Pre-Workout vs. Post-Workout Supplements: What’s the Difference?

by Melissa Chichester

Have you ever seen someone at the gym and wondered about those powders and drinks people use before or after exercise? 

Maybe you were at a local 5K race with a friend and powered up with a little gel packet before the run. 

Many athletes – both professional and weekend warriors – use pre- and post-workout supplements to support and improve their performance.* 

Here’s how they work – and some common nutrients found in these supplements. 

Pre-workout supplements to fuel up

Imagine you’re about to run a race. Your body needs energy to keep you going strong and to replace what is consistently being depleted along the way. That’s where pre-workout supplements come in handy. These special drinks, powders, or gels deliver a boost of energy to help you power through your workout without feeling tired too quickly. They are designed to replenish nutrients lost through sweat and energy expenditures. 

What’s inside these pre-workouts? It depends on the sport, brand, and supplement. But here are some common pre-workout nutrients:

  • Caffeine: Just like in your morning juice, caffeine helps wake up your body and gives you energy.* It also helps increase body temperature to get you ready for exercise.*
  • Beta-alanine: This is an amino acid, a molecule that helps your body build proteins. Beta-alanine is known for giving some people a tingly feeling. This is common.
  • Creatine: Creatine helps muscles produce higher muscular force, especially during short bouts of maximal exercise.*

When you see someone sipping on a pre-workout drink or tossing back a gel packet, they’re likely getting ready to tackle their exercise with the power they need. 

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Post-workout supplements for recovery

After a hard workout, a big race, or a tough game, your muscles might feel tired and sore. That’s where post-workout supplements can help. These supplements help your muscles recover after all your hard work.

Post-workout supplements often contain nutrients such as:

  • Protein: This macronutrient is critical for building and repairing muscles.
  • BCAAs (Branched-chain amino acids): These comprise a large percentage of the amino acid composition in muscle tissue. They also help support muscle nitrogen and protein metabolism within muscle tissue.*
  • Glutamine: The body uses glutamine as cellular fuel, releasing it from muscle cells during exercise.*

Post-workout shakes often contain a combination of these ingredients to replenish nutrients in the body – especially in the muscles.

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Pre-and post-workout supplements can be helpful for anyone who wants to get the most out of their exercise routine. If you’re someone who loves being active and wants to improve your performance during workouts, and also help muscles recover afterward, these supplements could be beneficial for you. 

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However, it’s essential to remember that supplements are just one piece of the puzzle. It’s important to pair them with a balanced diet and regular exercise routine. Additionally, always talk to a doctor before starting any new supplement regimen. 

Have questions about pre- and post-workout supplements? Talk to a Puritan’s Pride Nutrition Coach! Schedule your free one-on-one consultation with a Nutrition Coach to answer your nutrition, diet, and lifestyle questions.