There’s no pre-workout without workout. Just like there’s no sandwich without sand.
Or something like that.
This puts the pre-workout in a temporary existentially confusing state. When an exerciser takes a pre-workout but hasn’t yet worked …does the pre-workout even exist yet? After all, what if an exerciser takes a pre-workout but then doesn’t work out.
What is it then? What did he just put in his mouth??
This is just one of the many questions we will not get to in this article, because, frankly, it’s kind of a dumb question that no one’s really asking.
Instead, we’ll answer the titular question at hand: What is the best vegan pre-workout supplement to buy in 2020? That’s one we actually can answer (without resorting to a philosophy book, too, which is a plus).
But before answering that question, it’s direly important that we first answer:
Why Take a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Because you want to workout better. Duh!
Or perhaps you just want to work out period. One of the best ways to get your ass into the gym is to invest in some really good supplements. After all, you work hard for your money, and you’re not going to let all of that money go to waste by failing to use your workout supplements by failing to work out, right?
Whether you’ve been going to the gym for years and you’ve hit a plateau or you’re an exercise newcomer, pre-workout supplements may help you take your game to the next level by focusing on the following pre-workout bio-benefits:
The Exercise Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements
ATP Energy Enhancement
The exercise benefits of caffeine are more psychological than physiological. Not that the psychological should be discounted when it comes to exercise: the mental barrier preventing people from entering the gym in the first place is not a trivial thing.
Buuut having said that…
When it comes to pre-workout exercise enhancement, we prefer natural cellular energy over caffeinated stimulation. For one, cellular energy (namely ATP) actually enhances one’s muscular endurance. It allows exercisers to do more reps and sets before burning out. Creatine, for example, being one of the more popular cellular energy boosters, works very well by allowing exercisers to work harder. But it’s important to work harder while using this stuff, to burn off all the excess energy stored in your muscle tissue.
Nitric Oxide (N.O.) Muscle Pumps
Next to creatine, N.O. boosters are some of the more reliable, more popular pre-workout supplements favored by a wide range of athletes and bodybuilders. And they work noticeably well, meaning that you can feel them working upon the first serving.
Nitric oxide helps vascular smooth muscle relax, thereby allowing blood to flow better throughout the body. Increased blood flow increases oxygen and fuel delivery to muscle tissue, keeping your muscles well-stocked and energized. This literally feels like your muscles are pumped up, as Arnold Schwarzenegger described. A feeling better than sex (also a Schwarzenegger phrase), which is an apt comparison, seeing that N.O. boosters also assist with bedtime performance as much as gym-time activities.
Athletes train in high-elevation regions to increase their body’s oxygen capacity. Essentially, how this works: high elevations come with low oxygen levels, forcing the body to acclimate by increasing myoglobin (oxygen carrying proteins) levels.
Not to say that pre-workout supplements can somehow simulate these conditions to increase oxygen capacity (via myoglobin enhancement). But we mention all this to highlight the important of oxygen utilization. And some PWO ingredients do seem to enhance the body’s oxygen utilization efficiency, often through unknown mechanisms. These may pair well with N.O. boosters, which essentially help deliver oxygen to the right place.
Lactic Acid Clearance
That “battery acid” feeling in your muscles that comes with high-intensity extended exercise, especially cardio exercise, isn’t battery acid (obviously) but lactic acid, a byproduct of the body’s Plan B strategy for maintaining energy levels. It’s called “lactic acid fermentation,” a metabolic process that involves the conversion of sugars into cellular energy and the metabolite lactate, the precursor to lactic acid.
Alkalizing agents in PWO supplements help clear lactic acid in muscle tissue, which helps extend exercise endurance and protects muscle gains against catabolic levels of acid build-up.
Similar to lactic acid clearance, antioxidants protect muscle tissue against high levels of oxidative stress (free radical build-up), which accumulates with high-intensity training.
