Pre Workout Vs Energy Drink (2023) What Is The Difference?

Pre Workout vs Energy Drink ( 2023) What is the Difference?

Last Updated on June, 2023

If you are trying to decide between a Pre-workout or an energy drink, you will need to make a smart choice. 

Although both these products are designed to fuel up your energy and get you through the day, they contain differences that may make you choose one over another. 

This article will help you to make the right choice. 

What Are Pre-Workouts?

Pre Workout powder

Pre-workouts are primarily taken as fuel to your body before any intense workouts. 

They keep you energized and ease the fatigue of prolonged and intense workouts. It also improves your overall performance. (1)

You can consume the supplement in various ways, such as meals, shakes, pills, and more.

What Are Energy Drinks?

Energy drinks are a source of caffeine and sugar. 

They are promoted as products that give a quick boost to your energy and physical performance. They are also well known to enhance mental alertness and improve your focus. (2)

Pre-Workout vs Energy Drink; Which is Better?

Both pre-workout supplements and energy drinks are pretty similar. Whether you need a boost before your morning workout or need a boost to hit the gym after a long day of work, both of these can help you jump-start your energy levels and get you through the day. 

The main difference lies in the GOAL behind their use. 

We will be breaking down the differences between both so you can decide which will work best for you.

What is the Difference Between Pre-Workout and Energy Drinks?

Pre-Workout Vs Energy Drink

Although both Pre-workout and Energy drinks have a fair share of similarities, they have a lot of differences too. 

They have varying offers from their purpose to ingredients and side effects.

Energy drinks are designed to boost your energy levels and pick you up to get anything done. You could use it anytime of the day and for any occasion like working out, studying, or getting through a long day.

While pre-workout is formulated explicitly to prime your body for physical or athletic performance before you start your workout, they are also designed to help you get the most out of an intense workout by stimulating muscle growth and muscle mass.

One of the fundamental differences is in their doses. 

Pre-workout supplements are usually in powdered form and often have ingredients that require gram-level doses. 

However, since energy drinks are pre-made, they mostly come in liquid form and are canned. They use much smaller milligram doses for their ingredients, so there is no residue or ingredient separation.

Who Should Consume Pre-Workout?

Pre Workout powder in a spoon

You will not always be fired up with energy and motivation to hit the gym; we all have our down days. 

If you are looking to boost energy levels, get focused for enhanced exercise performance, and take your workout to the next level on such a day, then all you need is a Pre-workout supplement. 

It supports all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced. You can use pre-workout drinks to help increase your training intensity, output and get more from each workout session. 

You can choose your pre-workout supplement for muscle gain or to speed up weight loss. 

Most fitness enthusiasts or athletes who need to increase their training efforts, particularly runners and weight lifters, use pre-workouts.

Who Should Consume Energy Drinks?

If you need a quick energy boost to kick start any activity like studying, workouts, gaming, or even getting through a long meeting, then energy drinks are the best option for you. Energy drinks work rapidly by boosting your energy levels, as they significantly contain more caffeine. 

They also increase your mental alertness by improving brain function. Hence, Energy drinks improve cognitive skills. (3)

If you are sleep deprived or an extremely tired night-shift worker, consuming energy drinks can make you function well as it helps you focus and eases mental fatigue. 

Ingredients Commonly Used in Pre-Workout and Energy Drinks

Caffeine is one of the main ingredients that both energy drinks and pre-workout share. It significantly boosts physical performance, prevents fatigue, and improves several aspects of cognitive functions. (4)

Many energy drinks typically contain more caffeine content than pre-workout. It could be upto 80-150mg of caffeine per 8 ounces drink. 

But you can control caffeine consumption in pre-workouts by taking a full scoop or decreasing the amount to prevent the disadvantages of an overdose. 

B-Vitamins and Creatine are a few ingredients usually present in Pre-workouts and can sometimes be present in energy drinks as well. 

  • Creatine Monohydrate: Creatine helps you get more ATP (adenosine triphosphate) around the muscle cells as your body uses more ATP as an energy source during intense workouts. Hence, it helps in muscle gains, muscle pump, and better muscle contraction. (5)
  • B-Vitamins: B vitamins, like vitamin B3 or B12, are common in pre-workouts. They help improve the body’s metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which then helps to increase your energy.

Ingredients Present in Pre-Workouts But Not in Energy Drinks

  • Amino Acids: Amino acids such as Beta-alanine, arginine, tyrosine, and BCAAs (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) L-citrulline-malate are absorbed immediately by the body and help in building muscle. Usually, BCAAs provide sustainable energy and help in muscle recovery. Beta-alanine works on hydrogen ions and reduces muscle fatigue.
  • Beetroot Extract: Beetroot extract helps raise the levels of nitric oxide in the body, increasing the blood flow of the body. With blood flowing easily, your cardiorespiratory endurance increases. It is helpful for an intense workout. (6)

Ingredients present in Energy drinks but not in Pre-workouts

  • Guarana: Guarana, usually used in energy drinks, comes from a plant native to South America. It is denser in caffeine than coffee beans. It is known to increase alertness and energy.
  • Taurine: Taurine is a type of amino acid that is not found in pre-workout. It is used in energy drinks as a stimulant to increase physical and mental performance. Consuming large doses of it can be harmful to the body.
  • Ginseng: Ginseng is an Asian medicinal herb believed to increase energy, concentration and promote memory. Studies also suggest that it boosts exercise endurance.
  • Sugar: Glucose is the body’s preferred fuel. A standard energy drink contains a lot of sugar for increased energy. 

