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10 Best Pre-Workouts Without Creatine (2021 Updated)

Supplements Considered 23
Hours of Research 115
of Research
Reviews Examined 82
Experts Interviewed 8
Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: November 27, 2021

Creatine is one of the most popular and safe supplements in the industry. Despite this, not everyone is a fan of it.

Some people get side effects they blame on creatine, and others are simply not interested in the muscle growth benefits.

Luckily, there are a lot of creatine-free pre-workout supplements. It’s almost overwhelming how many options exist.

I did some research to find the best pre-workout supplements without creatine to share with you in this review.

Our Top Pre-Workouts Without Creatine

1 - Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout (Editor's Choice)

transparent labs bulk pre workout

At the top of my list of best pre-workouts without creatine is Transparent Labs. It contains 19 active ingredients that increase nitric oxide, which claims to improve blood flow and pumps.

If you’re an athlete or bodybuilder, then it’s one of the best creatine-free options. It also contains a specialized ingredient called Testosterone Support complex, which may work for further increasing muscle mass.

  • Great for bulking up
  • Contains Testosterone Support
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Contains nitric oxide
  • Not for you if you aren’t looking to mass build

I did a lot of researching prior to buying this pre-workout. Everyone had good things to say, I am another one with good things to say. This product gives you the energy you need but not the jitters you hate. After about 20 minutes, you can feel this product work. I highly recommend trying this for yourself.

- Nicholas T., Reviewer

I liked how there are no artificial colors, preservatives, or ingredients. The powder mixed well, and the tropical punch flavor tasted great.

Get 10% off using coupon code:  TOTALSHAPE

2 - Jacked Factory NitroSurge Pre-Workout

Nitrosurge Pre Workout

At 83 cents per serving, Nitrosurge is one of the more affordable pre-workouts on the market. Do you get what you pay, though?

I didn’t experience any jitters from the caffeine, but I still got the energy boost to get me through my workout. It mixed well, and it got me the results I was looking for in a pre-workout.

  • Inexpensive
  • Contains betaine anhydrous instead of creatine
  • No caffeine jitters
  • Some flavors don’t taste great

I did have a friend who tried the pineapple flavor and wasn’t impressed. I had the watermelon flavor, which tasted great. So the flavors are a little hit-and-miss.

Instead of creatine, this product has betaine anhydrous. Jacked Factory says this ingredient helps with your strength routine.

3 - CELSIUS Orange On-the-Go Powder Stick Packs

CELSIUS Orange On-the-Go Powder Stick Packs Product

The convenient packets of Celsius Pre-Workout Powder help with burning fat, accelerating the metabolism, and energizing the body.

It doesn’t contain the ingredients you don’t want, like sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.

The one downside with the ingredients is that it has a proprietary blend. It’s hard to say if the ingredient amount matches how much I need for it to be effective.

  • On-the-go packets
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No sugar
  • Boosts energy
  • Contains a proprietary blend

One serving has 200mg of caffeine, so it provided an energy boost when I tried it.

4 - Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy Product

Next on the list for pre-workouts without creatine is Optimum Nutrition. It has two proprietary blends; one for amino acids and the other for energy.

Even though the blends have a lot of the right ingredients, I’m not sure if I was getting enough for my needs.

It also contained other ingredients that I wasn’t a fan of like artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.

  • Useful for small energy boosts
  • Has no sugar
  • Tastes great
  • Contains proprietary blends
  • Has artificial flavors and colors

It didn’t give me a crazy energy boost, but it did help with an afternoon pick-me-up without giving me jitters or insomnia.

5 - Vintage Blast Pre-Workout

vintage blast preworkout product

Another pre-workout without creatine on the list is from Vintage Blast and it claims to help with boosting energy levels and preventing muscle fatigue.

It’s a good option for anyone that is either physically active or is bodybuilding. Vintage Blast says their product can help with getting more energy, more focus, faster recovery, and staying hydrated.

I like its transparent label. It clearly shows how much ingredients you are consuming so you can know if you are getting enough.

We recently did a full review of Vintage Blast.

  • Good for any physical activity level
  • No artificial sweeteners, flavor, or color
  • Transparent label
  • Powder a little hard to mix

I also am a fan that it uses stevia leaf extract to sweeten the formula, and there are no artificial sweeteners. Some people complain that the powder is hard to mix, but I found that you need to be a little vigorous for it to blend.

6 - Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer Powder

Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer Powder

One of the pre-workouts without creatine is Red Leaf. It contains ingredients like green tea extract and cranberry to help with energy and overall health.

I appreciate that they had a clear label that listed everything in their product. It makes me trust the company more.

