Will A Pre-Workout Supplement Help You Lose Weight?

It was race day. Before strapping on her helmet, Steph Gaudreau did something she hadn’t done in two years. She lifted a mug to her lips and tasted coffee. 

Gaudreau had strategically cut caffeine from her routine to gain an edge in cross-country mountain bike racing. And it worked. 

The caffeine boost hit. Gaudreau felt euphoric and focused as she cycled past all the other racers and took first place in a 2010 regional amateur biking race, called the Kenda Cup. 

Today, Gaudreau’s pre-workout strategy is commonplace. Instead of coffee, gym junkies are throwing back pre-workout concoctions to boost their performance. 

But for those of us who can’t use Gaurdeau’s coffee strategy, will a different pre-workout make a difference? And will this popular supplement aid in weight loss? Today, we’ll get to the bottom of this auspicious supplement. 


What Exactly Is Pre-Workout Supplement? 

A pre-workout is a type of supplement designed to boost your energy and temporarily enhance your athletic performance. Many brands of pre-workout supplements also claim that their product can aid in muscle recovery and decrease fatigue. 

Most of the time you’ll find pre-workout in powder form. You can also buy pre-workout pills, chewable gummies, and canned drinks. 

Each pre-workout brand brings its own set of ingredients, but most include: 

  • Caffeine to boost energy
  • Carbohydrates for increased energy 
  • Arginine to improve blood flow
  • Beta-alanine to reduce fatigue
  • Creatine to increase muscle strength
  • Nitrate to increase endurance
  • Citrulline to remove lactic acid from your muscles
  • Amino acids to aid in muscle growth and recovery
  • B vitamins to improve energy levels
  • Artificial colors and flavors


Will a Pre-Workout Supplement Help You Lose Weight? 

Pre-workout alone won’t cause you to lose weight. A whole-food diet with the proper amount of calories and balanced macronutrients is key. If your meals are a mess, a pre-workout can’t make up for it. 

That said, these supplements are designed to provide you with the energy, focus, and endurance you need to get to the gym, build lean muscle mass, and burn more calories.


Pre-Workout Supplements Can Push You Out the Door

Exercising when you’re exhausted won’t get you very far. You’ve been there. You barely mustered the energy to pull on a sports bra and leggings. You struggle through the first half of your workout and don’t feel motivated to finish the rest. 

Pre-workout supplements can step in when you’re sleepy. They’ll quickly wake up your mind and body before hitting the gym. Most powder forms of pre-workout instruct you to mix into water or a smoothie about 20-30 minutes in advance, giving you plenty of time to get pumped up for the day’s workout. 


Pre-Workout Supplements Can Promote Muscle Growth

Specific ingredients, like branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) in most pre-workout supplements will help you increase your lean muscle mass. BCAA can also reduce damage to your muscles after an intense workout. This means you’ll recover faster from a challenging workout and can work those muscle groups more frequently. 


Pre-Workout Supplements Can Pump Up Your Burn

While a pre-workout supplement likely won’t trigger your body to burn more fat directly, it can help you accomplish fitness goals by boosting your workout performance. The longer you’re able to maintain a high level of effort in your workouts, the more calories you’ll burn and the more fat you can potentially lose over time as a result.


Pre-Workout Supplements Can Improve Your Metabolism

Again, pre-workouts can indirectly help you increase your metabolism and, therefore, lose weight more easily. With added energy during your workouts, you’ll be more likely to challenge and strengthen your muscles. 


Increased muscle mass leads to an increased metabolism (the number of calories your body burns per day when you’re completely at rest). If you put your new energy toward strength training, research says that your metabolism will stay elevated for up to 38 hours after your session is complete. 


Are Some Pre-Workout Supplements Better Than Others? 

Pre-workout supplements are not all the same. Each bottle brings a different taste, texture, and list of ingredients. Some pre-workouts are under-dosed, and filled with artificial add-ins. 

When choosing a pre-workout supplement for weight loss, it’s essential to pay attention to the ingredients and their dosages. Studies show that the ideal performance-enhancing dose of caffeine in a pre-workout supplement ranges between 1.4 to 2.7 milligrams per pound of body mass. Because people metabolize caffeine differently, it may take some experimentation to find the right dose for you.

Look for calorie-free powders that contain ingredients like caffeine and green tea extract. beta-alanine, citrulline malate or carnitine. I recommend these pre-workout products by Do Vitamins and LEGION.


How to Use A Pre-Workout for Weight Loss

If your diet is balanced and you’ve found an exercise routine you love, using pre-workout supplements the right way can help you on your weight loss journey. Try these tips to leverage pre-workouts like a pro:

  1. Pair Your Pre-Workout: In addition to your scoop of pre-workout, fuel your body with energy-boosting foods like bananas, oatmeal, and coconut water. 
  2. Time Your Pre-Workout: Most people see the biggest results when they take their pre-workout between 15 and 30 minutes prior to starting their workout. 
  3. Stick to a Supplement Schedule: Avoid building up a tolerance to the stimulants in your pre-workout by alternating the days on which you take it. On days when you’re not using a caffeinated pre-workout, you can use a stimulant-free pre-workout to help you build muscle and recover without the caffeine hit. 
  4. Don’t Overdo Your Caffeine: The FDAA recommends that we don’t have more than 400mg of caffeine per day. If you’re pregnant, you should stick to 200mg or less. When you’re getting used to using a pre-workout, keep an eye on your daily caffeine from your pre-workout, coffee, teas, and sodas. 
  5. Keep It Clean: Shop for a pre-workout supplement with a clean ingredient list. Look for the most effective ingredients, like creatine, BCAAs, B vitamins, and Nitric oxide boosters. Try to avoid too many artificial ingredients and sweeteners if your goal is to improve your health and lose weight. 


Enjoying what you’re reading? Sign up for more weight loss guidance and tips from Amanda Nighbert, a Registered Dietitian. 

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