One of the first things people turn to when looking to level up their exercise program is dietary supplements.

Two of the most popular supplements are pre-workout supplements and fat burners. Can they both be part of a healthy diet? Do you need them to get a killer workout in?

There are some similarities and differences between them, which will help us in the debate on pre-workout vs fat burners.

To help you better understand this, we'll look at pre-workout vs fat burner to get the inside scoop on exactly what these supplements are.

Who Are Pre-Workouts For?

These supplements are suitable for a wide range of athletes. Everyone from the garage gym athlete to marathon runners can benefit from these supplements.[1]

They are for you if you need an easy-to-digest source of fuel before a long training session.

When To Use Pre-Workout?

Take it before you exercise for the extra boost of energy.

Many people like to drink it while they train, but you should take it at least 30 to 60 minutes before hitting the weights or cardio machines.

Learn More - Can You Take Pre-Workout Without Working Out?

Pre-Workouts Common Ingredients

  • Caffeine
    This is great for improving power and endurance in your muscles, increasing blood flow, and lowering the perception of effort.
  • Beta-Alanine
    Beta-alanine is a complex compound that helps you train harder by delaying the onset of muscle fatigue.
  • BCAA
    BCCA (branched-chain amino acid) have many benefits, like decreasing muscle soreness, reducing tiredness from exercise, and stimulating muscle growth.

Learn More - BCAAs Vs Pre-Workouts

Pre-Workout Side Effects You Should Be Aware Of

Common side effects of pre-workout can be headaches, skin conditions, tingling, and an upset stomach after using a formula during training due to the stimulant effect.

And make sure you stay under the recommended daily caffeine intake of 400mg.

Women Sitting on Gym Mat Drinking a Pre-Workout Drink

Fat Burners Overview

Who Are Fat Burners For?

Fat burners work by increasing fat metabolism. They are for you if you've been eating clean and training hard for a few weeks, but the scale isn't moving.

They work by kick-starting a sluggish metabolism.[2]

When To Use A Fat Burner?

Take your fat burner supplement first thing in the morning to boost the metabolic rate and cognitive functioning.

You can take another in the early-mid afternoon or before a training session if you hit the gym later in the day.

Fat Burners Common Ingredients

  • Caffeine
    Caffeine is also the main ingredient of fat burners. In a fat burner it's an appetite suppressant and helps support weight loss by contributing to greater energy expenditure.
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract
    Green tea leaf extract contains a small amount of naturally occurring caffeine, catechins, and polyphenols that have a range of therapeutic properties. Green tea extract optimizes thermogenesis and fat oxidation, leading to better weight management.
  • Yohimbine
    Yohimbine actively liberates triglycerides from body fat so they can be burned for energy.

Fat Burners Side Effects You Should Be Aware Of

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate fat burners before they hit the market. Instead, it’s up to the manufacturer to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the supplement.

Do your research into the fat burner you are considering to ensure you get a quality product that won't cause health problems.

Woman considering on which fat burner tablet to take

Pre Workout Or Fat Burner: Which Should You Take?

Ingredients

The main ingredient is caffeine for both supplements. In a pre-workout supplement, the primary function of caffeine is to help with increased energy, mental alertness, and decreased fatigue.

In a fat burner, caffeine helps with weight loss by increasing the mobilization of fatty acids as fuel during exercise.

Unlike a fat burner, pre-workout formulas have creatine to improve anaerobic capacity, meaning we can withstand high-intensity work for longer durations.

Many fat burners will have Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and l carnitine.

Studies have shown that humans taking CLA reduced fat loss, especially when paired with proper diet and exercise while preserving lean muscle tissue.[3]

Pre-Workout Benefits

  • Better Focus And Clean Energy
    These let you have more intense workouts while being locked into every exercise, so nothing interferes with a good workout.
  • Reduced Fatigue
    Work out longer and burst through fatigue while reducing muscle soreness and unwanted pain.
  • Recovery
    In addition to giving you the energy to finish exercising, they help you bounce back faster and help you recover more effectively.

Fat Burner Benefits

  • Boosted Metabolism
    Increased metabolism helps shed that stubborn fat and extra calories.
  • Suppress Your Appetite
    These will eliminate hunger pains and the desire to snack, so you don’t consume any unwanted calories.
  • Energy And Focus
    Since they help you burn fat for fuel, your energy will increase.

Suitability (For Cardio, Strength & Cutting)

A pre-workout supplement helps support your energy levels and enhance your workout performance.

A fat burner influences your body composition and aids in fat loss. But they do provide an excellent mental boost from the stimulants they usually contain.

