Difference Between Pre-workout and Protein Powder

pre-workout vs protein powder

So you want to know which one you should buy – You can’t decide whether you need to buy pre-workout, the protein powders which are so popular, or the protein shakes.

There isn’t, actually, a straightforward answer about which supplement is better.

They all serve different functions.

So you have to find the one which you believe is best to meet your needs. Or can you have them all?

Basically, it’s like this…

If you want protein that makes helps to support your workouts and gives you the energy to do so, then you should consider a pre-workout.

If you want to improve muscle mass and support your post-training recovery, drink a protein shake.

If you want to build muscle, make hormones and enzymes, and repair tissue, try protein powders.

That’s in a nutshell. And while all three supplements share many of the same ingredients, their macros will vary. This is because they are designed for their usage to your fitness needs.

For instance, protein powders have a lot of amino acids in them to help you build muscle whilst pre-workouts are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and stimulants to keep you energized while you work out.

As far as all three go…

You should always speak to your dietician or doctor who will determine whether it’s a good idea for you to consume them, as well as how often.

You will find the pre-workout an excellent way to boost your performance and training intensity.

You will be kick-starting your muscle growth and development using a pre-workout supplement.

But it also means you will be breaking down more muscle when you train. To balance things out, protein shakes can help you out. They will restore your muscle tissues.

But before you start complimenting your diet with the above two supplements, you will also need to ensure that they are free of stimulants and caffeine, so you don’t overdo things.

Pre-workouts need to be consumed about 30 minutes before your workout.

Protein shakes and powders are recommended for consumption after your workout because, in effect, your muscles are still working.

But if you did drink a pre-workout before your workout, you don’t have to immediately have a shake or a protein powder.

But you can drink them when you get home because they will be replenishing what you lost at the gym during your workout and repairing your muscles.

Let’s just quickly define what each of the above different protein supplements is, and then you can see which one is ultimately best for you…

Protein Powder vs Pre Workout: What’s the Difference?

Pre-workout drinks 

You need to fuel yourself properly before hard workouts and exercises.

It makes you more energized, stronger, and able to last longer in your workouts.

Pre-workouts are designed to boost your energy levels and increase focus.

You take them about 15 to 30 minutes before your workout. The intention of the pre-workout supplement is to push yourself further during your workouts.

Protein shakes [2]

These are really popular in the health and fitness industry, with whey protein ones being the most popular.

They are commonly used to top up your body’s protein levels.

Shakes support the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. They should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.

They shouldn’t be considered as a replacement for any meal, though, but rather as a boost to your body’s protein intake.

Protein powder [3]:

Protein powders are rich in protein – they come from plant sources such as rice, potatoes, soybeans, peas, or hemp. Egg and milk protein powders will come from casein or whey sources.

Whey protein is a complete protein. Protein powders help to build muscle, make hormones and enzymes, and repair tissue.


  • If you want to power up your workouts: Then you should take a specially-designed pre-workout.
  • If you want to increase your protein intake and aid in recovery: Then protein shakes are the way to go.
  • If you want to promote muscle gain, fuel recovery, and maintain your metabolism, then protein powders will do that for you.

Protein powder is the most popular bodybuilding supplement in the health and fitness industry

While protein powders help to improve training performance and endurance, their main function is to promote muscle gain, fuel recovery, and maintain metabolism.

A lot of athletes also use them for weight loss.

This is because they are loaded with amino acids and powerful stimulants which get down to burning fat quickly.

Protein powders come in different flavors too, such as vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate.

They are typically blended with different types of milk like soy, dairy, or almond, as well as adding in fruits to make a protein shake that can be consumed shortly after a workout. 

However, each trainer, fitness junkie, or athlete has their own opinion on which supplements offer the best health benefits

Some will say that pre-workouts are better, while others are going to say they like the easiness of just drinking down protein shakes.

Before going out and buying the cheapest supplement on the market, or the one with the nicest flavor, or what your friends recommend, take time to find out what each of the potential benefits consists of.

We are going to give you each one’s benefits just to help you with your decision –

Benefits of a pre-workout

This dietary supplement, which comes in a flavored powder, gets added to water, milk, or other liquids. It should be taken about 30 minutes before exercise.

  • It increases energy and focus during workouts
  • It helps people to feel on top of their game during workouts
  • It enhances their training performance
  • It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, creatine, and different stimulants to increase energy, endurance, and focus. The creatine in the product helps to draw fluid to the muscles to increase their mass and make them appear bigger. 
  • A pre-workout reduces the time needed to transfer energy to muscles, and when it does, athletes have boosted endurance
  • The amino acids increase muscle blood flow for a rapid recovery
  • The caffeine in the product improves motivation and concentration
  • Less energy is required to burn calories
  • It helps to burn fat cells first instead of carbs

Benefits of Protein Powders

Like pre-workouts, protein powders offer a host of unique benefits.

They’re suitable for people looking to increase their protein intake and muscle mass, not necessary to supply them with energy.

However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be used as fuel for workouts.

They can make you feel a little bloated, though, since they’re richer than pre-workouts.

