Can Pre-workout Make You Constipated?

The most common question I get from athletes and weightlifters in the gym is, “Can pre-workout make you constipated?”

So for this blog post, I figured I’d answer it and find the link between pre-workout supplements and constipation.

So, Can Pre-workout Make You Constipated?

Yes, some pre-workouts can make you constipated or cause digestive problems, such as diarrhea or bloating. Due to the stimulants in its ingredients, this can pose a health risk for people with cardiovascular conditions or lead to other health problems.

These supplements are not a well-regulated industry, so examining the ingredients of the pre-workout you plan to take is important. Consider also the pros and cons of taking one.

Not to mention that most bodybuilders and weight-lifters take it, so it’s often manufactured in high doses. And the higher the dose, the higher the chance of experiencing constipation. More so if the supplement contains creatine.

However, generally, it is safe to assume that pre-workouts provide you with the energy boost you need before a workout.

Why Does Creatine in Pre-Workout Supplements Cause Constipation?

Pre-workouts with creatine have helped many people bulk up by allowing them to achieve bouts of energy when working out. It is also an amino acid derivative, which enables muscles to produce energy even during HIIT workouts or heavy lifting.

However, creatine can cause constipation when taken in excess.

Despite its many benefits, such as improving strength, helping muscles recover more quickly during a workout, and increasing lean muscles, this naturally occurring substance in the muscle cells can still cause constipation when taken in excess.

Other side effects of creatine include bloating, weight gain, muscle cramps, and dehydration. Constipation isn’t usually serious but can still lead to a more significant issue. For example, it’s not uncommon to get rectal prolapse or hemorrhoids with it.

So, it’s understandable why you want to ensure that your pre-workouts don’t contain any ingredient that may cause constipation.

One of the primary reasons most people suffer from bloating and constipation when taking pre-workout is the undissolved creatine. Therefore, always dissolve the pre-workout properly using warm water instead of cold to avoid constipation when taking it with creatine. 

Moreover, creatine is an osmolyte (low-molecular-weight organic compound) capable of absorbing water in nearby cells. It can also lead to dehydration because it may pull the water from the intestines to the muscle cells. So, increase your water intake to avoid messing with your digestive system.

Fortunately, there are other ways to avoid constipation when taking a pre-workout, even with creatine in its ingredient.

5 Ways to Avoid Uncomfortable Constipation When Taking a Pre-Workout Supplement

Can Pre-workout Make You Constipated?

1. Better Timing

Taking pre-workouts on an empty stomach may result in constipation. This is especially true because it contains creatine monohydrate powder, which gathers water from all possible sources. Thus, if possible, aim to take a pre-workout with a light snack or a meal.

2. Daily Water Intake

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. And even if a person believes he or she is getting enough water, sweating, urinating, pooping, and drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks can still contribute to dehydration.

Drinking enough water keeps stool soft and is easier to pass through the colon. Having a glass of water on your nightstand and drinking it when you wake up helps you begin the day with water in your system.

You may even infuse your water with fruit or lemon to up its appeal if you’re not a huge water lover. Loading up on vegetables and fruits similarly helps you “eat your water.” Fruits and vegetables with a high water concentration include tomatoes, lettuce, melon, citrus, and cucumbers.

3. Decreased Dosage

Consider reducing the dosage of your pre-workout to avoid uncomfortable constipation. This is especially true if you’ve previously experienced constipation when taking the supplement. 

For instance, take half the recommended dosage and see if it reduces symptoms.

4. Manage or Avoid Stress

Studies have linked anxiety disorders and mood with constipation. Yet, even being plain stressed out still leads to constipation. This is because stress puts your system into a fight or flight mode, where it thinks there’s a trigger or when the sympathetic nervous system is activated.

Digestion becomes less of a priority when such a sympathetic system is turned on, and you may suffer from constipation. Therefore, consider regular exercise or meditation that will help you manage stress. 

