For a lot of athletes and bodybuilders, creatine is their #1 go-to supplement. It’s shown to enhance work capacity, maximize muscle growth, and improve overall performance in a large body of research. We’ll admit that creatine is a great supplement with a lot of benefits behind it.
But the thing with creatine is that it’s not for everyone. Generally speaking, most people tend to shy away from creatine in a pre-workout for a variety of reasons.
So, if you’re one of the bunch that isn’t interested in loading up on creatine in your pre-workout, we’re giving you the top pre-workout supplement without creatine.
Despite loads of research on the benefits of creatine, you can still get amazing results from pre-workout supplements without creatine and it’s guaranteed with this creatine-free pre-workout product.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Creatine And Why Do People Take It?
For anyone even remotely interested in fitness, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about creatine.
Whether it's in a pre-workout or a pure supplement, creatine is one of the most widely consumed ergogenic supplements in existence and a staple in a lot of athletes' and bodybuilders' pre-workout supplement repertoire because of its effect on muscle growth.
Creatine is commonly consumed in supplemental form, but it’s also a compound—a non-proteogenic amino acid to be specific—that is produced by the liver and kidneys from three precursor amino acids 1.
While creatine can be obtained through meat, supplementation serves as a more concentrated source of phosphocreatine, one of the major substrates needed for energy production.
The thing with creatine is that it doesn’t directly contribute to muscle growth or fat loss like other supplements do, but it plays a major role in supporting muscle protein synthesis via its role in energy availability.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the body’s primary source of energy, and it's needed to power virtually all physiological processes in humans. When the body needs it, ATP degrades into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) + an inorganic phosphate (Pi) to fuel metabolic activities.
But here's the catch. There’s no use for ADP unless it is converted back to ATP.
So where does creatine come in? At rest, creatine also combines with a phosphoryl group (Pi) to form phosphocreatine. In order to replenish ATP, phosphocreatine is hydrolyzed into creatine + Pi, donating that phosphate group to resynthesize ATP 1.
Creatine supplementation increases available phosphate groups for energy to train harder for longer. It’s an especially useful pre-workout supplement that can increase workout intensity for short, fast, explosive movements.
That's because, for anaerobic exercises like heavy weightlifting, the body preferentially taps into creatine phosphate stores first.
All in all, creatine supplementation has been shown to:
- Boost energy production
- Increase muscle mass
- Improve high-intensity exercise performance
- May help prevent muscle damage
- Improve strength
- Boost power output
With that said, creatine isn't going to make or break your workout. There are some super effective pre-workout supplements without creatine that offer great benefits for performance and muscle growth with minimal side effects.
The Downside Of Creatine
While creatine offers major benefits for training performance and muscle growth, it comes with a few downsides that often deter people from taking it pre-workout, and it's the reason we opt for the best creatine-free pre-workout instead.
Generally speaking, creatine produces a lot of favorable effects and can be consumed in amounts of up to 20g/day for up to one week, followed by 1 to 10g/day for a maintenance dose 3. For the most part, increases in body mass were reported with very few adverse side effects.
However, creatine’s ability to hydrate muscle cells can be problematic for some people 2.
When muscle cells are properly hydrated, it not only increases protein synthesis, but can also trigger water retention. This makes cells appear larger and plumped, sometimes leading to the “creatine bloat”. However, this bloat is usually seen in the loading phase of creatine consumption, where doses are high (15-20g/day).
Some complain that creatine supplementation can induce muscle cramps. To investigate this, researchers gave young, healthy, physically active males 3g of creatine for 28 days.
They found that five of twelve athletes experienced at least one cramp during activities during the experimentation period 3, despite none of the athletes having a previous history of cramping before supplementation. Researchers hypothesized that cramping may result from electrolyte imbalances within the muscles.
However, other studies found no reports of cramping, suggesting that it may be the result of exercise intensity rather than creatine supplementation.
Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine: Pre Lab Pro®
If you’re looking for the same intensity to workouts that creatine can provide, we’ve found your match.
Pre Lab Pro® is the world’s most effective and best creatine-free pre-workout supplement that’s designed to shatter your training limits. It helps you unleash your inner beast mode to go beyond just strength and stamina.
Pre Lab Pro® is a combination of powerful boosters and balancers that spark a 2X muscle-pumping nitric oxide (NOx) turbocharge + afterburn for all-around athletics and performance.
It targets three key pathways that work in synergy to supercharge workout performance, promote healthy balance, and accelerate your progress across all fitness programs.
Once you think you have reached your peak, feel the Pre Lab Pro® afterburner kick in—a second NOx surge that helps you go longer, finish stronger, and accelerate muscle recovery to help you bounce back faster.
