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A quality vegan pre-workout supplement can transform your training regime, giving you laser-like focus, enhanced endurance, extra strength for your pumps, and more energy. Finding an excellent vegan pre-workout, however, can be a little tricky. Sneaky marketing tactics and misleading companies often claim products are vegan-friendly, but neglect to mention the gelatine in their capsules. Others claim they are all-natural or organic, hoping you’ll think they are the same thing. But you need a quality pre-workout that is 100% vegan – from its ingredients to its capsules – cruelty and animal-free, as well as sustainable.
We’ve thoroughly checked every product on this list – investigating their effectiveness as well as their vegan credentials – and we’re happy to recommend them as our Best Vegan Pre-Workouts in the UK.
After reviewing dozens of supplements, we believe that Performance Lab SPORT Pre is the best vegan pre-workout currently available on the market.
Or read on to learn why we chose this product as our #1 vegan pre-workout.
Benefits of a Vegan Pre-Workout
As the name implies, a pre-workout is a supplement taken before you work out or begin your training. Pre-workouts come in various forms – from shakes, to capsules, to meals – and they offer several benefits, such as:
1. Enhanced Motivation
We don’t all have an iron will all the time so it’s great to have a pre-workout that can boost your motivation and desire to go to the gym in the first place. A good pre-workout will help to give you the jolt of motivation when you need it.
2. Hyper Focus
There’s no better feeling than getting into the zone, and a quality pre-workout will help you achieve just that. You’ll enter that mental state where all that counts is getting the reps in or smashing your previous best. It can help you wind-down from the stresses of the day by encouraging a single-minded focus.
3. Improved Performance
A quality vegan pre-workout will include proven ingredients scientifically shown to help boost athletic performance. The right ingredients can help to enhance your endurance, improve your stamina, boost your energy, strengthen your power, and improve your pumps, among other things. You’ll be able to train for longer, recover quicker and increase your strength.
Here’s a condensed list of some of the benefits you can expect from an effective vegan pre-workout.
Summary of Benefits
- Improved physical performance
- Stronger focus and motivation for exercise
- Improved reaction times and speeds
- More energy
- Better endurance
- To burn fat before carbohydrates
- Enhanced blood flow, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles
- Delayed onset of muscle fatigue
- Quicker muscle recovery
- A longer, harder workout.
A good pre-workout can mean extra reps, a couple more pounds on your normal weights, or being able to manage an extra-long training session. In short, a good pre-workout can take your training – and your physique – to the next level.
Additional Benefits for Vegans
Vegan athletes, of course, can benefit from all the above just like everyone else. BUT pre-workouts often have an added benefit for vegan athletes by supplying ingredients or substances that vegans may struggle to get from their diet.
Creatine is one such ingredient. Proven to help create lean muscle mass and improve performance, plus offer neurological benefits, there aren’t any real dietary sources of creatine for vegans. Supplementing with a vegan-friendly version, therefore, helps to boost the low levels of creatine in your body.
Vegan athletes, bodybuilders and gym-goers have also been shown to have less carnosine in their bodies than meat eaters. An antioxidant typically concentrated in the muscles and brain, it’s important for muscle function, with high levels known to reduce fatigue and improve performance. The main sources of carnosine – meat, fish, and poultry – are unavailable to vegans and vegetarians. The good news, however, is that the body can make carnosine from beta-alanine, so look for a pre-workout that includes beta-alanine to help boost your carnosine levels.
THE GOOD NEWS: Performance Lab SPORT Pre – our favourite vegan pre-workout – contains generous dosages of both CREATINE and BETA-ALANINE.
Stim versus Non-Stim Vegan Pre-Workouts
One of the most popular pre-workout ingredients is caffeine, prized for its mental and physical energy boost. Many athletes swear by it, and for most people dosages of 200mg and under should be safe. However, stimulants such as caffeine do play on the central nervous system which some people find off-putting. Too much caffeine can also lead to side-effects such as headaches, jitters, nervousness and more.
