Differences Between Pre-Workout and Protein Powder Explained.
There are plenty of workout supplements which can be confusing, and the fact that one might not know what they are putting in their body makes it all the more confusing.
Different supplements come with different information, and how these supplements help you achieve your goals or how the other ingredients work can be hard to understand.
The confusion behind protein shakes and pre-workout supplements stems from gym-goers consuming both products.
Let us look at the full breakdown of these products to determine which is best for you.
Pre-Workout Vs Protein Powder: The Differences
Though seemingly the same, protein and pre-workout are made for different purposes.
Protein powders are more attuned to the rebuilding of muscle tissue, and they support body recovery. On the other hand, the purpose of pre-workout is to boost your performance.
List of Ingredients
Protein powder and protein shakes' sole purpose is to increase your protein intake. In essence, protein from plants, eggs, or milk, is turned into a powder, which comes in the form of whey protein.
The scientific name of protein is an amino acid, and these protein powders contain many essential amino acids plus some non-essential varieties. Amino acids get broken down and absorbed by body muscles, and in the process, they help you to grow your muscle mass and recover more quickly.
Sweeteners, thickeners and vegetable oils are frequently added to protein powder to enhance flavour, texture, and richness. Note that pre-workouts also comprise several amino acids, which increase blood flow within muscles, allowing you to work out for longer.
In addition, they also contain creatine and vitamins (particularly B12) for that extra boost of energy. Therefore, the main difference between a pre-workout and a protein powder is just in the stimulant.
Pre-workouts come with caffeine, a renowned stimulant for hyperactivity. It improves your mental alertness while giving you laser focus. As a result, your workouts become more effective, and you develop muscle.
How long do they last in your body?
Whey protein breaks down at an estimated rate of 10g per hour. Therefore, it takes your body 2-4 hours to break down and absorb amino acids in one scoop of protein powder.
Depending on the precise blend, the typical pre-workout supplement, just as well, will last in your system for around 2-4 hours. The amino acids in the pre-workout will be broken down at the same rate, but the caffeine will be absorbed fast, giving you enough boost to complete your workout session and training intensity.
Even though protein powder and pre-workout supplements last just about the same amount of time, it is good to note that the main difference is their impact on your body. Protein supplements help improve your protein intake and are digested in the same manner as other foods.
Pre-workout pills, in contrast, frequently include a lot of caffeine, which will significantly affect your body.
If weight loss is your goal
Neither of these supplements will help you lose weight. Pre-workout is geared towards performance boosting during workout sessions, while protein shakes and powder help the body with muscle recovery.
If you want to lose weight, you must be wary of protein powders which can cause weight gain. If you take protein powder or shakes without adjusting your overall diet, thus increasing your body's protein intake will promote muscle gain, and more muscle means an increase in weight.
This should also improve your muscle tone, so you look better, but it could mean you put on weight. On the other hand, pre-workouts help with weight loss, giving you the energy to go the extra mile.
This helps you build muscle mass faster with intense workouts but can also mean more calorie burn. This, coupled with a strict healthy diet, allows you to shed weight more quickly.
Protein powder and pre-workout supplements are designed as dietary supplements, not to replace any meals. Pre-workout supplements will never provide the proper nutrition. Hence, it would help if you always ate balanced meals. Also, never rely on shakes or supplements for your complete protein intake.
If your goal is fitness and strength training
Experts in the health and fitness industry approve that these supplements have value and play a vital role in helping you achieve your goals. Pre-workout boosts your body's performance levels during training sessions.
The components comprising a pre-workout, from amino acids to nitric oxide and caffeine as a stimulant, will improve your training intensity. This ultimately improves your endurance and enhances muscle growth while giving you maximum concentration to help you achieve your fitness goals.
You can order pre-workouts explicitly designed to suit your individual goals when working with pre-workouts. Then, it can be made as a specific blend to meet your needs.
On the other hand, protein powder speeds up your recovery time and helps with muscle growth after your workout.
If your end goal is achieving lean muscles, then protein powder is the right supplement for you. This is what makes protein the most popular bodybuilding supplement in the world.
Is it the best for beginner lifters
If you are a beginner weightlifter, you can benefit from both supplements. Protein shakes, and protein powders are packed with the right amount of amino acids, which contribute towards building new muscle fibres and muscle mass.
