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Caffeine is the most frequently consumed stimulant across the globe. The average Brit drinks at least two cups of tea or coffee daily to get their fix – if not more – and a significant number of people drink energy drinks too. But there is a far easier, cheaper and quicker method of caffeine consumption: taking caffeine pills.
But are caffeine pills safe to take and what could they do for you? Let’s find out.
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What are Caffeine Pills?
Caffeine pills are legal supplements containing powdered caffeine. Humans have been drinking coffee and using caffeine-rich guarana since the 16th century. It’s one of the safest stimulants available, especially in low doses of less than 200mg.
Pure powdered caffeine is usually taken in very small doses (around 50mg) so additional ‘filler’ ingredients are required to produce normal size pills. These bulking agents are often natural waxes, starches and plant fibres. Some caffeine pills also contain additional ingredients like vitamins, amino acids and minerals to aid caffeine absorption or reduce unwanted side effects like anxiety.
Our favourite caffeine pill is Performance Lab Stim – a clean, crash-free version of a caffeine pill – which does the latter, adding useful ingredients to temper the negative effects of caffeine and to boost cognition further. We’ll talk more about that shortly.
Are Caffeine Pills Safe?
Caffeine has been used for thousands of years and compared with other stimulants, it’s relatively safe. The ‘safe dose’ varies from person to person but taking up to 400mg over a 24-hour period shouldn’t cause any serious effects.
Some people are sensitive to caffeine. This means taking even small amounts can cause them to become overly stimulated and potentially experience side effects. These include nervousness, heart palpitations, increased heart rate and insomnia if taken before bed. Likewise, anxiety can become worse if you take higher doses of caffeine regularly.
None of these side effects are usually cause for concern unless you have an underlying health problem such as heart disease, anxiety, bleeding disorders or osteoporosis. That said, the best caffeine pills are the ones that take the potential side effects seriously and provide additional ingredients to help combat them. Such as the caffeine + l-theanine combo, a combination known as ‘smart caffeine, in Performance Lab Stim.
Don’t give caffeine pills to children or pregnant or breastfeeding women. If in doubt, talk to your doctor before taking a caffeine supplement.
How long do Caffeine Pills Last?
The length of time caffeine pills will produce effects depends on three factors: the amount of caffeine you consume, your tolerance and if you’re taking them on an empty stomach. If you’re a frequent caffeine-consumer then you may have to take two pills at a time to feel any beneficial effects. Taking them after a heavy meal might produce a weaker effect that takes longer to kick in.
On average, a caffeine pill takes around 45 minutes to start working and it should produce stimulating effects for up to 4 or 5 hours. Because of this, avoid taking caffeine pills for a few hours before sleeping as you may struggle to drift off.
How to Use Caffeine Pills
Taking caffeine pills is easy; just swallow one at a time with any drink. Water is a good common choice, but any hot or cold drink will do the trick. Be aware, however, of how much caffeine you are consuming from other sources at the same time as taking caffeine pills. That includes caffeine in drinks like tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks, or contained within other supplements, such as nootropics or sports supps.
Generally speaking, 400mg is recognised as a safe limit for most people.
If you experience any side effects, take fewer caffeine pills or stop using them entirely. If you can handle your coffee, you shouldn’t experience any side effects.
Top Caffeine Pills to Buy in UK in 2020
Best Overall Caffeine Pill: Performance Lab Stim
For cleaner, healthier stimulation
This recently launched supplement contains much more than just caffeine. Performance Lab Stim incorporates six additional active ingredients, chosen for their ability to boost stimulation, aid recovery from caffeine-powered activities and reduce jittering. This supplement is the cream of the crop; 50mg of natural caffeine in every pill provides excellent stimulation with fewer jitters.
L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, aids stimulation while reducing caffeine’s negative side effects. The other amino acid in Performance Lab Stim is L-Tyrosine. This helps the body synthesise and replenish the neurotransmitters dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, which can decrease from caffeine usage. It also exhibits some brain-enhancing nootropic properties. The combination of caffeine and L-Theanine is the sign of a true quality product and is often referred to as ‘smart caffeine’.
According to the manufacturers, Performance Lab Stim produces fewer side effects when compared with conventional caffeine supplements. The unique blend of vitamins and amino acids minimises the risk of overstimulation.
Four vitamins are also included in Performance Lab Stim: vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B12. The latter three aid neurotransmitter production and conversion, while vitamin B2 supports cell energy production and vitamin conversion.
