Can I Take a Pre-Workout When Breastfeeding? Safety Info

Pre-workouts are a popular athletic supplement product, with ingredients to enhance a workout through increased energy and endurance. Since many of them contain caffeine and various other substances, you might have wondered if you can take a pre-workout supplement when you’re breastfeeding.

Pre-workout powders can have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine. Since breastfeeding women should not exceed 300 milligrams of caffeine daily, opt for a pre-workout powder considered “low-stimulant” or “non-stimulant.” 

Let’s dive into some of the main ingredients of most pre-workout products and some of the most popular brands! 

Is it Safe to Take a Pre-Workout When Breastfeeding?

Pre-workouts are a well-known supplement that boosts athletic performance, energy, and endurance. However, they’re considered a dietary supplement. Pre-workouts are taken as a powder that is added to water to make a sports energy drink. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they hit the shelves. On the other hand, they do monitor the adverse effects of dietary supplements. However, this is only after they are already available to the public. 

pre-workout protein powder

It is essential to always speak with your physician when starting a dietary supplement when pregnant or breastfeeding.

The main concern of taking pre-workout when breastfeeding is the high caffeine content. Some pre-workout powders can have up to a huge 400 milligrams of caffeine!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women consume no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine daily while they are breastfeeding. This amount is equivalent to two or three cups of coffee daily. 

Symptoms such as increased irritability, fussiness, reduced quality sleeping patterns, and jitteriness have occurred in infants breastfed by mothers who consumed 10 or more cups of coffee each day (source: CDC). 

When deciding if taking a pre-workout is right for you, consider if you would like to allow some of your caffeine intake each day to be your pre-workout powder. You’ll have to strike a balance between keeping an eye on how much caffeine you already drink or eat (for example, in tea, coffee, chocolate, and so on) and then calculate how much you want to take as a pre-workout supplement, up to a maximum of 300mg a day.

Check the nutrition facts labels on the pre-workout products to see the exact number of milligrams of caffeine it contains per serving. Opt for a zero to low-stimulant variety to avoid consuming too much of your caffeine allowance.

Now that we’ve talked about the safety of pre-workout supplements, let’s discuss some of the popular brands of pre-workout on the market. 

C4 is a popular pre-workout powder specifically designed for “explosive energy” and muscle endurance. It contains beta-alanine and has 150 milligrams of caffeine. The warning on the product website states that you should avoid taking this product while nursing/breastfeeding (Source: Cellucor C4 Product Page)

putting pre-workout powder on a tumbler

Alani Nu pre-workout comes with appealing packaging and flavors. It provides a bit more caffeine at 200 milligrams per serving. Alani Nu pre-workout powder also contains a compound called L-theanine. L-theanine is a naturally occurring compound (often found in tea) on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) GRAS list. 

Items on the FDA’s GRAS list are “Generally Recognized As Safe,” including for breastfeeding women. 

However, the Alani Nu packaging states to consult a physician if you are breastfeeding before using the product. These disclaimers are likely due to the nature of the product as a dietary supplement as well as the high caffeine content it contains. 

Beachbody is another brand of athletic supplements. They sell a pre-workout powder containing beta-alanine, quercetin, and 100 milligrams of caffeine. For this pre-workout supplement, there is no disclaimer about product consumption for lactating women.

Finally, Bumped Up is a specialized pre-workout formula created for pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is sweetened with stevia and also contains L-citrulline, L-arginine, beta-alanine, and N-acetylcysteine.

Bumped Up pre-workout products can have from zero to 100 milligrams of caffeine. They consider all their products to be non-stimulant or low-stimulant, so are a better choice for breastfeeding women.

Many pre-workout supplements, including some of those mentioned above, also contain vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and B vitamins, including niacin, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. 

In summary, pre-workout is safe to consume while breastfeeding as long as it is taken appropriately based on the serving size on the packaging. The caffeine content of the pre-workout should be taken into account to avoid consuming greater than 300 milligrams daily. However, it is best to opt for the low or no-caffeine varieties.

a bottle of pre-workout and a glass of grape juice

How Long After Drinking Pre-Workout Should I Breastfeed?

Many nursing women ask if there is a specific time period to take pre-workout before breastfeeding.

Caffeine stays in the body of a healthy adult for up to seven hours and up to 130 hours in the baby (source: Front Psychiatry). 

More specifically, research and analysis have shown that caffeine amounts in breastmilk peaks around one hour after consumption (source: Drugs and Lactation Database). Therefore, try to consume your pre-workout well over an hour before breastfeeding. 

Finally, as mentioned above, do not exceed 300 milligrams of caffeine daily (source: CDC). 

I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down the popular brands of pre-workout and helps you to understand the recommendations for breastfeeding women. If in any doubt, contact your health provider, and always read the labels and ingredient lists on such products, as these can sometimes change over time, too.

This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.

Amy Kaczor, MS, RD

Amy Kaczor is a Registered Dietitian and full-time freelance writer based out of Chicago, Illinois. She is passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness, plus writing and sharing evidence-based information.

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