Does Pre-Workout Make You Gain Weight? (What To Look For)

When someone starts their fitness journey, they expect to see weight loss. However, for many beginners, they see the opposite.

When the numbers on the scales go up, there can be several causes. One of the primary culprits is found in taking pre-workout supplements. 

This review will uncover what is inside your pre-workout mixes, how they can cause temporary or more permanent weight gain, and how to avoid it.

When you gain weight, it isn't always a bad thing. Lean muscle, for example, makes you look toned and feel great, but it weighs more than body fat. 

So as you lose fat weight, you put on muscle weight which can add numbers to your morning measurements.

Does pre-workout make you gain weight? A pre-workout, designed to give you energy and focus, can also contribute to temporary weight gain.

Let’s look at some of the most popular brands to find out what issues they may have for your weight loss experience.

LIT Pre-Workout

LIT powders have caffeine and other amino acids designed to give you energy for exercise performance.

With the addition of creatine, water weight can cause some additional pounds to be added to the scale.

However, with the caffeine, you get the energy you need to exercise vigorously while also losing weight.

This will not only counteract the water weight gain and help you lose weight in the long run.

LIT also lowers muscular fatigue and helps achieve those muscle pumps most of us are after.

Just be cautious of high blood pressure during your workout sessions and adjust your intake accordingly.

C4 Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 is one of the most popular and purchased pre-workout powder mixes on the market.

Like most other forms of supplements, the included caffeine will help you to lose weight instead of gain weight.

The formulas with creatine monohydrate included can retain water in the muscles, which will cause a few extra pounds from time to time.

However, lean muscle mass and strength will also add pounds and not affect the fat weight that you will be losing along the way.

does c4 pre-workout make you gain weight

Factors That Contribute To Pre-Workout Weight Gain

There are many factors that contribute to weight gain. Many can be traced back to your workout preparations, exercise performance, and pre-workout routines.

Increased Water Retention

One of the side effects of taking pre-workout ingredients is water retention and bloating.

Water weight is one thing that contributes to temporary weight gain and can make the scales read higher than you think they should.

Creatine, vitamin B-12, C and D, as well as other possible ingredients, can cause water retention.

When you consume too much or on a constant, daily basis, your body will begin to store water, adding weight to the scales.

Increased Muscle Mass

As mentioned previously, muscle weighs more than fat.

As you take pre-workout mixes, follow your routines and grow stronger, your muscles will increase in size. Unfortunately, that increase also comes with additional weight.

Lean muscle mass can add a few pounds. It can be disheartening while you are trying to lose weight, but being healthy and at a proper weight for your body style is more important.

Overeating and Fat Gain

Because the pre-workouts give you an energy boost, you will also work off more calories during your routines.

The additional calorie loss and strain of the workout will increase your appetite. During the early stages of a workout routine, you may be inclined to eat more.

While these calories will eventually be worked off, in the first few weeks, you may gain weight as you get accustomed to the nutrition requirements.

Since you can only get the essential amino acids from your diet, proper portion control is also crucial.

healthy food after workout

Tips For Not Gaining Weight While On Pre-Workout

If you are concerned with weight gain during your workouts, there are a few things you can do to minimize the occurrence with your pre-workout routine and gym session.

Just note that if you are looking to gain muscle mass and build muscle, you will increase your body weight and muscle strength at the same time.

Choose a Pre-Workout Without Creatine

The first step is to ensure you get pre-workout supplements that do not contain creatine.

While creatine should be taken separately, additional doses in a pre-workout mix may be too much, which can lead to bloating.

If you can’t avoid creatine completely, you should monitor your intake. Lowering the amount you consume until you build up a tolerance is always a wise idea.

Related Article - What Are The Effects Of Creatine?

Carefully Monitor The Effects Of Supplements On Your Body

Pre-workout supplements come with a lot of various ingredients. All of these supplements will have an effect on your body, either positive or negative.

In all cases, the best course of action is to know what you are taking and how much.

Staying away from brands with proprietary blends will help you know exact amounts.

