Pre-Workout Drinks: What You Can and Cannot Drink

Pre-workout drinks can be a great way to improve your performance in the gym. But there are a few things you need to know before you start chugging them down. Find out what you can and cannot drink before your workout!


It’s no secret that what you drink before a workout can make all the difference when it comes to performance. The right pre-workout beverage can help boost energy, improve endurance, and even enhance focus during a strenuous session. Unfortunately, not all drink options qualify as good choices before exercise. Many sports drinks and other commercial products are loaded with inflammatory ingredients or have too many calories to benefit your workout.

Making your own pre-workout drink at home is an ideal way to ensure that you have something tailored to your needs that won’t slow down your progress toward fitness goals. In this article, we will discuss what ingredients you should look for in pre-workout drinks as well as which drinks you should avoid consuming before exercising. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned athlete, understanding what components in beverages make them beneficial or harmful for physical activity can help optimize your workout performance and recovery.

Pre-Workout Drinks

For physical performance and muscle building, drinking the right pre-workout drinks can be very beneficial. Pre-workout drinks help to increase energy levels and can help build muscle endurance. However, there are certain drinks that should be avoided as they can cause dehydration or other health issues. Let’s take a look at what drinks are considered to be good pre-workout drinks and what should be avoided.


Water is an essential part of any pre-workout routine. It helps to keep your body hydrated and plays a vital role in supporting energy. Many athletes consider water their go-to pre-workout drink because it is calorie-free and contains no added sugars or caffeine. However, it is important to note that your body needs to be properly hydrated before working out for the best possible performance benefits. If you are going on a longer run or preparing for an intense workout, try drinking some water at least 20 minutes beforehand in order to ensure that your body has adequate time to absorb and make use of the liquid. Additionally, drinking a glass of water after a strenuous workout will help you rehydrate your body while restoring electrolyte levels lost through sweat.
In some cases, adding natural flavorings such as lemon or lime juice can help make plain water more palatable if drinking lots of plain water seems difficult for you. However, be careful not to add too much flavoring as this could potentially introduce more calories than desired into your pre-workout routine

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are a type of pre-workout hydration drink formulated to quickly and effectively replenish essential electrolytes and energy that may be lost during a sweat session. They are specifically designed to replace electrolytes, such as calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium which help athletes stay on top of their game performance-wise. Some sports drinks provide additional benefits, like increasing stamina and endurance.

Sports drinks come in many forms: gels, tablets, powdered mixes and beverages like Gatorade. Typically they contain glucose or fructose (sugar) for quick energy plus carbohydrates and electrolytes. Common ingredients include water; electrolytes like sodium chloride; carbohydrates such as glucose syrup; citric acid for flavor; potassium citrate for buffering acidity; vitamins C and E for antioxidant protection; plant extracts for taste; artificial sweeteners and gelatin or carrageenan (seaweed extract) for texture.

Sports drinks should be ingested during moderate to intense exercises lasting longer than 60 minutes in order to provide long-lasting hydration with optimal refueling benefits. It’s also best to consume a bit before exercise begins as well as while you’re doing it in order to maximize the performance benefit likely due to increased blood flow to muscles during exercise.


Coffee is a popular pre-workout choice, as it provides a natural surge of energy that can help you power through your workout routine. Caffeine helps to elevate endurance, increase focus, and temporarily boost performance. However, too much caffeine or certain ingredients found in coffee can interfere with the body’s ability to maintain intensity during exercise. It is best to limit your intake of coffee before a workout and opt for something lower in caffeine or without any caffeine at all.

Additionally, the acidity from coffee can be hard on your stomach and make you feel bloated shortly after beginning your workout. To get the most benefit from a pre-workout drink without residual side effects, choose one that does not contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners and is formulated for exercise enthusiasts. It should also have ingredients that support exercise performance such as creatine, beta alanine, sodium bicarbonate and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Lastly, be sure to drink plenty of water during and after your workout to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day!


Tea, like coffee, can be either a healthy and beneficial pre-workout drink or it can contain too much caffeine which could cause energy crashes and jittery feelings. Black tea contains more caffeine per cup than coffee but less than energy drinks. The amount of caffeine in each cup of tea can also depend on the specific brand and process used to make it.

Green tea is generally recognized as one of the healthiest types of tea due to its high levels of antioxidants and catechins. These compounds are believed to help increase metabolism and support heart health. Additionally, green tea naturally contains some caffeine which may boost alertness during your workout and has been found to increase fat burning potential when taken pre-workout.

White and oolong teas are very similar in terms of their nutrient profile but differ in terms of taste – white being slightly brighter and oolong more robust tasting. All three teas (black, green, white/oolong) provide a healthy boost to your workout routine as they are full of antioxidants that will help reduce free radicals in your body caused by exertion during any physical activity. However, it is important to keep in mind that each cup will have different amounts of caffeine so please check the labels carefully before use!

