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

Alex DePinto
Published by Alex DePinto
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 22, 2022

As a fitness coach, one of the most common questions I get from clients 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 okay to combine a fat burner and a pre-workout.
  • Fat burners and pre-workout supplements have two distinct roles; fat loss and boosting workouts.
  • The best time for pre-workouts is before a workout, while fat burners are best taken on an empty stomach in the morning.

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

A woman holding a tumbler while flexing her muscles

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

The two can work well if they are both stimulant-free and high-quality with a reputable composition formula.

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 [1].

In addition to the side effects, you’re also likely to develop a reliance.

“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 

To understand the two better, let's dive into the differences between the supplements.

What's The Difference Between the Two?

The difference between fat burners and pre-workouts is that the former promotes fat burning while the latter enhances performance and recovery.

Pre-workouts and fat-burning supplements stand in stark contrast as both play very different roles within the body.

Let's take a look at some of these roles.

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 [3].

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

Different Ingredients

A person mixing scooping pre-workout powder

The ingredients of a fat burner will reflect a formula that enables users to lose body fat progressively. Conversely, a pre-workout contains ingredients that boost energy and focus.

Let's break it down further.

Fat Burners

For fat burners, the ingredients have their own mechanisms for breaking down fat. Some suppress appetite, while others regulate blood sugar and insulin. Both combine to form a cumulative fat-burning formula that helps in the overall long-term fat loss.

Most of the ingredients in fat burners work by either inhibiting fat accumulation (lipogenesis) or stimulating fat breakdown (lipolysis) [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

A woman holding a jar of pre-workout in the gym

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 [6].

Here are some of the ingredients:

These ingredients can get you into that “pumped up" state of muscle endurance and power output.

Note that while caffeine is a common ingredient, not all pre-workouts have it.

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 clients to choose a supplement based on one of the following things.

The End Goal

If your main goal is losing weight, consider using a fat burner first.

Similarly, if your main priority is to gain muscle and increase power, strength, and endurance, then use a pre-workout as the first supplement of your choice.

But sometimes, you want to simultaneously get lean and improve your exercise performance.

This is possible if you’re strategic with your training methodology and if you combine pre-workout and fat burners intelligently.

The Caffeine Factor

Many fat burners contain caffeine, just like pre-workouts. Sometimes, pre-workouts don't necessarily contain caffeine but do other stimulants that amplify the effects of caffeine.

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.

If you’re still unsure which supplement will better augment your exercise program to achieve your goals, consider consulting a healthcare professional.

Now, let’s get back to 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 contain dietary supplements with natural and sometimes artificial ingredients or compounds designed to burn fat.

But besides burning fat and directly helping you to lose weight while doing less, they have other benefits such as the regulation of appetite, an important benefit in curbing cravings.

Fat burners also work to:

  • Stimulate thermogenesis
  • Stimulate the mobilization and utilization of adipose tissue (fat)
  • Encourage increased 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.

Combining Pre-workout and Fat Burner Supplements for an Effective Workout

You can combine pre-workout and fat burners to shoot two birds with one stone. But to achieve the desired results, quality is paramount.

The influx of counterfeit supplements, especially fat burners, has made it difficult for new users to reap the benefits.

That's why we’ve thoroughly tested the best products on the market and prepared these lists for you:

Taking them daily can boost your efforts to achieve that body goal that keeps you grinding every day at the gym.


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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