Pre-workout is a supplement primarily used to give you a “kick” for your workout. Most people need some motivation to get to the gym and get through a workout and pre-workout is often the supplement of choice!
While there are obviously some benefits to using pre-workout, there are also some downsides to its use. Some are well documented but we’ve also come across people with more obscure questions. One of which being, does pre-workout make you gain weight?
If this is something that you’ve been concerned with, read on. We’ll debunk whether or not pre-workout makes you gain weight and explain could instead be the issue.
What Are Pre-workouts
Pre-workouts refer to any kind of supplement that people take before a workout. Although each pre-workout varies, they generally contain ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and L-glutamine.
Related – Pre-workout vs coffee
Pre-workouts are one of the most popular supplements because they can help to maximize your workout by providing a significant boost in energy to get you through intense workouts.
Many people use pre-workouts to help them to lose weight by increasing the amount of calories they can burn during a workout.
If you’re interested in pre-workout and gaining muscle then check out this video on top supplements:
Does Pre-workout Make You Gain Weight?
Pre-workout shouldn’t cause weight gain if you’re consuming a calorie deficit. However, pre-workout can cause water retention and can help to increase muscle growth which may lead to weight gain when using pre-workout.
Pre-workout shouldn’t make you gain weight if you’re consuming a calorie deficit.
Fundamentally, you shouldn’t be gaining weight unless you’re consuming more calories than you use. So if you were only using 2,000 calories a day and consuming 2,500 calories a day then you would expect to gain weight.
Pre-workout supplements can also help people to lose weight due to the ingredients that they contain. Caffeine, for example, can help to speed up people’s metabolism. As a result, they would expect to burn calories more quickly, leading to weight loss.
Also, as pre-workouts are designed to help you maximize your workout, people using them would expect to lose weight if they are able to workout more intensely and for longer, because this is going to burn more calories.
With this being said though, there are some ways that pre-workout might cause weight gain, which I’ve explained next:
Hydration levels naturally vary between people. They also vary throughout a person’s day depending on how much liquid they’re consuming or getting rid of through sweating or urinating.
Pre-workouts can cause higher levels of water retention. This happens primarily due to the ingredient creatine monohydrate as this supplement draws water into the muscle’s cells. Essentially, the cells end up holding more water.
When you’re storing more water, you’ll weigh more. One liter of water weighs around 1 kilogram. So the more water your body is storing, the more you’re going to weigh.
For some people, this kind of water retention isn’t an issue because higher levels of water retention can make muscles appear bigger. However, if you’re storing more water it will make you weigh more.
Pre-workouts can also cause weight gain if they’re causing muscle growth.
Many people take pre-workout to make gains when they’re consistently working out. If you’re working out regularly, especially by doing intensive workouts, then you’ll notice muscle growth.
For most people, you can expect to see 1 to 2llbs of muscle growth a month.
So if your muscles are growing then you’ll notice that you might weigh more than you did before you started working out consistently.
Does Pre-workout Make You Bloated?
Pre-workout containing creatine can cause bloating. This happens as creatine draws water into the muscle’s cells. As it holds onto this water you might feel bloated. This process is also known as fluid retention.
As it holds onto this water it can cause bloating, for example around the stomach.
Related – Does creatine make you bloated
Bloating can also happen if people drink a lot when they take their pre-workout. If a pre-workout comes as a liquid then consuming this alongside other drinks during a workout can lead to a feeling of bloating as it’s a lot of liquid to consume in a short space of time.
Does Pre-workout Make You Hungry?
Pre-workout containing high amounts of sugar can trigger hunger as it causes blood sugar to spike, which leads to cravings as these levels crash. Many people also feel hungry after working out as exercise uses glycogen stores, leading to hunger.
So pre-workout can lead to hunger in two key ways.
Firstly, pre-workouts containing a lot of sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This spike in blood sugar levels can be good during a workout as it causes a spike in energy levels which will help to feel energized while working out.
However, as blood sugar levels drop people experience cravings as they want to get that spike again.
This is why people often end up craving sugary foods, as their body wants to continually experience that spike in blood sugar levels.
So, pre-workouts containing a lot of sugar can lead to feelings of hunger and cravings for sugary foods.
With this being said though, it may not be the pre-workout causing a feeling of hunger. It may be the workout itself.
After taking pre-workouts, people exercise and push themselves, because pre-workouts give you extra energy and motivation to get through.
However, doing an intense workout will burn a lot of calories. As calories are burned, the body’s glycogen stores are also burned which triggers a feeling of hunger as the body wants to replace them.
As well as impacting glycogen stores, working out intensely also causes sweating which can lead to dehydration. Although it also causes thirst, dehydration can cause a feeling of hunger as well.
When it comes to pre-workout supplementation and weight gain, it’s unlikely that the two are linked. Depending on the ingredients in your pre-workout, there could be some bloating or water retention but the quantity consumed is unlikely to contribute to this significantly.
In fact, pre-workouts are optimally used for fat loss due to the caffeine content and other ingredients that work to suppress appetite and make you sweat more – which actually leads to weight loss through water weight.
It’s far more likely that if you are experiencing weight gain, it’s as a result of a calorie surplus or other supplement that would be causing this. The exception would be if you’re using a pre-workout that contains creatine.
In which case, this could be a cause of weight gain when supplementing creatine.
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