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are one type of pre-workout drink that can be beneficial in providing nutrients before your workout. Protein shakes composed of a good blend of fast- and slow-digesting proteins help to provide fuel for both the session itself, as well as the recovery afterwards. Try to select a shake that also provides carbohydrates, which are essential for efficient energy production. Look for a formula with about 20–30 grams of total protein per serving and 10–15 grams carbohydrate. If you’d like to make an even more complete drink, you can add some fats; try something like almond butter or olive oil for healthy fat sources. Have your shake about an hour or so before your workout session for best results.

What to Avoid

Drink choices before a workout are important to get the best results. While some drinks can provide hydration, energy, and nutrition, others can be detrimental to your workout. In order to make sure you get the most out of your workout, it is important to know what you should and shouldn’t be consuming. Let’s dive into what to avoid when it comes to pre-workout drinks.

Sugary Drinks

Consuming sugary drinks before a workout is not recommended as it can sidetrack you from achieving your goals. These drinks usually have large amounts of added sugars and/or sweetened syrups, making them high in calories, low in nutrition and heavily processed. These beverages contribute to this goal-breaking scenario by providing a quick source of energy that depletes quickly, leading to a blood sugar drop and subsequent “crash”. This leaves you unable to complete the workout without feeling weak, fatigued or irritable.

Drinks such as soda, energy drinks and sports drinks contain high levels of sugar that turns quickly into glucose which provides short-term energy, then eventually dips leaving you feeling deflated. Sugary beverages also provide an influx of free radicals in the body which can be damaging for the immune system and physical performance.

Try to avoid these sugary drinks before exercise since they often contain artificial sweeteners or dyes with no nutritional value and can even be bad for your health due to the high amounts of sodium, potassium or caffeine they often contain. So opt for natural and healthier alternatives such as juices from fresh fruits, coconut water or tea fills you with electrolytes before exercise instead!


It is generally advised to avoid the consumption of alcohol when engaging in strenuous physical activity as it can inhibit performance, increase fatigue, and also lead to numerous side effects such as dehydration. Alcohol affects the body by decreasing fat oxidation rate and increasing carbohydrate oxidation—essentially, it has a catabolic effect on your workout. This is because ethanol (the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages) suppresses metabolic response and thus leads to weaker muscular contraction. While the occasional drink can be beneficial after exercise to help with recovery, drinking before your workout will only hinder your results. Additionally, alcohol can increase your heart rate and impair coordination which could lead to serious injuries if you are not careful or paying attention during a workout. If you choose to drink liquids while exercising or afterward it is best to stay far away from sugary drinks that contain alcohol in order to avoid an increased risk of weight gain and decrease overall fitness benefits. Stick with healthier alternatives like plain water or electrolyte enhanced sports drinks that are formulated specifically for athletes so you can be sure you are properly hydrated for optimal performance before, during, and after exercise.

Carbonated Drinks

Due to their high sugar and sodium content, carbonated drinks such as soda, energy drinks and juices should be avoided before a workout. Sugar is quickly converted into glucose, which the body uses for energy. However, high-sugar levels can cause elevated blood pressure, headaches and other issues. The high sodium content of these drinks also increases thirst and urination so that you are consistently losing fluids during your workout rather than gaining them. Not only can this lead to dehydration or fatigue, it can also increase the chances of muscle cramps or strains. In addition, carbonated beverages contain additives such as caffeine and taurine which can cause restless energy when ingested in large doses.

Water is the best choice for pre-workout hydration — it’s calorie free, helps maintain electrolytes in balance and is easily absorbed by the body — but you may find that plain water doesn’t quite hit the spot after a while. Some natural sports drinks like coconut water contain some sugar and calories but primarily provide essential minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium that are important for proper muscle functioning. Sports-specific beverages created specifically for athletes provide a more complex hydration drink profile with additional nutrients such as amino acids, long-chain carbohydrates (glucose polymers) and vitamins designed to promote safe levels of performance over longer periods of time without potential dehydration or fatigue issues associated with carbonated beverages or plain water alone.


As you can see, the list of pre-workout drinks available is extensive. While there are many options, it’s important to ensure that you choose a beverage that is best suited for your individual needs and goals. Always check with a health care provider or nutritionist before trying something new and make sure to read labels carefully. Many pre-workout drinks contain additives and stimulants which can interfere with your performance and overall health if consumed in large quantities.

When it comes to staying safely hydrated during exercise, water remains the best option. For those looking for an energy boost during workouts, natural alternatives like fresh juices or sports drinks with little sugar can be beneficial. Make sure to give your body enough time to process their nutrients if taken before exercise. Additionally, protein shakes made from whey powder or plant-based proteins can offer valuable energy sources when combined with other nutritious foods after your workout session is complete. Above all else, be mindful of what you put into your body — remember that safety should always come first!

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