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Ranking the best caffeine pills of 2023

Written by John Davis

Last updated: March 29, 2023

Caffeine is one of the most reliable and effective ways to perform better and stay alert during the day or into the night.

Caffeine pills are great if you need a precise dose of caffeine for mental acuity or physical strength and endurance.

Intimidated by the number of options? Our research team went through all of the best caffeine pills on the market to find the very best.


Last updated: March 29, 2023
Caffeine pills considered: 29
Hours of research: 43
Experts reviewed: 11
Scientific papers referenced: 32

1. Performance Caffeine+

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Performance Caffeine+ is our #1 caffeine pill recommendation thanks to its combination of caffeine, L-theanine, and B-complex vitamins to provide stable, reliable energy without the traditional caffeine pill crash or jittery side effects.

Not only that, Performance Lab Caffeine+ is loaded with L-Tyrosine to further improve your concentration. All of this while offering B Vitamins to restore the nutrients that caffeine depletes – pretty smart, huh?

As a bonus to vegans and vegetarians, Performance Lab Caffeine+ capsules are made from prebiotic fiber (instead of the cheaper cellulose or gelatin options that other companies use). This means that it supports healthy digestion while being completely vegan-friendly.

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2. Zhou Energy + Focus

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Zhou Energy + Focus is our top choice because it combines a high 200 mg dose of caffeine with the mediating and synergistic effects of L-theanine.

One reason why green tea is particularly effective at boosting mental and physical acuity without side effects is because of the interaction between caffeine and L-theanine, which work together for more optimal effects than caffeine alone.

The L-theanine helps prevent some of the negative effects that caffeine can cause, and Zhou takes full advantage of this. It’s also got a vegan-friendly cellulose capsule, and the only ingredient other than caffeine and L-theanine is rice flour. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

3. Nutricost Caffeine

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Nutricost offers one of the simplest caffeine supplements out there, with 200 mg of caffeine per capsule and only two other ingredients: gelatin and rice flour.

It’s hyper-minimal; the only bad news is that vegetarians and vegans might want something other than gelatin (an animal product) to make up the capsule.

4. BulkSupplements Caffeine

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It doesn’t get any simpler than this. BulkSupplements delivers a 200 mg caffeine supplement in a gelatin capsule, with zero additional ingredients.

Yes, vegetarians and vegans will be put off by the cow-derived gelatin, but everybody else can make this their number one choice for a straightforward high-dose caffeine supplement.

5. Genius Caffeine

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The innovative spin that Genius puts into its caffeine supplement is its trademarked slow-release caffeine formulation.

While most forms of caffeine are absorbed very rapidly, Genius Caffeine claims that their micro-encapsulated form of caffeine will deliver a steady stream of the supplement to your blood over a longer period of time, providing a smoother ramp-up and ramp-down of the effects.

This should help fend off some of the adverse effects of caffeine for those who are sensitive to them, too.

6. Natrol High Caffeine 

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Natrol provides an extra strength serving of caffeine (200 mg) designed to complement and augment the focusing and attention-boosting properties of caffeine.

If the simple rush of caffeine isn’t cutting it for you, think about going for Natrol High Caffeine-especially if you have cognitively demanding tasks ahead of you.

7. SmarterVitamins Caffeine + L-Theanine

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SmarterVitamins shows that they really know their stuff with regards to the dynamics of caffeine inside the body with this supplement.

Providing L-theanine alongside caffeine is clever, because research has found that several of the benefits of green tea can be traced to the synergistic action between caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine. With 200 mg of caffeine per softgel, it’s not lacking in the energy department, either.

8. ProLab Caffeine Maximum Potency

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If all you want is a simple caffeine supplement that delivers a high dose quickly, ProLabs is a very solid choice. With 200 mg of caffeine per capsule and no time release agents, you’ll get a quick rush of caffeine to give you an extra boost of energy.

There are a few more binders and excipients than strictly necessary, but that’s hardly a reason to discount this supplement.

9. Jet Alert Caffeine

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Jet Alert is a good choice if you know you need a smaller and more calibrated dose of caffeine. At 100 mg per capsule, it’s a little easier to dial in the exact dosage you need.