If you’re sensitive to caffeine, prefer your caffeine from other sources or just want to avoid it altogether, you’d benefit from a non-stimulant vegan pre-workout instead. A good non-stim pre-workout uses various stimulant-free ingredients designed to perform just as effectively as a traditional stim product, albeit often in a more subtle strategic way. They usually include ingredients designed to boost energy, allowing you to train for longer. A great example in our list of recommendations is Performance Lab SPORT Pre, non-stim and vegan.
Even those people who prefer stimulants in their pre-workouts should be aware that they’ll need cycling, which is where you stop taking them for a while to reduce your tolerance to the stimulant and give your body a break. Caffeine tolerance, for instance, builds up over time and means that you’ll need more and more of it to achieve the same results. Not healthy by anyone’s standards. Finding an effective non-stim option to take in the meantime will allow you to maintain your goals while cycling your usual pre-workout. The good news too is that non-stim pre-workouts will not become less effective over time.
Y0u’ll find recommendations for stim and non-stim vegan pre-workouts in our list below.
Ingredients to Look for in a Vegan Pre-Workout
Here are some of the popular ingredients to look for in a vegan pre-workout. We’ll include more detail about the ingredients in our actual product recommendations as well – including the all-important information on dosages – but for now, you can’t go too far wrong if your pre-workout contains some or most of these (assuming correct dosages, of course!)…
- CREATINE: A powerhouse supplement and one of the most heavily researched ingredients available. Proven to boost endurance, energy, strength and enhance focus. As mentioned earlier, vegans are often low in creatine.
- CAFFEINE: Stimulant – increases focus, mood, fat loss, power, strength, and muscular endurance.
- BETA-ALANINE: Non-stim, boosts the body’s stores of carnosine – again vegans and vegetarians have been shown to have low levels of carnosine – and reduces fatigue. Helps you train longer and harder.
- L-CITRULLINE: Complements creatine, boosts nitric oxide, giving a better pump and power. Clears ammonia, delaying the time for muscles to fatigue.
- BETAINE: An amino acid that is fast becoming a pre-workout favourite for its ability to boost power and muscle gain and impact the way muscle cells use energy.
Buyers Guide to Vegan Pre-Workouts
What to look for in a vegan pre-workout…
- SPOT THE FAKES: Ensure any product you choose is genuinely vegan and cruelty-free: That should be a given, right? Unfortunately, you’d be shocked at how many products claim to be vegan but contain gelatine or some other animal-derived ingredient, particularly in capsules. Do your homework so that you can spot those supposedly innocent ingredients that just aren’t vegan. Always read the nutritional label and don’t assume ‘all-natural’ or ‘organic’ means they’re also vegan.
- Clean Formula, Ethical Manufacturing Process: Look for non-GMO pre-workouts, and products that don’t include artificial sweeteners, additives, flavourings, or fillers.
- Decide for yourself if you want a stimulant or non-stimulant pre-workout (or both, such as the combination of Performance Lab SPORT Pre paired with its sister product, Performance Lab Stim (caffeine pill) for the days you need more of a kick. More on that later)
- Banned Substance Tested: If you’re a professional athlete or competitor, you’ll want to look for evidence that any product you choose is banned substance tested, meaning it’s safe for you to use around competition time.
- Effective ingredients: Don’t just choose a product that is jacked up by caffeine; that’s a lazy pre-workout. Caffeine is a good pre-workout ingredient if you want a stimulant (don’t go over 200mg), but there are other equally as good ingredients that you should look for. We’re talking creatine, citrulline, beta-alanine, glutamine, arginine, maritime pine bark and iron, among others. Vegan diets can be especially low in some of these nutrients, so they can do double duty.
- You’ll want to research any potential product for its mixability and taste. Any powder should dissolve well in liquid and be palatable enough to drink. Of course, opting for a capsule-based pre-workout such as Performance Lab SPORT Pre helps to avoid both of those issues – can you see why we’re such big fans yet?!
