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As a nutrition coach, I work with lots of clients who want to lose fat and increase their performance at the same time, so I’m often asked if taking pre-workout and “fat burning” supplements together is a good idea.
So, can you safely take pre-workout & fat burner supplements together? Yes, you can take pre-workout and fat burner supplements together as long as you do not exceed the daily limit for caffeine (400mg) and you are confident both products are transparent about their ingredients and amounts. However, all supplements should be discussed with your doctor to make sure they are right for you.
Even though it’s safe to take both of these supplements together, you may not need to take both of them to achieve the results you’re looking for.
- Fat burners and pre-workout supplements support different goals, and they contain different ingredients.
- In general, pre-workout supplements have more clinical trials and evidence to support their claims than fat burner supplements.
- Neither supplement (pre-workout or fat burner) is a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise, which are crucial for fat loss.
Pre-Workout vs. Fat Burners: What Are The Differences?
Fat burners are supplements designed to increase the number of calories you burn and/or decrease your appetite to reduce the number of calories you eat so that you lose weight, primarily through the use of stimulants. Pre-workout supplements focus on maximizing performance and not necessarily fat loss.
This means that pre-workout supplements and fat burners have six main differences: ingredients, goals, effectiveness, timing, frequency, and cost.
Overall, fat burners focus on stimulants, whereas pre-workout supplements focus on performance-boosting ingredients and may or may not include stimulants (“stim-free”).
The most common ingredients in fat-burning supplements are: caffeine, carnitine, green tea extract, soluble fiber (with names like glucomannan or guar gum), and yohimbe.
All of these ingredients are supposed to help with weight loss in one of three ways:
- Increasing your energy expenditure so that you burn more calories by moving more, or more intensely
- Suppressing your appetite so that you eat fewer calories
- Reducing the amount of fat that your body absorbs
Pre-workout supplements typically also include caffeine for increased energy and alertness, but contain other ingredients for improved performance and muscle strength including BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), betaine, beta-alanine, creatine, citrulline malate, and l-theanine.
These supplements have been well-studied and proven to improve strength, endurance, power, heat tolerance, and mental focus, allowing users to train harder, for longer, to get better results from their workouts.
Fat burners target weight loss whereas pre-workout supplements focus on improving performance.
As you likely guessed, the main goal of a fat-burning supplement is to encourage fat loss. However, keep in mind that there is no supplement, food, or exercise that will guarantee that you lose fat. To lose fat you have to be in a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than you need to maintain weight).
Pre-workout supplements are designed to boost your performance in the gym, without necessarily targeting fat loss.
Overall, fat burners are considered ineffective, especially for long-term weight loss, whereas many pre-workout ingredients have been proven to be clinically effective.
However, when it comes to suppressing appetite, studies present inconsistent evidence that coffee, green tea, or other extracts are clinically effective.
Finally, most “fat blockers” or “fat trappers” have not actually been proven to be effective in blocking fat absorption.
Like Dietitian Melissa Matteo says:
“Everyone would like a quick fix. But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When it comes to weight loss and burning fat, there’s no such thing as a magic pill.”– Melissa Matteo, MS, LD, RDN
On the other hand, most pre-workout ingredients have been proven to be clinically effective when the appropriate dose is taken. The most important consideration is finding a pre-workout product that actually contains clinically effective amounts of each active ingredient.
Fat burners are recommended first thing in the morning regardless of when you work out, whereas pre-workout supplements are designed to be taken before a workout.
The best time to take a fat-burning supplement is first thing in the morning, about 30 minutes before breakfast. This will get your metabolism going right away.
The best time to take pre-workout is 30-60 minutes before a workout because the ingredients in pre-workout require about 30 to 60 minutes to take effect.
You can take pre-workout any time of day, depending on when you train; however, if you work out in the evening then I would suggest a stim-free pre-workout, like Transparent Labs Stim-Free Non Caffeinated Performance Formula Pre-Workout Supplement, so that your sleep is not affected.
- Read this complete review: Transparent Labs Stim-Free Review: I Am Obsessed, Coach Says
Fat burners are recommended daily; pre-workout supplements are only for days when you work out.
Fat burners are designed for everyday use so that you get a consistent boost to your metabolism to assist with fat loss.
Pre-workout is only recommended on days that you work out, and should not be taken on a daily basis.
Fat burners are less expensive than pre-workout supplements.
Most fat burner supplements cost less than $1 per serving.
Pre-workout supplements cost between $2 to $3 per serving, but our review and analysis of the factors influencing the cost concluded that it’s worth it.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Pre-Workout
Here are the most common benefits and drawbacks of pre-workout supplements:
- Pre-workout improves energy, alertness, and mood and reduces the perception of effort and fatigue.
- Pre-workout ingredients have been proven to enhance muscular strength and endurance, anaerobic power, and blood flow to working muscles.
- Pre-workout can even have positive impacts from the placebo effect, when athletes perform better just because they believe the product will make them perform better.
- The biggest drawback of pre-workout is the cost which can be upwards of $3 per serving.
- Some pre-workout ingredients can cause unpleasant sensations such as tingling, itchiness, numbness, skin flushing, jitteriness, and nausea.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Fat Burners
Here are the most common benefits and drawbacks of fat burner supplements:
- Some stimulants in fat burners have been shown to be effective with weight loss when combined with calorie restriction.
- Fat burners will not work unless the individual is in a calorie deficit.
- Fat burners are not clinically proven to effectively suppress appetite.
- Some fat burner ingredients have dangerous side effects such as increased risk of heart attack or seizure.
Is It Safe To Take Pre-Workout And Fat Burner Together?
