Many people in the fitness world have learned that a pre-workout drink is an ideal way to get ready for an intense workout. This is because this supplement gives your body what you need both during and after a high-intensity session. Physically, it helps your body build muscle, burn fat, and effectively recover. Mentally, it helps improve your focus and energy.
One thing to keep in mind is this: while a pre-workout drink can improve your results and performance during a workout, they are not all created equal. Some of them are going to be more effective than others at helping you reach those fitness goals.
In this article, we’re going to review the top 5 best pre-workout drinks on the market. First though, we’re going to look closer at what exactly a pre-workout drink is, who needs them, and the benefits and side effects of these fitness supplements.
What is a Pre-Workout Drink?
A pre-workout drink is a dietary supplement that is composed of a variety of ingredients that improve your energy level and athletic performance, which improves results from your workouts. These are typically powders that you combine with water and drink prior to your workout. In some cases, you may find drinks already mixed, but these tend to be less effective than the powders that you mix when you’re ready to drink. They should be consumed approximately 30 minutes prior to your workout.
You will find that there’s a variety of formulations on the market, but the ingredients are fairly consistent. Some of the most common ingredients you will find in pre-workout drinks are as follows:
- Amino acids
- Artificial sweeteners
Of course, the formulation depends on the brand. All of them do not use all of the above ingredients- and the amounts vary. After all, there is no rule that states how much can or can’t be included. For example, some of them don’t include artificial sweeteners because there are some people that avoid them due to the health dangers associated with them.
One of the important things to verify when you are choosing any type of supplement is that they are third-party tested for potency, purity, and overall quality. If they are not, you should probably avoid them.
Who Needs Pre-Workout Drinks?
A pre-workout drink is ideal for anyone that is interested in improving the quality and intensity of their workout sessions. After all, a pre-workout drink can help you level up with your workouts and achieve the highest performance possible. If you just workout to stay in shape, a pre-workout drink may not really be necessary for you.
As we mentioned above, a pre-workout drink contains ingredients such as caffeine, BCAAs, beta-alanine, and more. When combined, these ingredients can improve your performance in a variety of areas.
Not only do pre-workout drinks improve performance in the short-term, but they also improve your performance over the long term. For example, ingredients like caffeine give you a boost for today’s workout. On the other hand, ingredients such as beta-alanine and creatine build up in your system, which improves your workouts over the course of weeks- and even months.
What are the Benefits of Pre-Workout Drinks?
As you might imagine, there are lots of benefits that are associated with pre-workout drinks. Based on the type of workouts you engage in, you can use them to improve your endurance and stamina or build muscle and strength. In fact, there are some that do all of the above. Below, we’re going to explore some of the benefits of using pre-workout drinks.
Pre-Workout Drinks Increase Muscle Gain
You will find that many of the pre-workout drinks on the market contain amino acids, which is the primary ingredient that increases muscle gain. Most contain high amounts of the 9 essential amino acids, but more specifically they have higher concentrations of the BCAAs, which are three of the essential amino acids that are associated with muscle protein synthesis. The BCAAs are immediately available for building muscle- they do not have to go through the digestive process.
In addition to BCAAs, many pre-workout drinks also contain citrulline, which is another amino acid that increases blood flow to muscles. When blood flow is increased, oxygen levels are also increased, and additional nutrients are carried to the muscles as they are going through the stress of training. The result is that your muscles can work longer and harder in more intense workouts- which produces greater results.
Pre-Workout Drinks Enhance Strength
There are actually several ways that pre-workout drinks enhance strength. In addition to increasing muscle gains, this supplement can also improve your metabolism for increased strength during your workout, as well as ensuring those strength gains last beyond your workout session.
According to research, the most important ingredient for enhancing strength, muscle mass, and endurance is the creatine that is often included.
Some of the pre-workout drinks also include nitrates, which allows your body to carry more nutrients, including amino acids, to your muscles. This means that your strength is boosted as you exert yourself during your training sessions. Nitrates provide your body with everything they need to perform to the fullest.
