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We Tried The Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine (2024)

I love, use, and often recommend creatine because it's perhaps the most effective, legal, and safe performance-enhancing supplement. But it's...

I love, use, and often recommend creatine because it's perhaps the most effective, legal, and safe performance-enhancing supplement. But it's not a solution for everything, and it's not an appropriate ingredient in every single sports supplement.

Pre-workouts are a good example of where creatine is unnecessary, although you will find it in many high-quality products of this kind. Supplementing daily with creatine is the best practice, and if you follow this advice, you might want to pick a pre-workout without creatine.

There is an abundance of choice on the market, but I will narrow it down significantly to four products that should cover most possible needs for a creatine-free pre-workout.

Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs Bulk Pre Workout Without Creatine


  • Best doses of the key ingredients on the market.
  • Informed Choice mark guarantees no contaminants inside.
  • A dozen of different flavors to choose from.
  • Competitive price.


  • A massive dose of beta-alanine can make you want to claw your face off.

Price per Serving

  • $1.66 per serving

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs BULK Deals<===

Most pre-workouts severely underdose on all ingredients except caffeine, but Transparent Labs Bulk has the best dosages of any pre-workout without creatine I've encountered.

Let’s start dissecting the key active ingredients one by one.

Most pre-workouts contain 3-6 g of L-Citrulline, if not less. Transparent Labs Bulk is one of the few products hitting the mark with 8 gr., which could provide immediate benefits in lifting performance [1].

So, how does L-citrulline work?

Simply put, L-citrulline increases nitric oxide in the body, which improves muscle endurance, fatigue resistance, and recovery after exercise by dilating the blood vessels to increase blood flow [1].

Further, nitric oxide may reduce the need for oxygen and ATP during exercise.

Studies indicate ingesting 8 g of Citrulline Malate 60 minutes before exercise increases repetitions to failure in both the upper and lower body, lowers muscular soreness 24 and 48 hours later, and enhances maximal grip strength [1].

For those interested in endurance, supplementing with 6g of Citrulline Malate per day for seven days increases the time to exhaustion while cycling at moderate intensity [2].

Doses as low as 2.4g per day for seven days enhanced time to completion and power production during a 4km cycle.

Furthermore, feelings of muscle fatigue were improved after exercise compared to the placebo [3].

Next, we have Beta-Alanine. Taking Beta-Alanine alongside Citrulline Malate is like putting fuel to the fire. Do you know that tingling sensation you get after consuming a pre-workout? That is Beta-Alanine.

Beta-alanine increases carnosine levels, which, in practical terms, leads to extended high-intensity exercise duration in the 1-4 minute range [4,5].

Keep in mind TL Bulk has one of the highest doses of beta-alanine per workout, which can lead to serious tingling sensations some people hate.

Betaine is an interesting pre-workout ingredient that may increase the anabolic environment after exercise by reducing the involvement of the AMPK pathway [6].

200 mg  of caffeine and 1200 mg of taurine continue the list of active ingredients. The duo is a popular blend in energy drinks because of its strong synergistic effect.

Caffeine is an effective stimulant that boosts power and sprint performance by 6.5% while increasing the number of reps achieved when lifting by 9.4% [7].

It also has a beneficial effect on endurance performance, with a 2.22% improvement in time trial performance and a 2.9% increase in power output compared to placebo [8]. Caffeine dosages range from 3 to 6 mg per kilogram of body weight, with all amounts improving performance.

This indicates a 100 kg person should take 300-600 mg of caffeine, which is an enormous quantity. It may appear the TL Bulk pre-workout is slightly underdosed in this category. But let's not forget about taurine.

Ingesting taurine (doses ranging from 71-3105 mg) lowers the demand for high levels of caffeine. This means for the same 100 kg person, only 40-325 mg of caffeine is needed to achieve the same result.

A study indicated that increasing the amount of taurine improved performance regardless of the caffeine dose [9].

