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If you are trying to avoid artificial sweeteners in pre-workouts, sorting through all the ingredient labels can be tedious. Not only have I done the work for you in finding these products, but I’ve personally tried each of them to determine which ones are the best.
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Pick!
Transparent Labs Bulk is our number one pick for the best pre-workout that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners. Transparent Labs Bulk blends clinically dosed ingredients to support pump, strength, energy, and mental focus. It’s sweetened with stevia and is third-party tested to ensure ingredient label accuracy.
Why Trust Our Recommendation?
I’ve been a supplement store manager for over a decade and a pre-workout user for longer. This has given me insight into industry trends and products and allowed me to test more than 50+ pre-workout supplements (including the ones on this list).
As part of the FeastGood.com team, we have Registered Dietitians, coaches with PhDs in Human Nutrition, and internationally-ranked athletes, all of whom can assess which pre-workout supplements are safe, effective, and worth investing in for different use cases.
Summary: Our Top 3 Picks
Medical Disclaimer: The material presented in this article aims to offer informational insights. It should not be perceived as medical guidance. The views and writings are not designed for diagnosing, preventing, or treating health issues. Always consult with your physician prior to starting any new dietary or supplement routine.
Key Criteria We Used
The default criteria for any products to make this list was whether or not they contain artificial sweeteners.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve considered artificial sweeteners to be one or any combination of sucralose, acesulfame potassium, erythritol, other sugar alcohols, or aspartame.
We have included pre-workouts that ONLY USE the following sweeteners: stevia, monk fruit, cane sugar, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup solids, and dextrose.
We also considered the following criteria:
- Cost per serving: We understand that not everyone has the same supplement budget, so we made sure to choose a variety of pre-workouts at different price points to suit your budget. The average cost of pre-workouts across the industry is $1.61 per serving (according to our in-house analysis), and most on this list fall at or below this price.
- Taste/Mixability: Though you are looking for a naturally sweetened option, taste and texture might be a barrier. We’ve evaluated these naturally sweetened products on their overall taste and how well they mix.
- Effective Ingredients: This measures whether the brand uses high-quality ingredients and whether those are in clinical doses (i.e., doses backed by science to work). This combination ensures that your pre-workout delivers on the benefits it advertises.
- Caffeine Content: We’ve used a combination of zero, low, medium, and highly caffeinated pre-workouts to ensure that you find a natural option that suits your routine and preferences
RANKED: Pre-Workouts With No Artificial Sweeteners
- Best Overall: Transparent Labs Bulk
- Best Stimulant Free: Transparent Labs Stim Free
- Best for endurance: 4Gauge
- Best for strength: Swolverine
- Best for fat loss support: Transparent Labs Lean
- Best For Budget: Promix Nutrition
- Best Vegan: Vega Pre-Workout Energizer
- Best Unflavored: Naked Energy
Best Overall: Transparent Labs Bulk
Overall rating: 4.5/5
- Sweetener used: Stevia Extract
- Cost per serving: $1.50 – $1.66
- Caffeine content: 200mg
- Grams of carbs per serving: 1g
- Athlete Endorsements From: Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Diana Conforti
- Great value at $1.66 per serving (lower if you choose the subscribe and save feature)
- Clinical dosing and high-quality ingredients
- Moderate caffeine level with no crash
- Requires a large volume (12oz or 1.5 cups) of water to mix properly
- Has a slightly bitter aftertaste
Transparent Labs Bulk is a comprehensive pre-workout that contains ingredients to support energy, strength, endurance, pump, and recovery.
Transparent Labs Bulk contains clinical doses for every ingredient in its formula that has an established dose, meaning there is sufficient evidence to have a performance-enhancing benefit.
I spent a month testing this pre-workout and was absolutely blown away by how strong I felt. I often left my workout wishing I had more time because I had the energy and desire to keep lifting.
I also appreciate that it has 200mg of caffeine per serving, which is enough to give me energy and alertness but not so much that I can’t also enjoy a coffee at another point in my day.
