Caffeine pills are a great way to give yourself a quick energy boost. You don’t need to worry about drinking a ton of coffee – or worse, sugar-loaded energy drinks – which take longer to consume and have other side effects. That said, if you want to get your caffeine as fast as possible, you might have better options than pills.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the best caffeine pills across a variety of categories, but we’ll also look at a faster-acting alternative: vaporizers.
At a glance:
Best Fast-acting Caffeine
This category is easy: There’s only one product we’re going to look at. And it’s not a pill.
HELO Air from MELO Labs
HELO Air contains nothing but caffeine, organic vegetable glycerin, and natural flavors. It comes in a variety of tasty flavors, but the Gush flavor is the most popular. Because you’re inhaling the caffeine, it gets from your lungs into your bloodstream right away. You don’t have to wait for your body to digest a pill. (More on this later.)
Since it’s pure caffeine, HELO Air won’t give you jitters. Customers said it gave them a great energy boost without jitters, and there was no post-caffeine crash. Caffeine pills are also known to help prevent the jitters associated with the caffeine in coffee and energy drinks, but customers specifically say in reviews that they prefer HELO Air to caffeine pills.
Customers also noted in their reviews that they were saving a lot of money using these vaporizers, since they last a long time. One vaporizer is only $15, but it’ll provide at least 40 doses of caffeine – maybe more, since many people don’t need a full dose. As with caffeine pills, these caffeine vaporizers will save you money on coffee and energy drinks.
And they’re even more convenient than a bottle of pills. The vaporizers are small and will fit easily in your pocket. Plus, you don’t need to take it with water, unlike a pill: Everything you need is right there in the vaporizer. Just pull it out and take a puff for a quick hit of caffeine any time you need it.
To make it longer-lasting, simply take a puff or two whenever you need to. Since the dose is so small, you don’t really have to worry about overdoing it.
Best Extended-release Caffeine Pills
Sometimes, you want your caffeine to last for several hours straight, without having to keep re-taking it. Here are some of the top long-lasting caffeinated pills.
Genius Sustained Release Caffeine
The extended-release caffeine from the Genius Brand contains a proprietary formula of microencapsulated sustained release caffeine. Each bottle has 100 caffeine capsules, and each capsule contains about 100 mg of caffeine. Besides caffeine, the only other ingredients are cellulose, organic rice hulls, and ascorbyl palmitate.
The supplement calls itself a preworkout, meaning it’s meant to be taken prior to a workout to boost your performance, but of course you don’t have to be exercising to take it. It’s a good option for anyone who wants a sustained energy boost.
Vali Time-release Caffeine
Like the sustained release caffeine from Genius, the time-release caffeine from Vali also has its own patented microencapsulated caffeine. Each capsule has about 100 mg of caffeine, but a bottle has 120 pills, making this a slightly more economical option than the sustained release caffeine from Genius.
Other ingredients include microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide. Additionally, because this is a capsule and not a hard pill (like the Genius sustained release caffeine), it will be absorbed slightly more quickly and efficiently by your body than pills.
Best Caffeine Blend Pills
The following caffeine pills are the best caffeine supplements containing bonus ingredients designed to help you focus and stay energized. These are a great option if you’re curious to find out whether taking caffeine with other herbal supplements gives you a more balanced energy boost than you get from pure caffeine.
ProLab Nutrition Advanced Caffeine
The advanced caffeine supplements from ProLab contain caffeine from a wide variety of herbal extracts: white tea extract, green tea extract, guarana extract, kola nut extract, and green coffee extract, which add up to 200 mg of natural caffeine per tablet. These pills also contain a proprietary ingredient made from cocoa extract which adds another 55 mg of caffeine.
The company claims this combination of herbal ingredients “increases endurance and delays the onset of muscle fatigue” for those who use this as a preworkout supplement, but they also claim it boosts cognitive performance as well. If you want caffeine from a variety of sources, this is a great option. Each bottle contains 60 pills.
Performance Lab Caffeine Plus
Performance Lab makes a caffeine blend with a combination of B vitamins as well as patented blends of l-theanine and l-tyrosine, both of which aid the production of several important neurotransmitters. The capsules also contain prebiotics, which help your body digest and absorb the supplement.
The company says this combination of vitamins and supplements helps to counteract the negative side effects of caffeine, promoting a more relaxed kind of mental alertness without jitters. Each capsule contains 50 mg of caffeine, and there are 30 capsules per bottle.
Vali Caffeine Plus L-Theanine
If you just want caffeine and l-theanine, the Vali caffeine plus l-theanine supplements were designed just for you. L-theanine is known to alleviate anxiety and can promote relaxation. Similar to the caffeine blend from Performance Lab (which also contains l-theanine), this supplement promotes a relaxed energy without jitters.
Each capsule contains 50 mg of caffeine, but a bottle has 120 capsules, making this option more economical than the Performance Lab caffeine blend (though it doesn’t contain all the same ingredients).
Zhou Nutrition Energy and Focus
Another option with both caffeine and l-theanine is the energy and focus supplement from Zhou Nutrition. In addition to 100 mg of caffeine, these natural caffeine pills contain a combination of l-theanine and l-leucine, an essential amino acid that helps to regulate metabolism.
As with the other caffeine supplements that contain l-theanine, this supplement is said to support a calm boost in energy without jitters or a crash later on. A bottle contains 60 capsules.
Best Pure Caffeine Pills
For those who prefer to keep their vitamins and herbal supplements separate from their caffeine consumption, here are some brands that offer pure caffeine.
