Pre-workout supplements vs. energy drinks: which is the better option?

Pouring an energy drink into a glass
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Pre-workout supplements are growing in popularity – no wonder, considering all the benefits that they come with for our training sessions. Since these supplements have several ingredients in common with coffee and energy drinks, they are often compared to them. We’ve already discussed the case with coffee, so let’s focus on the remaining two. Pre-workouts vs energy drinks – what’s the difference? Here you will find out!

Pre-workout supplements and energy drinks – what are they?

Let’s begin with pre-workouts supplements. As the name suggests, they are drinks, capsules or powders that you take before your training to increase its effectiveness. Their main effects are increasing your energy and focus while decreasing the fatigue felt after workout. They work best if taken 30 minutes before the start of your training.

Energy drinks are also drunk to increase energy and decrease overall tiredness. However, they are not particularly aimed at working out – most people consume energy drinks when they don’t get enough sleep and need a power up, or to stay awake longer. They usually start working about 10 minutes after consumption.

Why do we compare energy drinks with pre-workout supplements?

This is because both of them share many of the same ingredients. Caffeine, amino acids, beetroot extract – these are only a couple of the ingredients shared between these two. As you can expect, similarity in ingredients means similarity in effect. It’s the things that they don’t share that makes them slightly different, and thus better for specific purposes.

What are the differences between pre workouts and energy drinks?

The main distinction between these two may be observed in their purpose. Pre-workouts aim at increasing your efficiency during the workout by giving you more energy and stimulating your muscles. Energy drinks, on the other hand, have a wider appliance – they can be used to help you study, to keep you up during the night, the list of uses is limitless. However, as a result these drinks will not provide you with a really strong boost – if they’re supposed to work in so many cases, they won’t stand out in any of them.

Another decisive aspect is their list of ingredients. Energy drinks consist of sugar, usually so much that you may find it hard to burn it during your workout. Additionally, energy drinks often have ginseng in them – the root indeed increases your energy, but decreases your exercise endurance at the same time. This way, although it might be a good option for students learning all night, it won’t really help you during your workout.

Thirdly, there is the case of portioning. If we think “energy drinks vs pre-workout supplements” we usually consider ingredients, their effects, etc.. But portioning is important as well, and there is a huge gap in this aspect. When you take pre-workouts, you usually consume a full portion at once – an amount adjusted to your weight that will give you a strong enough energy boost. With energy drinks, you usually take a couple of minutes to finish one. Additionally, you can’t really predict how big your optimal amount should be – pre-workouts come with suggestions, while energy drinks don’t. And each energy drink is different, so even with the help of online guides, it might be difficult to set the right quantity.

Pre-workouts vs energy drinks – which one is better?

At this point you probably know the answer. But if you don’t, or you skipped to this point  right away, let us say it clear: pre-workout supplements are better for your training routine, while energy drinks will be better for your everyday activities. It is so, because the pre-workout formula is dedicated to increasing your muscle performance, while energy drinks are prepared with everyday activities in mind. You can see the difference in effect in the table below:

 Pre-WorkoutsEnergy Drinks
Energy boost:Larger, usually 30-45 minutes after taking them.Moderate, quick – it takes only 10 minutes for them to work.
Effect on physical activity:Stimulating, increasing endurance, boosting muscle growth.Usually no visible effect, but depending on the formula, it might even slightly decrease endurance.
Portioning:Suggested amounts by the manufacturers which allow you to pick the right portion for the best effects.No clear suggestion on the amount and its effect, especially during training. However, a can usually does the job when you need to stay awake.



So, if you’re planning a training session, take your pre-workout. But if you feel tired in the office, grab your energy drink – just remember, since they have a lot of sugar, it might be bad for your macros – maybe try the zero calories options instead?

Can I mix pre-workout supplements with energy drinks?

If you have ever considered an extra boost to your pre-workouts in the form of energy drinks, think twice. Both of these have high amounts of caffeine – combining them might make you suffer from caffeine overdose symptoms. Breathing problems, stomach issues, even dizziness – all of these are the results of consuming too much caffeine. So, as you can see, trying to get an extra boost might end up pretty bad. Don’t think about combining these two together, unless you’re using a non-stimulating pre-workout mix – in this case it might be safe, but it highly depends on the formula of your supplement. Maybe it’s better not to take risks?

The takeaway

Both pre-workout supplements and energy drinks can be stimulating. The aim of both of these substances is to boost your energy levels and make you more focused. However, due to the differences in the formula of pre-workouts and energy drinks, the former are much more efficient during your training sessions. The latter, on the other hand, are useful in everyday situations, since they work quickly and give a moderate boost. Remember not to mix them – this may lead to a serious caffeine overdose.

And, since caffeine was mentioned here – did you know that there are different types of caffeine?

What are the differences between pre-workout supplements and energy drinks?

The main difference lies in their purpose. Pre-workout supplements are designed to enhance workout performance by providing energy and stimulating muscles. Energy drinks have a broader application and can be used for various situations like studying or staying awake. Additionally, pre-workout supplements have specific ingredient formulations for workout benefits, while energy drinks often contain excessive sugar and ingredients like ginseng that may not be suitable for intense physical activity.

Which one is better, pre-workout supplements or energy drinks?

Pre-workout supplements are more suitable for training routines as they are specifically formulated to enhance muscle performance and endurance. Energy drinks, on the other hand, are better suited for everyday activities and provide a moderate energy boost. Choosing between the two depends on the desired effects and the specific situation.

Can pre-workout supplements be mixed with energy drinks?

It is generally not recommended to mix pre-workout supplements with energy drinks due to the high caffeine content in both. Combining them can lead to symptoms of caffeine overdose, such as breathing problems, stomach issues, and dizziness. However, if using a non-stimulating pre-workout mix, it may be safer to combine, but it still depends on the specific supplement formula. It is advisable to avoid unnecessary risks and not mix them unless recommended by a professional.

Pouring an energy drink into a glass

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