Transparent Labs Bulk is an excellent option for individuals who value high-quality ingredients and publicly disclosed third-party testing results. It’s suitable for users looking to increase strength and muscle mass.
This product is not for anybody who works out late in the evening or is sensitive to stimulants. I found the flavor of Bulk to be quite strong, with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Though it mixed well, there was some undissolved residue. This might be unappealing to people who consider themselves very sensitive to taste and texture.
Overall, Transparent Labs Bulk edges out its naturally flavored competitors in nearly every area, offering the perfect mix of quality, clinical dosing, and a reasonable cost to make it appealing to the widest variety of consumers.
- Read my complete Transparent Labs Bulk Review.
Best Stimulant Free: Transparent Labs Stim Free
Overall rating: 4.5/5
- Sweetener used: Stevia
- Cost per serving: $1.50 – $1.66
- Caffeine content: 0mg
- Grams of carbs per serving: 1g
- Athlete Endorsements From: Paul Sklar, Tess Hubble
- Clinical Dosing
- High-quality ingredients
- Good taste
- Stimulant-free formula provides any time of day versatility
- Does not provide significant mental energy or focus
Transparent Labs Stim-Free is the counterpart to Transparent Labs Bulk and offers clinical doses for all seven ingredients that it contains, which have clinical dose standards established.
These ingredients include citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine, taurine, elevATP, and ginseng. The end result is a product that provides noticeable increases in strength, muscle pump, and endurance.
Most notably, compared to other pre-workouts on the market, Transparent Labs Stim-Free does not contain any caffeine or stimulants. This makes it a suitable product for individuals who still want the best ingredients for pump, strength, and endurance but work out late in the evening or are choosing to avoid caffeine.
Like all Transparent Labs products, Stim-Free is third-party tested, with the results of those tests publicly available on their website.
I have been obsessed with this product for months since it allowed me to fuel through intense evening workouts without harming my sleep.
When testing, I planned to use this pre-workout during a deload week where I deliberately lower my training volume. However, Transparent Labs Stim-Free made it difficult to lower my volume as I felt super strong while using it.
This is an excellent pre-workout for lifters who want to maintain performance during a deload phase, people prone to anxiety or jitteriness, and individuals who prioritize high-quality ingredients.
I think everybody can benefit from this pre-workout, but it might not be the one if you identify as a “stim junkie” who is looking for a high caffeine and mental focus blend.
- Read my complete Transparent Labs Stim-Free Review
Best for Endurance: 4Gauge
Overall rating: 4/5
- Sweetener used: Dextrose, Stevia
- Cost per serving: $1.12 – $1.50
- Caffeine content:150 mg
- Grams of carbs per serving: 4g
- Athlete Endorsements From: Robert Eastman
- Uses natural ingredients like beetroot and coconut water
- Reasonable caffeine level increases versatility
- Great endurance, hydration, and recovery
- No jitteriness or crash
- Tastes very strongly of beets
- Does not have a lot of ingredients for supporting strength and power
Despite the brand’s hardcore and intense advertising as 4Gauge is an “explosive” pre-workout, I found it to be an overall mild formula that would be great for individuals new to taking pre-workout.
The 4Gauge formula contains ingredients that will support energy, mood, hydration, pump, and recovery. Where it falls shy is on ingredients to specifically support strength and hypertrophy.
I appreciate that alongside using natural flavors and colors, 4Gauge also uses food-based ingredients to support athletic performance, like beetroot and coconut water.
4Gauge is an option for individuals looking for an energy boost and is suitable for individuals who tend to experience adverse side effects from pre-workout.
When testing 4Gauge, I didn’t experience any nausea, jitteriness, anxiety, or post-workout crash. The overall experience provided me with good clean energy that fueled me through cardio and HIIT-based workouts.
I didn’t personally notice a big muscle pump from this product, but that could also be partly because I used it predominantly for cardio-based activities instead of strength training workouts since that’s what the ingredients support the most.
