When you enter the world of sports supplements, it can be confusing. You’re going through hundreds of products, all with different purposes, different ingredients, and a whole lot of conflicting information surrounding them all.
But the type of supplements you use should be geared towards what you’re looking to achieve.
Want to enhance muscle growth? Try BCAAs. Looking for an energy boost? Try a stimulant. Or want to enhance your overall performance and recovery? Opt for a pre-workout or post-workout blend.
Whatever your goals are, you’ll want to tailor your supplement regime to them. But if you’re looking for performance enhancement and to lean out, there’s two you’ll want to take notice of: a pre-workout and a fat burner.
Taken together, they can excel you to your max—but are they safe? This article will take a deep dive into the benefits of having a good pre-workout and fat burner in your stack and if it’s okay to combine them.
Let’s get going.
What’s The Difference: Fat Burner vs. Pre-Workout
Sometimes the lines between a pre-workout and a fat burner can be blurred, but let’s set the record straight in saying that they are not the same.
While sometimes they may contain overlapping ingredients, the end goal of the two is quite different.
Fat burners are exactly as they sound—they help you burn body fat.
They’re a group of fitness supplements designed to increase fat metabolism and energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, boost fat oxidation during exercise, and elicit long-term adaptations that promote increased fat metabolism 1.
Most fat-burning supplements contain a blend of ingredients, each with its own mechanism of action geared towards fat burning.
Some are thermogenic agents, some suppress appetite, and others regulate blood sugar and insulin.
When combined, they elicit a cumulative effect on overall fat and weight loss to help you sustainably achieve your goal.
Image Credit: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00908.x
When it comes to what’s in fat burning supplements, there’s quite an extensive list to go through, although some of the most common ones you’ll see are:
- Green tea extract (EGCG)
- Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitrate)
- Conjugated-linolenic acid (CLA)
For the most part, these ingredients work by stimulating lipolysis (fat breakdown) or inhibiting lipogenesis (fat accumulation) 2.
By increasing metabolic rate and enhancing nervous system activity, fat burners trigger the release of catecholamines like adrenaline and norepinephrine, which stimulate lipolysis (breakdown of adipose tissue) through the mobilization of stored fatty acids. The more fat that is released to be burned for fuel, the more significant fat loss that results.
But contrary to what most people think, fat burners aren’t bad, per se.
The problem with most conventional fat burners is that they’re loaded with stimulants to increase sympathetic nervous system activity, and they come with a lengthy list of side effects, including liver damage.
And despite having a ‘natural origin,’ the ingredients can still do damage when used incorrectly or in excess.
So, finding a fat burner that’s actually effective AND healthy can be hard to come by.
If you struggle to get into that ‘zone’ before a workout, adding a pre-workout supplement into your stack may be to your benefit.
While you’ll find many pre-workout supplements packed with stimulants and artificial everything (colors, flavors, fillers, additives), some stray from the stereotypical powdered pre.
A good pre-workout is free from anything artificial and is targeted towards improving your workout.
Like fat burners, pre-workouts are a class of supplements that combine several ingredients designed to prepare your body for training—increase alertness and focus, boost nitric oxide levels for that sustained performance, prevent fatigue, and generally enhance overall performance and augment long-term training adaptations 3.
Typically, pre-workout supplements will contain some sort of stimulant (usually caffeine), along with things like amino acids, nitric oxide agents, creatine, and beta-alanine. Together, these ingredients help promote that “pump” you hear bodybuilders raving about.
But what they’re designed to do is increase force production, extend muscle endurance, boost power, and possibly attenuate muscle damage and speed up recovery.
Keep in mind that not all pre-workouts contain caffeine, so for people who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you can still find a suitable pre-workout option.
Choosing a Supplement That Aligns With Your Goals
Now that you’re familiar with what fat burners and pre-workouts are, which one you choose will boil down to what your goals are.
Because there’s little overlap in the functions of pre-workouts and fat burners, what you’re looking to achieve will dictate what supplements you lean towards.
Take a look at the benefits of each.
