PRE-WORKOUT, THERMOGENICS AND FAT-BURNERS. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE & WHAT SHOULD I USE?
Time to read 8 min
Time to read 8 min
When it comes to performance and weight loss supplements, pre-workouts, thermogenics, and fat burners tend to get thrown around in the same categories, but they aren’t identical. From promoting energy, improving metabolism, lowering appetite and enhancing fat oxidation, it is important to distinguish the difference before blindly adding one to your stack.
So how do these supplements differ? Isn't a thermo just a pre-workout? Aren't fat burners and thermogenic interchangeable? We're going to answer all of this and more.
Let’s keep it simple before we jump into more detail about these supplements.
A pre-workout is designed to incite energy and improve performance, helping to fuel you through tiresome workouts and keeping you motivated when you’re sluggish or unmotivated. A pre-workout typically improves energy, performance, mood, strength and endurance, helping you perform every time you train.
Fat burners have a more specific goal, and you’ve probably already guessed that it involves weight management. These formulas use ingredients that work to target fat cells and may facilitate weight loss by breaking down fat and converting it into energy. They contain fairly similar blueprints to thermogenics but target weight loss through a different avenue (Robertson, I. 2023).
Onto thermogenics. These formulas utilise ingredients that provoke your body into generating heat, increasing your body temperature to put positive pressure on your metabolism. With a focus on facilitating weight loss, these formulas can help you naturally burn more energy throughout the day, even when you’re not physically active (Robertson, I. 2023).
Let’s start from scratch here. A pre-workout is a supplement designed to be taken before you train to provide that extra fuel to support you through intense workouts. Pre-workout formulas contain a combination of stimulants (or not, if you’re opting for a non-stimulant version), BCAAs, vitamins, NO2 boosters and more to give you the best context to succeed when you train.
With energy being a key function, you could probably guess that the main ingredient in a pre-workout is caffeine, but these formulas go beyond your standard hyped-up energy drinks. Beyond the caffeine that incites energy, focus, alertness and vitality, there is a whole core of ingredients that combine to help you unlock the best version of yourself when you train.
A pre-workout usually contains nitric oxide precursors like L-Arginine, L-Citrulline and other ingredients from dietary sources like beetroot juice. These ingredients in a pre-workout help to transport oxygen and nutrients to working muscles, promoting improved blood flow and enhanced athletic performance.
Beta-alanine is often utilised in a pre-workout to promote endurance during intense training, while creatine is often included to boost ATP production, incite strength and enhance muscle volumisation. BCAAs can reduce muscle soreness after exercise and may support muscle growth (Landes, E. 2021).
A pre-workout is best taken 15-30 minutes before you start training and can help you persevere through the worst leg days. However, if you're sensitive to stimulants and caffeine, or are trying to cut back, ensure you check the caffeine amount on the label and assess your tolerance. Depending on the pre-workout, levels of caffeine and stimulants will vary from tub to tub.
For more help choosing the right pre-workout, check out our blog on the best pre-workout for all training goals.
Take a wild guess. A fat burner is exactly what it sounds like it is.
A fat burner is a supplement designed to increase fat metabolism and energy expenditure while promoting fat oxidation during exercise. These formulas work by trying to impair fat absorption and increase weight loss while working towards long-term adaptations that can improve how fat is metabolised (Jeukendrup, A et al. 2011).
Despite the promising name, these supplements certainly aren’t a miracle solution to your weight goals. They are designed to support your weight management goals when combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
One of the key avenues that fat burners target when supporting weight management is by improving your metabolism. As a result, these formulas harness ingredients like caffeine, which has been suggested by studies to boost your metabolism. Caffeine can also promote weight, body mass index and body fat reduction (Jewell, T. 2020).
These formulas will typically contain green tea extract to support your weight goals and energy levels, similar to that of a pre-workout. Green tea also contains caffeine but is most effective because it contains the antioxidant catechin. Yohimbine is also utilised for its ability to keep adrenaline in your body for longer, helping to oxidise fat for energy (Jewell, T. 2020).
One of the most effective fat-burning ingredients is L-Carnitine, which plays a critical role in the production of energy in your body, helping to transport fatty acids into your cell’s mitochondria, where they are oxidised to create usable energy (Mawer, R. 2023).
Fat burners are best taken 15-30 minutes before you start training and can help you increase your overall energy expenditure while you’re training.
Want to check out some of our other best-selling fat burners? Check out our blog on the top 6 fat burners of 2023.
It’s often hard to distinguish a fat burner from a thermogenic (or even a pre-workout) because, in essence, they perform quite similar roles. The main difference between the two supplements is how they might facilitate weight loss. While fat burners directly target fat cells, thermogenic formulas are designed to speed up your metabolism and calorie-burning by generating heat (Robertson, I. 2023).
Like fat burners, thermogenic formulas use natural ingredients like caffeine, green tea, capsaicin and other plant extracts to support fat burning and boost metabolism. Capsaicin is the molecule that makes chilli peppers spicy and stimulates a release of adrenaline that enhances metabolism and in theory, incites fat burning (Julson, E. 2018).
Other common ingredients include bitter orange extract, which can increase metabolism and improve calorie burning. Yohimbine is a thermogenic ingredient that works by increasing the activity of hormones, including adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine and may improve fat metabolism and garcinia cambogia is used to block enzymes involved in the formation of body fat (Julson, E. 2018).