You should try 4Gauge if you are new to taking pre-workout and want something less intense, if you have a lot of HIIT or cardio components to your training program, or if you hate the tingly sensation that can come from taking pre-workout. (This sensation comes from beta-alanine, which isn’t in the 4Gauge formula).
I recommend you pass on 4Gauge if you can’t stand the taste of beets, are looking for a high-stim pre-workout, or your number one goal involves increasing strength and muscle mass.
- Read my complete 4 Gauge Pre-Workout Review
Best for Strength: Swolverine
Overall rating: 3.9/5
- Sweetener used: Stevia Leaf Extract
- Cost per serving: $1.53 – $2.20
- Caffeine content: 0 mg
- Grams of carbs per serving: 1.5g
- Athlete Endorsements From: Lauren Farhat, Colten Mertens, Alex Gazan
- Stimulant free
- Provided good endurance
- Meets clinical dose standards for the majority of the ingredients
- Not a lot of flavor variety
- More expensive cost per serving
Swolverine is a stimulant-free pre-workout with ingredients to support endurance, mental focus, strength, and energy.
While I did enjoy my experience testing Swolverine, I felt that Transparent Labs Stim-Free had the advantage of higher doses, a lower cost per serving, and more flavor options available.
When I first tested Swolverine, it was only available in Mango Lemonade flavor. The website now shows an additional flavor, Strawberry Dragonfruit, but it’s listed as out of stock.
Swolverine costs about $0.54 per serving more than Transparent Labs Bulk, while offering lower doses of most ingredients and fewer overall ingredients to support mental focus and strength. It’s for these main reasons that Swolverine fell down the list and Transparent Labs took the top spots.
With that being said, if you love Swolverine then I recommend doing their Subscribe and Save feature, which allows you to save 30% off your order, dropping the cost to around $1.53 per serving.
I think Swolverine is a great option for people who work out late in the evenings and want to avoid caffeine, or people who already consume a lot of stimulants like coffee or energy drinks in their day and want to be mindful of their total daily intake.
This is also a nice, well-rounded formula for people new to taking pre-workout and worried about jitteriness or other side effects.
When taking Swolverine pre-workout, I felt like I sweat a lot more than usual so I loved using it for longer training runs or HIIT sessions.
I found the taste very sour (when testing the Mango Lemonade flavor), so I recommend passing on this product if you are looking for a high-stim formula or don’t like sour flavors.
- Read my complete Swolverine Pre-Workout Review
Best for Fat Loss Support: Transparent Labs Lean
Overall rating: 3.75/5
- Sweetener used: Stevia Extract
- Cost per serving: $1.50 – $1.66
- Caffeine content: 180 mg
- Grams of sugar per serving: 1g
- Athlete Endorsements From: Kyle Cummings, Kelsey Henson
- Reasonable caffeine level makes it easy to incorporate into your day
- Good taste
- Supports fat loss
- Good energy with no crash
- Not clinically dosed for some key ingredients
- Not a great formula for increasing pump or strength
Like the other two Transparent Labs products outlined above, Lean uses high-quality ingredients and has publicly disclosed third-party testing results for its products and ingredients.
Compared to Bulk and Stim-Free, the Lean formula had lower ingredients to support athletic performance and missed clinical dose standards for some key ingredients like betaine and beta-alanine.
For this reason, Transparent Labs Lean fell lower on our list but still deserves recognition for its high-quality ingredients and overall well-rounded formula.
A key distinction to Lean is the addition of acetyl-l-carnitine and choline, which work well together to support fat breakdown.
If you want to prioritize strength and muscle building, try Bulk or Stim-Free. If you want to prioritize fat loss, however, Lean is a great option.
I sweat a TON while using this pre-workout and did enjoy it for cardio sessions, but I felt like I had better pump and strength results from using Bulk and Stim-Free by Transparent Labs.
Lean contains 180mg of caffeine per serving and has additional support ingredients like theanine and theobromine, which will provide a calm mental focus and prolong the effects of the caffeine, preventing a post-workout crash.