L-theanine is also worth mentioning because it's perhaps the most potent companion of caffeine, making it even more powerful and reducing its negative effects, as studies have proven [10][11].

In addition to the performance enhancements mandatory for a pre-workout, Transparent Labs Bulk also contains a few cognitive boosters often found in nootropic supplements. These include L-theanine, L-tyrosine, Alpha GPC, Boron, and Panax Ginseng.

In addition to the effectively dosed ingredients, Transparent Labs Bulk further distinguishes itself by carrying the Informed Sport mark.

This mark means every batch of the product is tested for banned substances and contaminants, making it an excellent choice for athletes.

You can also choose from a dozen different flavors to keep things fresh with every order.

A 30-serving tub costs $49.00 as a one-time purchase, which is $1.66 per serving. A subscription costs $44.99, and you get free shipping, which makes Bulk not only one of the best-dosed pre-workouts but also one of the most competitively priced.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs BULK Deals<===

Runner Up Pre-Workout Without Creatine

Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train

Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre Train Pre Workout


  • Contains all the important pre-workout ingredients.
  • Well dosed ingredients.
  • Subscription offers great value.
  • Just the right amount of caffeine.


  • Only two flavors.
  • Has lower doses than Transparent Labs Bulk, and it is more expensive.

Price per Serving

  • $2.17 per serving

===>Check Latest Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre Train Deals<===

There are very few adequately dosed pre-workout supplements, so I was pleasantly surprised by Crazy Nutrition's product, Intensive Pre-Train. Here are the main ingredients so you know what you'll get.

We've covered them in detail in the Transparent Labs Bulk section. To summarize, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine are the pump-delivering ingredients, and both are well-dosed.

Citrulline Malate is 8 g, while Beta-Alanine is 3.5 g. These are solid doses inside the recommended levels, with only heavier athletes potentially getting less than they might need.

Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train contains 200 mg of caffeine combined with 2 g of taurine. This seems to be the sweet spot between not having enough to provide you performance benefits and being so much that it makes you feel super anxious.

These are the major active ingredients in the Intensive Pre-Train pre-workout that meet the dosage requirements.

Given its formulation, the pricing is reasonable.

If you train up to 5 days per week and choose a subscription plan, you will save 30% on each order. You'll pay $45.49 rather than $64.99 monthly for 20 servings, which is an excellent value. 

Two flavors are available—fruit punch and blue raspberry, so you won't be stuck with the same taste every month. Both flavors are delicious, so you can't go wrong with either.

===>Check Latest Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre Train Deals<===

Best Budget Pre-Workout Without Creatine

Nutricost Pre-X Xtreme Pre-Workout

Nutricost Pre X Pre Workout


  • Contains the same ingredients as the top picks on the list.
  • A high dose of caffeine will certainly deliver performance benefits.
  • Price is dirt cheap.


  • All ingredients aside from caffeine are underdosed.

Price per Serving

  • $0.67 per serving

===>Check Latest Nutricost Pre X Pre Workout Deals<===

I frequently choose Nutricost when I'm looking for budget-friendly supplements. Their Pre-X Xtreme is my top pick for a pre-workout without creatine.

The Pre-X Xtreme contains the well-known blend of L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and betaine, which we have already discussed in the previous two products. Naturally, as a budget option, the doses are roughly half what you will find in the TL Bulk.

Still, the dosages will provide an effect, but it's unclear how strong it will be without matching the clinically proven quantities.

However, this product's caffeine dose is higher than the previous entries at 300 mg, further boosted by 2000 mg of taurine.

This is a solid dose of caffeine, roughly equal to 3 cups of coffee, which will surely provide noticeable performance-enhancing benefits, but it can also lead to some negative effects, so keep this in mind.

Nutricost also contains a number of nootropic ingredients, such as L-tyrosine, Alpha GPC, and choline. All of these have known effects, but the doses here are too low to deliver noticeable effects.

