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Can You Mix Pre-Workout With Protein Shake? (Quick Guide)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Many of my clients who want to lose fat and gain muscle have asked me at least once if they can take a protein shake and pre-workout at the same time.

The two supplements were meant to help people achieve different health and fitness goals, but I decided to build on what I know from my professional experience with a few days of additional research on the benefits and drawbacks of combining them.

I also talked with a few colleagues to learn from their experiences as well. Keep reading because I'll share all of my findings in this article.

Quick Summary

  • People can simultaneously drink a protein shake and pre-workout to speed up weight loss and muscle growth.
  • However, combining ergogenics with protein powder in a single serving may not be suitable for everyone.
  • You should know your fitness goals in advance to determine whether you actually need both a pre-workout supplement and post-workout protein to reach them.

Why Take Both Pre-Workout and Protein Powder?

Two different pre-workout supplements

You should take both pre-workout and protein powder because they can have synergistic effects on your performance and workout results.

While an ergogenic drink can help boost your energy, focus, and strength, a protein shake can aid in the repair of tissue fibers damaged during weight training [1] [2].

By taking them both, you can lift heavier weights to improve your performance and train longer to make your muscles bigger, which can help you reach your fitness goals faster.

Guidelines for Consuming Pre-Workout and Protein Shakes

Drinking a protein shake

If you choose to take both ergogenic and protein supplements, the following guidelines for consuming them can help you maximize your fitness gains.

The Best Time to Take Them

According to research, ergogenic aids are intended to be taken before exercise [3].

It usually kicks in after 15 to 30 minutes, giving you a boost in energy levels and focus and making you more motivated even during a tough workout.

On the other hand, the best time to take pre-workout was thought to be most effective when taken during an anabolic window, or 30 minutes of exercise, to replenish the nutrients.

But, recent research suggests that increasing total protein intake per day, regardless of the timing, can stimulate muscle protein synthesis more effectively [4].

Choosing the Type of Supplement

Pre-workouts frequently contain stimulants like caffeine. When choosing an ergogenic aid to take with protein powder, it can be helpful to use one that includes a small amount of caffeine to provide just the right amount of energy boost without the jittery effects.

"Keep in mind that having too much caffeine can have serious side effects."

- Kate Patton, Registered Dietician 

In terms of protein supplements, whey protein and casein protein powder are complete protein sources of essential amino acids, including branched-chain amino acids [5].

Therefore, drinking a whey protein shake may be a good way to help your muscles recover faster after a workout.

Does The Experience Level Matter?

A man holding a supplement container while giving okay sign

A pre-workout protein shake is good for athletes with low dietary protein intake.

However, if you're just starting out on your fitness journey, you might find it more beneficial to use a pre-workout shake first, as it can help your body adapt to the physical demands of exercise.

On the other hand, experienced bodybuilders may be more likely to take both supplements at the same time.

The main reason for this is that they generally strive to improve their gym performance while also gaining lean muscles and improving their body weight.

Is There a Risk in Combining Them?

There should be no health risks associated with combining pre-workouts with protein drinks, especially for those who follow the guidelines for proper consumption.

However, those who misuse the products and are unaware of their sensitivity to ingredients may experience some side effects.

Common symptoms, which are associated primarily with certain pre-workout ingredients, include irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, tingling, stomach issues, and nausea [6].

FAQs

Is Whey Protein the Same as Pre-Workout?

No, whey protein is not the same as pre-workout. Whey proteins are muscle-building supplements containing essential amino acids that aid in post-workout muscle recovery.

A pre-workout, on the other hand, aims to improve your exercise performance by providing your body with extra energy and stamina.

Should You Take Pre-Workout Before a Protein Shake?

You should take a pre-workout before a protein shake to maximize the ergogenic effects of the supplements.

Consuming protein drinks after a workout is thought to increase the rate of protein absorption in the muscles, thereby accelerating your ability to gain lean muscle mass.

Is It Safe to Combine Protein Shakes and Pre-workout?

It's generally safe to consume protein powders and pre-workouts in a single serving, and you can take both supplements, provided that you follow proper guidelines.

However, I usually advise my clients to take them separately and maybe opt for supplements that have mild or no side effects if they are beginners:   

We have thoroughly tested all of these products, and we've concluded that they work well, even when combined, as they don't put extra stress on the kidneys or increase the risk of high blood pressure.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/health-benefits-pre-workout-supplements
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24435468/
  3. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0247-6
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879660/
  5. https://www.usdairy.com/news-articles/whats-the-difference-between-casein-and-whey
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/ergogenic-aid
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