Pre-Workout Drinks Boost Endurance
The main way endurance is boosted is to eliminate fatigue. A pre-workout drink does this in two ways:
Caffeine provides your body with energy. In the same way that you jolt yourself awake with a cup of coffee or espresso, the caffeine that is in pre-workout drinks give you the motivation and endurance you need to power through an intense workout.
Another of the issues that affects your endurance is muscle fatigue due to soreness, which is due to the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. The beta-alanine that is included in many pre-workout formulas is what helps you to overcome this hurdle. Beta-alanine helps to eliminate acids from your body, more specifically those that are in your muscles. In addition, it helps decrease accumulation of acid, which is what causes the burn from intense workouts. This is what allows you to push past your limits.
There’s another common ingredient in pre-workout drinks that helps reduce acid buildup in your muscles: sodium bicarbonate. That’s right, baking soda. According to the experts, sodium bicarbonate has proven to reduce acid build-up in muscle tissues. This means that you don’t have as much soreness, which means you can engage in longer and more intense workout sessions.
Finally, some of the pre-workout drinks on the market contain L-theanine. This is an ingredient that comes from green tea. For some people, caffeine causes anxiety- but L-theanine inhibits that effect and creates a harmonious reaction that zeroes in on the benefit of increased energy provided by caffeine.
What are the Side Effects of Pre-Workout Drinks?
Honestly, the side effects of a pre-workout drink have a lot to do with the ingredients that are included in it. We’ll explore some of those below:
This is a risk for everyone, whether you are consuming pre-workout drinks or not. If you are engaging in strenuous activities, your body releases sweat to regulate your temperature. In order to mitigate the risk of dehydration, you need to make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
That being said, one of the most important ingredients in a pre-workout drink is caffeine, which improves focus and increases energy levels. However, it’s also a mild diuretic, which triggers kidneys to flush water from your body.
Therefore, as mentioned, it’s critical to make sure that you also consume plenty of water so that your pre-workout drink can do what it’s supposed to. This will keep you from becoming dehydrated, which can also help you avoid some of the other side effects we will discuss below, including headaches, jitters, etc.
One way you can avoid the negative effects of caffeine on your body is to make sure that creatine is on the ingredient list. Creatine pulls water into your cells, which means it won’t be eliminated by the body due to the caffeine.
One of the side effects that often accompanies dehydration is headache. This is likely because when your body is dehydrated, the fluid around your brain is affected, which causes the brain to bump against the skull.
Another common cause of headache due to pre-workout drinks is vasodilation. The beta-alanine and citrulline are vasodilators. Vasodilation is the process of the blood vessels expanding to improve muscle strength.
While vasodilation is beneficial, it can also be uncomfortable because the expansion of the blood vessels in the head can cause headaches during and even prior to or following a workout session.
There are several ingredients in pre-workout drinks that may trigger anxiety/jitters. This can include natural ingredients, such as yohimbine. While it’s assumed that natural ingredients are safe, there are some side effects associated with this one that are concerning. In addition to affecting your heart health and blood pressure, this particular ingredient is proven to increase anxiety.
In addition to yohimbine, ingredients such as caffeine and other stimulants may cause you to feel anxious or jittery.
Flushed, Itchy Skin
As you’ve probably figured out, pre-workout drinks contain a wide variety of ingredients, and the side effects vary from one person to the next. In addition to the above, some people experience flushed itchy skin.
This is typically due to the Niacin, or Vitamin B, and is known as the “niacin flush.” The niacin increases blood flow through the skin by dilating the capillaries. This improved circulation helps your body warm up prior to your workout session. While this side effect may be uncomfortable, it is not harmful.
Another common side effect from consuming pre-workout drinks is nausea. This is typically due to user error and not using proper measurements of water versus powder. So, the first step is to make sure that you’re using adequate amounts of water.
Of course, you may also have a sensitivity to some of the ingredients in your pre-workout drink, which can trigger nausea. For example, some contain bitter orange peel, which is an ingredient that promotes weight loss.
