Pre-workout nootropic supplements and their blends are rising in popularity — rightfully so, as people report improved workout performance when taking them. In pre-workout blends, several natural nootropics boost mental energy, improve your focus, and may improve recovery.
In this article we present six unique supplement brands that we think cater for most tastes and experience levels. When selecting these brands, we paid attention to parameters that are key to consider when choosing a pre-workout nootropic.
We will share and discuss these criteria in detail, so you can consider and choose the best pre-workout nootropic supplement according to your needs.
Best nootropic pre-workout supplements for focus and energy: shortlist
- Performance Lab — best overall pre-workout nootropic
- Mind Lab Pro — best nootropic pre-workout with lion’s mane
- Xwerks — best pre-workout nootropic with beta-alanine
- A Quality Life — most comprehensive pre-workout nootropic blend
- Moon Juice — best nootropic pre-workout with ginseng
- Botanic Choice — best for stacking with other supplements
How to choose the best pre-workout nootropics?
|Ingredients||High-quality, natural ingredients without fillers|
|Manufacturing standards||Manufacturers adhering to GMP, FDA-certified facilities|
|Third-party approval||Tested by independent testing labs|
|Price||$1.50–$2.50 per serving|
When choosing the best pre-workout nootropics, some key aspects to consider are as follows:
- Ingredients. Look for nootropics with ingredients aligning with your goals, whether that's improved focus, energy, or endurance. Make sure the supplement doesn't include fillers. The ingredients should be natural and of high quality.
- Manufacturing standards. Choose products from manufacturers adhering to high production standards. The manufacturing facilities should comply with the good manufacturing practices (GMP) or be FDA-approved.
- Third-party approval. It is an independent verification of the quality, purity, and potency of a product. A third-party approval can give you confidence the product is safe to use, free from harmful substances, and contains the ingredients and dosages it claims to.
- Price range per serving. The price of the product is an essential factor. Cheaper isn't always better, especially if the product contains low dosages of the active substances. Make sure you're getting good value for your money, but don't compromise quality for cost.
The best nootropic pre-workout in 2023: overview
In this section, we will overview six leading brands in the market that we found to cater for a wide audience. Our assessment is driven by four fundamental criteria: the quality and effectiveness of the ingredients, adherence to high manufacturing standards, third-party testing to validate claims and ensure safety, and the price, considering value for money.
These criteria will help provide a clear, unbiased, and objective evaluation of each product, enabling you to make an informed decision based on your personal fitness goals and budget.
1. Performance Lab Caffeine — best overall nootropic pre-workout
The Performance Lab Caffeine+ pre-workout supplement ticks most of the boxes for a well-rounded pre-workout nootropic blend.
Performance Lab’s pre-workout nootropic blend contains caffeine in combination with theanine to boost energy while also maintaining serene focus. It results in improved attention during workouts, a better mind-muscle connection, and increased overall workout performance.
Additionally, the composition includes L-tyrosine with a dual purpose. It may contribute to improved endurance and performance, while also serving as a precursor for dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
These neurotransmitters aid workout — dopamine can enhance motivation and drive, leading to more effective workouts and can also stimulate motor control, aiding movement and coordination during exercise.
Norepinephrine and epinephrine may help to increase alertness, focus, and attention, as well as heart rate and blood flow to the muscles.
Lastly, the B group vitamins are included to address the diuretic properties of caffeine and may help the body to deal with the reduced levels of circulating B vitamins.
While other supplements on our list contain more ingredients, the Performance Lab’s Caffeine+ offers key active compounds that are enough. This is reflected by its affordability without sacrificing the quality.
The supplement is manufactured in an FDA-registered, cGMP-compliant facility. The product batches are third-party tested. The product is USDA-organic certified.
1-month supply costs $49.50 ($1.65 per serving).
2. Mind Lab Pro MLP v4.0 — best nootropic pre-workout with lion’s mane
Mind Lab Pro supplement stands out as the only pre-workout nootropic on our list that contains lion’s mane mushroom. Research suggests lion's mane may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in addition to neuroprotective benefits and cognitive enhancement. As a result, lion’s mane could help to alleviate physical fatigue and speed up recovery post-workout.
Other compounds within the supplement serve both the mind and the body. N-acetyl L-tyrosine both enhance the production of key neurotransmitters, boosting alertness, focus, and mood. Phosphatidylserine aids cognitive function and memory, L-theanine promotes relaxation and focus, bacopa monnieri and rhodiola rosea enhance memory and reduce stress. Lastly, maritime pine bark extract provides antioxidants, and the B vitamins contribute to energy metabolism.