However, too much sugar intake can spike up your insulin level and cause-specific health problems.

The primary advantage of pre-workout is that they do not contain harmful amounts of sugar like in energy drinks, instead they frequently contain artificial sweeteners.

Benefits of Pre-Workouts and Energy Drinks

Benefits of Pre-Workouts

man pushing tire

Pre-Workout is meant to give the extra boost of energy you will need for high-intensity workouts. You can take them to enhance muscle endurance and stamina, or they can be focused on building muscle and strength. 

Pre-workouts help to increase physical performance during short-term, high-intensity workouts. It will also set your body for optimum performance with high energy levels and prevent premature fatigue. 

Pre-workout supplements also reduces protein breakdown and prevents your muscles from being broken down for energy. Hence they help with an increased blood flow for stamina.

Benefits of Energy Drinks

Studies have confirmed that energy drinks, which are well known as energy boosters, also improve brain functions like concentration, memory, and reaction time while reducing mental fatigue. 

It is also known to reduce sleepiness and keep a person alert if he has not got adequate sleep. Hence they increase productivity.

Another benefit of energy drinks is that they have a multitude of flavors in them to choose from, as not everyone who would want caffeine intake prefers the taste of tea or coffee.

Side Effects of Pre-Workouts and Energy Drinks

Energy drinks and Pre-workout are generally safe for healthy people. However, some individuals can still experience side effects, like sleep problems, particularly those who have low caffeine tolerance levels. 

Side Effects of Energy Drinks

Most energy drinks usually contain a lot of sugar, and consuming more can lead to health problems like diabetes, heart problems, or obesity. So you will need to watch out for sugar in energy drinks or go for sugar-free energy drinks to prevent excessive consumption of sugar. 

Zero-calorie energy drinks and zero sugar energy drinks with artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes are specifically designed to prevent nasty adverse effects.

Side Effects of Pre-Workouts

man in Headache

You will also need to watch out for other side effects like,

  • Jitters 
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stomach aches
  • Bloating
  • Tingling sensation in hands or feet
  • Diarrhea

These side effects occur when a person consumes pre-workout drinks in excess amounts. 

Fortunately, you can avoid these side effects if you consume pre-workout powders in moderation.

Should I Use Pre-Workout or Energy Drink for a Workout?

Pre-workout supplements are better than Energy drinks for a workout if you need to improve your physical performance as they are made up of ingredients that will help to enhance your training in high-intensity activities. 

At the same time, the sole purpose of an Energy drink is to provide immediate benefits like quick energy boosts and improving concentration. 

Can Energy Drinks Be Used for Pre-Workouts?

You can use Energy drinks for Pre-workouts as they contain similar ingredients and could provide you an energy boost before exercises. It could also improve your mood. 

It is best to drink them 45 mins before a workout, and that is when the caffeine boost is at its highest.

But they may not be effective for a long or intense workout. Most energy drinks significantly contain the well known energy boosting ingredients like caffeine and sugar, which may give you an energy spike but can lead to a crash very soon. (7)

Choosing your drink based on the type of workout is always better.

How to Use Energy Drinks for Workouts?

You can use Energy drinks whenever you feel down as they offer energy boosts, and it is safe to consume during workouts for most healthy adults. 

The sugar and caffeine content in energy drinks can provide your body with fuel for your exercises, and it will keep you alert and motivated throughout the workout.

But it is always better to use it as a pre-workout if you prefer Energy drinks for workouts. 

Which is Best to Use After a Workout; Pre-Workout or Energy Drinks?

man drinking energy drink

After a good workout, your body will feel sore and tired. You might need to refuel your body if you have other important work to do. 

Consumption of Energy drinks can help you recover soon and get through the rest of the day, as they are known to contain high amounts of caffeine and sugar. 

Consuming energy drinks after a workout can rebuild glycogen and refuel your body’s energy needs faster. You will feel more alert, less tired, and ready to be back on your feet.

Final Verdict

Choosing Energy drinks or Pre-workouts depend on your goals and preferences. 

If you need a quick boost of energy and alertness, you might need to consume an energy drink. Whereas if you need power for a high-intensity workout and to enhance your exercise performance, you will need to consume pre-workout. 

Both Energy drinks and Pre-workouts are beneficial and work great when you consume them in moderation. Otherwise, you might experience some severe side effects.


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Linda Walter
I’m a fitness trainer and a health coach. My GOAL is to empower everyone to live a healthier life even after passing their prime. You can find more about me here.

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