At $20 for 30 doses, Nutricost is a hell of a deal for a third-party tested pre-workout containing a full list of known performance enhancers.

Yes, most of them are underdosed, but the low price makes it worth it, even if you just take it for the caffeine + taurine stack.

===>Check Latest Nutricost Pre X Pre Workout Deals<===

Best Stim-Free Pre-Workout Without Creatine

Transparent Labs Stim Free Pre Workout

Transparent Labs Stim Free Pre Workout No Creatine


  • Massive doses of the key active ingredients.
  • Informed choice mark gives peace of mind to athletes.
  • No caffeine to cause jitters or disrupt sleep.


  • The beta-alanine dose will be too much for some people.
  • It is the same price as the Transparent Labs Bulk with fewer ingredients.

Price per Serving

  • $1.66 per serving.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs Stim Free Pre Workout Deals<===

The Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout is essentially the same product as our number one offer, the Transparent Labs Bulk, but with one key difference- it lacks caffeine.

Caffeine may be very effective for providing energy and performance boosts, but it also has a dark side. Some people are caffeine-intolerant and get anxiety and jitters.

Even if you take caffeine well, it disrupts sleep, and even reasonably caffeinated products like Bulk are not suitable for late-evening training sessions.

This is why you might want to pick the Stim-Free. You still get Citruline Malate, Beta Alanine, and Beatine in mighty doses to ensure a solid pump and avoid fatigue before the last rep.

The product also contains substances with proven cognitive benefits, such as L-tyrosine and Huperzine A, and it has the Informed Choice mark.

The price of $49.99 for a single purchase and $44.99 with a subscription also matches that of the Bulk, which can be considered the only downside since the Stim-Free contains fewer ingredients but has the same price.

But if you are looking for a non-stimulant pre-workout, you will be hard-pressed to find a better alternative than the TL Stim-Free.

===>Check Latest Transparent Labs Stim Free Pre Workout Deals<===

    Why Would You Pre-Workout Without Creatine?

    Creatine is a phenomenal supplement with decades of research behind it. Undoubtedly, it's one of the most effective products for enhancing strength and power and building muscle.

    However, I believe it is misplaced when put inside pre-workouts.

    Let me explain why.

    First, creatine is only effective in 3 to 5 grams daily doses. The keyword is daily. Creatine works by saturation, and you need to maintain optimal levels by taking creatine every single day, including on your off days.

    By definition, a pre-workout is a product you take only before you hit the gym or the field. You don't take it on your off days, meaning you cannot rely on it for optimal creatine intake.

    If you take creatine every day separately (which you should), there is no point in taking extra through your pre-workout.

    Furthermore, creatine doses in pre-workout supplements are usually below the recommended to keep the serving size and price at reasonable levels.

    Finally, creatine has no acute performance benefits, and it may actually be more beneficial when taken after training.

    It's very similar to taking a pre-workout without beta-alanine since you need to accumulate it.

    Because of these reasons, paying for a couple of grams of creatine in a pre-workout makes little sense. It's better to pick a product without creatine and supplement with the amino acid separately.

    How To Pick The Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine?

    Pre Workout Without Creatine


    You can find many ingredients in pre-workouts without creatine, but a few main ones are the most important.

    Caffeine is the obvious one as it delivers energy and various performance benefits. It increases energy, focus, and alertness even in small doses and boosts power and strength, and reduces fatigue in higher doses.

    Combinations with L-theanine and taurine make caffeine even more powerful and decrease the necessary amount to deliver the same results as a higher dose. 

    L-citrulline is another key ingredient in most pre-workout products. It's likely the most potent vasodilator on the market, expanding the blood vessels and allowing for better blood flow.

    Beta-alanine is the next common ingredient. In addition to being responsible for the familiar tingling sensations, its important effects include better power output and reduced fatigue.

    Betaine has less conclusive research than the previous two components, but it is suggested to have worthwhile performance and muscle-building benefits.