Yes, it is safe to take pre-workout and fat burner together as long as you are mindful of your total daily caffeine intake as well as your personal reaction to stimulants. Also, you need to be sure that you can trust the labels on each product so that they contain only the ingredients listed in the amounts listed.
Since both products are dietary supplements and not foods, they are not subject to the same level of regulations from the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), which means that the labels may not be accurate and/or the products may not contain the ingredients listed in the amounts stated.
To ensure the safety of the product, it’s important to pick supplements that are third-party certified.
Third-party testing is when the manufacturer sends its supplements to an outside, independent lab to confirm that the product actually contains the ingredients it says it contains, in the amounts stated. A product that successfully meets the standards will be certified by the third-party lab.
Pre-workout supplements also often have labels that list “proprietary blends” or “stacks” that don’t show the specific ingredients or amounts of each ingredient.
You won’t know if you’re getting a safe or effective dose of a particular ingredient if you don’t know for sure how much is in each serving.
- Related Article: List of 11 FDA Banned Pre Workouts + Can You Still Buy Them
Pre-Workout Or Fat Burner: Which One Should You Take?
While you can take both fat burner and pre-workout together (as long as they aren’t too high in caffeine), my recommendation for weight loss is to stick to pre-workout. You’ll get the weight loss benefits of caffeine AND the performance benefits of other ingredients so you can preserve muscle and train harder.
Preserving lean muscle mass is one of the most important components for keeping your metabolism up, so that you burn more calories all day long, even at rest.
When you can train harder, you give your body the stimulus to grow even more muscle. Plus, you’ll burn more calories during your training.
Keep in mind that neither supplement on its own will help you lose weight.
The real magic happens when you combine the supplement with appropriately challenging workouts in a progressive training program and a good nutrition plan.
4 Tips For Combining Pre-Workout And Fat Burner
If you do want to take both a fat burner and pre-workout supplement together, here are four tips to follow to maximize your results:
- Start with a ¼ to ½ serving of each product so that you can see how they make you feel before increasing to a full serving.
- Track total caffeine intake from your supplements and other sources of caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) to ensure that you stay below 400mg per day.
- Try taking them separately (at different times of the day) if you feel overly jittery or if you experience other negative side effects such as headache, dizziness, or nausea.
- Be consistent for at least a few weeks so that you can assess the impacts, and adjust as needed.
Best Pre-Workout And Fat Burner To Take Together
I recommend investing in a good quality pre-workout supplement over a fat-burning supplement, so I suggest finding a pre-workout supplement that also contains common fat-burner ingredients.
My top pick is Transparent Labs’ LEAN Ergogenic Training & Fat-Loss Formula.
As per the directions on the label, start with a half scoop (half serving) to see how you feel before working up to one scoop. Mix the powder with 10-12 ounces of water, and take it 20-30 minutes before training.
This product contains 180mg of caffeine anhydrous and 40mg of dicaffeine malate (two different forms of caffeine) for a total of 220mg of caffeine per serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Take My Pre-Workout And Fat Burner?
You should take your pre-workout 30-60 minutes before your workout. You should take your fat burner 30 minutes before breakfast. If you want to combine them, take them together 30-60 minutes before your workout.
Are Pre-Workout And Fat Burners The Same?
No, pre-workout and fat burner is not the same, although they may have some of the same ingredients such as caffeine, green tea extract, theobromine, and carnitine. Fat burners mostly contain stimulants whereas pre-workout may or may not have stimulants, but has other performance-enhancing ingredients.
Can Fat Burners Be Taken With Supplements?
Yes, fat burners can be taken with various supplements such as vitamins, minerals, protein powder, and performance-boosting supplements in pre-workout such as beta-alanine, BCAAs, creatine, and others. However, I always recommend consulting with your doctor before taking a fat burner.
What To Read Next
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Willingham BD, Ragland TJ, Ormsbee MJ. Betaine Supplementation May Improve Heat Tolerance: Potential Mechanisms in Humans. Nutrients. 2020; 12(10):2939. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12102939
Baba Y, Inagaki S, Nakagawa S, Kaneko T, Kobayashi M, Takihara T. Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study. J Med Food. 2021 Apr;24(4):333-341. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2020.4803. Epub 2021 Mar 22. PMID: 33751906; PMCID: PMC8080935.
Tabrizi R, Saneei P, Lankarani KB, Akbari M, Kolahdooz F, Esmaillzadeh A, Nadi-Ravandi S, Mazoochi M, Asemi Z. The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(16):2688-2696. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1507996. Epub 2018 Oct 18. PMID: 30335479.
Chen, I-J., Liu, C-Y., Chiu, J-P., & Hsu, C-H. (2016). Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clinical Nutrition, 35(3), 592-599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.003.
McCarty, M. F. (2002). Pre-exercise administration of yohimbine may enhance the efficacy of exercise training as a fat loss strategy by boosting lipolysis. Medical Hypotheses, 58(6), 491-495. https://doi.org/10.1054/mehy.2001.1459.
Stuby J, Gravestock I, Wolfram E, Pichierri G, Steurer J, Burgstaller JM. Appetite-Suppressing and Satiety-Increasing Bioactive Phytochemicals: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019; 11(9):2238. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11092238
Schulman S. Addressing the potential risks associated with ephedra use: a review of recent efforts. Public Health Rep. 2003 Nov-Dec;118(6):487-92. doi: 10.1093/phr/118.6.487. PMID: 14563905; PMCID: PMC1497604.
Petróczi, A., Ocampo, J.A.V., Shah, I. et al. Russian roulette with unlicensed fat-burner drug 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP): evidence from a multidisciplinary study of the internet, bodybuilding supplements and DNP users. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy 10, 39 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13011-015-0034-1
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.
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