Let’s check out some of their main benefits:

  • Good for weight management due to its high protein content and low calories 
  • Hunger is curbed whilst it works at adding nutrition from the vitamins and minerals content
  • Promotes muscle tone and helps to maintain mass 
  • Helps muscles to recover smoothly after a workout
  • The vegan-friendly supplements offer a great alternative to dairy and meat
  • Excellent for athletes and bodybuilders who want to build muscle mass faster
  • One health expert, dietician Rachel Paul, says, “Adding in a protein supplement like a high-quality collagen, protein powder or bar is an amazing way to get all 20 of your amino acids.”

Benefits of Protein Shakes

After a hard workout, protein shakes sound like sheer replenishment as well as something to quench the thirst.

They are full of deliciousness, fueling the muscles, and leaving the body feeling satisfied.

There are lots of health benefits to consuming protein shakes.

Some people wonder though about the safety of drinking them every day.

But registered dietitians have looked at this – they say that protein shakes are simply an easy way for people who don’t have the time to sit down and eat, to give them the essential amino acids their bodies need.

  • It helps with the growth of muscles. Research shows that protein supplements, which include a strength-training routine, build and conserve muscle tissue and strengthen it
  • It can help with post-workout recovery. By having your protein shake at least 30 minutes after a workout, you help to feed your muscles and to repair the muscle tissue
  • They help to curb hunger, helping you feel full for longer
  • Because of the muscle-building power of the shakes, they can help those who want to lose weight
  • They can boost your metabolism. Consistent workouts increase your lean mass which requires burning more calories for fuel, increasing your metabolism
  • They are very convenient, easy to use at work, at home, and on the go

Can all three of these three supplements be used together or interchangeably?

What about using them together or at different times, on different days?

Well, the pre-workout supplement and the two other supplements all have different goals, so they really will complement each other and should be all good and well to use with each other.

Remember, though, to speak to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet for the first time, or if you are making major lifestyle changes.

Most protein shakes don’t contain stimulants like caffeine, so there shouldn’t be any problems with overdosing on caffeine.

You might want to use both protein powders and shakes to meet your daily protein goals, which might be muscle maintenance or weight loss, or muscle growth.

For instance, you can use protein powders in your homemade shakes in the morning to see you through your day, and then have a protein shake in the afternoon to keep you satisfied.

But aren’t protein powders and protein shakes basically the same thing?

They are very similar. But read on, because there are a couple of differences between protein powder and ready-made protein shakes [4].

The convenient ready-to-drink protein shakes have been pre-made.

So all you have to do is simply open the cap and enjoy your favorite flavor. Shakes have been premixed with protein powder, liquid, and, probably other healthy ingredients.

Why would you choose protein shakes? They are co convenient to use – it’s like refueling on tap.

Protein powder is just what it says it is – protein, in powder form.

You scoop it into your favorite liquid, for example, almond milk.

You can use it for cooking too, such as making banana bread and other delicious meals.  

Or you can add it to your shakes, smoothies, cereals, or baked goods to meet your daily protein goals. Protein powders allow you to create recipes that meet your taste and nutrition needs.

Do both protein shakes and protein powders deliver the same results?

Ready-to-drink protein shakes and protein powders provide 20 grams of protein.

Both of them have amino acids in them for muscle development and digestion. 

The difference isn’t in the protein; it’s in the other ingredients.

Protein powders can contain artificial sweeteners, fillers, and colors whilst ready-to-drink protein shakes can contain extra sugar, common allergens, and artificial ingredients.

Check out the different brands of protein shakes and protein powders because there are some that don’t contain any artificial ingredients.

They are often organic plant-based protein supplements [5].

When all is said and done

As you no doubt already know, dietary protein is needed to support the growth and maintenance of muscle mass – that means it will need the fuel to do so.

Always start with the basics when you start taking a supplement for the first time – even more so if you are training or starting a new exercise regime.

It’s no use if you are trying to lose weight or become lean, mean, and body beautiful if you are still eating the wrong foods.

You might believe that if you still do workouts, you will notice a difference.

But it’s not the case. Protein pre-workouts, protein shakes, and protein powders won’t work if you are not prepared to change your lifestyle, eating habits, and start working out.

They all go hand in hand. And when you do buy a new supplement, always read the label carefully for the directions and warnings.


So there we are – we have compared pre-workouts, protein powders, and protein shakes.

We have explained the main differences between the three different types of supplements to help you make a decision about which is the best one for you.

]We have seen that pre-workout supplements will help you get the most out of your workout.

Protein shakes are like giving your body a top-up or a refueling at any time of the day.

They are great for helping with recovery.

Protein powders will help a great deal to speed up your fitness journey and improve your performance and results.

When it comes to getting your desired shape or body, none of the three supplements we have mentioned offer any magical powers. It requires months, sometimes even years of hard work to achieve that.

So, actually, instead of choosing between pre-workouts vs. protein shakes or protein powders, consider using them all – they all have their place.

But speak to your healthcare professional as well.

The best advice we can give is not to replace whole meals with the three supplements we have mentioned, as this could affect your lifestyle and health.

Combine them into your diet, lifestyle, and fitness goals and then you will be ‘A’ for Away!