I tested the fruit punch flavor and found that even though it is traditionally a sweet flavor option, this flavor of Lean was quite tart and did have a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Overall, I recommend Lean for those looking to sweat more during their workout and increase fat loss or for individuals new to pre-workout and want great energy with a reduced likelihood of negative side effects.
Lean is not the ideal pre-workout for experienced users looking for a high-stim or pump-inducing product.
- Read my complete Transparent Labs Lean Review
Best For Budget: Promix Nutrition
Overall rating: 3.5/5
- Sweetener used: Monk Fruit,
- Cost per serving: $0.96 – $1.07 ($1.54 if you buy a small 15 serving bag)
- Caffeine content: 200mg
- Grams of carbs per serving: 0
- Athlete Endorsements From: Odell Beckham Jr, Matthew Noszka, DJ Sackmann
- Very low cost per serving
- Lots of flavor variety
- Good for energy and endurance
- Publicly disclosed third party testing
- No ingredients to support strength or pump
- The zipper bag is difficult to reseal after opening
Feastgood.com Transparency Promise: I wanted to include this product because it contains Monk Fruit as the sweetener. However, this is one product I haven’t been able to try. I have developed my rating based on online feedback from other reputable sources, customer reviews, and my formula analysis.
Promix Pre-Workout offers a simple yet effective formula for increasing energy, endurance, and mental focus. This formula features four key ingredients: beta-alanine, tyrosine, taurine, and caffeine, plus some additional Vitamin C and B12.
ProMix contains clinical doses of beta-alanine and taurine, which should provide a good overall boost to endurance and stamina, especially when paired with the 200mg of caffeine.
One of the most attractive things about Promix Pre-Workout is its cost per serving. You can purchase Promix pre-workout for as low as $0.96 per serving, making it among the lowest cost per serving on the market.
A cost per serving below $1.00 is especially unlikely among all-natural products, which typically cost more due to using higher-quality sweeteners and ingredients.
Quite frankly, there’s something to be said when some of the most elite athletes in the world are willing to put their name behind a product, and NFL star Odell Beckham Jr has endorsed Promix with some very flattering commentary.
“I get approached by every supplement and health company in the world and I choose Promix because they offer the highest quality products in the supplement space.”-Odell Beckham Jr.
Where Promix Pre-workout is lacking is in ingredients to support strength, muscle pump, or hypertrophy.
Promix Pre-Workout is a great pre-workout if you are on a tight supplement budget and looking for something to boost energy and endurance.
If you want a product to support strength or muscle pump or a high-stim pre-workout, I would pass on this pre-workout.
Best Vegan: Vega Pre-Workout Energizer
Overall rating: 3.5/5
- Sweetener used: Brown rice syrup solids, coconut palm sugar
- Cost per serving: $1.75
- Caffeine content: 100mg
- Grams of sugar per serving: 15g
- Athlete Endorsements From: JaVale McGee
- Informed Choice certified making it safe for use by athletes
- Food- and plant-based ingredient list
- Provides good energy
- Non-GMO Project verified
- Higher cost per serving
- Taste and texture might be a turnoff
- Not a lot of research support backing the ingredients
Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizers is a pre-workout that includes actual sugar in their formula.
Some individuals who are strictly counting macros or watching total sugar intake may choose to forego it for this reason.
For most people, a small amount of sugar can help support workout performance and recovery and is unlikely to harm health or body composition.
In my experience using Vega Pre-Workout energizer, I found the taste less desirable than the options further up this list, and the texture was quite gritty.
Vega stands out from the crowd of pre-workouts because, in place of the typical amino acids you see in pre-workouts like citrulline or beta-alanine, Vega Sport features a variety of plant-based ingredients to support athletic performance and recovery.
The ingredient list for vega-sport pre-workout includes coconut oil powder, yerba mate, Devil’s claw, green tea, rhodiola, ginseng, and turmeric.
This is a great pre-workout option for individuals who prefer a food- or plant-based option and are seeking an energy boost.
