Best Pre Workout Supplements Without Creatine
A lot of companies add creatine to their pre-workout products in an effort to convince you that it will stimulate you to be stronger and have more energy while you train. These manufacturers either don’t understand how creatine works or, more likely, are trying to get you to buy their product by making outright false claims. The reality is that creatine is not a stimulant. It has no place in a pre-workout supplement.
In this article, we identify and review the 10 best creatine free pre-workout supplements on the market. We’ll also give you the low-down on what to look for in a creatine-free supplement and answer some pressing FAQs on this rather confusing subject.
Top 9 Pre Workout Supplements without Creatine
The Top 9 Up Close
Legion Pulse is a ‘natural’ pre-workout supplement that is free of artificial sweeteners and colorings. Each dose contains 350 mg of caffeine, which is about the same amount that you would get in two cups of coffee. This caffeine contains a good dosage to provide you with an immediate energy boost, offset fatigue and improve endurance levels.
Some people will react badly to such a large dosage of caffeine. However, this product includes theanine and taurine which can offset the fatigue and jitters that may be experienced. Also included is citrulline, which will help to enhance nitric oxide output and improve the pump you get from your workout. Betaine is included to enhance your power output.
Perhaps the key ingredient in Legion Plus is Beta Alanine, which will go a long way to helping you get an awesome, pump inducing workout. The Beta Alanine in this product is dosed at 4.8 grams per serving. This is a great amount. In fact, all of the ingredients in this product are well dosed, and at much higher levels than many competitor products.
Despite the fact that there are no artificial sweeteners in Legion Plus, the taste is pretty good. You will especially enjoy raspberry candy, which really does taste like that unhealthy combination, despite being completely natural. It’s a little more expensive than some of the competition, but the high dosages of well chosen products make it well worth it.
Alpha GX-7 provides you with a mix of both stimulant and and non stimulant ingredients. It contains some key ingredients, each of which has been scientifically proven as an effective workout enhancer. These include beta alanine at a dosage of 2 grams per serving. This is a lower dose than you get with Legion Plus, which is a key reason that we did not rank this product as #1.
Arginine, the precursor to nitric oxide, is included in this product at a dosage of 1500 mg. This will increase blood flow leading to an enhanced workout pump effect. You also get 1.5 g of citrulline malate to enhance your training energy and endurance, carnitine, taurine and theobromine. You also get caffeine at a dosage of 250 mg per serve. Again, this is less than you get with Legion Plus, by a hundred mg. This may not be enough to provide you with a decent energy surge for your workout. In fact, most of the ingredients in this product could do with an increased dose of about 30% to be more effective.
Amino Energy from Optimum Nutrition is a BCAA supplement that contains a laundry list of ingredients. These include taurine, glutamine, l-arginine, l-leucine,
beta-alanine, citrulline, l-isoleucine, l-valine, l-tyrosine, l-histidine, l-lysine HCI,
l-phenylalanine, l-threonine, and
l-methionine. These are combined into a
5 gram proprietary blend,, which means
that we do not know the exact dosages of each of these ingredients. Of key import, we do not know if we are getting the BCAAs in the ideal ratio of 2:1:1 in relation to leucine: valine: iso-leucine.
We do know that there is 160 mg of caffeine in this product. That is about the same amount as you would get in a cup of coffee and, while it will not produce a jittery effect or post workout crash, may still be too little to produce and effective workout energy boost. This product also contains natural and artificial sweeteners (sucralose). You also get inulin for fiber.
Amino energy comes in nine flavors. According to the majority of reviews they are generally tasty, but not delicious.
Jacked Factory Nitro Surge is a stimulant based pre-workout that is available in just one flavor - cherry limeade. This product contains many of the key ingredients that you’d expect to find in a quality pre-workout, including l-citrulline, betaine, beta alanine, caffeine, l-theanine, hordinine and black pepper fruit extract. You get 180 mg of caffeine anhydrous with this product, which is a little more than you would get in a cup of coffee. Most of the ingredients are known to be effective, however the doses seem to be a little low on all of them to achieve maximum training effect.
Nitro Surge is a well priced product, which provides you with a solid mix of energy, focus and power producing ingredients. The citrulline is especially underdosed. You do get a smart caffeine combination with the pairing of caffeine anhydrous and l-theanine.
Red Leaf pre-workout is a caffeine containing pre-workout geared towards the general fitness enthusiast rather than the hardcore bodybuilder. It contains cranberry extract for its anti-oxidant benefits, green tea extract to ramp up your fat burning potential, raspberry ketones for the same purpose and caffeine for energy. To give you greater strength and performance during your workout this product also contains beta alanine, l-arginine AKG, glutamine and the 3 branch chain amino acids (leucine, valine, iso-leucine).