Pre-workout supplementation is for you if you need a performance boost to build muscle. Fat burners are more for general weight loss and cutting phases.

Potential Side Effects

Fat burners have various stimulants that can cause anxiety, increased blood pressure, trouble sleeping and gastrointestinal issues.

Pre-workouts often have sugar to help athletes push through training, while in some cases pre-workouts can cause anxiety by increase heart rate, blood pressure, and feelings of alertness. Sugar is known to have many adverse side effects on overall health.

Price And Availability

Some pre-workouts are affordable at around $1 per oz, but this supplement could cost over $5 per oz.

A fat burner ranges in price from around $20 for 90 pills to well over $50.

Weight Loss, Metabolism & Fat Burning

A fat burner aims to trigger thermogenesis, a process where your body raises its core temperature by burning off extra energy. This causes you to release stored fat to produce energy and lose weight simultaneously.

Pre-workout formulas are involved with the delivery of fatty acids into muscle tissue. Those fatty acids form the fuel for energy production in muscle cells which gives a boost in performance and endurance.

fat skinfold measurement

Can You Take Pre-Workout And Fat Burner Together?

The two supplements have different uses but can be stacked together. If you stack them, pay attention to the amount of caffeine you’re taking.

Pre-workouts and fat burners both have a significant amount of caffeine, so check the caffeine content before you take them together.

You should also speak with your doctor or a certified medical professional before trying new supplements.

How To Choose Which Is The Right One For Your Fitness Goals

1. Determine Your Goals

The fat burner vs pre-workout debate comes down to your goals. There are no magic pills, so the right supplement for you should align with your personal and fitness goals.

A pre-workout is ideal if you need more energy and mental focus to achieve a great workout. A fat burner is ideal if your main goal is to burn more fat.

Learn More - Does Pre-Workout Break A Fast? (During Intermittent Fasting)

2. Plan Your Supplement Stacking

Supplement stacking should be carefully planned, but you can definitely stack these supplements together.

Stacking a fat burner with a pre-workout can provide better endurance and help you burn a few more calories. But again, this requires detailed planning both for ingredients and timing.

3. Read The Labels Carefully

The most important thing you need to do before supplementation is carefully choosing your supplements based on their ingredients to avoid overlapping ingredients.

Stacking a fat burner with a pre-workout that both have high doses of caffeine or other ingredients can work against you and hurt you in the long run.

Related Article - What To Look For In Pre-Workout? (Always Check Your Labels!)

Frequently Asked Pre-Workout & Fat Burner Questions

Is 4 Gauge pre-workout any good?

4 Gauge pre-workout contains effective ingredients and is on par with some of the best out there, especially if you take more than the two scoops they recommend (don't take too much). 4 Gauge is a thermogenic pre-workout, so it acts as a weight loss and performance boosting supplement.

What are Instant Knockout Cut fat burners?

Instant Knockout Cut Fat Burners will boost metabolism, suppress appetite, and increase energy levels. These are all important if your goal is weight loss. It’s made of natural ingredients, so the chances of triggering allergies are minimal. Even vegans can use this product. If you're looking for a top of the range fat burner, the Instant Knockout Cut brand is a good choice.

Do bodybuilders take fat burners?

Some bodybuilders use fat burners supplemented with a good diet high in protein and constant exercise in the gym to aid in fat burning and hunger cravings. If it’s right for them, it may be the right product for you.

Will pre-workouts make you gain weight?

Pre-workout supplements are unlikely to cause weight gain in the form of fat mass. However, the goal of any pre-workout is to improve performance in the gym and facilitate better strength, power, speed, and stamina, which also usually results in muscle growth.

What's the main difference between fat burner and pre-workout?

To keep it simple, pre-workout is for a boost of energy, while fat burner is for fat metabolism.

Does pre-workout help burn fat?

Pre-workout won't likely trigger your body to burn more fat directly; it can help you accomplish your goals by boosting your performance.

What are thermogenic pre-workouts?

This is a pre-workout that burns fat. Thermogenic pre-workout is ideal for people whose primary fitness goal is to lose body fat.

Conclusion

To take your training sessions to the next level, a pre-workout may be just what you need. For fat loss and help burning calories, using a fat burner can help you do just that.

So when it comes to fat burner vs pre-workout, they both have benefits that can help your overall fitness goals.

While there is no quick fix in the world of exercise and fat loss, fat burners and pre-workouts can help you achieve your health and fitness goals when used correctly.

References: 

1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190923/

2.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21951331/

3.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17490954/

Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.