A good pre-workout can get you in the zone and help you overcome just about any seemingly never-ending day.
The right one, like the perfect wine pairing (yes, I’m a wine nerd), can take any workout from average to killer. You’ll have stronger muscle pumps, more focus and energy, squeeze out more reps and recover faster.
They also, as we’ve discussed in this article on pre-workouts for beginners, help you develop your gym routine.
Lots of pre-workouts contain different animal-based aminos and other ingredients that aren’t suitable for vegans. Whether you’re on the hunt for your first, or looking for a new favorite, in this article we’ll go more in depth on the effectiveness of pre-workouts and you’ll get the inside scoop on the top vegan pre-workout supplements currently on the market.
Some of the key ingredients found in pre-workouts play a critical role in enhancing muscular strength. A recent study demonstrated a significant improvement in anaerobic power when compared to people who were not taking pre-workout in conjunction with their exercise regimen (1).
Pre-workouts also have the ability to improve muscular endurance. Many premium pre-workouts on our list contain an ingredient called beta-alanine which has been found to significantly improve muscular endurance. A study done by the International Society of Sports Nutrition that supplementing with 4-6g of beta-alanine for 2-4 weeks has been shown to improve exercise performance, and reduce neuromuscular fatigue (2).
Staying focused throughout the entire duration of a workout can be difficult for many, especially if you’re coming into the workout feeling a little sluggish. Specific ingredients in pre-workout like caffeine, tyrosine, L-theanine and acetyl L-carnitine, have been shown to boost overall focus.
Sometimes, the combination of these ingredients is where the magic happens. In one study, they proved that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine can help people be more alert, better focused and overall less tired than their placebo counterparts (3).
From the research it’s pretty clear, pre-workout can take your workouts and skyrocket them into a new dimension.
Whether you are a new pre-workout user or a veteran, you may be surprised to learn that not all pre-workouts aren’t plant-based. Although the large majority of the pre-workouts on the market today are vegan, it’s important to do a little extra digging just to be absolutely certain.
Some products contain certain types of animal-based additives, and although they are easily identified, it can be challenging if the list of ingredients is long. There are even some pre-workouts on the market that contain whey protein, lactose or other milk-derived ingredients which are definitely not vegan friendly.
More commonly, pre-workouts include certain amino acids that are plant-based. Branched-chain amino acids on the market almost all come from low-quality animal sources. That’s why if you see amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, valine, or even glutamine, make sure it says that it’s plant-based or “fermented.” In this context, they’re synonymous
It’s also important to watch out for encapsulated pre-workout supplements as more often than not, capsules are made from gelatin.
To take the thinking out for you, we’ve searched the web and have found you the best pre-workouts, vegan-approved, currently on the market.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Kaged pre-workout is a premium formulation to give you the best focus, pump and stamina in every workout.
Many pre-workout powders are overpriced, and subsequently, underdeliver. Pre-Kaged gives one of the biggest scoops on the market, full of the premium ingredients to support energy, and provide some antioxidants so all your training bases are covered.
Per 1 scoop, you get almost triple the amount of product compared to other pre-workouts on the market. While most pre-workout supplements provide just the minimum requirements, Pre-Kaged goes above and beyond in their formulation.
Pre-Kaged used PurCaf®, an organic caffeine from slow-roasted green coffee beans. In addition to the classics, like Carnosyn® beta-alanine, quality b-vitamins, and plant-based Creatine HCl, Pre-Kaged includes more a big dose of fermented, plant-based l-citrulline. This provides the enhanced muscle pumps Pre-Kaged is known for.
They also include coconut water powder, a specialized blend called Spectra™ to support your immune system, and 3 different matrices to boost overall performance in every category (strength, endurance, mental).
Kaged rigorously tests their products to ensure maximum purity and potency in every batch. Pre-kaged is also Informed Sport Certified and third-party tested, so as an athlete you don’t need to worry about any unwanted ingredients.
You get patented ingredients, no artificial flavoring, non-GMO, and gluten-free
For the most effective, clean and powerful vegan pre-workout supplement Pre-Kaged, is our #1 pick.
Naked Nutrition has developed another fantastic product that is super clean and gets straight to the point. Each 2 scoop serving gives you a solid 200mg of caffeine from coffee beans, not synthetic sources. They use Ajipure® l-arginine, and Carnosyn® beta-alanine. It contains the necessities you could need from a pre-workout without any of the nasties.