5. Increased Fiber

Add fiber-rich food to your meal, especially the one closest to your training sessions. Fiber turns into a gel in your stomach and promotes more efficient digestion.

Soluble fiber nourishes the healthy bacteria in the gut and allows the water to stay in the stool. On the other hand, insoluble fiber speeds the passage of food through the intestines and stomach and adds bulk to the stool.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 25 grams of fiber daily for an average 2,000-calorie diet. Yet, the majority of Americans only consume up to 15 grams.

Can You Take Pre-Workouts with IBS?

Ideally, you should not take a pre-workout if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The evidence supporting the use of such a supplement is limited and conflicting. However, it is not ideal for your condition because pre-workouts may have common side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea.

If you’re wondering how to fuel your gym session, choose food. You may also rely on pre and post-workout snacks or meals to impact your results, performance, and recovery. A quick carbohydrate-rich snack is the best thing you can consume. 

For instance, rice cakes with peanut butter are a favorite of many. For a great post-workout meal, try eggs on sourdough with some low-FODMAP veggies, like tomato, avocado, or spinach. Salmon with roast vegetables is also an ideal choice.

People Also Ask: FAQs About Pre-Workouts and Constipation

Is pre-workout a laxative?

Some pre-workout ingredients do have a laxative effect. For instance, supplementing creatine (a common ingredient in a pre-workout) promotes muscle mass, increases muscular strength, and can cause stomach upset.

Why not take a pre-workout on an empty stomach?

When consumed first thing in the morning, many pre-workout supplements may cause jittering, shaking, nausea, and hypoglycemia. 

But there is a good quality dietary supplement or pre-workout powder that you can consume first thing in the morning. It is also more effective when taken that way because the person will feel the effects more quickly. Further, exercising on an empty stomach may lead to muscle tissue breakdown.

Related: Taking Fat Burners On Empty Stomach – Is It a Good Idea?

What are the side effects of pre-workout?

While most pre-workouts are safe for healthy adults, some still experience side effects, especially because of the stimulants. These side effects include jitters and anxiety, digestive upset, dehydration, increased heart rate, diarrhea, and headaches. 

Additionally, creatine supplements in high dosages can similarly cause bloating and constipation. Most weightlifters opt for creatine supplementation to power bursts of physical activity. It is also particularly beneficial in boosting anaerobic performance.

If possible, opt for a non-stimulant pre-workout to avoid the above-mentioned side effects.

What happens if you take a pre-workout and don’t work out?

Taking a pre-workout and you don’t work out doesn’t cause a problem at all. It is still an alternative to coffee and energy drinks, making you feel more alert during the day and ready to do your tasks.

Another benefit is it may increase muscle growth aside from giving you more energy during the day.

How long does pre-workout take to digest?

Most ingredients in pre-workout powders have a half-life of four to six hours. The half-life of a supplement is the time it takes for its active substance in the body to reduce by half. As for the time, you’ll feel the effects, it generally takes about 60 to 90 minutes.

Bottom Line

Pre-workouts are safe to use when recommended and unlikely to cause side effects. 

Still, you should use only the recommended dosage in cycles and avoid desensitization to caffeine and other ingredients. Do not mix it with other stimulants, like Redbull or coffee.

If constipation remains a persistent issue every time you take a pre-workout, you may want to consult your doctor, especially since your hormones may be out of whack. In fact, top health experts would always suggest that you first consult a healthcare professional before ever taking a supplement.

Other basics guaranteed to improve your health and fitness without supplements are:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Do cardiovascular or strength exercise regularly.
  • Eat high-quality foods in moderation.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat lots of vegetables.
  • Stretch daily.
  • Get enough sunlight.
  • Avoid processed foods, soda, and refined sugar.

Having said that, taking a pre-workout supplement is a personal choice. Pre-workout or creatine constipation is not something that happened to me, but the reasons our team shared above can help you figure out why constipation seems to happen to other people. 

If you decide to take a pre-workout, consider my list of the best pre-workout fat burners.

For more information on fitness, bodybuilding, and nutrition, visit

Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.