This product gives you a good blend of products to provide you with a good overall coverage. However, some of the ingredients here are underdosed. The most significant came in point is caffeine, which is dosed at just 40 mg per serving. That is about a quarter of what you would get in a single cup of coffee.
RARI Nutrition Infinity is a pre-workout that contains just six ingredients designed to boost your training performance. The first of these is caffeine which you get at 175 mg per scoop. So, if you take 2 scoops, which is recommended for advanced users, you get 350 grams, which is an ideal amount so long as you are not insensitive to caffeine. At this level, however , quite a few people will experience the jitters and may suffer from a pst-workout energy crash.
This product also contains beta-alanine, betaine, tyrosine, citrulline malate and bioperine. At the two scoop dosage all of these ingredients will give you ideal levels for max gym performance.
Celsius Orange on the Go is a general purpose energy enhancer that can be used as a pre-workout supplement. It contains 200 mg of caffeine, along with 60 mg of Vitamin C,Vitamins B6 and B12, calcium, chromium and sodium. Also included are green tea extract, guarana seed extract and ginger root. This combination of ingredients are designed to
boost the metabolism and enhance fat burn and training energy. Each box contains 14 ready to pour sachets. Simply pour a sachet into water and drink it. It comes in four tasty flavors; orange, berry, cranberry lemon and coconut
RSP Amino Focus is an amino acid and nootropic focus pre-workout supplement that combines essential amino acids with proven nootropics to provide a synergistic effect. The product combines three proprietary blends to provide an overall effect. The amino blend provides you with 5 grams of amino acids. There is also a TeaCrine blend, which is a natural extract of tea leaves that uses adenosine blockers to decrease feelings of fatigue while elevating dopamine, thereby supporting positive mood and motivation. Unlike caffeine and traditional stimulants, TeaCrine is not addictive, meaning you can never develop a tolerance, and you will always feel energized.
RSP Amino Focus also includes Caffeine (from Green Tea), which enhances mental focus and energy. You also get Alpha-GPC, which is a naturally occurring phospholipid that plays a critical role in brain, nervous system, and muscle functioning. It improves mood and reaction time while assisting in the development of mind-muscle connection. mooth lift and no crash. A tri-blend of nootropics (Choline bitartrate, Alpha GPC 50%, and CDP Choline) work together to provide you with laser-like focus to allow you to dial in on your workouts.
Primal Surge Pre-Workout is a scientifically dosed pre-workout designed for the hardcore bodybuilder. It contains such standby ingredients as beta alanine, citrulline, carnitine and AKG. Ingredients such as caffeine and theobromine have also been included to enhance energy
while also providing nootropic benefits in order to enhance the mind-muscle connection. Primal
Surge works best as a pump producing product, with its emphasis on beta alanine and citrulline. This is not a stimulant pre-workout but can easily be stacked with a stimulant based product for a combined synergistic training effect.
Side Effects of Creatine
Although creatine is a naturally occurring nutrient and athletes have been anecdotally reported to have been taking creatine supplements since the 1960s, its widespread use as a dietary supplement did not begin until the early to mid 1990s. Consequently, concern has been raised regarding its short and long term medical safety. Analysis of available literature indicates that the only side effect reported from creatine supplementation is muscular weight gain.
However, concerns have been raised regarding whether creatine supplementation results in long term suppression of endogenous creatine synthesis, causes renal and liver damage, promotes dehydration, alters electrolyte status, increases blood pressure, causes GI upset, promotes severe muscle cramping, and/or promotes injury during training. Careful analysis of available literature indicates that although more research is needed, there is no scientific evidence to substantiate these concerns.
Probably the most commonly reported anecdotal side effect from creatine supplementation is a greater incidence of dehydration, muscle cramps, or heat intolerance in athletes who train hard in hot and humid environments. It is possible that since creatine may allow an athlete to train more intensely, this may predispose the person to dehydration and/or heat injury.
There have been some anecdotal reports that creatine supplementation may cause gastrointestinal (GI) distress (i.e., stomach upset, gas, diarrhea, etc.). The theory suggests that although creatine is absorbed intact from the gut, there may be an upper limit to intestinal absorption of creatine. If this is so, then the excess creatine ingested may serve to cause gas and loose stools and/or diarrhea.