The organic capsules used to package each pill are made from natural, gluten-free pullan. Performance Lab Stim is free from artificial colours, preservatives and synthetic additives. It’s also suitable for vegans.
If you want a top-quality, performance-oriented caffeine pill we thoroughly recommend Performance Lab Stim. A jar of 30 capsules costs £25.00.
Best Budget Caffeine Pills – Pro Plus Caffeine
Despite their low price, Pro Plus Caffeine pills are surprisingly stimulating. Each pill contains 50mg of Anhydrous Caffeine, an equivalent dose to one espresso shot. This product does also contain sorbitol, which is a calorie-free artificial sweeter. Ingesting large amounts of sorbitol can cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea, so don’t take too many pills daily. Don’t take more than two Pro Plus Caffeine pills in three hours and don’t take more than eight daily. If you’re prone to stomach issues you should probably invest in a more expensive, sorbitol-free product.
Pro Plus has been a student favourite for years, powering all-nighters and study sessions – it’s one of the oldest caffeine products still on the market. A pack of 48 tablets costs just £4.00. This works out at just 8p per tablet making Pro Plus Caffeine one the cheapest stimulant supplements available. If you need a low-cost caffeine pill, look no further. It’s stocked in many high street health shops and pharmacies including Boots and Superdrug. Packs of 24 and 36 tablets are also available.
Strongest Caffeine Pills – Deluxe Nutrition 200mg Caffeine Tablets
For safety reasons, individual pills can’t contain more than 200mg of caffeine. This means you can’t find stronger caffeine pills in the UK without a prescription. But don’t be fooled, stronger isn’t always better. 200mg is a LOT of caffeine to be consuming in one go; you’ll be certain to feel mental and physical stimulation, but maybe a few side effects too.
If you’re fairly caffeine tolerant, however, you may need these stronger pills. Likewise, if you’re looking for straight caffeine pills to aid with weight loss/ fat burning or to take pre-workout, the stronger dosage in Deluxe Nutrition 200mg Caffeine could be useful.
We’ve picked Deluxe Nutrition 200mg as our favourite strongest caffeine pill. Why? Because it’s made in the UK, suitable for vegans and sold at a reasonable price. A pack of 100 tablets costs just £6.99 and comes with free delivery if bought through Amazon.
If stored in a cool, dry place, Deluxe Nutrition caffeine pills will last for at least 2 years. This makes them an excellent choice for the occasional caffeine user, but they can be taken daily too. 100 tablets is enough to last most people at least a few months, so you won’t have to worry about constantly re-purchasing these caffeine pills.
Strongest Caffeine Pill Runner Up: BULK POWDERS Caffeine Tablets
The name BULK POWDERS might not sound very appealing but look beyond the bland name and you’ll discover a great product. Each tablet contains 200mg of anhydrous caffeine, the maximum possible dosage. Although many people take these caffeine tablets before hitting the gym, this potent product is suitable for anyone and everyone in need of improved focus, concentration and alertness. It’s fast acting – the tablets aren’t coated so they will start to break down and release caffeine soon after they’re swallowed. You should begin to feel a boost after around 20 minutes.
BULK POWDERS doesn’t need flashy packaging or marketing gimmicks to sell their products. The price and potency alone make BULK POWDERS Caffeine Tablets one of the best caffeine products currently on the market. The tablets are vegan friendly too.
At £6.99 for 250 tablets, this product is a bargain.
Best Extended Release Caffeine Pill – Puritan’s Pride Caffeine
Sometimes it’s better to take things slow. An extended release caffeine supplement like Puritan’s Pride delivers caffeine over a longer period of time (around eight hours). This should give you a more gradual, less intense caffeine hit. Puritan’s Pride Caffeine still contains 200mg of caffeine, the highest possible dose, so it’s not a ‘weaker’ caffeine pill. The Puritan’s Pride brand has been around for more than 40 years – it’s safe to say they know how to produce high quality supplements.
How does this extended release supplement work? The capsules used in Puritan’s Pride Caffeine are filled with hundreds of ‘beadlets’, small spheres that contain the caffeine and other ingredients. These aren’t immediately broken down and absorbed like typical caffeine pills. Instead, they gradually release the caffeine over several hours.
A bottle of 60 capsules costs just £6.98 making it a great budget-friendly slow release caffeine supplement. Unfortunately, the sustained release beadlet capsules are made from starch and gelatine, so it’s not veggie friendly.