What is the Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine?

Many workout supplements enhance the quality of your workout by using creatine and other stimulants. If you're one of the unlucky few who can't take creatine, or simply prefer not to, finding a pre-workout supplement is a lot harder.

That's why this article is dedicated to finding the best pre workout without creatine to help you meet your fitness goals.

What's Wrong with Creatine?

Creatine produces great results such as increasing your strength and speeding up the rate of muscle growth. An overview by the American College of Sports Medicine found that people who took oral creatine supplements showed "small but significant" increases in athletic performance (source).

The problem is that a small percentage of the population can't take creatine. Due mainly to genetics, some people's bodies don't absorb creatine into their muscle cells properly.

Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body (source). One reason you might not experience a boost from taking creatine supplements is if your body already has a large store of it.

In a few cases, you might be able to change the type of creatine you use and see results. Switching from a monohydrate creatine source to HCL or di-ester creatine has been useful for some individuals.

Studies also show that creatine isn't universally effective. It enhances performance in some physical activities and not others. For example, creatine doesn't help with activities that require endurance, like running. Instead, it works best for short-duration exercises (source).

A final drawback of creatine is how it reacts with other substances. Doctors recommend against taking creatine with any medications or herbal supplements (source). In particular, you should avoid taking ephedra with creatine.

Taking high doses of caffeine with creatine is also unhealthy and can even be toxic (source). Research on athletes taking creatine found that also consuming caffeine caused upset stomachs in some people.

Are Supplements without Creatine Less Effective?

The short answer is no.

The best pre workout without creatine should include different nutrients or stimulants to produce the same boost you'd get from creatine. Pre-workout supplements without creatine use different sources of energy, like caffeine, amino acids, beta-alanine. Other supplements like L-arginine and L-citrulline may be present to increase blood flow to the muscles and remove waste products to decrease fatigue.

The only thing you might miss out on by not taking creatine is the long-term cumulative effect (source). Sports scientists haven't been able to replicate this yet.

What Should You Look for in a Creatine-Free Pre-Workout?

Caffeine

This one comes down to personal preference. Caffeine is a stimulant and can provide a significant boost. As an ergogenic aid, it improves your performance and gives you energy. Research shows that caffeine can get you to voluntarily put in more effort, even when you're sleep-deprived (source). It also reduces fatigue, but you already knew that a cup of coffee could do that.

However, some people like to avoid it. Caffeine is one of the ingredients in a supplement that can make it addictive. It gives a short-term energy boost but isn't as useful when it comes to endurance-based activities like running.

L-tyrosine and choline bitartrate are energy boosting alternatives to caffeine.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs, like leucine, isoleucine and valine, regulate the metabolism of proteins.Typically the recommended ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine is 2:1:1. This closely mirrors the natural structure of muscles.

However, if you only get one BCAA in your pre-workout, look for leucine. Leucine has the most scientific evidence to back up its powers, which include protein synthesis, muscle growth, and reduced soreness (source).

Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine's primary function is to increase muscular endurance. It works as a buffer for hydrogen ions. This buffer then protects against changes in your blood pH to maintain the same level of acidity.

The reason this is important is that increased acidity from carbon dioxide and lactic acid causes your muscles to tire faster (source). Beta-Alanine prevents muscle fatigue, while also helping you build up your strength.

Scientists who studied the use of beta-alanine with high-intensity interval training found that this amino acid improved performance and the percentage of lean body mass in participants (source).

Product Reviews

Quality

Price

Our rating

Optimum Nutrition is one of the most famous and reliable supplement manufacturers. They're one of the few brands in the industry to operate their own production facilities, so you know you'll get high quality products.

ON's Amino Energy focuses on giving your greater endurance and improving muscle recovery. As the name states, they concentrate on amino acids, with both branched-chain and free form amino acids. Caffeine content is moderate but still gives you a boost.

This supplement has some unique ingredients to boost your energy without creatine like green tea and green coffee bean extracts. With antioxidants, electrolytes, l-glutamine and citrulline, Amino Energy is a competitive choice.

Pros


  • 5 grams of amino acids, including BCAAs
  • No added sugar
  • Only 10 calories
  • Includes l-glutamine, citrulline and antioxidants
  • Electrolyte Blend
  • Green tea and green coffee extracts
  • Perfect for runners
  • Reputable company in the supplements industry
  • 15 flavors
  • Competitive price

Cons


  • Less electrolyte replenishment than some competitors

Quality

Price

Our rating

Old School Labs in California is a unique supplements company that creates all-natural products. Vintage Blast is their pre-workout supplement and looks to be a much healthier option than many competitors.

