Whether you’re looking to lean out, build muscle, or just take your performance in a new direction, a pre-workout is a great supplement to add to your stack. They’re designed to boost strength, endurance, power, speed, recovery, and overall performance to help accelerate your training to new heights.
But the thing with most conventional pre-workout supplements you’ll find floating around shelves—and let’s be real, most workout supplements, in general—is that they’re loaded with crappy ingredients that don’t do your body or performance any favors.
You’re getting a bottle of water that tastes like a pack of Skittles, or an amino acid supplement that makes you think you’re eating a slice of birthday cake.
There’s no end to the flavors that infiltrate the health and fitness supplement industry, but the sheer amount of preservatives, additives, artificial colors, and sweeteners… well, you’ll need another hand to count those.
So, how do you get the performance results you’re looking for without doing damage?
Opt for clean and effective ingredients.
While it’s not a combination you’ll come by frequently, we’re giving you our top pick for the best pre-workout supplement that’s free of all things artificial. It’s minimal ingredients for maximum results.
We’re talking about Pre Lab Pro®—the cleanest and most effective pre-workout on the market that will take your training to places you never thought possible.
What’s The Point Of A Pre-Workout?
When it comes to pre-workouts, a lot of people are mixed in their opinions. Some athletes swear by the benefits, while others find they’re unnecessary. But in the grand scheme of things, a pre-workout isn’t just designed to pump up your energy levels. It’s so much more.
Pre-workout supplements are a combination of ingredients designed to increase energy and boost performance on all levels. That means strength, speed, power, stamina, and everything in between.
They’re a class of supplements intended to be taken before exercise and generally contain a mix of ingredients, including caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, amino acids, and nitric oxide boosters that enhance performance 1.
When the ingredients are taken together, they’re designed specifically to elicit a synergistic effect on acute exercise performance and post-exercise training adaptations compared to ingesting single ingredients alone.
But why take them in the first place? There’s a substantial body of evidence suggesting that pre-workouts may 1:
- Enhance muscular endurance
- Increase force production
- Improve aerobic performance
- Boost power
- Enhance reaction time
- Improve body composition
- Boost energy expenditure
- Reduce fatigue
Simply put, when used appropriately, a good pre-workout can completely change the way you train and the results you see. But what you need to be mindful of is what kind of pre-workout you’re taking.
The vast majority of what you’ll find mega-doses caffeine and loads the formula with artificial ingredients, which means you’re getting short-term gains plus the sweet gift of long-term health risks.
But aside from the standard performance-enhancing ingredients you’ll find in pre-workouts, you’ll also find some nasty things that go by the name of artificial sweeteners… and the results they give you? Well, not so sweet after all.
What You Need To Know About Artificial Sweeteners
Many people are under the impression that because they contain no calories, artificial sweeteners are better than the alternative, but it’s simply not true.
While they may not add to your sugar load, they do damage in other ways. They are essentially chemical additives to mimic the taste of sugar, but they can actually be anywhere from 200 to 13,000 times sweeter, meaning you need substantially less of it to produce the same taste.
The most common artificial sweeteners are a group of substances that have a very intense sweet taste and are used in much smaller amounts to replace real sugar. They are things like Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Neotame, Saccharin, and Sucralose 2.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of several artificial sweeteners, including:
- Acesulfame: 200x sweeter than sucrose
- Aspartame: 200x sweeter than sucrose
- Neotame: 8,000x sweeter than sucrose
- Saccharin: 300-400x sweeter than sucrose
- Sucralose: 320-1,000x sweeter than sucrose
That’s things like Sunett® (Acesulfame), NutraSweet® and Equal® (Aspartame), Newtame (Neotame), Splenda® (Sucralose), and Sweet’N Low® (Saccharin). They’re staples in many “diet” food products and are one of the most common non-ergogenic ingredients in fitness supplements.
But despite their widespread use and involvement in the anti-obesity epidemic, there’s concern over the potential dangers of artificial sweeteners. Studies have shown several negative health effects with chronic consumption - and here's why:
As it turns out, the surface of the tongue contains different receptors that detect flavors—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. When a molecule locks into the receptor, it sends signals to your brain that allows you to identify the taste 3.
Normally, when a sugar molecule (glucose, fructose, etc.) fits into its receptors, your body tastes sweet. But because artificial sweeteners closely resemble sugar molecules, they can bind to sweet receptors and elicit the same reaction.
Your body can’t distinguish between real and artificial, so when it tastes “sweet” from artificial sweeteners, it triggers the same reaction that it would to normal sugar—insulin release. And chronically high insulin levels bring on a whole new set of challenges...
Altered gut microbiota
While most artificial sweeteners pass through the GI tract intact and undigested, they still elicit effects that can interfere with the balance of microbiota in the gut because they come into contact with them during travel 3.
