Is It Safe to Mix Pre-Workout with Energy Drink? (Ingenius)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 30, 2024
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As a personal trainer, I've always mixed my pre-workouts with water, but recently I found out some folks at the gym are mixing theirs with energy drinks.

Curious, I consulted a collegue doctor to see if this mix was a good idea.

Here's what I learned and some safer alternatives to consider.

Let's dive into it.

Quick Summary

  • It's not safe to mix pre-workouts with energy drinks as it can pose serious problems to your body.
  • You can mix a pre-workout energy drink with healthier liquids like water and juice.
  • A pre-workout energy drink has about 55-60mg of added sugar per bottle which is more than the recommended intake of 36mg and 24mg for men and women respectively.
  • In my journey in fitness, I've found that less is often more when it comes to caffeine and stimulants.

Why It is Not Safe to Mix a Pre-Workout with an Energy Drink

A spilled pre workout powder supplement

It's not safe to mix pre-workouts with energy drinks because too much caffeine content can be harmful to your health. Let's examine the details:

Too Much Caffeine

A pre-workout energy drink has high caffeine levels. A 250ml can of energy drink contains about 80-100mg of caffeine, depending on the brand.

Once ingested, it is rapidly absorbed, reaching peak levels within an hour. Its stimulating effects can last for hours depending on a person's metabolism.

Now, pre-workout supplements also have a high dose of caffeine, around 150-300mg per serving which is equivalent to three cups of coffee as per WebMD [1].

Mixing pre-workouts with an energy drink results in a drink combo loaded with more caffeine than is recommended which might cause some adverse effects on your fitness and general health.

Personally, I try not to go overboard with my caffeine consumption because I tend to encounter symptoms such as jitteriness. Similarly, a few of my clients have mentioned experiencing agitation when they consume excessive amounts of caffeine.

Research published on the NIH website shows that even caffeine-sensitive people may experience the same symptoms with a modest intake [2].

Additionally, over-reliance on caffeine might also cause anxiety and mood swings, especially when the effects wear off.

“In general, caffeine will begin to affect the body if there are more than 15 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in the blood. A concentration of 80 to 100 mg/L can be fatal.”

- Claire Sissons, Health Writer for Medical News Today

It may be challenging to get adequate restorative sleep if you consume too much caffeine.

Caffeine seems to lengthen the time it takes to fall asleep. Additionally, it can result in less overall sleep, particularly for the elderly as per studies published in the National Library of Medicine (NLM)[3].

Caffeine laxative properties have been linked to the secretion of gastrin, a hormone that the stomach generates and accelerates colonic action.

Caffeine encourages bowel movements by enhancing peristalsis (the spasms that transport food down your digestive tract).

This indicates that excessive caffeine consumption may cause watery stool or even diarrhea in specific individuals as shown by studies on NLM [4].

If you're thinking about ditching high-caffeinated energy drinks, try a caffeine-free pre-workout.

Related Article: Pre-Workout vs Caffeine Pills

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High Amounts Of Added Sugars

A man picking up sugar cubes

A pre-workout energy drink has roughly 55-60mg of added sugar per bottle. This is way more than the American Heart Association's recommended intake of 36mg and 24mg for men and women respectively [5].

Combining this with the existing sugars in pre-workout drinks is even worse because:

  • It's a Lackluster Diet: Drinking a combination of energy drinks and pre-workout limits your intake of natural nutrients found in healthier options.
  • You Can Gain Weight: Excessive consumption of added sugars makes it simple to gain weight even though you might be hitting the gym every now and then.
  • Higher Triglyceride Levels: Triglyceride levels can rise when you consume a lot of added sugar. As per WebMD, this may also elevate your risk of developing heart disease [6].
  • Dental Decay: Sugar encourages tooth decay by fostering bacterial growth and multiplication. One of my clients reportedly had a cavity which his dentist traced back to sugary content in pre-workout drinks.

Excessive Guarana Intake

I've noticed the presence of guarana in many energy drinks and pre-workouts I've used.

Average Guarana intake can have slight effects like nausea, stomach upset, and vomiting. However, according to RxList, higher consumption levels can lead to adverse impacts like blood pressure, rapid breathing, and pain when urinating [7].

To avoid adverse health effects, make sure to adhere to the recommended dosage when it comes to energy drinks and pre-workout supplements that contain guarana.

3 Energy Drinks Ingredients To Avoid Mixing With Pre-Workouts

A top view of energy drinks in a can

When mixing pre-workouts with energy drinks, watch out for these ingredients as they can have adverse health effects.

Ginseng

Energy drinks contain the natural plant ginseng. Consuming high doses of this compound can lead to digestive problems, anxiety, and insomnia.

As per WebMD, other negative effects of ginseng use include headaches, vertigo, and heartburn [8].

I always advise my clients to avoid ingesting it in large amounts because of its strong stimulant effect when mixed with caffeine.

Guarana Extract

Guarana extract powder on a table

Guarana, a stimulant present in energy drinks, can cause heartburn, nervousness, and insomnia.

Additionally, Drugs.com states that it can also lead to adverse effects, such as headache, nausea, and vertigo [9].

According to my doctor colleague, caffeine is naturally present in guarana. So, if you're taking guarana, it's best to stay away from caffeinated drinks to avoid caffeine's adverse effects.

Taurine

Most energy drinks have taurine. Coupled with caffeinated pre-workouts, it has several negative consequences, including elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia.

Taurine in pre-workout has a diuretic impact on the body as per studies published on NLM, so you might use the restroom more frequently [10].

Related Articles:

4 Safe Alternatives To Mix Pre-Workouts With

A man mixing a pre-workout drink

While mixing pre-workouts with energy drinks poses many health risks, here are safer alternatives with which you can combine your powdered supplements.

  1. Water: Scoop your pre-workout, add to water, and shake or stir well until everything dissolves.
  2. Smoothies: A pre-workout energy drink combined with nutritious food such as a banana or strawberry helps lessen some undesirable side effects when exercising.
  3. Fruit Juice: If you're groggy, the natural sugars in fruit juice can give you a rapid boost in energy levels.
  4. Food: To fuel your workout, it's essential to have a snack or meal loaded with high protein and carbohydrate nutrition like protein bars, Greek yogurt, and almonds.

Additionally, you can also opt for natural pre-workout alternatives altogether such as beetroot juice and green tea.

I've personally used them to get that kick in my workouts and although they were not as potent as some of the pre-workouts I've used, I did feel a boost in my energy levels and endurance compared to when I was not on any supplement.

FAQs

What Should You Not Mix with Pre-workout?

You should not mix pre-workouts with liquids that have high caffeine and guarana content. This avoids the risk of excessively consuming those compounds that are dangerous to your health.

Can You Mix Pre-workout with Anything?

No, you cannot mix pre-workouts with anything because not everything has ingredients that dissolve and taste well with pre-workouts.

Can You Mix Caffeine and Pre-workout?

Yes, you can mix caffeine with pre-workouts but in the recommended amounts. Anything above the standard levels can cause health problems.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2195579/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27527212
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25471197
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1378422/
  5. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar
  6. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/sugar-and-cholesterol%23:~:text%
  7. https://www.rxlist.com/supplements/guarana.htm
  8. https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-ginseng%
  9. https://www.drugs.com/npc/guarana.html&ved=
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5933890/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
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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