If that’s not enough, the addition of smart caffeine, hydrating factors, and restorative essentials supports healthy inner balance so you can train like a beast in the gym and get on with your day like a superhuman afterward.
Pre Lab Pro is a revolutionary creatine-free pre-workout design targeting 3 key pathways to supercharge your workout:
- Bigger NOx boost: Breakthrough 2X turbocharge + afterburn blood flow surge for strength, power, endurance, intensity, mental clarity.
- Smarter stimulation: Moderate-dose caffeine plus synergistic L-Theanine & nootropics for jitter-free energy, focus, alertness, motivation.
- Stronger homeostasis: Supports hydration, electrolytes, stress resistance, balance: Boost performance, accelerate recovery, stay healthy
Pre Lab Pro® is insanely versatile and efficient, delivering workout benefits for all fitness goals, ranging from strength to cardiovascular to overall health.
Whatever your goal, it’s the only and best pre-workout supplement you’ll need without creatine.
Best Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients
RedNite Beetroot Powder
If you didn’t think the red root veggie that a lot of people hate could boost your workout performance, it’s time to think again.
Red beetroot powder is a concentrated source of natural nitrate that can boost nitric oxide levels to dilate blood vessels and increase blow flow throughout the body, especially to active muscle tissue. Athletes have used nitric oxide to enhance performance for decades and push muscles to their limits across all forms of training.
While it’s a relatively new addition to the fitness supplements market, there’s a fair bit of research backing the benefit of red beetroot powder pre-workout for performance on:
- Cardiovascular health
One of the major roles of nitric oxide is in supporting endothelial function.
The endothelium plays a major role in regulating vascular homeostasis by maintaining thrombotic activity, platelet function, vascular tone, and balancing vasodilating compounds and vasoconstricting compounds 4.
Because NO mediates several aspects of endothelial function, low NO availability is one of the principal causes of endothelial dysfunction - a primary risk factor for several cardiovascular diseases.
Beetroot is a natural NO donor, so it may help to improve endothelial function and therefore boost cardiovascular health as a pre-workout.
If you're an athlete or lifter, you're no stranger to the role of inflammation during training.
Studies suggest that the bioactive compounds in red beetroot, specifically betalains, may reduce inflammation by interfering with pro-inflammatory signaling cascades, supporting a stronger and faster recovery from intense exercise 4.
Long story short: Beetroot taken pre-workout helps you recover faster and stronger post-workout.
- Exercise endurance
Nitrates can help boost heart health, but they also can help muscles work harder, thanks to nitric oxide’s ability to enhance blood flow. More blood flow = increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to active muscles.
A 2017 study published in Nutrients found that beetroot supplementation may improve time to exhaustion during exercise, which may increase work capacity and gains 5.
- Reduce fatigue
Creatine is great for increasing work capacity and reducing fatigue because of its impact on increasing energy availability, but research shows that beetroot can reduce fatigue, too.
Nitrate's ability to enhance cardiovascular exercise can boost high-intensity activities like sprints or powerlifting. Case in point, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that beetroot supplementation can reduce time to fatigue during high-intensity exercises 6.
With RedNite beetroot powder, you’re getting a dose standardized to 1.5% to 2.75% natural nitrate for maximum NOx boost. It’s the strongest and most potent, research-backed supplement that provides major workout benefits that extend beyond what creatine can offer, including:
- Improved neuromuscular performance
- Fatigue resistance
- Enhanced muscle recovery
- Healthy cardiovascular performance
- Sharper cognitive function
Setria® Performance Blend (Setria® L-Glutathione + L-Citrulline)
L-glutathione and L-citrulline are each powerful nutrients in their own right with a range of research-backed athletic performance benefits. Combined, they offer the ultimate package deal that may just be better than creatine alone.
L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid that is produced alongside nitric oxide (NO) as an end-product of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) 7. On its own, L-citrulline has been shown to increase exercise performance via two specific mechanisms:
L-citrulline’s ability to increase plasma L-arginine bioavailability as a substrate for nitric oxide synthesis 8. Nitric oxide, in turn, restricts oxygen consumption by binding to cytochrome c oxidase in mitochondria, which facilitates greater oxygen distribution within skeletal muscles.
Thus, by increasing the availability of nitric oxide, L-citrulline may improve the matching between muscle oxygenation with metabolic demand.
Research shows that L-citrulline supplementation can improve ammonia homeostasis; increasing levels of ammonia are linked to muscle fatigue because of its ability to increase anaerobic glycolysis and produce lactic acid 8.
As such, L-citrulline may enhance exercise performance either through improving skeletal muscle oxygen consumption or lowering lactic acid production at doses of at least 6 g/day for 7 days.
However, combined supplementation with L-glutathione (GSH) can maximize the benefits of L-citrulline. Glutathione can stabilize and slowly release NO, which protects it from oxidative damage 7.