Mind Lab Pro provides a balanced, multi-faceted approach to boost cognitive function and physical performance — all without the stimulation of caffeine.
1-month supply costs $62.50 ($2.08 per serving).
3. Xwerks Ignite — best pre-workout nootropic with beta-alanine
Xwerks Ignite blends ingredients to amplify both physical performance and cognitive function, but what makes it stand out is beta-alanine. Beta-alanine improves muscular endurance, making workouts more effective. This effect is further enhanced by lactate, which can support muscle function and energy production. Similarly, L-citrulline boosts nitric oxide production, improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles. Notably, L-citrulline may lower blood pressure, therefore it's important to consult your healthcare provider before starting this supplement, especially for those with low blood pressure or taking blood pressure medication.
The supplement also contains caffeine which acts as a central nervous system stimulant, enhancing alertness and energy, albeit with no L-theanine for calm concentration.
Vitamins B6 and B12 contribute to energy metabolism, reducing fatigue, as well as rhodiola rosea — an adaptogen known for combating stress and improving focus. L-tyrosine boosts the production of neurotransmitters for better focus and alertness.
Calcium and magnesium lactate support muscle function and energy production. Lastly, L-citrulline malate boosts nitric oxide production, improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles.
Collectively, these ingredients offer a comprehensive pre-workout boost to help you achieve peak performance. 1-month supply costs $49.00 ($1.63 per serving).
4. A Quality Life Pre Workout — most comprehensive pre-workout nootropic blend
This supplement is a noteworthy pre-workout nootropic as it combines the most compounds in a blend.
For sports, this supplement contains L-citrulline malate that enhances blood flow to muscles during workouts, while creatine promotes muscle energy production, improving strength and power. Notably, L-citrulline may lower blood pressure, therefore it's important to consult your healthcare provider before starting this supplement, especially for those with low blood pressure or taking blood pressure medication.
As a nootropic, this contains B group vitamins aiding in energy production and brain health, while N-acetyl L-tyrosine and choline boost production of neurotransmitters. DMAE may further enhance cognitive function. Bacopa monnieri reduces stress and improves memory.
For both energy and cognition, caffeine is combined with L-theanine, balancing the stimulating effects, and promoting a calm alert state for maintaining focus during intense training.
The supplement is third-party tested and produced in an FDA-registered, cGMP-compliant facility.
1-month supply costs $62.95 ($2.09 per serving).
5. Moon Juice Ting — best nootropic pre-workout with ginseng
Moon Juice Ting stands out as it contains ginseng root extract. It is a powerful adaptogen, known for boosting energy levels, enhancing cognitive function, and reducing exercise-induced fatigue. The range of B vitamins, including pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine, collectively aid in converting food into energy, supporting brain health and promoting overall cell function.
Moon Juice Ting comes in powder form, so it is easy to adjust the dose according to your needs. The supplement is manufactured in a cGMP-compliant laboratory and third-party tested for conformity.
Ginseng aside, Moon Juice Ting is a powder, so it is easy to adjust the dose for it if you feel you need more or less of its effect. The main distinguishing feature is that the Moon Juice Ting is formulated without caffeine and will provide a more subtle stimulation compared to other pre-workouts that usually contain around a large cup of coffee-worth of caffeine.
25-day supply costs $42.00 ($1.62 per serving).
6. Botanic Choice L-theanine — best for stacking with other supplements
Botanic Choice’s L-theanine provides a single ingredient that can be used as part of your pre-workout stack. It is especially useful when combined with caffeine-rich supplements or just a cup of coffee before you hit the gym.
Notably, if you are adding Botanic Choice L-theanine to your pre-workout stack, you should make sure that L-theanine is not already present in the supplement formulations that you take as the combined amount may exceed the recommended intake and lead to undesirable side effects. During exercise, L-theanine can help improve focus, attention, and the mind-muscle connection, leading to better overall workout performance.
L-theanine can also enhance mood, reduce stress, and improve mental function. These benefits may translate into better performance in the gym by helping to keep you motivated and engaged in your workout.
In addition, reducing stress and improving mood can have broader benefits for overall health and well-being.
However, it's important to note that while L-theanine can provide these benefits, it doesn't directly increase energy or physical performance like other common pre-workout ingredients, such as caffeine or beta-alanine. L-theanine exerts its effects subtly and is more beneficial for mental side of workouts.