Thermogenics are most effective when taken 15-30 minutes before you start training and can incite thermogenesis and accelerate your metabolism during exercise.
If you want to find the best thermogenics to support your weight goals, check out our blog on the best thermogenic supplements for weight management.
The best supplements will ultimately depend on your overall fitness goals, but we’ve got a few that we know you will love! Whether you're looking for a pre-workout that will prime your performance, or a thermogenic to turn up the heat, we have something for you.
Evolve Avenger isn't your average pre-workout supplement. It's the adrenaline rush you've been craving, the power boost your workouts have been missing. This bad boy will light a fire under your routine, pushing you past your limits and into uncharted territory. With its potent blend of ingredients, it's like rocket fuel for your muscles. Ready to tear through your session like a beast? Evolve Avenger pre-workout takes the cake.
For a thermogenic that means business, put your trust in EHP Labs OxyShred. This world-renowned pre-workout formula has been trusted by millions globally for delivering results and helping you achieve your body goals. But if you’re to turn up the heat, OxyShred Hardcore might be for you. OxyShred Hardcore pre-workout isn't for the faint-hearted. OxyShred Hardcore pre-workout is for those legends who aren't afraid to break a sweat and push past their limits. Need an energy kick that doesn't leave you flat on your face after? You've got it! This pre-workout bad boy is packed with caffeine to keep you buzzing through those gruelling workouts.
Faction Labs Disorder is not just any pre-workout supplement. It's the secret sauce to your success, the turbocharge for your workout engine. This pre-workout beast delivers focus, endurance, and muscle pumps like no other. With an elixir of active ingredients, including L-Citrulline Malate for nitric oxide metabolism, this pre-workout is designed to push your limits and then some. Plus, with several flavours to choose from, it's a sugar-free delight that tastes as good as it performs. So why settle for ordinary when you can be extraordinary? Grab your Faction Labs Disorder and let's shake things up!
Redcon1's Total War is not your average pre-workout. It's the raw, unadulterated power your routine has been screaming for. This pre-workout attacks fatigue and lacklustre workouts, designed to push you past your comfort zone and into the realm of extraordinary. With its scientifically backed ingredients, Total War pre-workout can deliver a burst of focus, energy and strength. It's time to wage war on mediocrity, so gear up with Redcon1 Total War and let the battle for ultimate fitness begin!
Athletic Sports Kamikaze is a power-packed pre-workout, designed to obliterate your previous workout records and propel you to new heights. With its scientifically formulated blend of ingredients, Kamikaze pre-workout can boost energy, focus and power. It's not for the faint-hearted; it's for those ready to push the boundaries and redefine their limits. So, if you're ready to go all-out, grab your Athletic Sports Kamikaze and let's unleash the beast within!
Unleash the dragon within with Red Dragon's Fireball! This pre-workout supplement is a game-changer for any fitness enthusiast aiming to smash their body goals. Fireball is a pre-workout formulated with scientifically-backed ingredients that provide energy, allowing you to power through even the toughest workouts. But what really sets Fireball apart is its thermogenic properties. It's designed to crank up your body's natural heat production, helping to maximise every workout. So, whether you're looking to get your summer body sorted or just smash your workout, Red Dragon's Fireball is the fuel you need to ignite your potential.
Unleash your inner beast and redefine your fitness game with Evolve Pyro. This Australian-made powerhouse, is a weapon for those who are serious about their body goals. It's not just a pre-workout, it's a revolution that enhances mental performance while supporting your fitness journey. Pyro pre-workout invigorates your workouts, turning them from routine exercise into explosive, dynamic sessions that leave you feeling powerful and accomplished. It's the secret to stepping up your fitness regime. With six mouthwatering flavours, it's a treat for your taste buds. Ignite your potential and transform your workout performance with Evolve Pyro. Your future self will thank you.
At the end of the day, the formula you use will depend on your goals. If you want to improve your exercise performance and energy levels, try a pre-workout. If you’re trying to lose weight, both a thermogenic or a fat burner supplement can help you. And if you want all three, you can often find these packed into one pre-workout!
Just make sure you check the nutritional panel to ensure the ingredients suit your goals. If you need help choosing the right supplement to support your goals or need help navigating the various options, our dedicated team are always eager to help. Just visit us in-store or reach out online for help choosing the right option for you!
Landes, E. 2021, ‘Should You Take Pre-Workout Supplements?’ Healthline, accessed 6 April 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pre-workout-supplements
Jeukendrup, A et al. 2011, ‘Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism’, National Library of Medicine, accessed 6 April 2023, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21951331/#:~:text=The%20term%20'fat%20burner'%20is,adaptations%20that%20promote%20fat%20metabolism.
Jewell, T. 2020, ‘What You Need to Know About Fat-Burning Supplements and Creams’, Healthline, accessed 12 April 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/do-fat-burners-work
Mawer, R. 2023, ‘L-Carnitine: Benefits, Side Effects, Sources and Dosage’, Healthline, accessed 12 April 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/l-carnitine
Robertson, I. 2023, ‘Thermogenic vs Fat Burners - What’s The Difference?’ Total Shape, accessed 12 April 2023, https://totalshape.com/supplements/thermogenic-vs-fat-burner/
Julson, E. 2018, ‘Can Thermogenic Supplements Help You Burn Fat?’ Healthline, accessed 12 April 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/thermogenics