Sleep Cycle Disturbances
The caffeine in your pre-workout drink gives you the energy you need to get through your intense workout sessions. In addition, it can help you stay awake longer, which can cause sleep cycle disturbances.
Many of the pre-workout drinks contain 4.5 times the caffeine that is in a typical cup of coffee. Since these supplements contain high doses of caffeine, it can cause insomnia. Therefore, you should avoid consuming a pre-workout drink close to bedtime.
While most of the side effects mentioned so far can be uncomfortable, most of them are not critical. However, hypertension is a potential side effect that can be. Some of the common ingredients found in pre-workout drinks can cause an increase in your blood pressure. While this may not be threatening to adults that are healthy, if you already have high blood pressure, it could be a significant threat.
If you consume a pre-workout drink and then engage in HIIT workouts, your blood pressure may rise. This increases your risk of cardiac arrest. Therefore, it’s critical that you make sure that you consume these supplements in approved quantities. This will decrease the risk, while allowing you to enjoy the benefits.
Tingly Hands and Fingers
Previously, we mentioned the itchy, flushed skin caused by niacin. However, there’s another ingredient that is known to cause tingling in your extremities: beta-alanine. We know that this is a common ingredient due to the fact that it improves performance. Some people experience a “pins and needles” feeling, which is the result of the reaction of niacin and beta-alanine on your nervous system.
This side effect is not dangerous at all and will gradually go away over time. Some people find it uncomfortable. However, there are some that actually like it and find it invigorating- and believe that it proves the pre-workout drink is effective.
Loss of Appetite
Many of the pre-workout drinks on the market facilitate weight loss. This is due to ingredients such as Vitamin B3 and B6. These vitamins help you burn stubborn fat. They can also curb hunger to ensure that you are not indulging in unhealthy snacks. That being said, if you consume too much, it can cause you to lose your appetite entirely. Once again, it’s critical that you make sure you are consuming the ingredients in approved doses.
Top 5 Best Pre-Workout Drink Highlights
|Bauer Sports BRF Pre-Workout||
|Onnit Total Strength + Performance||
Top 5 Best Pre-Workout Drink Reviews
Below, we’re going to take a look at the top 5 best pre-workout drinks. We hope that this can help you find one that you will love.
XWERKS Ignite is a reliable pre-workout drink that was formulated to optimize your performance both in the gym and out. This harmonious blend of ingredients improves your stamina and focus, while increasing your energy. XWERKS does not use proprietary blends. Each and every ingredient in their formula is clearly listed, along with the dosage, on the label.
This blend is made with ingredients that have been proven to help you get the most from your workouts. This pre-workout drink provides your body with long-lasting, refreshing, and steady energy. It will not overwhelm you with stimulants that only provide momentary increases to your energy.
Some of the most important ingredients in XWERKS Ignite include:
- Vitamin B6 & B12
The combination of ingredients in XWERKS Ignite provide you with continuous, smooth energy from the beginning of your workout until the end. The nootropic ingredients keep you focused on your training. The endurance ingredients allow you to workout longer, increase reps, and improve post-workout recovery.
XWERKS is well-known in the dietary supplement industry for producing products that are backed by science. Ignite is a pre-workout drink for those who are serious about pushing past their limits and taking their training to the next level.
This supplement comes in 4 flavors:
- Blue raspberry
- Green apple
|Cost||$49, or save 5% by subscribing|
|Servings per container||30 servings|
Legion Pulse is an all-natural pre-workout drink that has been proven to affect your mood and focus, while improving strength, energy, and endurance. This pre-workout drink promises to decrease fatigue with ingredients that are certified natural.
Each serving provides 3.6 grams beta-alanine and 8 grams citrulline malate. It is available in a blueberry lemonade flavor and can be with or without caffeine. If you want to improve your energy levels with a natural option, Legion Pulse may be one of the best ways to do it. Of course, if you want caffeine and other active ingredients in your pre-workout drink, it is a great option for you.