The caffeine tablets from Jet Alert contain 100 mg of caffeine per pill, and each bottle has 120 pills. The company calls this a fast-acting supplement, but note that these are regular pills (not fast-dissolve tablets), and no evidence is given to support this claim. It’s likely no more fast-acting than any of the other caffeine tablets on this list.
One drawback to this supplement is that it contains lactose, so it may not be suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant. For those who can digest lactose, this supplement is an economical option for pure caffeine.
Nutricost caffeine capsules contain 200 mg of caffeine per pill and 250 pills per bottle. This is more than twice as many pills (containing a higher dose of caffeine) as the caffeine supplement from Jet Alert, making Nutricost an even more cost-effective option.
While these caffeine pills don’t contain lactose, they do contain gelatin, which is an animal-based ingredient. This unfortunately means the supplement is not suitable for vegetarians.
The Bulk Supplements caffeine capsules are the most cost-effective option for pure caffeine that we’re including in this list. One caffeine pill has 200 mg of caffeine, and one bottle has an impressive 300 pills.
However, as with the caffeine from Nutricost, these caffeine pills contain bovine gelatin (gelatin made from cows), so vegetarians will probably want to avoid them. They contain no other ingredients besides caffeine and gelatin.
ProLab Caffeine Tablets
The caffeine tablets from ProLab contain 200 mg of caffeine per pill, and each bottle contains 100 pills. Unlike the other pure caffeine pills in this list, these caffeine supplements contain no lactose, gelatin, nor any other common food allergen.
However, one drawback to these pills is that they are not capsules, but hard pills (or tablets). Capsules tend to absorb more easily and efficiently than pills. Customers also seemed disappointed with the latest formula, which they said wasn’t as effective, but they still liked these caffeine pills more than coffee and said they didn’t cause jitters.
Why Pills Might Not Be the Best Choice for Caffeine
Many customers enjoy the fact that pills are super easy to take (compared to drinking coffee). What’s more, a single pill is considerably less expensive than a cup of coffee, even if you’re brewing the coffee yourself. However, there are a variety of legitimate concerns regarding caffeine pills which you might want to think about before choosing a supplement.
Slow Absorption and Poor Bioavailability
When you want your energy boost as fast as possible, it’s actually best to avoid hard pills. This is because pills can take up to half an hour just to be broken down by your stomach before they can begin to be absorbed, according to an article from Medicare Europe. It may be up to an hour or two before all their contents are fully absorbed.
What’s more, you won’t actually absorb all of their contents. The article from Medicare Europe suggests your body is only able to use about 39% to 53% of the contents of pills, on average. Overall, this makes pills the least effective of the options you have for taking supplements.
The caffeine diffuser HELO Air from MELO Labs is a great alternative to caffeine pills. It gets absorbed within minutes, and you’ll actually absorb all the caffeine in the supplement (which lessens the need for a very high dose). If you want sustained energy, you can simply take a few puffs every hour or so.
Of course, vaporizers are not for everyone. For those with respiratory issues (or who just prefer to avoid vaping until more research is done), these might not be the best option. If you want fast-acting caffeine but don’t want to vape, you might consider a caffeine tincture. The article from Medicare Europe claims liquids are absorbed more quickly and efficiently than pills.
Moreover, despite the supposedly slow absorption time of pills, many customers of the above products claimed the caffeine kicked in within a reasonable amount of time after taking the pill. It may be best to try a few different products for yourself to see how long it takes you to feel the effects.
Pills Are Tricky To Use Correctly / It’s Tough to Modify / Customize Pill Dosage
Because caffeine pills are so easy to take, it’s also easy to take too many without meaning to. Finding your optimal dose may be tricky: One pill might not be quite enough, but two pills could be too much.
The BBC suggests a caffeine intake of up to 400 mg a day is likely safe for most adults, but this is over the course of a day – not an amount you’d want to consume in one sitting. Note that most caffeine pills have 100-200 mg of caffeine per pill, so you could very easily hit (or exceed) that 400 mg limit when taking pills.
When taking caffeine pills, it’s a good idea to start with a little at a time and gradually work your way towards higher doses only when you know you can handle them. Start with just one (or even half of one) before attempting to take higher doses, in order to safely determine your personal caffeine tolerance.
When to Take Caffeine Pills
Whether you’re interested in preworkout supplements or just want more energy throughout your day, you may be wondering if there’s an ideal time to take caffeine, and if there are other times it should be avoided. Or, maybe you already know when you want to take caffeine pills, but you’re wondering whether or not it’s recommended to take them at that time.
Taking caffeine before a workout is generally a good idea. Some scientific evidence suggests it can enhance performance in sports and other athletic endeavors as well as promote weight loss, according to a review from Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
However, if your workout is late in the day, taking caffeine just beforehand might interfere with your sleep. According to WebMD, caffeine should be avoided within 4-6 hours of your bedtime, so you’ll probably want to skip it if you’re planning an evening workout.
Whether or not you’re exercising on a given day, caffeine pills can be an effective way to boost your energy levels. Just stick to taking it in the morning or early afternoon. As long as you’re not taking too much, it’s safe to take every day. Everyone has different limits, so pay attention to how different amounts of caffeine make you feel.
Try MELO Labs Products for Both Caffeine and Sleep
As we’ve seen, you have a wide variety of options when looking for the best caffeine pills. Try HELO Air from MELO Labs for a fast-acting vaporizer, Genius Sustained Release Caffeine for a blend of natural caffeine, Performance Lab Caffeine Plus for a combination of caffeine and B vitamins (as well as additional herbal supplements), or Jet Alert Caffeine for pure caffeine pills.
Remember, the best caffeine pill for you may not be the best caffeine pill for someone else. Finding the right one for you may take some experimentation, so go ahead and try more than one supplement if you’d like.