Taking pre-workouts will sharpen your mind, increase your blood flow, and at the same time, release adrenaline to improve your performance. Pre-workouts also shorten your recovery time frame, allowing you to bounce back to the gym in time.
So, you will be better off using a pre-workout supplement if you're a beginner weightlifter because your muscles will still be developing and adapting to your new routine. At this stage, they will need as much support as possible.
Price and availability
Protein powder averagely costs between $0.60-$0.90 per serving. However, some premium powders can cost anything above $1.30. Pre-workout is more expensive compared to protein powder. Protein powder is a cost-effective way to help your training regime.
Looking at how you can access these supplements conveniently, protein powders are easy to get on the market. This is because they have been on the market for quite some time and have proven to be best for post-training recovery.
Pre-workouts are still a new product in the mainstream market. Hence they are fewer in comparison to protein powder. However, you can get both these supplements easily online or in stores that stock up on various supplements for different diets (vegan-friendly included).
Protein powders typically have a shelf life which ranges from 12-24 months, which is determined by the ingredients used. Most pre-workouts last for about two years, except for Whey protein, which lasts for 9-19 months, and pea protein, which lasts for about 16-24 months.
Though both supplements generally have the same shelf life, it's important to note the instructions and ensure proper storage.
Why and when to take pre-workouts
Pre-workouts boost your energy levels before you work out. The pre-workout ingredients, including beta-alanine and amino acids, are processed to increase blood flow to your muscles.
As mentioned before, pre-workout contains caffeine which acts as a stimulant to help you focus on your exercise routine. For a pre-workout to work correctly, you must take it 30-60 minutes before your workout.
This allows your body enough time to break down and absorb the components. The caffeine, after being broken down keeps your metabolism active, burning more calories after the workout.
Why and when to use protein shakes
Generally, protein shakes enhance muscle growth while supplementing a balanced diet because they are made as dietary protein. In addition, amino acids also assist in muscle growth.
Frequent ingesting protein shakes after regular exercise will improve the recovery of muscles and heightens your weightlifting. It has also been previously linked to reducing body fat cells and is often used as a supplement in weight management.
Unlike pre-workouts, protein shakes are taken 15-60 minutes after a workout, as recommended by fitness experts. This period is known as the anabolic window, where the body has the suitable protein to feed its muscles.
However, it is imperative to note that this information isn't conclusive, but it is an excellent idea to use your protein powders immediately following a workout.
Is it possible to take both pre-workout and protein powder?
This is a common question among fitness people, whether to mix pre-workout and protein powder. As you well know, they come individually packaged, but this doesn't mean you can't mix them.
The fact that they have different purposes means that you can safely mix both supplements without complications.
Remember they are also taken at different points of your workout; pre-workout is taken before to boost your performance, and your protein shake is taken after a workout to help with muscle recovery.
Keep in mind these supplements contain protein which supports your muscle growth. If taken at the same time, your body can suffer from protein overload, leading to a waste of fuel your body needs. This is because your body can only process so much protein at any time.
To maximise the benefit of protein in your body, take it a few hours after your pre-workout.
Frequently asked pre-workout vs protein shake questions
Do pre-workouts contain protein powder?
Yes, protein powder is found in many pre-workouts; you can also make your blend if you please by mixing your protein blend.
Is it possible to mix pre-workout with protein powder?
Pre-workout and protein powder can be blended; by mixing the two, you can create your shake.
Can I reduce belly fat using protein shakes?
Protein shakes will help reduce belly fat since high-protein diets effectively lose weight and body fat. However, it is not a magic powder, and you will have to put in the work for a shake to help you reduce belly fat while incorporating significant lifestyle changes.
Should I consume protein shakes without going to the gym?
The answer is yes. Protein is vital to the body, and you can take some protein shakes at home without going to the gym. In addition, since some powders come with flavours, they are palatable.
After taking a pre-workout, how long does it take for it to work?
Before you start using a supplement, take note of the instructions. However, it usually takes 20-30 minutes for it to work.
Is it ok to dilute my pre-workout?
Yes. Pre-workouts are strong by design, and you are encouraged to dilute them with water or milk.