Great, clean product, and it also comes in a stim-free version if you don’t do caffeine.
BULK was formulated with the intent of supporting stamina, focus, energy in addition to enhancing muscle pumps and strength to set you up for a killer workout every time.
Although this formula doesn’t have creatine, it contains other ingredients such as Betaine Anhydrous which supports power output and performance.
An all around great pre-workout product you really can’t go wrong with.
Each scoop of the Promix pre-workout contains beta-alanine and tyrosine for improved endurance and cognition, B12 and green for energy, lemon for vitamin C, and turmeric for natural anti-inflammatory properties.
This pre-workout contains zero carbs, sugars or artificial ingredients. All flavors are 3rd party tested and NSF-certified for athletes.
Arnold and Lebron’s company Ladder came out with a great vegan pre-workout option for athletes and for the regular exerciser.
Overall a great, clean product, with top of the line ingredients; can’t go wrong.
A tried and true classic, the Cellucor C4 is a great pre-workout option.
Ever tried pre-workout and you get that feeling of tingly pins and needles everywhere? Enter beta-alanine, an ingredient found in most pre-workout powders, responsible for giving you the tingles.
Have no fear, if you still want to use pre-workout for the other benefits but are not a fan of the tingles, below are some top notch pre-workout options for you beta-alanine.
Transparent Labs PUMP is beta-alanine AND caffeine free. This is a really great alternative if you already are an avid coffee drinker, or are sensitive to caffeine but still want to get the same enhancements to your workouts.
As always, super clean, and overall great product.
Same great formula as their original pre-workout, their lemon flavor is beta-alanine free, so you can enjoy the benefits of this clean product without worrying about the tingles.
Here are some key points that helped us decide whether or not the products we chose made it on our ranking.
With the millions of products out there it can be very difficult to find not only an effective product but a safe one. We wanted to make sure that all the products on this list were not just top quality, but also held to a high testing standard. It proved to be more difficult than expected, but safety is extremely important to us and as such, all products on our ranking are at minimum third-party tested.
With any kind of flavored powder, you can more often than not run into artificial colors and flavoring. We wanted to make sure that if you are going to be consuming this product on a potentially daily basis, that there were not going to be any harmful dyes or flavoring agents.
Sometimes more is not actually more. There are a couple of key components to pre-workout supplements to make them effective and worth your hard earned cash. Caffeine, nitric oxide precursors, B vitamins, beta-alanine, BCAAs, creatine OR any alternative ingredients that match the effectiveness of these key inrgredients.
If you’re going to be spending your money on a supplement we wanted to make sure that you were getting the best bang for your buck.
Yes, while the stimulants in pre-workout supplements are safe, your body can adapt to prolonged usage making the effects less noticeable. If you are feeling like your pre-workout isn’t packing as much of a punch as it once did, try cycling off for 2-4 weeks.
For those who don’t know, cycling off just means you stop taking the supplement for a short period to give your body a break. With pre-workout you may want to cycle off every 6-8 weeks and take that break.
To keep the maximum effectiveness of your pre-workout, try taking it for 6-8 weeks and then cycle off for 2-4.
You can use a stimulant-free pre-workout when you don’t need the caffeine boost, or when you’re cycling off. Fore more, you can check out our guide on the best stim-free pre-workouts
If you are really dependent on the pre-workout for you lifts, try using a stim-free option during that off period and see how you feel.
Caffeine can last anywhere from 4-6 hours. Keep that in mind if you are someone who likes to workout in the evening.
For example, if your bed time is around 11pm, you shouldn’t take pre-workout any later that 6pm so your body has time to fully burn off the caffeine.
If you are a coffee drinker and are looking to incorporate pre-workout into your routine, be mindful of your daily caffeine intake. Up to 400mg of caffeine per day is said to be the safe limit for most healthy adults (4). An 8oz cup of coffee can have 80-100mg of caffeine.
Be aware of how many cups of coffee you’re drinking, in addition to the pre-workout and any other sources of caffeine (tea, soft drinks).
The rule of thumb is to mix the powder with a cup of water and drink it between 20-30 minutes before you workout.
This will give your body enough time to react to the supplement and by the time you start your workout you’ll be itching to go (literally).