And when homeostasis is disrupted, it leads to a condition whereby the bad guys can flourish and the good guys are suppressed, ultimately causing dysbiosis.
Poor gut health has been linked to a host of issues, including weight gain, glucose dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, autoimmunity, and even cancer.
One study found that rats given Sucralose for 12 weeks saw decreases in the total number of anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, Bacteroides, and Clostridium 4. Several other studies show similar results with altered levels of various bacterial species 5.
Impaired glucose and insulin function
Many people with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes choose to consume artificial sweeteners for the sugary taste without the side effects, but studies show that even artificial sweeteners can interfere with glucose regulation.
While the results largely depend on the type of sweetener, there’s a fair bit of evidence linking their consumption to increased blood sugar and insulin. One study found that women who consumed an artificially sweetened drink before a sugary drink had 14% higher blood sugar levels and 20% higher insulin levels compared to the group who drank water before the sugary drink 6.
Other studies show that consumption of artificial sweeteners can induce glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota 7, leading researchers to conclude that there’s a decently strong link between artificial sweetener consumption, gut dysbiosis, and metabolic abnormalities.
Leads to weight gain
Whether you’re an athlete or not, no one wants to gain weight. It’s the sole reason why the weight loss industry has been booking for decades.
But the reality is that weight gain is one of the major side effects of high sugar intake, but it may also be the result of excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners. While artificial sweeteners were created to reduce the prevalence of obesity, studies show that they could be contributing to it 8.
The research remains largely mixed with some studies showing links while others disprove it, but there is a handful of research indicating that increasing intake of artificially sweetened diet soda is linked to escalating abdominal obesity, potentially through its role in triggering insulin release 9.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Chronic consumption of artificial sweeteners like what you’re pounding back before every training session has also been shown to 10, 11:
- Inhibit synthesis and release of neurotransmitters
- Increase cortisol activity
- Increase generation of free radicals (oxidative stress)
- Increase risk of pregnancy complications and preterm delivery
- Increase risk of developing mood disorders
Simply put, what you’re consuming may taste like the penny candy you got at the corner store when you were younger, but your body isn’t loving it and it isn’t benefiting your performance in any way.
So, rather than playing Russian roulette with your health, opt for something that’s just as (if not more) effective than conventional pre-workout supplements with none of the nasty ingredient tags attached to it.
The Best Artificial Sweetener-Free Pre-Workout For 2021: Pre Lab Pro®
Conventional pre-workout supplements are loaded with everything artificial—colors, flavors, preservatives, and of course, sweeteners. Say goodbye to the traditional store-bought supplements and say hello to Pre Lab Pro®—the world’s smartest, cleanest, and most powerful artificial sweetener-free pre-workout supplement.
It delivers bigger and better results than any other pre-workout you’ll find on the market and is designed to push your body to its limits using a combination of five powerful and all-natural ingredients.
With 2x muscle-pumping nitric oxide (NO) turbocharge plus afterburn, Pre Lab Pro® supports all-around athletics for your best and strongest performance yet. We want you to go longer, finish stronger, and accelerate muscle recovery to get you back into the gym faster.
And with the addition of moderate-dose smart caffeine 80mg, hydrating factors, and restorative essentials, Pre Lab Pro® elevates your workout and powers you through even the most intense training sessions with calmness, clarity, and ease.
And the best part? Pre Lab Pro® is free from:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Synthetic colors and flavors
- Fillers and preservatives
- Proprietary blends
- Low-quality nutrient forms
What you’ll find in Pre Lab Pro®:
Red Beetroot Powder
If you’re looking for a major pump without any potential side effects, beetroot powder is your gold. It’s a rich natural source of nitrate that drives nitric oxide production 12. As a powerful vasodilator, nitric oxide opens up blood vessels for better blood flow and nutrient delivery to active muscles.
Along with that, you’re also getting a potent dose of betalain pigments, which are powerful antioxidants that mitigate the effects of oxidative damage to muscle cells to prevent post-exercise soreness and support a faster recovery.
With red beetroot powder in Pre Lab Pro®, you’re getting healthier and improved neuromuscular performance, less fatigue, better muscle energy, healthy cardiovascular performance, and sharper cognitive function.
Setria® Performance Blend
If you’re looking for a power duo for taking your workout to the next level, L-Glutathione and L-Citrulline are it—and that’s Setria® Performance Blend.
The combination of these two powerful ingredients boosts and sustains levels of nitric oxide for a pump that leaves you pushing harder and longer than you ever have before. If you want to maximize muscle growth, you need to maximize work capacity, and Setria does that.
It’s a research-backed 2-in-1 stack that’s shown to promote a NOx boost that extends into the post-workout window for better performance and a stronger recovery.