Vintage Blast boasts a two-stage process which releases its benefits gradually over time. Its effect on endurance is a major advantage of this product. The supplement includes electrolytes and several micronutrients to help slow down oxidation, balance pH levels, and improve hydration.

With a focus on clean ingredients, Vintage Blast has no calories, carbs or sugars, no GMOs, and no gluten. If you're worried about developing a dependency on a supplement, Vintage Blast might be perfect for you.

Pros


  • 150 mg of caffeine with additional 100 mg through extended release
  • 1000 mg beta-alanine
  • 5000 mg citrulline
  • Includes l-carnitine, l-arginine, and tyrosine
  • No carbohydrates, sugars, or calories
  • 9 essential electrolytes and micronutrients
  • No GMOs
  • Gluten free

Cons


  • Only 1 flavor
  • Some find it gritty and hard to mix
  • Higher price

Quality

Price

Our rating

PurePump is a clean and natural supplement choice that’s ideal if you’re concerned about what you put into your body. It’s both vegan and paleo certified.

The supplement contains a healthy dose of caffeine, all extracted from green tea leaves. It includes large amounts of beta-alanine for energy and endurance boost during your workout. Several amino acids and vitamins increase the nutritional value of this product.

True to its name, PurePump doesn't use any artificial ingredients, including sweeteners. It is an unflavored pre-workout, meaning he taste of the natural ingredients can get pretty bitter. PurePump is a solid, healthy choice if you can stomach or mask the taste.

Pros


  • 200 mg of caffeine from green tea extract
  • 2 grams of beta-alanine
  • 2 grams of L-Citrulline
  • 1 gram of combined BCAAs
  • Includes vitamin C and three B vitamins
  • No GMOs
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Vegan and paleo certified
  • GMP-certified
  • Unflavored, mixes well

Cons


  • Taste is bitter when taken alone
  • Has a bitter smell

Quality

Price

Our rating

Red Leaf's Pre-Workout Energizer packs their supplement with BCAAs and beta-alanine for high energy and lasting endurance. It includes l-glutamine and arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) to help with recovery post-workout too.

It comes in a natural cranberry lime flavor which isn't just for show. These ingredients contribute to the product's nutritional value, with antioxidant and energy-boosting properties. It includes a very mild dose of caffeine.

Manufactured in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified facility, Red Leaf's pre-workout formula uses high-quality ingredients. There is no maltodextrin or artificial coloring. This supplement is also carb-free.

The Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer is great for beginners or people with high sensitivity to supplements. However, seasoned gym-goers and athletes might find Red Leaf a little weak.

Pros


  • 40 mg of caffeine
  • 1 gram of beta-alanine
  • 1 gram of BCAAs
  • 1 gram of L-Glutamine
  • 500 mg of AAKG
  • Antioxidants from cranberry and green tea extracts
  • No carbohydrates
  • No maltodextrin
  • No artificial coloring
  • Produced in a GMP-certified facility

Cons


  • Weaker than some others
  • Only 1 flavor available

Quality

Price

Our rating

Cellucor's C4 Ripped focuses on making the most of your body fat. The formula mobilizes your fat and turns it into energy to burn in your workout. Their focus on lean muscle build and fat loss is a unique approach to pre-workouts.

C4 Ripped has a mix of natural ingredients for blasting fat, including ones you may not have heard of like Coleus forskohlii root and Velvet Bean seed extract. Their unique blend of fruit extract also manipulates your fat, promoting lipolysis and using it for increased energy.

Pros


  • 150 mg of caffeine
  • 1.6 grams of beta-alanine
  • Fatty acids, l-carnitine, and l-tyrosine
  • Capsimax® Cayenne fruit extract converts fat into energy
  • Coleus forskohlii root extract helps break down fat
  • Velvet bean seed extract gives you an energy boost
  • Four flavors

Cons


  • Ingredients, most likely from the flavoring, can stain bottles and cups
  • Higher price

Conclusion

Optimum Nutrition's Amino Energy is my top choice for a creatine-free workout supplement. It's available for a great price and doesn't have any major cons. Caffeine, beta-alanine, and BCAAs are present in high but not overwhelming amounts.

Other supplements on this list have less variety and users have complained about taste or effects that were too strong. For a balanced, reliable pre-workout supplement, try Amino Energy.

Helen Sanders
 

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!

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