NO is a molecule that breaks down relatively quickly in the bloodstream, so you need another compound to protect it from degradation and maintain the positive effects that NO offers. That’s what glutathione does.
Extending the life of NO helps to augment cGMP production and increase blood flow, which ultimately results in better performance. Research shows that supplementing glutathione alongside L-citrulline may do just that.
But glutathione is also connected to NO synthesis, as certain cells require GSH to produce NO 9. GSH may also increase the activity of nitric oxide synthesis (NOS), which is the enzyme that produces NO from arginine 10.
If you want a kick of energy, caffeine will do it. Caffeine elicits such powerful effects on performance mainly due to its stimulatory effects on the central nervous system (CNS).
It up-regulates activity to increase alertness and enhance cognitive function. But the reason we feel alert and sidestep fatigue is that caffeine is an adenosine antagonist, meaning it binds to adenosine receptors in the brain to block their action and prevent drowsiness 11.
As such, caffeine’s antagonistic role in the brain can influence various functions, including sleep, cognition, learning, and memory 12. But that’s not all it does.
Some research suggests that caffeine may trigger the release of catecholamines, specifically epinephrine, to, directly and indirectly, improve exercise performance by inducing secondary metabolic changes 11, 13.
Studies show that it can acutely enhance various aspects of exercise performance, including muscular endurance, movement velocity, muscular strength, sprinting, jumping, and throwing performance, along with a range of aerobic and anaerobic sport-specific actions 14.
However, while you may think more is better with caffeine, that’s not the case. Studies actually show that high doses of caffeine are no more effective than lower doses for improving performance. But high doses are more likely to induce habituation, whereby the same dose no longer elicits the same response.
So, if you want maximum results, opt for low-moderate doses of caffeine over high doses—and that’s exactly what Pre Lab Pro® offers.
L-theanine isn’t usually an ingredient you find in pre-workouts, but it should be.
L-theanine is an amino acid naturally found in tea leaves, offering major potential for athletic performance by altering brain activity for better cognitive function 15. Because it can cross the blood-brain barrier, it exerts its effects within roughly 30 minutes following ingestion.
But what does it actually do?
L-theanine exerts its effects via the glutamate pathway. Structurally similar to the neurotransmitter glutamate, it weakly binds to glutamate receptors and acts as an antagonist to exhibit inhibitory activity on glutamate transporters 16.
Because of this action, it blocks the reuptake of glutamine and glutamate to calm down an overstimulated brain, thus creating more relaxed alertness, positive mood, and cognitive clarity.
A 2008 study shows that L-theanine can enhance the power of alpha brain waves, which supports a relaxed but alert mental state via a direct influence on the central nervous system 15.
Long story short, L-theanine is beneficial for performance by:
- Increasing focus and attention
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Enhance sleep quality for better recovery
- Improving mood
- Increasing motivation
Like theanine, L-tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that may have a major benefit for exercise performance. But, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding L-tyrosine.
Although it’s commonly added to fat burners, it doesn’t actually reduce fat mass. Rather, it serves as a precursor to some powerful neurotransmitters to sharpen attention, promote laser focus, and enhance concentration for all-around better performance and greater intensity during workouts.
Why? As we said, it’s a precursor to some major catecholamines and supplementation changes the availability of L-tyrosine in the brain, which can influence the synthesis of both dopamine and norepinephrine 17.
However, chronic stress is known to increase the release of catecholamines, depleting neurotransmitters. Supplementing with L-tyrosine can help correct that imbalance.
Although L-tyrosine doesn’t enhance the release of catecholamines in non-stressful situations, it does during stressful situations like high-intensity exercise.
That’s because tyrosine converts to a molecule called L-DOPA, which is then converted to the neurotransmitters collectively referred to as the catecholamines—dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).
These catecholamines have major roles in regulating the stress response but are also heavily involved in several components of cognitive function, including attention, memory, and emotion 18.
Taken together, L-tyrosine supports the neurotransmitters that propel you to peak performance and help you maintain a healthy balance post-workout.
With all of that said, there's no denying the creatine taken pre-workout can offer major benefits for athletic performance and gains, but creatine isn't the be-all-end-all for performance.
Compounds that enhance NOx production, reduce lactic acid accumulation, and improve focus and attention are all key ways to boost performance without having to rely on creatine and the nasty side effects it can produce. Go ahead, just give Pre Lab Pro® a try to see what we're talking about.
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- P Hwang, FE Morales Marroquín, J Gann, et al. Eight weeks of resistance training in conjunction with glutathione and L-Citrulline supplementation increases lean mass and has no adverse effects on blood clinical safety markers in resistance-trained males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):30.
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