In my experience using it, as well as feedback from customers I have talked to over the past ten years, most people use Vega Pre-workout Energizer for an energy boost for cardio-based activities instead of using it as a strength and pump support product.
Vega Sport Pre-Workout comes at a slightly higher price point of $1.75 per serving, falling right between the Transparent Labs lineup and Swolverine/4Gauge.
One final reason I appreciate Vega as a brand is its commitment to quality and protecting the planet. They are B Corp™ certified, which means they are legally required to meet strict safety, environmental, and social standards.
The Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer will increase energy and endurance but does not provide noticeable increases to pump, strength, or mental focus.
Best Unflavored: Naked Energy
Overall rating: 3/5
- Sweetener used: none
- Cost per serving: $0.72 – $0.90
- Caffeine content: 200mg
- Grams of sugar per serving: 0g
- Athlete Endorsements From: n/a
- Contains zero flavor additives
- Really low cost per serving
- Provides good energy
- Unflavored but not tasteless
- Very low doses of ingredients to support strength and pump
Related: Naked Energy Review: All-Natural, But Underdosed (Results)
Naked Energy is a completely unflavored pre-workout offered by Naked Nutrition. They also provide flavor options, including cane sugar and monk fruit extract, providing 10g of carbs per serving.
Since I personally tested the unflavored variety, that is the one I will speak to.
In my experience testing this pre-workout, I found the doses of the overall ingredients to be too low to provide a substantial benefit outside of increasing energy.
Naked Energy uses patented ingredients like CarnoSyn® beta-alanine and AjiPure® L-Arginine. Patented ingredients typically have more high-quality research behind them, proving them to be effective, which helps ensure that the product you are taking provides the benefits it claims to.
Unfortunately, the doses of these ingredients are so low in Naked Energy that despite their high quality, you aren’t likely to notice a substantial benefit, especially compared to the other products that cracked our list.
The number one reason that I included Naked Energy in this list is because it is one brand that offers an entirely unflavored option. This ensures you will have zero side effects from any flavor or sweetener.
Naked Energy offers the lowest cost per serving out of any product on this list, at $0.90 per serving (as low as $0.72 if you choose their subscribe and save feature).
For individuals who are just looking for an energy boost before their workout, Naked Energy provides an attractive price point.
More experienced users may supplement with additional beta-alanine, creatine, and/or arginine for a more noticeable performance benefit.
Pre-Workouts That Didn’t Make The Cut
- Legion Pulse: For strength, pump, and energy, Legion Pulse would have held a spot in our top 3. The addition of erythritol, which we technically consider an artificial sweetener, excluded it from our list.
- Legion Pulse Stim-Free: We also excluded Legion Pulse stim-Free from this list for using the sugar alcohol erythritol.
- Biosteel Sport Beets Pre-Workout: We did not test this product, but it does fall under the umbrella of naturally sweetened pre-workouts you see elsewhere on the internet. It’s stimulant-free and contains ingredients to support muscle pump and recovery. Overall, the dosage of ingredients is relatively low.
What Natural Sweeteners Are Commonly Used In Pre-Workouts?
The most common natural sweetener that you will find in pre-workout supplements is stevia or stevia leaf extract. Stevia is a non-caloric sweetener and 200-400 times sweeter than table sugar.
Aside from stevia, other natural sweeteners that you may find in pre-workout include dextrose, monk fruit, palm sugar, cane sugar, or brown rice syrup solids.
These sources typically provide 5 to 15g of carbohydrates per pre-workout serving.
Natural sweeteners are not commonly used because they are more expensive than their artificial counterparts and can increase the cost of the product.
How Do Natural Sweeteners Compare To Artificial Ones In Terms Of Health And Performance?
Natural sweeteners like honey, dextrose, and cane sugar can provide several grams of carbohydrates and a few calories that can help with the energy demands of exercise.
Natural sweeteners like honey or palm sugar can contain nutrients including Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, Iron, Phosphorous, Potassium, and Magnesium.