30-day supply costs $16.99 ($0.56 per serving).
Comparison of the best pre-workouts
|Brand||Price per serving*||Servings per bottle||Price per bottle||Caffeine||Number of ingredients|
|Mind Lab Pro||$2.08||30||$62.50||No||12|
|A Quality Life||$2.09||30||$62.95||Yes||13|
How we compiled our list of the best nootropic pre-workout in 2023
In creating our list of the best nootropic pre-workouts, we evaluated a number of options based on four main criteria. We considered the quality and efficacy of ingredients, the manufacturing standards upheld by the brands, the availability of third-party testing for transparency, and the price-value ratio.
When considering the ingredients of each nootropic pre-workout, we prioritized natural and scientifically-backed components that effectively boost cognitive function and enhance physical performance. The presence of ingredients such as caffeine, theanine, B-vitamins, tyrosine, and beta-alanine was noted.
Additionally, we checked for potential allergens, artificial additives, and unnecessary fillers, favoring clean, high-quality blends in our selection.
In terms of manufacturing standards, we considered the commitment of each brand to quality and safety. We took into account whether the products were made in facilities that follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs), ensuring the consistency and control of production processes.
We also valued companies that source their ingredients responsibly, provide clear labeling, and maintain a strong reputation for producing reliable, high-quality supplements.
Third-party testing was another key factor in our evaluation. This testing, conducted by independent laboratories, serves as an additional layer of assurance for product quality, safety, and label accuracy. It confirms that the ingredients listed on the product are indeed present in the stated amounts and that no unlisted or harmful substances are included.
Brands that invest in third-party testing demonstrate a strong commitment to transparency and consumer trust.
Supplement price played a significant role in our evaluation. We compared the cost per serving of each nootropic pre-workout supplement, considering both the quality and quantity of the ingredients provided. It was important to identify products that offered good value for money, striking a balance between affordability and the researched ingredients.
We aimed to highlight options suitable for a range of budgets, without compromising on quality and effectiveness.
What is nootropic pre-workout?
A nootropic pre-workout is a type of supplement intended to enhance both physical performance and cognitive function during exercise. Traditional pre-workout ingredients focus on promoting energy, stamina, and muscle strength. Meanwhile, nootropics — often termed smart drugs — are designed to improve cognitive abilities like focus, memory, and mental clarity.
When these two components are combined, they create a synergistic effect aimed at optimizing workouts. The physical elements help increase power, endurance, and muscle pump, while the cognitive elements enhance motivation, concentration, and mind-muscle connection. This dual-action can help users get the most from their workout, pushing both their bodies and minds to the limit for a more effective, productive exercise session.
Are nootropics for pre-workout safe?
Nootropics for pre-workouts are generally safe for healthy adults, but their safety can depend on individual circumstances. People with certain health conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease, or high blood pressure, should approach pre-workout nootropics with caution. Certain ingredients in these supplements, like caffeine or other stimulants, might exacerbate these conditions.
Additionally, some nootropics might interact negatively with medications, either reducing their effectiveness or causing harmful side effects. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not be taking nootropics as the effects of many such compounds on developing babies and infants are not well-studied.
Ultimately, safety can vary widely based on the specific nootropic, the person using it, and the context in which it's used. It's essential to be aware of your personal health circumstances and to monitor your body's reactions when using such supplements.
What nootropic ingredients are used as pre-workout?
In the pursuit of optimizing workout performance, certain nootropic ingredients have become prominent additions to pre-workout blends. These include the energy-boosting caffeine, focus-enhancing L-theanine, metabolism-supporting B-vitamin complex, neurotransmitter precursor L-tyrosine, and fatigue-fighting beta-alanine. Together, they aim to elevate both physical prowess and cognitive function during exercise.
Caffeine is an integral part of many pre-workout nootropic blends due to its stimulating effects on the central nervous system.
It can help to increase alertness, enhance cognitive
performance, and reduce the perception of effort during physical
activity, enabling longer and more intense workouts.
Caffeine has also been shown to increase fat oxidation and improve muscle contractions, potentially leading to better overall workout results. By boosting both mental and physical energy, caffeine serves as a potent ingredient to help maximize the effectiveness of your exercise regimen.