Since a lot of the science on caffeine delivers caffeine at doses proportional to the body mass of the participants, you’ll want something a little more precise to dial in your dose. This is where a smaller dose supplement like Jet Alert comes in handy.

10. Vali Time Release Caffeine

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Vali provides a time release caffeine supplement, but with only 100 mg of caffeine per pill.

If you are very small, or are sensitive to higher doses even in time release formulations, this might be a good choice, but otherwise, there are better time release formulations on the market.

Category winners

Best caffeine pill overall: Performance Lab Caffeine+

Performance Lab Stim is a unique combination of caffeine, theanine, B-vitamins, and tyrosine. These ingredients work together to maximize your energy levels and minimize unpleasant side effects, making for the best all-around caffeine pill on the market. 

Best caffeine pill for sports performance: Genius Caffeine

Genius Caffeine is perfectly suited for sports performance thanks to its micronized formulation—a special formulation of caffeine that’s released over a long period of time to sustain long, hard workouts and efforts more effectively than standard caffeine pills. 

Best caffeine pill for women: Performance Lab Caffeine+

Women are sometimes more susceptible to the adverse effects of high doses of caffeine. Performance Lab Stim, with a moderate dose of caffeine and several complementary ingredients to mediate the negative effects of caffeine, is a great way for women to capitalize on the benefits of caffeine while minimizing the side effects.  

Best caffeine pill for weight loss: Genius Caffeine

Genius Caffeine’s extended release formulation makes it great for weight loss, as it can sustain a high rate of fat oxidation throughout the day, especially if you take it in the morning. 

Best caffeine pill for studying: Zhou Energy + Focus

Zhou Energy + Focus supplies a solid 100 mg dose of caffeine alongside L-theanine to calm your nerves and blunt any negative effects from caffeine. If plain caffeine gives you jitters and anxiety when you try to study, Zhou Energy + Focus is the perfect solution. 

Best caffeine pill for headaches: Nutricost Caffeine

Yes, caffeine boosts your cognitive power, but it can also banish headaches when taken at the right dose (research suggests at least 130 mg). We recommend Nutricost Caffeine, which has 200 mg per capsule—perfect for dealing with headaches and migraines.

Who should buy caffeine pills?

Caffeine pills are great for anyone who wants to take advantage of the myriad benefits of caffeine without having to bother with coffee, tea, or energy drinks. If you fit into any of the following categories, caffeine pills are a great option:

People looking for a physical or mental performance boost. Caffeine has incredible benefits for cognitive function and athletic performance. Whether you are cramming for a test, putting in long hours on a tough project, or looking to push your physical performance to the limit, caffeine pills are the most reliable way to get caffeine’s ergogenic benefits. 

People looking for an extra weight loss boost. Caffeine is a powerful thermogenic and appetite suppressant, which is why you’ll find it in many weight loss supplements. If you are looking to accelerate your weight loss, adding caffeine with a caffeine pill is one way to bump up your body’s metabolism and dial back your appetite.

People who don’t want to bother with tea or coffee. Tea and coffee are great, all-natural ways to get caffeine, but they can be time-consuming to prepare, and can get expensive, especially if you’re travelling.

If you are drinking tea or coffee primarily to stay alert, caffeine pills are an effective substitute. You don’t need to bother with brewing coffee or steeping tea: just grab a caffeine pill and go.

How we ranked

To formulate our caffeine pill rankings, we made a list of all the currently-available products that delivered caffeine, then started narrowing the field with the following criteria.

Effective dosage for both physical and mental performance. That meant calculating minimum effective doses for people with a range of body masses—caffeine pills that delivered less than 100 mg of caffeine were eliminated, as anything less than this would not be effective even for someone who only weighs about 100 pounds.

Minimum effective doses of caffeine start to show up at about one to three mg of caffeine per kg of body mass, so a 50 kg person (~110 pounds) would need at least 100 mg of caffeine to start seeing significant physical and cognitive performance benefits.

Larger people, of course, will need a higher dose, which is why most of our caffeine pills that ended up higher in the rankings had more like 150 or 200 mg per capsule or tablet.

Combined-effect ingredients like theanine that mitigate caffeine’s side effects. Caffeine is great, but one advantage that coffee and tea have on pure caffeine is the presence of other compounds, like theanine and chlorogenic acid, that help modulate the effects of caffeine on your central nervous system.

