6 Pre-Workout Alternatives to Skyrocket Performance Without Caffeine Crashes

pre-workout alternatives

Not all pre-workouts come in powder form and cause jitters. 

As a bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast, you understand how crucial energy is during your workouts. Dealing with exhaustion or dwindling energy levels can lead to fatigue, errors, and a drop in motivation, hindering your ability to complete your designated reps and sets.

Pre-workout supplements enhance workout sessions by significantly boosting your energy levels. This energizing effect allows you to maximize training efficiency and elevate performance over time. Additionally, pre-workouts can be a powerful catalyst, propelling you past any training plateaus.

Unfortunately, pre-workout supplements aren’t suitable for everyone. Their high cost and ingredients, such as caffeine, might not be tolerable for some individuals. Additionally, others may discover that their bodies have adapted to these supplements and require an alternative solution.

If you resonate with the scenarios above, many pre-workout alternatives await your exploration. This article delves into an extensive list of such substitutes, shedding light on the characteristics of an adequate pre-workout substitute and offering guidance on leveraging it to enhance your training regimen.

What Is a Pre-Workout?

pre workout

A pre-workout is a supplement you can take before a workout session to optimize your training. Its goal is to increase energy, reduce fatigue, and improve your training performance levels. If your fitness goal is to build muscle mass and strength, you’ll find a pre-workout supplement helpful. They’re equally effective for training your mind-muscle connection and burning fat.

However, as good and effective as they are, they’re expensive and contain many artificial ingredients. These ingredients include caffeine, taurine, citrulline, tyrosine, beta-alanine, and creatine. You can opt for something more natural, like green tree extracts, or try a non-stim alternative if caffeine negatively affects you. 

Working Out Without a Pre-Workout 

Some people prefer to train without them, and that is perfectly fine. It could be because of how taking these supplements makes them feel. Some of the downsides are reports of allergies, feelings of nausea, and dizziness.

Ultimately, doing what works well for you when training is essential. Always pay attention to your body and its needs. Don’t feel pressured to use these supplements if you don’t need them. You can also try some of the natural alternatives below instead.

Properties of a Good Pre-Workout Alternative

Before we share some excellent alternative examples, you should know what a good alternative is. Since most supplements come from artificial sources, many people find energy from a natural source a great idea. You also need the correct combination of the following micro and macronutrients to put your body in the right shape before performing a workout. 


Proteins are usually an effective post-workout source that increases muscle protein synthesis and produces amino acids that help recovery. However, consuming proteins with carbs before a workout session can also be effective, as it helps with protein synthesis in the body. This is beneficial for those especially aiming for muscle growth during their training. 


Carbs are the body’s primary energy source for a workout session, so they’re an essential and effective ingredient for an alternative. This study shows increased performance in athletes when consuming carbs before a workout (1). However, it takes time for your body to digest and use carbs for energy, so ensure you consume them with enough time before training. 


Fats aren’t always the enemy and can be beneficial to take before working out. They’re a practical energy source for moderate-intensity workouts, and when properly combined with other nutrients, they make a good workout supplement.

Pre-Workout Alternatives 

There are lots of alternative sources to consume before a workout that you can use to improve your performance. However, remember that choosing the best fit for your body is essential. You could also seek the services of a professional health expert for suitable options to avoid complications. With that out of the way, below are six effective pre-workout alternatives that you can use to boost your performance. 

1. Water

Don’t downplay the effects of water as a pre-workout alternative. It’s a natural source that helps with heart rate recovery during and after workouts. Water also prevents dehydration and muscle cramps during and after workouts.

2. Smoothies

Smoothies are very effective pre-workout alternatives because they contain a variety of natural energy from fruits. They also help you stay hydrated. Plus, you can combine many protein, carbohydrate, and fat options from one smoothie. 

3. Caffeine

Caffeine can increase energy levels, boost stamina, and maximize endurance. Good natural sources of caffeine are green tea and black coffee. However, you must take the right amount before your workout session. Keep in mind that excess caffeine intake can cause dizziness and nausea. And it’s best to avoid caffeine in general if you are sensitive to it and experience jitters or caffeine crashes. 

One caffeine supplement we recommend taking before a workout is Performance Lab® Caffeine+. Providing a safe and effective 50mg dose of natural caffeine paired with 100mg Suntheanine® L-Theanine (creating the optimal smart-caffeine 2:1 ratio), you’ll undoubtedly enjoy increased mental and physical performance benefits, minus the jitters associated with higher caffeine doses.

Performance Lab Caffeine+ is ultramodern stimulation for precision and performance to help restore caffeine-depleted brain chemicals for clean energy.

4. Carbs

Carbs can be simple or complex. Which you should take will depend on how much time you have before your workout. Simple carbs like fruits will give you a quick burst of energy, so you can take them shortly before a workout. Complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potato, and whole grain bread will give you the energy boost you need if you take them about 2-3 hours before you exercise. 

5. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a versatile protein-rich dairy and non-dairy product. The proteins in Greek yogurt help repair and build muscle tissues. However, the probiotic properties help your body absorb nutrients quickly for the energy you need. 

6. Meats

Meats are rich in protein, which helps with muscle building and repair. As a pre-workout alternative, meat contains creatine and beta-alanine, excellent energy sources. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that boosts athletic performance and reduces fatigue (2). When using meat as a pre-workout alternative, low-fat meats like chicken and turkey to avoid additional calories and fat intake. 

Pre-Workout Alternatives Ingredients to Avoid

Certain ingredients and substances can affect your performance during your workouts. So, as vital as it is to take pre-workouts to boost your performance, you should avoid those particular options. Some examples include the following. 

High Fatty Foods

Foods high in fat take longer to digest, slowing your workout sessions as you’ll have low energy. Aim for low-fat foods that get digested faster instead. 

Spicy Foods

These are a terrible idea for pre-workout alternatives. Eating spicy foods before a workout can cause general discomfort, reducing your performance. You could have symptoms like acid reflux, which will disrupt your training. 

Carbonated Drinks

Soda and sugary drinks cause a quick rush in your sugar level. However, they also come with an immediate crash, which causes low energy levels during workouts. You need a pre-workout option that keeps supplying you with energy as your training continues. 

Incorporating Pre-Workout Alternatives Into Your Training

Adding the above pre-workout alternatives into your training requires some planning. For example, you must get your timing right if you consume complex carbs. Your fitness goals are also important. Athletes trying to build muscle might want to select protein-rich options to align with their muscle hypertrophy plan. Talking to a healthcare professional prior might also be necessary, especially for people with allergies. 


Pre-workout alternatives can provide the necessary boost for your workouts, similar to traditional supplements. However, it’s essential to recognize the extensive research that underpins the development of pre-workout supplements. Implementing natural alternatives requires careful planning and experimentation. Adjusting the timing and exploring different options will help you discover what best supports your body during training, ensuring optimal results.

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  1. Rothschild, J. A., Kilding, A. E., & Plews, D. J. (2020). What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions. Nutrients, 12(11), 3473. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113473 
  2. Hobson, R. M., Harris, R. C., Martin, D., Smith, P., Macklin, B., Gualano, B., & Sale, C. (2013). Effect of beta-alanine, with and without sodium bicarbonate, on 2000-m rowing performance. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 23(5), 480–487. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.23.5.480
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.