It is no secret that we love a good pre-workout here at Predator Nutrition, and we pride ourselves in stocking some of the best pre-workout supplements! But how about if you need a pre-workout alternative? There are several foods and ingredients that can substitute a pre-workout powder for whatever reason. Maybe you've experienced a nasty side effect from a pre-workout that put you off, are looking to save money or want to avoid consuming any 'unnatural' ingredients.
Here’s our list of the best pre workout alternatives:
We've narrowed down some of the best pre-workout alternatives for different goals such as energy boost, muscle strength and endurance, and different diets including keto and vegan. A natural way to bring about a significant workout boost and save some money in the process!
Here are 5 good alternatives to pre workout...
1. Coffee or Green Tea (alternative to a stim pre-workout)
Love the caffeine boost that pre-workout gives but hate the artificial sweeteners and unnecessary ingredients? Cut the rubbish and keep it simple with a naturally caffeinated beverage. A cup of coffee or green tea can boost energy levels, provide antioxidants and warm you up before those chilly winter workouts!
Matcha tea is high in theanine which can prevent a caffeine crash and is a great place to start if sensitive to high doses of caffeine. Matcha tea contains about 68mg caffeine per cup, much less than a coffee shop Americano which might rack up a couple of hundred milligrams.
For best results, consume your drink about 30 minutes before exercise. Caffeine has a half life of around 6 hours in adults, so keep this in mind if training after mid-afternoon.
2. Beetroot (alternative to a nitric oxide booster)
Beetroot has been extensively studied for boosting performance in multiple sports. It boosts blood flow and is absolutely packed with natural antioxidants which can protect against inflammation based stress. The vascular benefits go beyond getting a pump however and beetroot can even reduce blood pressure.
You can throw your beetroot straight in the juicer, or add to a pre-workout meal such as chicken and rice for its delicious flavour.
3. Creatine (DIY pre-workout formula)
If looking for a single ingredient to improve power output and strength, no supplement has been more researched than creatine. Creatine is incredibly versatile and can be added to near enough anything.
Creatine works by donating a phosphate to ADP for the regeneration of ATP so that energy can continue to be released for processes such as muscular contraction. A must for bodybuilding, powerlifting, sprinting and more!
Creatine monohydrate powder often doesn't mix well in water and does have a mild aftertaste so we would combine the recommended dosage of 5g with flavoured EAAs/BCAAs for your pre/intra-workout drink or making into a smoothie with ingredients like banana, spinach and whey. Creatine should be consumed daily for best results!
4. Dark Chocolate (the perfect pre-workout meal)
Yep, really! Dark chocolate (the closer to 100% cocoa the better) improves blood flow, which can allow for those all important pumps and delivery of nutrients in the gym. Quickly after consuming, dark chocolate can increase nitric oxide (NO) production which causes blood vessels to dilate.
The perfect pre-workout meal: oats or ground rice with whey isolate, dark chocolate and berries (make sure that this fits your calorie goals as a square of chocolate alone can easily contain 50-60 calories).
5. Coconut Oil / MCTs (best keto option)
Pre-workouts can sometimes contain a small amount of carbohydrate from sources like dextrose. Carbs aren't the right fuel for everyone! If following a ketogenic or very low carb diet, MCT sources have been shown to be a great option for endurance athletes and improving cognitive function and focus with no blood sugar crash.
Which of the alternatives to pre workout is a good choice for you?
We're confident that any one of the above pre-workout alternatives could provide a boost to your workout, or you could even combine a couple of them! The best option for you will depend on the type of exercise (bodybuilders might need something different to a long distance runner) and the goal of the session (muscle building vs endurance).
If using this natural approach around sessions, remember that post-workout nutrition is just as important. Your post-workout meal should probably be your highest carb meal of the day containing sources like rice, potato or cereals, and a high quality protein source rich in branched chain amino acids like chicken, fish or whey.
Many of these can also be thrown together/consumed as and when needed, so you dont have to worry about them going 'off'. No need to worry 'does pre-workout expire?'!
FAQs on what to take instead of pre workout
What is the most popular pre workout supplement?
Our most popular pre-workout supplement is Hydrazine. Unlike other pre-workouts that provide only a short term boost, Hydrazine delivers sustained energy that brings out laser focus and enhanced motivation all day long. Hydrazine is suitable to be used by a variety of high-performing athletes and professionals.
What is the best natural pre workout supplement?
The best natural pre-workout supplements, aside from food, include creatine, l-citrulline and caffeine. Supplementation should always be individual so it would be wise to experiment with different ergogenics in different doses and combinations to find the most optimal one to power your workout routine!
Is banana a good pre workout food?
Bananas can be a fantastic small pre-workout meal, so long as they digest well for you. Bananas are high in carbs and the mineral potassium which makes them great fuel for exercise. Combine with a protein source such as blending with a vegan protein powder for an amino acid source.
What is a good natural pre workout drink?
If you are wary of added 'fillers' and artificial flavours, sweeteners and preservatives around your workout, buy separate ingredients such as caffeine, citrulline malate and BCAAs and combine with a sugar free squash or blend with fruits, greens and even carbs like oats or fruits.
Is coffee a good substitute for pre workout?
Coffee, simply, is a caffeine source. If you do not enjoy pre-workout formulas, whether it be because of taste or not getting on well with ingredients such as beta alanine, caffeine alone can give great ergogenic benefits. Consume around 30 minutes pre-workout for best results.