Energy Drinks VS Pre-workouts (Which is Better?)

Short Answer: Both energy drinks and pre-workouts have their benefits and side effects. Which one is better will depend on one’s personal preference and underlying health conditions.

We all know that having good energy is a must before a good workout session!

That’s why trainers and athletes suggest taking energy drinks or pre-workouts before you start. But you might be confused about which is better and safe to drink for you.

Both improve your energy and help with high-intensity workouts, but they also have potential dangers. 

So by keeping this in mind in this article, we will compare energy drinks and pre-workouts, what they are made of, which one is best for you, and which you should avoid. Let’s dig in!

Energy Drinks VS Pre Workouts 

Energy drinks are packed with caffeine to give you a raw energy jolt. These drinks also include taurine and vitamin B and they provide a synergistic stimulatory effect and increase alertness.

Unhealthy consumption of these drinks can lead to:  

  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Headache
  • Jitters
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

On the flip side, Pre-workouts are multi-ingredient dietary formulas that boost energy to increase athletic performance. 

They come in powdered substances that you can mix with water or your protein Shake. 

Pre-workouts contain ingredients that are cognitive workout enhancing such as caffeine, amino acids, huperzine, L- Theanine, β Alanine, artificial sweeteners, Dendrobium Nobile, citrulline malate, and Nitrosigine. 

Overconsumption of pre-workouts can cause:

  • Jitters
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea

Common Ingredients found in energy drinks and pre-workouts 

a can of Red Bull

Knowing the ingredients of the energy drinks and pre-workouts you consume is essential. Different brands use diverse products and there are some specific ingredients like caffeine, taurine, and guarana that you can find in almost all energy drinks and pre-workouts. 

Most of the ingredients used in both help improve physical performance, but overconsumption can lead to side effects. 

The main point is that energy drinks and pre-workouts are almost similar in terms of ingredients.

The question then is, what makes them different? It is quantity! For example, both contain caffeine, but only the amount in each can indicate an energy drink and pre-workout.

The common ingredients in both pre-workout and energy drinks are:

  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • CoQ10
  • B Vitamins
  • Taurine
  • BCAAs
  • EAAs
  • Electrolytes

Pre-workouts usually contain a high level of these ingredients and caffeine than energy drinks. 

Let’s have a look at some of the common ingredients:


Caffeine is one of the main ingredients of energy drinks and pre-workouts that provides you with the right amount of energy for workouts. But not only does it give power, but it also has many other benefits. 

Consuming caffeine in moderation can make every exercise session fun. It improves your cognitive functions such as memory and mood. 

Many studies have shown caffeine’s effect on improved physical performance. It prevents fatigue and increases endurance ability by 11% to 12 %.

It is also known as a brain fuel because it enhances information-processing time and vigilance. Caffeine can also improve perceived exertion and reaction time.

The other benefits of caffeine include increasing the metabolism rate, which helps with weight loss. One study even shows that caffeine can boost metabolism rate by 3 to 11%.

Both energy drinks and pre-workouts contain caffeine that helps boost your energy before a workout. However, you should always read the labels as you should not contain more than 400mg of caffeine per day as recommended by FDA. Overconsumption can lead to many adverse side effects, including:

  • Insomnia 
  • Headaches
  • Irritability 
  • Nervousness 


While many brands add sugar to balance the flavor of energy drinks and pre-workouts, sugar is not something that can help you with losing weight or maintaining your health.

The unnecessary usage of sugar can cause weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many heart disease. Moreover, too much consumption can lead to sugar crashes, bloating, and decreased energy levels. 

Always check the label and only take drinks that contain less sugar. The AHA recommends a daily intake of sugar of 36g for men and 25g for women.

Artificial Sweeteners

Most people consider sugar-free energy drinks and pre-workouts to be safe. But in reality, they are not. The only alternative brands that use sugar are artificial sweeteners. Why? Because it is a cost-effective option and improves the taste of beverages. Two of the most common artificial sweeteners are 

  • Sucrose
  • Aspartame 

These are sweeter than sugar, but despite having no calories and side effects of sugar, they come with harmful effects if over-consumed, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Increased risk of cancer 

Yet, according to FDA, artificial sweeteners are safe to consume, so you don’t have to worry too much. 