Some people are fine with plain caffeine, but others can get better performance and fewer side effects with a caffeine pill that provides caffeine alongside some hand-picked extras. Theanine was one we were particularly interested in, because it helps ameliorate the jitters and anxiety that can come along with higher doses of caffeine.

For products with additional ingredients like theanine, we looked for sufficient doses of these additional biologically active ingredients, and made sure there weren’t so many extras that the supplement got bloated with active ingredients.

Super clean design. We dropped anything that had too much in the way of binders, stabilizers, and additives. These just get in the way, and don’t add anything to the formulation.

Our final rankings are a mix of moderate and high-dose caffeine pills, some of which provide just pure caffeine, while others provide caffeine supported by an appropriate amount of theanine or other mediators for those looking for them.


Q: Do caffeine pills help you lose weight?

A: Caffeine is a well-known thermogenic compound, so yes, caffeine can help you lose weight by increasing your body’s baseline caloric expenditure.

The effect is dose-dependent, with higher doses of caffeine burning more calories, but you do need to balance this with the negative side effects of caffeine at higher dosages.

Caffeine pills, or calorie-free caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, are particularly effective ways to achieve the thermogenic effect of caffeine because you incur no additional energy intake (versus, say, a soda or energy drink, where the calories due to the sugar might offset any benefit in thermogenesis).

Q: Are caffeine pills good for studying?

A: Yes, one of caffeine’s most well-researched aspects is its nootropic potential: caffeine boosts cognitive performance, attention, and memory, particularly when you are sleep deprived.

The effect is so strong that the military has awarded specific contracts for companies to develop caffeinated products for military ration kits, so caffeine is a good tool to improve your studying, especially late at night.

Of course, you do need to be mindful of the fact that you won’t sleep well after taking a caffeine pill to stay up late, and sleep is very important for solidifying what you’ve learned during a study session.

Q: Should you take caffeine pills or drink coffee?

A: Caffeine pills are great if you need a fast, transportable, and easy way to boost your body’s caffeine levels. Coffee can deliver caffeine too, but it takes slightly longer to kick in.

Plus, the caffeine content of coffee varies from roast to roast. However, coffee contains compounds like chlorogenic acid that modulate the effects of caffeine in your body, and coffee is rich in many antioxidants that you will not get in a caffeine pill.

If you want short-term performance benefits (physical or mental), caffeine pills have the edge compared to coffee. However, if your goal is long term health, you should opt for coffee instead.

Q: How long does it take for caffeine pills to kick in?

A: Caffeine levels in the blood reach a peak about 60 to 90 minutes after ingesting a caffeine pill. The rise in blood caffeine levels will be slower if you take caffeine pills with a large meal, but aside from this, caffeine pills are quite reliable in their timing, which is one of their prime advantages—you know exactly what you will get.

Q: How many caffeine pills can you take?

A: Caffeine’s side effects ramp up at higher dosages, and fortunately, you don’t need a crazy high dose of caffeine to get optimal thermogenic and performance benefits.

Typically about three mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is the sweet spot for optimal benefits and minimal side effects; this translates into about 200 to 300 mg for most people.

Serious side effects don’t appear until much higher doses (some scientific studies have used up to nine mg per kg of body mass) but there is really no need to strive for an excessive dose.

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For strong, evidence-based performance enhancement, caffeine is the golden standard. There can be no dispute that caffeine pills are a highly effective supplement when it comes to improving your performance in resistance training, endurance events, and a wide range of mental tasks.

It takes a little work to figure out the right dosage for you that will lead to the optimal performance level with the lowest potential for side effects, but there’s no doubting that it’s worth it.

If you find yourself vulnerable to the negative effects of caffeine, or if you are particularly focusing on the mental acuity-boosting properties of caffeine, try a caffeine pill that includes L-theanine as well, since these two compounds work together synergistically to improve mental performance and reduce side effects like jitteriness.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 caffeine pill recommendation, click here.


John Davis

John Davis is a Minneapolis-based health and fitness writer with over 7 years of experience researching the science of high performance athletics, long-term health, nutrition, and wellness. As a trained scientist, he digs deep into the medical, nutritional, and epidemiological literature to uncover the keys to healthy living through better nutrition.