When you step into a fitness class or weight room, it’s a rare sight not to find a floor strewn with colorful drinks in shaker cups. What’s inside? Usually a fruity and sweet pre-workout drink.
A pre-workout supplement – more commonly known as a pre-workout – contains a variety of ingredients said to improve your athletic performance during workouts. Taken about 30 minutes before you exercise, a pre-workout can make the difference between setting new personal bests and crashing halfway through.
Despite the flashy label and big claims, not all pre-workout ingredients are created equal. Let’s take a look at the best keto pre-workout supplement ingredients and the ones to avoid.
Best Keto Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients
The following ingredients aren’t just keto-friendly; they have all been shown to significantly improve your athletic performance during your workout.
Beta-Alanine: Famous for the tingling it causes in your neck, beta-alanine has been shown to support intra-workout strength and performance. One study found that beta-alanine dramatically improved power output during a workout. 
Caffeine: No pre-workout is complete without good-ole caffeine. This stimulant can support both your physical and mental performance. Studies show that caffeine improves high-intensity performance allowing you to kick butt during a high-volume workout. Whatsmore, studies show that it enhances cognitive performance and focus.  
Creatine: It’s not enough to give yourself a mental pick-me-up during workouts; your muscles also need fuel. Muscle tissue loves adenosine triphosphate (ATP), especially during weightlifting. Creatine monohydrate is converted into ATP, supplying you plenty of usable and bioavailable fuel during workouts. Creatine has been shown to promote “significantly greater gains in strength, fat-free mass, and performance primarily of high-intensity exercise tasks.” 
Citrulline Malate: A non-essential amino acid, citrulline malate is an excellent vasodilator, making it a must-have for those chasing a pump during workouts. Citrulline is converted into arginine, which is used to create nitric oxide. Citrulline has been shown to enhance exercise performance, especially during weight training workouts. 
Exogenous Ketones: What’s a keto-friendly workout without ketones? Exogenous ketones can do more than keep you in a state of ketosis. Studies show that exogenous ketones are a readily available form of fuel for your muscles. When taken with the ingredients above, exogenous ketones are ideal for all types of workouts. 
Be on the Lookout For these Ingredients
Naturally, if you’re following a ketogenic diet, the last thing you want to introduce into your diet is simple carbs. But if you’re not careful, that’s exactly what you’ll get with certain pre-workout supplements.
Check the label of the pre-workout you’re considering. If you find “dextrose” or “fructose” on the ingredient label, look elsewhere.
These two simple sneaky carbs are used as sweeteners or as a quick-access fuel since glucose is an effective source of energy for those not following the diet. For you, dextrose and fructose can knock you out of a state of ketosis.
What’s Your Favorite Keto Pre-Workout Supplement?
Are you a fan of any of the supplement ingredients list above? Have one that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below.
- Maté-Muñoz, J.L., Lougedo, J.H., Garnacho-Castaño, M.V. et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation during a 5-week strength training program: a randomized, controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 19 (2018).
- Graham TE. Caffeine and exercise: metabolism, endurance and performance. Sports Med. 2001;31(11):785-807.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research; Marriott BM, editor. Food Components to Enhance Performance: An Evaluation of Potential Performance-Enhancing Food Components for Operational Rations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1994. 20, Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans.
- Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94.h
- Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0.
- David J Dearlove, Olivia K Faull, Kieran Clarke. Context is key: exogenous ketosis and athletic performance. Current Opinion in Physiology. Volume 10, August 2019, Pages 81-89.
David James Sautter is a fitness writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education, he earned certifications as a NASM-certified personal trainer, NASM-certified fitness nutrition specialist, and ACE-certified sports conditioning specialist. Merging his two passions, he has been the driving creative force behind articles, e-books, and training guides that cover a range of health and fitness topics with an emphasis on the ketogenic diet.