing effects of pre-workout supplements?

Some people may build a tolerance to the effects of certain ingredients in pre-workout supplements over time. However, this varies from person to person and depends on the specific ingredients in the supplement.

Can pre-workout supplements cause panic attacks?

In some cases, the stimulant ingredients in pre-workout supplements can trigger panic attacks, especially in individuals who are prone to anxiety or panic disorders.

What are the signs that a pre-workout supplement is causing anxiety?

Signs that a pre-workout supplement is causing anxiety may include feelings of nervousness, restlessness, rapid heart rate, and difficulty concentrating.

What should I do if I think a pre-workout supplement is causing my anxiety?

If you suspect a pre-workout supplement is causing your anxiety, stop using the supplement and consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance on alternative options and strategies to manage your anxiety.

Can pre-workout cause panic attacks? Yes, in some individuals, the stimulants in pre-workout supplements can trigger panic attacks. If you're prone to panic attacks, talking to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen is important.

How can I calm down after taking pre-workout? 

If you're feeling anxious after taking a pre-workout, try deep breathing exercises, drinking plenty of water, and eating a small snack. If your symptoms persist, seek medical attention.

Are there any pre-workout supplements that don't cause anxiety? Everyone's body reacts differently to pre-workout supplements, so what causes anxiety in one person might not in another. However, low-stimulant and stimulant-free pre-workouts are generally less likely to cause anxiety. We recommend considering Transparent Labs Bulk. [link to transparent labs bulk review]

Bottom Line

Pre-workout supplements can be a great tool to enhance your workout performance, but they're only for some.

If you're experiencing anxiety after taking pre-workout, it's important to listen to your body and consider alternatives.

Remember, the goal of any fitness regimen is to improve your health and well-being, not to cause additional stress or anxiety.

So, can pre-workout cause anxiety?

Yes, it can.

But with the right strategies and alternatives, you can still achieve your fitness goals without the unwanted side effects.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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