It doesn’t have a lot of caffeine. There's only 40mg in each serving, which is a good option if you are sensitive to caffeine or simply don’t want to risk getting jitters.

  • Clear and transparent label
  • Useful if you are caffeine-sensitive
  • Contains ingredients like green tea and cranberry
  • Low caffeine amount isn’t ideal for everyone

However, if you are looking for a massive energy boost, this product may not be for you.

7 - RARI Nutrition Infinity Pre-Workout Powder

RARI Nutrition Infinity Pre Workout Powder Product

RARI Nutrition is creatine-free because they don’t think it’s an excellent ingredient for everyone. Instead, they chose ingredients to help with power and strength like beta alanine and citrulline malate.

Even though RARI uses a proprietary blend, I was surprised that they still listed the exact ingredient amount anyway.

They don't need to do this legally, so it makes me think they care about the ingredients and the people who take them.

  • Vegan-friendly
  • No caffeine jitters or crashes
  • Transparent label
  • Transparent label

I had a good experience, but I did get a small tingly feeling. Overall, I had great focus and long-lasting energy. The product tasted great, too.

8 - ALPHA GX7 Pre Workout


I always check the ingredient list first when scooping out a new pre-workout supplement.

I immediately liked that it didn’t contain any blends, and there were no hidden ingredients. While I wasn’t a fan of the artificial flavors and colors, I appreciate that the core ingredients are still there.

The powder mixed well, and there wasn’t any gritty texture. I had the watermelon flavor, and it tasted great.

  • No hidden ingredients
  • Provides a lot of energy
  • Powder dissolves well
  • Contains artificial flavors and colors

I had a friend who used this for fat loss and said it helped them get high energy during gym sessions.

9 - Cellucor C4 Ripped Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 Original Product

Cellucor C4 may be one of the most popular pre-workouts without creatine.

It contains CarnoSyn beta alanine, which makes it a premium supplement for building muscle and creating energy. It can also help with fat loss.

Overall, it’s an excellent pre-workout without creatine for a variety of physical goals.

  • Has CarnoSyn beta alanine
  • Good for fat burning
  • Good for muscle gain
  • Users report experiencing cramps, jitters, or tingling

Even though I didn’t experience any side effects, I have heard people of getting side effects like cramps, jitters, and an intense tingling sensation.

Check out the Full Buyer's Guide for Cellucor C4 Pre-workout.

10 - Legion Pulse Pre-Workout Supplement

Legion Pulse Bottle 150x150

Legion Pulse Pre-Workout is not for the faint of heart as a serving has 350mg of caffeine anhydrous.

If you are looking for a boost in energy, then you are definitely going to get it. Legion Pulse does offer caffeine-free versions, though.

Even though Legion Pulse recommends two scoops per day, I think one scoop is sufficient. Well, it all depends on how intense your workouts are going to be.

  • Contains a lot of caffeine
  • Caffeine-free versions available
  • Get high energy levels
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Not suitable for caffeine-sensitive people

I got a kick of energy with one scoop, and I didn’t get a crash afterward. I was happy with the taste, and I like how Legion Pulse sweetened it with stevia leaf extract to offset the bitter taste of the amino acids.

Why Do People Take Creatine?

creatine molecule with white protein powder in black spoon

Creatine is usually put in pre workouts because it helps produce more energy for lifting and high-intensity workouts.

The long-term effects usually mean an increase in muscle growth. It’s an attractive feature if you are looking to mass build. One study even names creatine as the most beneficial pre-workout supplement that helps with muscle gain [1].

Creatine can also help you physically perform better in strength and exercise. A study [2] showed that a creatine pre-workout supplement had the following effect on their study group:

  • Increased strength by 8%
  • Increased weightlifting performance by 14%
  • Increased bench press one-rep max by up to 43%

What Are The Side Effects Of Creatine?

thermometer on top of various pills

Despite creatine being a popular ingredient in pre-workouts, many people don’t like using it mainly because of the potential side effects.

Some people report the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Cramps
  • Weight Gain
  • Digestive Issues

A lot of research claims that creatine is one of the safest natural ingredients on the market [3]. Despite this, the reported side effects can be worrisome, so let’s take a further look into what causes them.


man in black crew neck shirt drinking water

Creatine can move water stored in your body to the muscle cells. It’s most likely where the popular theory that creatine causes dehydration originated.

Even though this shift occurs, it happens on a minor scale. Your dehydration may stem from not drinking enough water. However, choosing a creatine-free pre-workout can help with feelings of dehydration.


