Can You Take A Fat Burner And A Pre-Workout Together?

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: February 16, 2024
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As a doctor, one of the most common questions I get from patients is whether combining fat burners and pre-workout supplements is okay.

My answer is usually yes, but it's not that simple.

To fully understand the benefits and the possible downsides of combining pre-workout and fat burner supplements, I got together with a team of colleagues at Total Shape to do comprehensive research into the matter.

Here’s what we found.

Quick Summary

  • It's possible to take a fat burner and a pre-workout supplement together, especially when they are stimulant-free and of high-quality, to enhance both exercise performance and fat metabolism.
  • The differentiation lies in their primary goals; fat burners aim at promoting fat loss while pre-workouts are intended to boost energy and focus for an enhanced workout experience.
  • Pre-workout supplements are recommended to be taken 30 minutes before a workout routine, whereas fat burners are best taken in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • I advise choosing supplements with caution to avoid unpleasant side effects, especially when they contain high levels of stimulants like caffeine.

Can You Take a Fat Burner With a Pre-workout at the Same Time?

A woman holding a pre-workout drink and a fat burner

Yes, you can take a fat burner and a pre-workout at the same time.

I recall a patient initially skeptical about combining a pre-workout with a fat burner, who then found it boosted his workout energy and focus.

This combo can synergize, enhancing exercise performance and fat metabolism. Together, they may increase energy expenditure, improve fat metabolism, and potentially boost exercise performance more than a pre-workout alone, aiding in achieving fitness goals.

They're effective if both are stimulant-free and of high quality.

According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, if the two supplements have a high stimulant composition like caffeine, then taking the combination will likely result in unpleasant side effects like anxiety, jitters, heart palpitations, and irritability, along with potential reliance [1].

“Avoid mixing fat burners and pre-workouts that contain multiple different stimulants, as this can make side effects much more likely.”

- Pavel Sadovnik, Biochemical Scientist 

Pre-workout vs Fat Burner: What's The Difference?

The difference between fat burners and pre-workouts is stark.

I realized this when my patient switched from solely using a fat burner to incorporating a pre-workout. While the fat burner helped with weight loss, the pre-workout gave him that extra push he needed during his exercise sessions.

Pre-workouts and fat burners serve distinct roles. Let's dive into these differences.

Different Roles

A person holding two tumblers in the gym

As the name suggests, a fat burner’s primary goal is to burn body fat. But they don't do it by making fat cells go up in smoke.

They do it by driving weight loss in a few different ways [2]. Fat burners are designed to:

  • Suppress appetite to increase weight loss
  • Increase fat metabolism
  • Impair fat absorption
  • Acutely increase energy expenditure
  • Increase fat oxidation during exercise

On the other hand, pre-workouts have one central role; to boost energy and focus. They do so by stimulating blood flow to the muscles, among other mechanisms, according to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition [3].

Now, because of these distinct roles between fat burners and pre-workouts, they are bound to have different ingredients.

Different Ingredients

pre-workout powder on a table with it's ingredients

Fat burner ingredients aim for gradual body fat loss. I noticed a variety of ingredients in a patient's fat burner, each aiding fat metabolism. In contrast, pre-workouts focus on boosting energy and focus.

Exploring specific ingredients reveals their benefits. For example, Capsaicin in fat burners not only boosts fat metabolism but also increases muscle contraction strength. L-carnitine L-tartrate, important for fatty acid oxidation and energy metabolism, can protect against muscle damage and reduce soreness after intense exercise.

Let's break it down further.

Fat Burners

Fat burners contain ingredients that either inhibit fat accumulation or stimulate fat breakdown, aiding in long-term fat loss [4]. Here are the most common ingredients found in fat burner supplements:

  • Chromium
  • Carnitine
  • Green tea extract (EGCG)
  • Conjugated-linolenic acid
  • Caffeine
  • Garcinia Cambogia
  • Taurine

Pre-Workouts

Pre-workouts, on the other hand, prepare your body for an explosive workout. This often involves improving your mental focus, drive, and attention.

Thus, most of the ingredients will get you into that zone where you’re more focused and less tired [5]. As you can already guess, you’re bound to find stimulants like caffeine in a pre-workout.

But besides that, there are other ingredients in pre-workouts that drive towards the end goal of improving focus, according to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition [6].

These usually include:

  • Beta-Alanine
  • L-Arginine
  • L-Citrulline
  • Creatine
  • BCAAs
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Taurine

Choosing the Supplement That Aligns With Your Goals

A gym couple holding tumblers

To prevent confusion, which is often common with new users, I always advise my patients to choose a supplement based on one of the following things.

The End Goal

If weight loss is your primary goal, start with a fat burner, as my trainer advised amidst the plethora of supplements available. Conversely, for muscle gain and improved power, strength, and endurance, opt for a pre-workout first.

However, combining pre-workouts and fat burners strategically can aid in getting lean while boosting workout performance.

The Caffeine Factor

Many fat burners, like pre-workouts, contain caffeine. A patient of mine accidentally doubled his caffeine intake and struggled with sleeplessness.

Some pre-workouts may not have caffeine but include stimulants that enhance its effects.

This obviously amounts to high levels of caffeine and can lead to not-very-pleasant side effects. But the good news is that you can always find a stimulant-free fat burner in a store near you or online.

For guidance on which supplement best suits your exercise goals, I always advise consulting a healthcare professional. Now, let's revisit the benefits of each supplement.

Benefits of Pre-workout Supplements

A buff person holding pre-workout

The blend of amino acids, vitamins, and other ingredients commonly found in a pre-workout supplement is designed to enhance your workout program.

Below are other benefits of pre-workout supplements:

  • Improves aerobic and anaerobic endurance
  • Boosts strength and muscle power
  • Enhances focus and concentration
  • Increases your energy
  • Enhances the flow of blood to the muscle
  • Improves your nitric oxide levels
  • Sustains nitric oxide activity for extended muscle benefits of strength and recovery
  • Accelerates muscle recovery

Benefits of a Fat Burner Supplement

A fit woman taking in fat burner

Fat burners, with their mix of natural and sometimes artificial ingredients, not only aid in fat burning and weight loss but also help regulate appetite to curb cravings. This was a game changer for one of my patients as she used to struggle with mid-day snacking.

Fat burners also work to:

  • Stimulate thermogenesis
  • Stimulate the mobilization and utilization of fat
  • Encourage fat metabolism and energy expenditure
  • Suppress appetite
  • Accelerate recovery and preserve lean muscle mass
  • Regulate blood sugar

FAQs

When Should You Take Fat Burners?

You should take fat burners before breakfast on an empty stomach after you wake up.

Can You Mix Pre-workout With Anything?

Yes, you can mix a pre-workout with anything, including smoothie ingredients like strawberries and bananas to make a pre-workout smoothie.

In addition, taking pre-workout with food can reduce the unwanted side effects.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12519715
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00908.x
  3. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-7-10
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30401639/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30089501/
  6. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0247-6
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About The Author

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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