- Look for user reviews. Not all products are sold on Amazon, so you may have to scout around a little to find reviews from genuine buyers. Look for positive reviews and testimonials that indicate a company has excellent customer service. Bear in mind that a lack of negative reviews is also a positive thing.
We have considered ALL the above criteria when choosing our best vegan pre-workouts available on the UK market today. So, without any delay, let’s discover the…
Best Vegan Pre-Workouts in the UK
#1: Performance Lab SPORT Pre
Formerly known as Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout, Pre is a seriously clever non-stim 100% vegan pre-workout option. It avoids the caffeine, so you don’t need to worry about stimulant-related side effects such as the jitters and anxiety, but it includes some heavy hitters that more than make up for it. We also love the fact that this is an easy capsule-based pre-workout (using vegan capsules made from fermented tapioca) – no need to make shakes for us!
Performance Lab SPORT Pre’s Formula
- Creatine, as its purest form, Creapure. Ideal for boosting ATP, the body’s natural source of energy, which powers muscle contractions. Think of it as fuel for the muscles, though it is also so much more. Again, creatine is difficult for vegans to source so additional supplementation is useful. Creatine is also known to aid muscle recovery after exercise. Research on creatine has consistently confirmed its powerhouse credentials, proving that it can:
- Increase muscle mass, in some cases DOUBLING it
- Boost the size of muscle fibres
- Improve your performance when weight training
- May also help to lower your blood sugar levels
- May also help to improve sprint performance
But creatine is much more than a physical exercise and muscle booster. It also has benefits for the brain as well. It has been shown to:
- Improve cognitive function
- Reduce cognitive decline as we age
- May also slow the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
- Increase the brain’s phosphocreatine stores. People following a plant-based diet may have low levels of phosphocreatine because meat is a prime source of creatine. Phosphocreatine helps to create ATP, the cellular energy the body (and brain) uses to carry out its functions.
As you can see, creatine is one of the most researched, beneficial, and proven supplements on the planet. See these 10 graphs that show the immense power of creatine. The dosage here is decent for a pre-workout, made more potent by using Creapure.
Beta-alanine is again particularly useful for vegan athletes because of the body’s ability to turn it into carnosine, something vegans struggle to gain in their diet. Beta-alanine is also a superb performance enhancer. As well as boosting carnosine in the muscles, it tackles lactic acid build-up, which if left unchecked can cause fatigue. As such, it can deliver significant performance benefits.
The citrulline in the Setria Performance Blend is an excellent nitric oxide booster or vasodilator, meaning it widens blood vessels, helping to boost blood flow and oxygen to the muscles. The glutathione, also included in this blend, is a potent antioxidant. As a mix of three compounds – glutamine, cysteine, and glycine – it has anti-stress/ illness benefits (glutamine), tackles DNA damage (cysteine) and helps to strengthen sleep and tackle fatigue (glycine). Another powerhouse ingredient that protects the body, especially during intense training. The important news for vegans too is that vegetarians and vegans struggle to get enough glutamine from diet alone.
Maritime pine bark is another strong nitric oxide booster plus an antioxidant and has been shown to protect muscles and helps reduce aches and pains. The version of maritime pine bark used in Performance Lab SPORT Pre is the strongest that you can buy.
Himalayan pink salt is a natural form of salt with dozens of nutrients that help to replenish lost water and balance electrolytes, important during and after a training session.
Finally, iron– another mineral that vegans often struggle to get in their diet – helps to keep the muscles working as they should. The form of iron included here is made by Performance Lab’s own pioneering NutriGenesis process, which makes nature identical and highly bioavailable nutrients.
Our View on Performance Lab SPORT Pre
It’s no doubt obvious by now that we rate Performance Lab SPORT Pre very highly. And really, what’s not to love?! It’s a flexible non-stimulant STRONG pre-workout formula that uses the latest science and proven results to bring you the best in ingredients at ideal dosages. It’s refreshing to see an effective pre-workout that doesn’t just rely on massive quantities of caffeine.