Guarana is usually used as an ingredient in energy drinks and pre-workouts to help increase the efficiency of caffeine. 

The fruit guarana has twice the amount of caffeine than coffee beans. The guarana plant is a rich source of caffeine and is used in medicine to reduce fatigue and enhance mental focus. 


Protein plays a vital role once you are done with your workouts. It helps your body recover from sore muscles after a challenging workout. Taurine is an excellent ingredient and it is an amino acid that builds protein blocks found in your body and from food like fish and meat. That’s why it is used in many energy drinks and pre-workouts to recover the impact of workout-related injuries and prevent cell damage. 

Not only that, but taurine is very effective for smooth blood flow in your brain. It also reduces the high blood pressure and risk of various heart diseases. 

Studies even show that runners use taurine capsules as it helps them to improve their performance.  It is an ingredient in energy drinks and pre-workouts beneficial for practical workout sessions. 

Which is better, an energy drink or pre-workout?

a carton that says boxed water is better

Pre-workouts are more beneficial than energy drinks if you are looking for something to enhance your workout performance. 

The pre-workouts purpose is to give you the right energy and performance boost. It contains ingredients that are more effective for effective exercise performance. 

But if you like to have an energy drink, you can have it before exercise. Just make sure to look for a brand that comes with excellent and effective ingredients and less sugar. 

Are pre-workouts the same as energy drinks?

No, pre-workouts are not the same as energy drinks. Although they are quite similar, the difference lies in their purpose. Energy drinks were specifically made for those who are looking for a simple energy boost, while pre-workouts were made to not only provide energy but help improve your workout performance.

They are mainly made of ingredients that help you get extra rep, build more muscles, and help you push through your workout. 

Some of the ingredients that are only found in pre-workouts are: 

  • L-Citrulline
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Tyrosine
  • Glycerol
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Agmatine Sulfate
  • Choline
  • Betaine

The ingredient that sets pre-workouts apart from energy drinks is L-Citrulline. This ingredient is only found in pre-workouts from 4 to 9 grams and helps increase blood flow into muscles. It is only effective if consumed in specific grams of dosage. 

The main difference is that pre-workouts are designed to consume before an intense workout session, providing maximum energy. Some pre-workouts even come in caffeine-free options for sensitivity to caffeine.  

Whereas energy drinks only give you raw energy jolts for any task, which are not just for exercise. 

Are energy drinks good for workouts?

a can of monster energy drink

Yes, energy drinks can be good for workouts. These drinks were made to supply our body with a quick jolt of energy, which is sometimes all we need to get through a workout.

If you face a lack of energy or have difficulty making it through your workout, you can have an energy drink 30 minutes before a workout. However, you need to work on other lifestyle factors like hydration, sleep, and diet, rather than resorting to drinks only. 

Here is a quick look at some energy drinks that might help you lose weight fast:

Name and BrandServing SizeCaffeine ContentCalories
Red Bull Zero8.46fl. Oz.80 mg10 cal
Celsius Energy Drink12fl. oz.200 mg10 cal
Bang Energy16fl. oz.300 mg0 cal
Best Energy Drink For Workout

Are energy drinks healthier than pre-workouts?

The healthier one depends on different factors. For example, different brands use other ingredients, which vary in energy drinks and pre-workouts. Hence, it is difficult to determine which one is more healthy. 

Both have their benefits and side effects as well. The key is moderation! If you love energy drinks, you can have one before a workout. There is no hard and fast rule but make sure to choose one with a low amount of sugar and a moderate amount of caffeine. 

Of course, nothing beats water. For every workout or exercise you do, it’s good to have a bottle of water ready to hydrate yourself and replenish your energy rather than energy drinks or pre-workout.  

Take a look at this video for more information about pre-workouts:

Final Verdict

In conclusion, pre-workouts are more beneficial before exercise as they are made of ingredients designed to take your training to the next level. On the flip side, energy drinks also make an excellent pre-workout drink, whose primary purpose is to boost energy and improve focus. 

What you choose should depend on your taste and preference. However, it is essential to take these drinks and supplements in moderate amounts as overconsumption can cause many side effects.