Legion Pulse is manufactured by Legion Athletics, which is a supplement company based in the USA. The caffeinated formula contains high doses of caffeine- up to 350 milligrams per scoop.
|Cost||$39.99, or $35.99 with subscription|
|Servings per container||21|
Bauer Sports BRF Pre-Workout
Battle Ready Fuel from Bauer Sports promises to use natural ingredients to increase energy levels, sharpen focus, and increase workout intensity. The website also promises that BRF improves endurance like the other pre-workout drinks on our list.
This formula uses natural ingredients that have been proven effective, including whey protein isolate, Clarinol CLA, vitamin C, and caffeine. While it does also contain many of the ingredients found in other formulas on this list, the unique ingredients such as Clarinol CLA are present to help the body burn calories.
Priced at $26.99, it’s among the most affordable options on this list. Besides, the manufacturer backs all orders with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
|Servings per container||30|
Ladder was founded by LeBron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger, after they became disenchanted by the various supplement options on the market. Ladder offers a wide variety of athletic supplements, including high-quality pre-workout drinks. You can find flavors such as strawberry lemonade or tropical fruit. Each serving contains 500 milligrams of citicoline, 3 grams of beta-alanine, 100 milligrams of caffeine, and 250 milligrams of theanine.
Ladder is one of the few pre-workout drinks that is NSF Certified for Sport. In order for a serious athlete to consider a formula, it must carry this certification. Only the highest-quality supplements are awarded this certification.
The best part is this company is 100% transparent with their products. Each batch is subjected to third-party testing to ensure quality, potency, and purity- and label accuracy.
|Servings per container||30|
Onnit Total Strength + Performance
If you’ve been in or around the fitness industry for any length of time, you know that Onnit is a household name. This company has a reputation for producing top quality health and wellness products. Onnit Total Strength + Performance is one of the best pre-workout drinks on the market today. That is why they are on our list. It comes in a strawberry lemonade flavor.
While the flavor itself doesn’t bring the best reviews, Onnit Total Strength + Performance is a non-caffeinated blend that improves performance in various ways. One single serving provides users with significant doses of BCAAs, herbal extracts, DAA, and more to improve workout sessions.
|Cost||$59.95, or $50.96 with subscription|
|Servings per container||30|
FAQs for Best Pre-Workout Drinks
If you’re just getting started with using pre-workout drinks, you probably have lots of questions. Even if you’ve been using these supplements for some time, you may have some questions that have come up. Below, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most frequently asked questions about pre-workout drinks.
What is a pre-workout drink?
A pre-workout drink is a dietary supplement that is made to be consumed prior to a workout. The purpose of this supplement is to improve your workout results. You will notice results with your current workout and the ingredients will build up in your system to provide continuous results over the long-term.
Typically, they come in powder form, which can be mixed with water. You will find them available in a variety of flavors, which lends to a pleasant taste. This means you’re more likely to continue using them. If something doesn’t taste good, you’re not likely to continue consuming it.
Are pre-workout drinks safe?
As long as your overall health is good, pre-workout drinks should be safe. Of course, it’s always advisable to speak with your medical provider regardless of your health situation to be sure that there is no risk.
Do pre-workout drinks cause weight gain?
Yes, pre-workout drinks can cause weight gain. This is because they often increase muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat. So yes- you will likely gain weight when you use pre-workout drinks. However, you will not gain fat. When you stop using pre-workout drinks, you will end up losing a little bit because one of the primary ingredients in this supplement is creatine, which causes the muscles to hold on to water. When you stop using pre-workouts, that water weight will shed right off.
What is meant by “proprietary blend”?
You will find that many of the pre-workout drinks on the market will have the term “proprietary blend” on the ingredient list. This is just the blend used by that company and when it’s listed that way, they don’t have to break down how much of each ingredient is in the formulation. In some cases, companies use this to hide what they are or are not including in their formula.
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Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.