Nothing is forgotten in this pre-workout: it gives you an energy boost whether you prefer short, intermediate or endurance exercise. It includes substances to boost blood flow, increase oxygen to the muscles, protect those muscles, replenish and balance electrolytes, tackle DNA damage to cells and boost cognitive function! It supplies generous quantities of nutrients that vegans are in danger of lacking. On top of all that, it’s a super clean formula too – important if you care about the environment.
Performance Lab SPORT Pre’s ‘Clean’ Credentials
- Soy and gluten-free
- Synthetic additive-free
- GMP certified
- Uses capsules made with fermented tapioca
- Banned substance tested
Final Word on Performance Lab SPORT Pre
If you’re looking for a non-stimulant vegan pre-workout, Performance Lab have you covered. They have created a top-quality pre-workout that doesn’t need to rely on caffeine with strong ingredients that each have a strong place in the whole.
STACKS WELL WITH…
Another reason we really like the Performance Lab range is the fact that all its products – and there are many, covering several different aspects of sports supplementation and more – are designed to safely be taken together. It allows you to safely stack your pre-workout with other supplements such as Performance Lab SPORT Protein, a quality vegan protein powder, or to pair it with Performance Lab SPORT Post, a post-workout that builds on the benefits of SPORT Pre, also vegan. Or how about….
#2. Performance Lab STIM
For those days where you need a bit of an extra kick, there’s Performance Lab Stim – a caffeine pill with a difference. Taking a hit of caffeine before an exercise session is a tried and true workout hack, but Performance Lab Stim goes a step beyond that.
There’s the caffeine, sure, but there’s also additional L-theanine, l-tyrosine and B vitamins. Each of these plays a significant role in making Performance Lab Stim a safe ‘crash-free’ caffeine pill.
The Ingredients in Performance Lab Stim
Performance Lab Stim includes:
- 50mg of caffeine per capsule. This is a gentle hit of caffeine, ideal if you want a small boost. The beauty of Performance Lab STIM being in capsule form, of course, is that you can choose to take more – two or three pills, for instance (just beware your total caffeine intake). In this way, Stim allows you to double or triple your intake safely, enabling you to decide your own dose. You don’t get this option with many other caffeine pills.
- L-theanine: Together l-theanine and caffeine are known as ‘smart caffeine’. That’s because l-theanine helps to boost the positive effects of caffeine (more energy, more focus) while also negating the negative side effects (jitters and anxiety).
- The amino acid L–tyrosine also included helps to boost mood and retain focus.
- Performance Lab Stim also contains the B-vitamins B2, B6, B9 and B12, the vitamins typically lost with caffeine intake. By supplementing with additional B vitamins, it helps the nervous system to handle stress and more. Note that vegans often struggle to gain enough B12 in their diet; low levels can cause anaemia and damage to the nervous system.
So, caffeine + ingredients to boost energy and focus + ingredients to reduce jitters, anxiety, and stress. All vegan ingredients. A winning combination in our eyes! Performance Lab Stim pairs perfectly with Performance Lab SPORT Pre for those days when you need a little extra something.
Performance Lab SPORT Pre ALSO STACKS WELL WITH:
Performance Lab SPORT BCAA
Vegan sources of protein are limited to plant-based options and most are low in the core essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine, also known as the Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). (The exception to this is brown rice protein Oryzatein, found in another Performance Lab product, Performance Lab Protein, which acts as a complete protein in supplement form.)
Vegans, therefore, could benefit from stacking SPORT Pre with Performance Lab SPORT BCAA.