Along with boosting and maintaining lean muscle mass with resistance training, this blend sustains NOx levels in blood 2X longer than equivalent doses of L-Arginine or L-Citrulline alone. It's also clinically shown to reduce fatigue and accelerate recovery in resistance-trained athletes,
Setria® Performance Blend is the most powerful blend for a sustained nitric oxide boost for greater strength, power, speed, and endurance.
When it comes to stimulation, caffeine usually comes out on top.
But the problem with most pre-workout supplements is that they mega-dose caffeine, which leaves you anxious, jittery, and sets you up for a major crash post-workout.
Moderate-dose caffeine promotes sharper focus, better energy, alertness, and improved cognitive function for smarter stimulation stacked with boosters and balancers for maximum benefit and minimal side effects.
Conventional pre-workout supplements are loaded with nasty ingredients and high-dose caffeine that can leave you feeling energized, jittery, wired, anxious, and overstimulated.
However, the addition of the amino acid L-Tyrosine throws a curveball at the pre-workout game. It’s a compound that supports the synthesis and recycling of the three catecholamines that are heavily affected by caffeine and high-intensity training—dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine 13.
By counteracting the side effects of stimulants, L-Tyrosine sharpens focus and maintains neurotransmitter levels to increase performance, stabilize mood, and prevent fatigue. Taken pre-workout, it also supports brain chemicals that drive athletic intensity and mental recovery.
There’s no denying that caffeine can elevate your workout. Chronic, high dose caffeine consumption, however, can be a total buzzkill for both your performance and recovery, depleting important chemicals required for optimal performance.
But that’s where L-theanine does its thing. It’s one of the most effective and powerful compounds for preventing stress-associated impairments in performance.
It helps to enhance the effects of caffeine for a calmer, cleaner stimulation that’s precision-tuned for peak performance by supporting important neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA, glutamate, and serotonin for a calm, motivated state of mind to help you power through even the toughest workouts with confidence and ease 14.
Because caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, L-theanine works in the brain to inhibit excitatory brain chemicals associated with high-dose caffeine intake and tones down an overstimulated central nervous system that can interfere with performance and recovery.
With this guy, you’re getting relaxed alertness, a stable mood, and cognitive clarity for calmer, cleaner stimulation.
Why take Pre Lab Pro®?
In the end, this pre-workout is about more than just chasing the pump and boosting energy. With every scoop you’re getting:
- Moderate-dose caffeine plus synergistic L-Theanine & nootropics for jitter-free energy, focus, alertness, and motivation
- 2X turbocharge + afterburn blood flow surge for better strength, power, endurance, intensity, and mental clarity
- Support for hydration, stress resistance, and balance for better performance, accelerated recovery, and overall health
- Replenishment of caffeine-depleted brain chemicals for daily use with less burnout
- Promotion of balanced physiological responses to caffeine-induced stress
- Support for a healthier recovery and faster bounce-back after intense training
- Promotion of stronger homeostasis for a healthy inner balance to help you train like a beast
- PS Harty, HA Zabriskie, JL Erickson, PE Molling, CM Kerksick, AR Jagim. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):41.
- S Chattopadhyay, U Raychaudhuri, R Chakraborty. Artificial sweeteners - a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2014;51(4):611-621.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. How does our sense of taste work? 2011 Dec 20 [Updated 2016 Aug 17]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279408/
- MB Abou-Donia, EM El-Masry, AA Abdel-Rahman, RE McLendon, SS Schiffman. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-1429.
- FJ Ruiz-Ojeda, J Plaza-Díaz, MJ Sáez-Lara, A Gil. Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials [published correction appears in Adv Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;11(2):468]. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(suppl_1):S31-S48.
- MY Pepino, CD Tiemann, BW Patterson, BM Wice, S Klein. Sucralose affects glycemic and hormonal responses to an oral glucose load. Diabetes Care. 2013;36(9):2530-2535.
- J Suez, T Korem, D Zeevi, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 2014;514(7521):181-186.
- Q Yang. Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83(2):101-108.
- SP Fowler, K Williams, HP Hazuda. Diet soda intake is associated with long-term increases in waist circumference in a biethnic cohort of older adults: the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015;63(4):708-715.
- AK Choudhary, YY Lee. Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection?. Nutr Neurosci. 2018;21(5):306-316.
- S Lohner, I Toews, JJ Meerpohl. Health outcomes of non-nutritive sweeteners: analysis of the research landscape. Nutr J. 2017;16(1):55.
- T Clifford, G Howatson, DJ West, EJ Stevenson. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2801-2822.
- SN Young. L-tyrosine to alleviate the effects of stress? J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007;32(3):224.
- F Haskell, DO Kennedy, AL Milne, KA Wesnes, AB Scholey. The effects of l-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008;77(2):113-122.