- Increase fat mobilization and fat burn
- Stimulate thermogenesis to rev metabolism and maximize calorie burn
- Suppress appetite and regulate blood sugar to reduce energy intake and stop cravings
- Boost muscle strength, growth, and performance
- Preserve lean muscle and accelerate recovery
- Enhance muscle power and strength
- Extend aerobic and anaerobic endurance
- Improve endurance by buffering and hydrating working muscles
- Raises nitric oxide (NO) levels to support muscle blood flow and oxygenation
- Sustains NO activity to extend muscle benefits for strength and recovery
- Enhance concentration and focus
So, depending on which camp you fall into—one, the other, or maybe both—you’ll find your perfect supplement.
Can You Take Them Together?
If you’re looking for both outcomes, taking a fat burner AND a pre-workout may be your desired choice. But is it safe?
The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no—it’s kind of a maybe.
Whether your pre-workout and fat burner pair well together mainly depends on the type of fat burner and pre-workout you’re using.
Most conventional fat burners and pre-workout supplements you’ll find on the market are heavy on stimulants, so taking them together is likely going to result in some pretty unpleasant side effects like jitters, irritability, heart palpitations, anxiety-like symptoms, nausea, and the like; all side effects you’d be better to leave at home.
Not to mention that if they’re high in caffeine, you’re also going to develop a reliance on them.
Because chronic high-dose caffeine intake alters the number of adenosine receptors in the brain, it will take considerably more caffeine to elicit the same effects. Dosing up on your pre- supplement is probably not a good idea to do that.
However, if you’re taking a stim-free blend or even one with low caffeine content, you’d likely be fine to pair them together because they work for completely different purposes; fat burners help alter body composition, while pre-workouts help to enhance performance and recovery. Paired together, they create the perfect training stack.
The entire lineup of Performance Lab and Opti-Nutra products are designed to be stacked any which way you choose.
Because both Performance Lab Pre and Burn Lab Pro are completely stim-free, there’s really no risk of adverse effects associated with heavy stimulant use.
The Best Combo: Performance Lab Pre + Burn Lab Pro
Like we said, fat burners and pre-workouts don’t really overlap in their functions, making them an ideal combo for training.
Performance Lab Pre is a powerful stim-free muscle primer designed to enhance all of your training sessions.
It’s intelligently stacked to boost and sustain nitric oxide levels for twice as long and nourish your muscles to protect against the build-up of lactic acid that can put a drastic halt to workouts.
Pre is an innovative blend of Setria® Glutathione + L-Citrulline, Creapure® pH10, CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine, Maritime Pine Bark, and NutriGenesis® Iron formulated to enhance strength, intensity, and endurance without caffeine overload or gastrointestinal symptoms typical of other pre-workout supplements.
Burn Lab Pro, on the other hand, is one of the cleanest, safest, and most effective fat burners available, so there’s no need to fret about jitters or dependence.
It’s a combination of five powerful, high-quality ingredients specifically formulated to maximize fat burn and weight loss, enhance physical performance and muscle gain, and accelerate recovery.
It’s designed to enhance your metabolic performance through non-stimulatory pathways to help with your weight loss and fat loss goals.
Choosing the right supplements can be challenging, especially when there are hundreds upon hundreds to choose from.
But when you know what you’re looking for and know a brand that can provide clean and reputable choices, it can be a thousand times easier.
Creating a stack that works for you is gold, and a good pre-workout and fat burner are great to have in that stack.
On their own, they can elicit some powerful effects in terms of performance, recovery, and body composition, but when taken together, you’ll see a tenfold increase in your body’s abilities.
Sometimes all it needs is that little push.
- AE Jeukendrup, R Randell. Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism. Obes Rev. 2011;12(10):841-851.
- Ž Jakopin. Risks associated with fat burners: A toxicological perspective. Food Chem Toxicol. 2019;123:205-224.
- PS Harty, HA Zabriskie, JL Erickson, PE Molling, CM Kersick, AR Jagim. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 2018 Aug; 15(41).