Tracking your intake is a process but well worth it. By monitoring your intake and effects, you can adjust your dosage to suit your needs.

Monitor Your Calorie Intake By Tracking Macros

Many fitness enthusiasts track their macros, which is a term for a detailed food journal. You can track macros on paper, but a digital journal, app, or website is most common.

Because the details require detailed analysis, online versions are the best. If you are tracking your body composition, macros are essential to keep tabs on.

When you track macros, you know the exact nutrients your body takes in. This includes the grams of proteins, fat, or carbohydrates you consume.

Knowing the exact nutrients and calories, you can control your weight on a more detailed level.

It will also help you track your body mass index (BMI) and overall body composition as it evolves.

When you perform intense training routines, you need to have a goal.

Sports nutrition includes reduced belly fat, balanced blood glucose levels, improved blood flow, and proper protein breakdown. 

Tracking your intake is critical to a lower scale mass and a low calorie lifestyle.

Listen To What Your Body Needs & Take Rest Days

Intense workouts take a toll on your body. It is highly recommended that you not only rotate your workout routines but also take days off.

Rest days will help your recovery and give you time off from supplements.

Rest is important and needed by the body. This is when muscles repair and grow, strength increases, and injuries heal.

Listening to your body, providing what it needs, and taking breaks to help heal and grow will be more beneficial than any supplement.

runner tying up shoes

Common Pre-Workout Ingredients

Many pre-workout mixes use similar ingredients or their derivatives.

Below, we will look closer at these common ingredients and find out which ones contribute to weight gain.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the number one ingredient when it comes to pre-workouts.

While caffeine alone won't cause weight gain, it can trigger other aspects of your life that do. Sleep deprivation, for example, can promote weight gain. [1]

If you can maintain your sleep habits without overeating or eating unhealthy foods, the weight gain won’t be much of an issue due to caffeine.

Too much caffeine, known as acute caffeine ingestion, can be a problem, though. So monitor your intake levels.

Related Article - How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?

Creatine

Creatine is the one ingredient above all others that can cause some slight, temporary weight gain.

When you take creatine, it helps your muscles stay hydrated and rebuild faster after the workout. This results in lean body mass.

Carrying extra water to the muscles and in the blood supply, the additional water retention can cause bloating.

With the additional water being held and stored in the body, you can pack on a few extra pounds.

While it is temporary until your body becomes accustomed to taking creatine, it can be concerning.

Over time and as you workout more, this water weight will dissipate faster and not be as noticeable.

Read Also - Pre-Workout Vs Creatine: What's The Difference?

Nitric oxide boosters

Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas produced by the body naturally. It assists healthy blood flow and brings oxygen to muscles, organs, and injury areas.

A nitric oxide booster helps increase the amount of NO in your blood vessels.

Nitric oxide precursors such as L-arginine can synthesize NO as they break down.

While these do not contribute to weight gain or water retention, in some rare cases, they can slow your heart rate, cause dizziness, nausea, or even fainting.

Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine, a non-essential amino acid, is popular because it helps reduce muscle soreness and can improve your fitness goals and performance.

With less fatigue, you can include more reps or sets into your routine, which can boost output and muscle growth.

Beta-alanine doesn’t have many side effects [2], but it can create tingling, much like niacin flush.

However, like niacin, many gym enthusiasts enjoy this tingling feeling during their gym sessions.

Learn More - Why Does Beta Alanine in Pre-Workout Make You Itch?

will pre-workout make me gain weight

Pros Of Pre-Workout Supplements When Training

Taking supplements has plenty of well-documented and studied benefits. [3]

However, there may be negative aspects, depending on your specific needs or capabilities. Let’s investigate both sides.

Supports & Maintains Energy

Pre-workouts support energy by offering caffeine or other stimulants to boost your energy levels and maintain that level throughout your workout.

Equivalent between 1 and 4 cups of coffee per serving, you can get more energy when you need it.

Caffeine has other benefits besides providing energy, but this is the primary reason it is included in most pre-workout supplements.