Cramping is one of the common side effects that lead people to choose a pre-workout without creatine. Even though it gets reported occasionally, studies show that creatine is rarely the cause of cramping [4].

Weight Gain

person standing on white digital bathroom scale

Creatine can cause weight gain due to the body’s stored water content moving to the muscles. Studies show that weight gain is from increased muscle and not increased body fat [5].

If you’re not looking to gain muscle, then choosing a creatine-free pre-workout may be a better option for you.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues can occur if you don’t follow the recommended guidelines. One study showed that taking 10 grams of creatine led to an increased risk of diarrhea by 37% [6].

You want to choose a pre-workout supplement with the appropriate creatine amount or choose a creatine-free pre-workout to avoid it.

Why Should I Take Pre Workout Supplements Without Creatine?

You should take pre-workout supplements without creatine if you are looking to avoid muscle gain. Creatine can cause water to move to the muscles, making them look bigger while also supporting your body with muscle growth.

Are They More Healthy For You?

Pre-workouts without creatine are healthy for you. As long as you take the recommended dosage, you shouldn’t experience any adverse side effects. It can still help you boost your energy, increase blood flow, and help with fatigue.

Is Creatine-Free Pre-workout As Effective As Regular Pre-workout?

Creatine-free pre-workout is as effective as a regular pre-workout supplement, depending on your physical goals. A good pre-workout without creatine will still give you an energy boost, support your body, and prevent muscle fatigue.

The only difference might be that it won’t increase your muscle mass as much.

What’s In Creatine-Free Pre-Workouts?

The best creatine-free pre-workout supplements will have ingredients like:

Citrulline Malate

Pre-workouts without creatine commonly have this ingredient. It helps increase blood flow, which can boost your gym performance [7].

It shouldn’t be confused with L-citrulline, which is a different version of the amino acids. Citrulline malate may be superior because it boosts energy production more [8].


The best pre-workouts will always have beta-alanine. It has amino acids that have a lot of studies to back up its results.

It can reduce fatigue, increase endurance, and support your muscles for high-intensity exercises.


The benefits of caffeine are well-known. It can give you a huge energy boost.

Unlike energy drinks or even cups of coffee, combining caffeine with other ingredients found in pre-workouts can have a more significant impact on muscle growth and exercise performance.

Related Article: Pre-Workout Supplements With No Caffeine

What Ingredients Should I Avoid If I Don’t Want Creatine?

Ingredients you should avoid if you don’t want creatine include:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Creatine Ethyl Ester
  • Creatine Gum
  • Creatine Anhydrous
  • Creatine Citrate
  • Creatine Malate
  • Creatine Phosphate
  • Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL)
  • Kre-Alkalyn Creatine
  • Creatine Tartrate

What Are The Benefits Of Creatine-Free Pre-Workouts?

man flexing muscles

The benefits of pre-workouts without creatine include:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved strength
  • More endurance
  • Better “pumps”
  • Weight loss

Transparent Labs says that their pre-workout without creatine is an excellent option because the massive amounts of caffeine can affect its ability to work.

If you are looking solely for a supplement that can boost your energy and support your muscles, then this pre-workout is a good option.

What Are The Side Effects?

The side effects of a pre-workout without creatine are minimal as long as you follow the recommended serving amount.

If you don’t follow the serving recommendation of pre-workout supplements, then you might get side effects like insomnia, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and nausea.

What Should I Look Out For?

You want to make sure that you get the right dosage for you. Sometimes, pre workouts will have too little or too much of an ingredient per serving. For best results, take the time to figure out what nutrients you need

I would also advise that you avoid proprietary blends if you can. Since they don’t reveal the exact ingredient amount, it can be challenging to determine if you are getting the correct dosage.

Related: When To Take Pre-Workouts?


Can I Combine Pre-Workout Products?

Yes, but it’s not needed to combine pre-workout products if you’re already taking the right dosage. You could also end up creating something more harmful than beneficial if you don’t know what you are doing.

However, you could stack pre-workout supplements with other products. Some popular pre-workout stacks include adding nitric oxide boosters or BCAA supplements.

Check out: How To Make Your Own Pre-Workout

How Long Before My Workout Should I Take Pre-Workout?

The most common recommendation of how long before your workout to take a pre-workout is somewhere between 20-40 minutes.

Since people can react differently to pre-workout, you should experiment and see how long it takes for ingredients to kick in.

I also want to point out that you could build a tolerance to the ingredients, which could affect how long it takes to work.

Should I Eat Before Taking A Pre-Workout?

There’s a lot of debate about if you should eat before taking a pre-workout.