    Many companies use the right ingredients in their pre-workouts, but the doses are nowhere near the recommended ones, and they only rely on huge amounts of caffeine to work.

    Here are some proven efficacious doses for the main active ingredients you need to look out for:

    • L-citrulline: 6-8 g
    • Beta-Alanine: 2-5 g per day
    • Betaine anhydrous: 2.5 g
    • Caffeine: 100-300 mg
    • L-theanine: 100-400 mg
    • Taurine: 500-2000 mg

    Third-Party Testing

    Third-party testing guarantees a supplement is untainted with heavy metals or other unwanted contaminants. Everyone needs to know what they are putting in their body, but athletes need to be extra careful because an unwanted contaminant can lead to a disastrous failed drug test.

    Look for marks and assurances on the labels that a product has been third-party tested. The Informed Choice and Sport marks carried by all Transparent Labs products are a great example.

    Pre-Workout Without Creatine Frequently Asked Questions

    Are There Any Pre-Workouts Without Creatine?

    There are more than enough pre-workouts without creatine, and this list is proof. All of the products are great pre-workout supplements catering to different needs.

    Does A Pre Workout Need Creatine?

    A pre-workout does not need creatine since chronic intake is more important than acute intake. Daily creatine intake is important for optimal results, so relying on pre-workouts for creatine supplementation is not a good practice.

    Can You Take Creatine Instead Of Pre Workout

    No, creatine does not induce immediate results, while pre-workouts are designed to instantly pick you up and enhance your strength, power, endurance, energy, and mood. In fact, some studies show creatine is more beneficial when taken after a workout, so it's better to supplement with it separately.


    The Transparent Labs Bulk Pre Workout easily tops this roundup review of the best creatine-free pre-workouts.

    It is one of the few available products matching the recommended efficacious doses. The caffeine is just the right amount, and it's cheaper than many inferior alternatives.  

    The same company offers an excellent caffeine-free alternative called Stim-Free, while Nutricost is a viable choice if you want something for half the price.


    1. Gonzalez, A. M., & Trexler, E. T. (2020). Effects of citrulline supplementation on exercise performance in humans: A review of the current literature. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research34(5), 1480-1495.
    2. Bailey, S. J., Blackwell, J. R., Lord, T., Vanhatalo, A., Winyard, P. G., & Jones, A. M. (2015). l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.
    3. Suzuki, T., Morita, M., Kobayashi, Y., & Kamimura, A. (2016). Oral L-citrulline supplementation enhances cycling time trial performance in healthy trained men: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled 2-way crossover study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13(1), 1-8.
    4. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    5. Saunders, B., Elliott-Sale, K., Artioli, G. G., Swinton, P. A., Dolan, E., Roschel, H., ... & Gualano, B. (2017). β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(8), 658-669.
    6. Apicella, J. M., Lee, E. C., Bailey, B. L., Saenz, C., Anderson, J. M., Craig, S. A., ... & Maresh, C. M. (2013). Betaine supplementation enhances anabolic endocrine and Akt signaling in response to acute bouts of exercise. European journal of applied physiology113(3), 793-802.
    7. Astorino, T. A., & Roberson, D. W. (2010). Efficacy of acute caffeine ingestion for short-term high-intensity exercise performance: a systematic review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24(1), 257-265.
    8. Southward, K., Rutherfurd-Markwick, K. J., & Ali, A. (2018). The effect of acute caffeine ingestion on endurance performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine48(8), 1913-1928.
    9. Souza, D. B., Del Coso, J., Casonatto, J., & Polito, M. D. (2017). Acute effects of caffeine-containing energy drinks on physical performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European journal of nutrition56(1), 13-27.
    10. Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological psychology, 77(2), 113-122.
    11. Owen, G. N., Parnell, H., De Bruin, E. A., & Rycroft, J. A. (2008). The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutritional neuroscience, 11(4), 193-198. 

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