Performance Lab SPORT BCAA comes in convenient capsules (100% vegan again) and offers 3000mg of BCAAs in the most effective proven ration of 2:1:1 ratio (Leucine-Isoleucine-Valine). It helps to:
- Boost strength and endurance
- Aid with muscle growth
- Prevent muscle breakdown
- Speed up recovery
Performance Lab SPORT BCAA comes in vegan-friendly NutriCaps capsules meaning it doesn’t need any of the artificial additives and flavourings that many other manufacturers use to mask the taste. Like all other Performance Lab products, it is also sustainable; GMO, soy, gluten and allergen-free, as well as banned substance tested and non-irradiated.
Here’s our recommendation for the best stimulant vegan pre-workout on the market today, 4Gauge. It’s a clever combo of caffeine and other heavy hitters in the pre-workout supplement field, such as L-Citrulline Dl-Malate, creatine, ALCAR and more. Let’s look at the formula
4Gauge uses some great nitric oxide boosters to flood the muscles with oxygen, plus a combo of smart caffeine (caffeine and L-theanine), as well as hydration aids and nootropics to boost focus and reduce the body’s reaction to the physical stress of training. As well as the all-important and all-round useful creatine, of course. Let’s have a look at the ingredients in detail…
L-Citrulline Dl-Malate, extracted from watermelons, is by far the biggest ingredient in 4Gauge and with good reason; it is one of the best vasodilators or nitric oxide boosters around, boosting blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles. This means better muscle pumps, plus longer and harder training. All of which help to build size and strength. Citrulline malate also helps to reduce sore muscles and tackle fatigue. The 6000mg is an effective dosage.
Creatine: As we saw with Performance Lab SPORT Pre, creatine is a big hitter when it comes to boosting ATP production (typically depleted during exercise) and providing more energy for the muscles. It’s also included here for focus. The 1,000mg included here is slightly less than that provided in Performance Lab SPORT Pre, but is still a decent dose for a pre-workout.
Caffeine and L-Theanine: A combo known as ‘smart caffeine’, the 150mg of caffeine in 4Gauge should be well tolerated by most people. Its negative side effects will be further reduced by the nootropic L-theanine, which also helps to raise GABA levels and encourage calm. Together they give a calm, focused energy boost without the crash, jitters, or anxiety.
ALCAR or Acetyl L-Carnitine: Used for years in sports supplements to improve performance, ALCAR has been shown to reduce fatigue, limit exercise-related damage to muscles and speed up recovery. It also encourages testosterone production, improves muscle mass, and is thought to burn fat too. The benefits don’t stop there: ALCAR also has nootropic benefits, boosting cognitive function, motivation, mental energy, and alertness.
Red Beet, (Beta Vulgaris), better known as beetroot, boosts nitric oxide enabling better blood flow and improved oxygen to the muscles – a boon for aerobic exercise.
Coconut Water Powder, to boost hydration and balance electrolytes.
Rhodiola Rosea: Another nootropic in 4Gauge, Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen – which means it helps the body tackle chemical, physical and mental reactions to stress. The benefit here? It helps the body to reduce fatigue in stressful physical situations such as prolonged exercise regimes. It also acts as a proven motivator.
Our View on 4Gauge
4Gauge is one of our favourite stimulant vegan pre-workouts. It will give you the boost you need to power on through those workouts and improve your muscle pumps. 4 Gauge should give you:
- A laser-like focus while working out
- Improved endurance from the ‘smart caffeine’
- More energy
- Intense muscle pumps
- Improved mood
- Performance enhancers without the side effects, thanks to the l-theanine also in the formula.
You are recommended to take a week off from 4Gauge every 6-8 weeks.
4Gauge’s ‘Clean’ Credentials
- Confirmed vegan
- Made from all-natural ingredients
- Free of artificial sweeteners or flavourings
- Made in FDA and GMP certified facilities
- Free of synthetic ingredients
- Free of banned substances
Final Word on 4Gauge
With its careful attention to detail and commitment to all-natural ingredients and vegan principles, we believe 4Gauge is one of the best stimulant vegan pre-workouts that you can buy on the UK market today.