L-theanine, an amino acid found primarily in tea leaves, is a useful component in pre-workout nootropic blends due to its unique ability to promote relaxation without sedation. When combined with stimulants like caffeine, it can help balance their effects and promoting a state of calm, focused alertness.
This mental clarity can improve the mind-muscle connection during workouts, leading to better overall performance. In addition, L-theanine may also enhance mood and cognitive function, making it a well-rounded addition to any pre-workout regimen.
B group vitamins
The B group vitamins are crucial in a pre-workout nootropic blend due to their role in cellular metabolism. They help the body convert carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy, essential for intense physical exertion.
They also support nervous system function, aiding in neurotransmitter synthesis and brain health.
This promotes mental alertness and cognitive performance, contributing to a more effective and focused workout.
Furthermore, some B vitamins, such as B6 and B12, are involved in the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen to muscles during exercise, enhancing endurance and recovery.
an amino acid, is a valuable addition to pre-workout nootropic blends
as it's a precursor to several neurotransmitters, including dopamine,
norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
neurotransmitters are crucial for alertness, focus, and mood. During
intense workouts, the body's supply of these neurotransmitters can
deplete, leading to mental fatigue.
By supplementing with L-tyrosine, you can potentially maintain higher levels of these neurotransmitters during exercise, promoting cognitive performance and delaying mental fatigue. This can result in longer, more focused workouts and an overall enhanced exercise experience.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that's often included in pre-workout nootropic blends due to its ability to enhance athletic performance. It does this by increasing carnosine concentrations in muscles, which helps buffer against the buildup of lactic acid during high-intensity exercise. This buffering capacity can delay the onset of muscle fatigue, allowing for longer bouts of intense exercise, whether it's lifting weights, sprinting, or any other anaerobic activity.
In addition, some research suggests that beta-alanine may also have antioxidant and anti-aging properties.
How to take nootropic pre-workout
The effectiveness of a nootropic pre-workout supplement largely depends on the timing and dosage. As a general guideline, these supplements should be taken about 30 minutes to an hour before starting your workout. This gives the body enough time to absorb and start utilizing the ingredients. However, it's crucial to follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer, as the optimal time can vary based on the formulation.
As for the dosage, it's typically recommended to start with the lowest suggested dose to assess your body's reaction. Then, if needed and based on your tolerance, you can gradually increase the dosage. However, avoid exceeding the manufacturer's recommended maximum dosage to minimize the risk of side effects.
Always remember to stay hydrated, as many of these supplements work best when taken with plenty of water.
Read more about best nootropics for different purposes
Best nootropic supplements: top nootropics in 2023, listed and ranked according to our criteria
Best nootropic drink in 2023: easily harness the cognitive benefits of nootropics during moments of low energy
Best supplements for focus: improve your concentration and stay focused for longer periods
Best nootropics for ADHD: alleviate ADHD symptoms by using OTC nootropics
Best nootropics for anxiety: reduce stress and anxiety with natural nootropic supplements
Best nootropics for studying: keep your cognitive functions sharp during mental tasks
Does beta-alanine raise testosterone?
No. While beta-alanine is well-documented to enhance athletic performance by improving muscular endurance and reducing fatigue, no scientific studies have found it to directly influence testosterone levels.
Is caffeine a nootropic?
Yes. Caffeine is a well-studied nootropic that increases alertness and concentration. It also is a stimulant, boosting energy levels. Caffeine-containing pre-workout supplements can give you the energy and focus you need to go that extra mile in the gym during your session.
What is the difference between nootropic and pre-workout?
Nootropics and pre-workouts are both supplements but serve different functions. While pre-workout supplements aim to boost physical performance, energy, and endurance during exercise, nootropics, often termed 'brain-boosters,' focus on enhancing cognitive functions — focus, memory, and mental clarity.
Does pre-workout make you nauseous?
You may experience nausea after taking a pre-workout. It may be due to the high caffeine content, sensitivity to ingredients, or consuming on an empty stomach. If you often feel nauseated after taking a pre-workout, consider having a small snack before taking the supplement to mitigate discomfort.
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Effects of β-alanine supplementation during a 5-week strength training program: a randomized, controlled study.
- Sports Medicine. Caffeine and Exercise: What Next?
- The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Panax ginseng Supplementation Increases Muscle Recruitment, Attenuates Perceived Effort, and Accelerates Muscle Force Recovery After an Eccentric-Based Exercise in Athletes.
- The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. One Week of L-Citrulline Supplementation Improves Performance in Trained Cyclists.