Some people would say not to because a pre-workout quickly absorbs on an empty stomach. Others will say not to workout on an empty stomach and to eat something easily digestible. Others believe in fasted cardio.

It can get confusing fast, but no one knows your body as you do. So pick an option that matches your fitness goals best.

Should I Take Pre-Workout On My Rest Days?

No, it’s not necessary to take pre-workout on your rest days. A lot of the best pre-workouts suggest taking it every day, but I don’t think that’s needed.

Some people take pre-workout on their rest days to aid in recovery, but a proper diet may be enough for healing.

We have to stop thinking about nutrition as something that comes in a tub and start looking at our body’s natural fuel: food.

Jessica Crandall, Registered Dietician

If you want to use pre-workout as a pick-me-up, then that’s certainly an option.

What Ingredients Should I Look For In A Creatine-Free Pre-Workout?

The ingredients you should look for in a creatine-free pre-workout include:

  • Citrulline
  • Caffeine
  • Beta-alanine

Those ingredients are pretty much guaranteed in every pre-workout to help boost energy, increase your metabolism, and support your muscles.

Other possible ingredients to include in a pre-workout are:

  • B Vitamins: It is crucial to have enough B Vitamins in your diet since they naturally aid in energy production. You should ensure that you don’t have a vitamin B deficiency since it can affect your overall energy.
  • Betaine: It’s one of the modified amino acids that has recently been studied to have a good potential in improving endurance and strength.

Is Pre-Workout Without Creatine A Good Option For Weight Loss?

A pre-workout without creatine can be a good option for weight loss when combined with a calorie-reduced diet and physical activity.

A lot of pre-workouts have ingredients that can help with fat burning. It can use stored fat to help fuel workouts. You should consider those fat-burning ingredients when choosing a supplement without creatine.

Who Can Take Pre-Workout?

Pretty much everyone can take pre-workout. There are a few exceptions like:

  • Young children
  • Caffeine-sensitive people
  • Pregnant women

If you’re on the fence about what is the best pre-workout option for you, then you should consider talking to a health professional or nutritionist.

Should I Take Pre-Workout With Milk Or Water?

You can take pre-workout with either milk or water. My personal preference is water.

Milk can add protein and carbohydrates, but it’s slower to digest. It could lead to not having the best gym performance, which isn’t what we are going for in a pre-workout.

It’s up to you on which choice is better.

Do I Need to Change My Post-Workout Supplementation?

No, taking a pre-workout without creatine does not require changing your post-work supplementation. Your choice of pre-workout does not affect the requirements of your post-workout supplements.

But if you want to avoid creatine, it's smart to eliminate it from your post-workout and other supplements.

Does Creatine Affect Sleep?

Yes, creatine affects sleep by increasing the amount of energy available in both muscles and brain.

A study on creatine supplementation suggests that creatine has the same effects as caffeine in improving sports performance of sleep-deprived athletes. It implies that creatine may potentially reduce the amount of sleep needed to feel well-rested.

Is a Pre-Workout Without Creatine Safe for Pregnant Women?

No, a pre-workout without creatine is not safe for pregnant women. Pre-workouts without creatine usually contain high amounts of caffeine which is not recommended for pregnant women.
It's best to consult your doctor to choose the right pre-workout supplement for your pregnancy.

Does Creatine Make Muscles Look Bigger?

Yes, creatine makes muscles look bigger, as it can cause the body’s stored water to move to the muscle cells. The muscles will retain this water which will result to bloating or puffiness around the arms and legs.

What's The Best Creatine-Free Pre-Workout Supplement?

Even though creatine is standard in the best pre-workout products, it’s not a product that everyone wants to consume.

After all of this research and testing, I’m a fan of Transparent Labs Pre Workout.

There’s no creatine, but it doesn’t stop your ability to pack on some serious muscle gain. It has a unique testosterone support formula that increases your muscle mass.

Better yet, it has the correct dosage you need for each ingredient to be active. It also doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners, flavors, dyes, or additives.

If you are looking for fat loss, then Transparent Labs also has a LEAN version. There’s something for everyone.

Our #1 Recommendation

Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout

transparent labs bulk pre workout
Ingredient Quailty
Overall Score 4.9
  • Great for bulking up
  • Contains Testosterone Support
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Contains nitric oxide
  • Not for you if you aren’t looking to mass build

About the author

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2 thoughts on “The Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine
Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

  1. Pre-workout supplements without creatine definitely help. But as an exercise physiologist, I can state that when it comes to muscle building, creatine has a lot of research behind it. I personally recommend it to all of my customers, and I take it myself at the age of 56. Some people do feel bloated after taking it, so take it at your own risk.

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