Analysis of the available scientific literature, however, does not support this view, in that no study has shown creatine supplementation to have caused significant GI distress when taken at the recommended doses (about 5 to 8 g per serving up to 35 g/day).
Reasons to avoid Creating based Pre-Workout Supplements
The reason to avoid creatine in a pre-workout supplement is quite simply that there is no reason to put creatine in a pre-workout. Creatine is not a stimulant in that it will not cause you to have an immediate surge of energy the way that drinking a cup of coffee does. Creatine work by mean of a chronic effect - it builds up phoso-creatine levels in the muscle tissue cumulatively over a period of weeks. As a result, timing is immaterial when it comes to taking creatine.
In addition to causing no beneficial effect to your pre-workout, creatine is potentially a negative when put into pre-workout. That’s because of creatine’s tendency to draw water into the stomach. This can cause stomach upset in some people. So, including creatine in your pre-workout may actually give you stomach issues while you are working out.
The whole point of taking a pre-workout is that the ingredients are meant to be timed to do something to benefit you during the workout. If you are a person who does not get any stomach issues from taking creatine and want to add it to your pre-workout, you can certainly do that. It will not do you any harm, but it will not specifically benefit your performance because it is taken pre workout.
How are Creatine Free Supplements different from Regular Supplements?
Creatine free supplements are similar to those that do not contain them, except that they focus more on their purpose, which is to provide you with ingredients that will provide an immediate effect on your training. Creatine free supplements will allow you to avoid the potential bloating that some people get when taking creatine.You will probably also find that creatine free pre-workout supplements are considerably cheaper than those that do contain creatine.
How to check if Supplement is actually Creatine Free?
You can check if a supplement is creatine free by reading the ingredient label. In fact, even before you get to the label you will probably see plenty of advertising on the product promoting its creatine content as this is a major selling point of pre-workout formulas. If it’s not promoted, it probably doesn’t contain creatine; but go ahead and check the label just in case.
What to look for in Creatine Free Supplements?
When it comes to finding an effective creatine free pre-workout formula, you definitely need to do your homework. A lot of products out there are ‘kitchen sink’ formulas that throw a whole lot of ingredients together in a proprietary blend. This leaves you scratching your head as to whether each ingredient has been effectively dosed. Some of them even contain ingredients that are potentially dangerous.
Here are the ingredients that you should look for in your creatine free pre-workout:
Tyrosine - 5-6 grams
Beta Alanine - 5-6 grams
Acetyl L-Carnitine - 5-6 grams
Caffeine (200-300 mg)
Q. Should I take creatine at all?
A. Most definitely. Creatine is the most studied supplement that exists. It will improve your strength and help you to build muscle. However, the time of day that you take it does not matter. And, as we have already stated, taking it in your pre-workout formula will not stimulate your workout because it is taken at that time. In some people, it may actually cause stomach upset while in the gym. You should take 5 grams of creatine with 250 mls of water every day.
Q. What does creatine do?
A. Creatine will regenerate the body’s key energy system, ATP. ATP stands for adenosine tri-phosphate. Creatine builds up in the muscle cell as creatine phosphate. When you work out, your ATP stores are quickly used up. As it does so, ATP loses a phosphate molecule to become ADP. The stores of creatine phosphate in the muscle store will immediately replace that lost molecule to restore ATP. As a result, you will be able to be stronger for longer. In reality it means that, whereas you may have gotten out 7 reps, with creatine you should be able to get 8 or 9.
Q. Should I take my pre-workout drink with water or milk?
A. You should definitely opt for water pre-workout. Even though milk provides a great mix of protein, carbs and fats, it is very slow to digest. This will slow you down in your workout and may produce a bloating, gaseous effect - not what you want when you’re going for a personal best!
Q. What should a good creatine-free pre-workout supplement do?
A. A pre-workout is designed to put into your body ingredients that will act immediately to improve your performance in the gym. Specifically it should . . .
- Increase energy
- Improve strength
- Provide a pump effect
- Enhance endurance
Creatine free supplements will provide you with a focused list of ingredients that are designed to provide you with immediate benefits in the workout. That is not say that creatine is not a great workout supplement. It is, but just doesn’t need to be taken immediately before the workout. The best creatine free pre-workout on the current market is Legion Pulse, with its highly dosed ingredients, electrolytes and lack of artificial flavors . The second best pre-workout out there is Alpha GX-7, with its blend of nitric oxide, caffeine and arginine . Rounding out our top three creatine free pre-workouts is Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy, which delivers a blend of Caffeine, Beta alanine and Inulin for fiber.
My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.