Make sure you know the serving size, though, as you can ingest too much caffeine.

Read Also - Pre-Workout Vs Energy Drinks

Helps Improve Focus

Mental focus is needed when you are moving a lot of weight around. One slip because you are too tired or off balance could spell disaster.

Aside from keeping you alert, pre-workouts help you maintain focus.

With a host of B-vitamins, including B12 and B6, your focus and alert levels can be increased during your workout. [4]

Increases Cortisol Secretion

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. When you enter a fight or flight situation, such as heightened strain or stress for a workout, it will eventually wear off.

By continuing the stressors, your body will replace the adrenaline with cortisol.

Small doses of cortisol are attributed to regulating blood pressure and blood sugar and can even strengthen your heart muscle and lining.

Too much, though, and you can have symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, depression, and even weight gain.

gaining weight from pre-workout

Downsides Of Taking Pre-Workout Supplements 

Often Includes Processed Ingredients

Many brands or pre-workouts have a lot of beneficial ingredients but also include other harmful ones.

Dyes and artificial colors, for example, aren't the best option to introduce to your body.

Processed ingredients are usually artificial and aren't regulated on exacting amounts.

This means your scoop of powder may not have the actual values you see on the label. One scoop may be much higher or even much lower than the next.

Without proper knowledge of what you are ingesting, you can set yourself up for higher blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity issues, and even increased lactic acid accumulation.

Make sure you know what is in your dietary supplements and the common side-effect issues they may present.

May Cause Digestive Upset

Some of the more common symptoms of pre-workout mixes are bloating, stomach pain, and digestive issues.

This is due to the ingredients that pass through aren't fully absorbed or break down in the large intestine.

The simple solution is to monitor and adjust dosages until the upset disappears.

After that, you can maintain that dosage or gradually increase it as you become accustomed.

Related Article - Does Pre-Workout Make You Poop?

Can Induce Headaches

Another negative side effect of pre-workout drinks is headaches. Caffeine, niacin, amino acids, and other ingredients act as vasodilators or induce dehydration.

With higher blood flow or reduced water lining around the brain, headaches are common.

The best option to solve this side effect is to ensure you get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and ensure you stay hydrated throughout the workout routine.

Post-workout hydration is also essential. High-intensity exercise can require a gallon or more of water per day.


Pre-Workout & Weight Gain Questions

How are pre-workout supplements regulated?

Pre-workout supplements, like all supplements and vitamins, are not regulated by the FDA. Controls and legislation require labeling, amounts, and disclaimers. However, until there is a reason for the FDA to step in, these items are not regulated.

What in pre-workout causes bloating?

Excess creatine is the most common reason for bloating, which can cause you to gain weight. However, it can also be caused by caffeine alternatives such as sodium bicarbonate, L-arginine, magnesium, and branched-chain amino acids are also capable of causing digestive upset and bloating.

How much pre-workout can make you gain weight?

Pre-workout on its own doesn't cause weight gain. However, weight can be added by ingesting creatine. This 1 to 2% increase is beneficial to most gym goers, though. Other weight gain reasons are typically due to overeating, an unmonitored diet, and insufficient exercise.

Does pre-workout help with overeating?

Some supplements found in pre-workout drinks can curb your appetite and control fat loss. They also increase metabolism while keeping you from feeling hungry.

However, this doesn't mean you are ingesting enough calories, though, so you still need to track and monitor your macronutrients and caloric intake for the best results.

Also Check Out - Does Pre-Workout Make You Lose Weight?


Conclusion

Weight gain is not generally caused by a pre-workout supplement. However, there are a few ingredients that are known to cause water weight and slight weight gain.

It is almost impossible to avoid gaining weight when you start high-intensity workouts or a new fitness journey.

While creatine supplementation can tip the scales higher than you expect, it is also beneficial to muscle recovery and performance.

The one thing you don’t have to worry about for the most part, though, is gaining weight from taking a pre-workout.

References:

1. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain 
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4501114/ 
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190923/ 

Last Updated on September 16, 2022