While the amounts of these micronutrients found in the small doses of sweeteners in pre-workout are so minimal that they’re unlikely to contribute a noticeable benefit, it is still a nutritional advantage compared to artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are non-nutritive sweeteners because they don’t provide any nutrition or calories to the body.
In a pre-workout supplement, the difference between having 5-20 calories from natural sugars versus 0g of sugar from using a non-nutritive sweetener is unlikely to significantly impact your overall performance.
Athletes who are competing in weight class sports or bodybuilding competitions, or those on a ketogenic diet, who are strictly counting calories and macronutrients may opt for the calorie-free options to save the grams of carbs for whole food sources.
Are There Any Drawbacks To Using Natural Sweeteners?
In my experience, I have heard some anecdotal claims that stevia causes some people to have migraines. I have not been able to find any research articles to substantiate this claim, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Some individuals also report bloating or nausea from stevia intake. Others report stevia having a distinctive off-putting taste (similar to how cilantro tastes great to some people but tastes terrible to others).
The cost per serving on a naturally sweetened pre-workout may be higher since the natural sweeteners cost more money, and a company willing to invest in natural sweeteners is also more likely to invest in higher quality ingredients overall.
Individuals doing bodybuilding prep or strict macronutrient tracking may find carbs from natural sweeteners like honey or coconut sugar too high.
Should You Avoid Artificial Sweeteners In Pre-Workouts?
Most health agencies now agree that reasonable consumption of artificial sweeteners is safe and does not cause serious health problems.
There were some studies dating back to the 1970s that linked an artificial sweetener to adverse health effects in rats, but research since has shown that these findings did not carry over to humans.
That’s not to discredit your personal experience, though. Because of differences in each individual’s gut and immune system, you may experience personal side effects with artificial sweetener consumption.
For instance, some individuals do report side effects like headaches, bloating, or GI distress when consuming artificial sweeteners, which can be reason enough to avoid them.
Our Testing Methodology Explained
We test pre-workouts at various times of day and with different workout times and types (e.g., resistance training, HIIT, cardio) to give you the most comprehensive review possible. We evaluate our products not just on their effect but also on all aspects of the user experience, such as cost, taste, mixability, and ease of ordering.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is There Pre-Workout Without Sucralose?
Some pre-workouts don’t contain sucralose. There are options available that use natural sweeteners like stevia, honey, and palm sugar. Transparent Labs is our favorite mix of naturally sweetened, high-quality, clinically dosed ingredients. A few brands, like Naked Energy, have completely unflavored options.
How To Transition From a Regular Pre-Workout To One Without Artificial Sweeteners?
Natural sweeteners like stevia can be 200-400x sweeter than sugar, but other non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose can be as much as 600x sweeter. You may notice that naturally flavored pre-workouts are slightly more sour or bitter than artificial ones. There shouldn’t be any performance-related changes or side effects.
Can Pre-Workouts Without Artificial Sweetener Be Used For All Types of Workouts?
Yes, pre-workouts without artificial sweeteners can be used for all workouts. There is a trend for naturally flavored products to have more ingredients for endurance and energy versus pump and strength. This may be because pump and strength ingredients can taste more bitter, and the taste can be hard to mask.
WebMD. Stevia. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-682/stevia
Vega, Inc. Vega signs JaVale McGee. Retrieved from https://myvega.com/blogs/press/vega-signs-javale-mcgee
Mayo Clinic. (2023, November 23). Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-2004693
About The Author
Jennifer Vibert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Nutrition Coach, and supplement store manager. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a major in Fitness and Lifestyle and a minor in Psychology from the University of Regina. She is a Certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition, with a passion for helping clients learn the fundamentals of nutrition and supplementation in order to build healthy, sustainable habits.
Why Trust Our Content
On Staff at FeastGood.com, we have Registered Dietitians, coaches with PhDs in Human Nutrition, and internationally ranked athletes who contribute to our editorial process. This includes research, writing, editing, fact-checking, and product testing/reviews. At a bare minimum, all authors must be certified nutrition coaches by either the National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sport Sciences Association, or Precision Nutrition. Learn more about our team here.
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