It’s somewhat of a paradox: exercise contributes to muscle gains yet also increases oxidative stress, a muscle damaging force, throughout the body. Upping the antioxidant intake prior to exercise may help ameliorate the oxidative downside to exercise, sustaining muscle growth, repair, and recovery.
Exercisers sweat. Or at least they should be sweating, if they’re exercising correctly.
Sweat is a good thing: it helps keep the body cool to prevent overheating. But with sweating comes water loss and salt (electrolyte) loss. We respond to this by drinking water, which is great but it’s not enough. Without additional electrolyte intake to sustain hydration levels, all of that water will fail to absorb into the body, quickly passing from one end to the other.
PWO supplements with electrolytes pre-emptively address dehydration by stocking the body full of water-sustaining salts prior to (what should be) a very sweat workout.
Which is Better: Vegan vs. Non-Vegan Pre-Workout Supplement?
Does “vegan” mean “compromise” when it comes to exercise benefits? Should only vegans take vegan supplements?
Nah. Really, for the most part, the vegan aspect generally comes into play in the manufacturing process. Are the formulas contained in plant-based capsules or animal gelatin? What about the other additives? Are they eco-friendly or will this shit still be in brand new condition when the aliens inevitably invade the remains of our planet in two million years?
Vegan supplements tend to supply supplements that are clean and green in and out. Their ingredients are all natural and earth grown and their capsules, additives, etc. are also safe and natural and tend to come at a minimum. Granted, vegan powder supplements can taste kind of dirty – literally, like dirt – but at least it’s a nutrient-rich kind of dirty.
Generally, the differences here are:
- Vegan PWO: clean additives, eco-friendly manufacturing processes, non-GMO ingredients, and (not always but often) a high price tag.
- Non-Vegan PWO: animal byproduct additives, such as gelatin, colorants, magnesium stearate, etc., and cheaper ingredients for a cheaper price.
While ingredients such as magnesium stearate wouldn’t delegitimize the “vegan” status of a vegan supplement, vegan supplements tend to avoid these additives as vegan buyers tend to be savvier of what goes into a supplement. Not just on the list of ingredients but also the “Other Ingredients”.
And seeing that most ingredients that go into pre-workout supplements are natural and vegan anyways, it seems smart for non-vegans to opt for vegan stacks, especially if they find one that’s reasonably priced.
Best Vegan Pre-Workout Supplement to Buy in 2020:
Performance Lab Pre
One of the best vegan pre-workout supplements is one that doesn’t outright sell itself as a “vegan supplement” but qualifies as one all the same. Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout is an incredibly effective, convenient PWO stack that’s uniquely packed into on-the-go Plantcaps® capsules and that’s uniquely reasonably priced for how premium quality its ingredients are.
It’s easy for pre-workout ingredients to rely on caffeine to carry all of their weight. What they tend to do is hide their ingredient dosages under a catch-all proprietary blend to give the illusion that there are a lot of awesome ingredients in their stack, and yet most of what you get is a mouth full of caffeine.
Which feels great. But it’s not the real thing.
The ingredients supplied by Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout are the real thing: they natural increase muscle energy and endurance. They improve fuel and oxygen utilization, and they do all of this without the use of cheap stimulants. Here’s an in-depth look at this PWO’s formula:
Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout Ingredients
Seven ingredients total (combining Himalayan Pink Salt and Sodium) packed into a sizable 4-capsules serving size to ensure that all ingredients are sufficiently dosed. Individually, these ingredients are:
Creatine (as Creapure® pH10), 1000mg
Highly concentrated in muscle tissue, creatine is a natural, organic compound used for the creation of ATP cellular energy, the type of energy used for muscle contractions, repair, and growth. As a supplement, creatine’s a very useful and reliable ergogenic. In terms of exercise enhancement, creatine allows its users to:
- Exercise harder for longer;
- Improve lean muscle mass development;
- Buffer lactic acid build up within muscle tissue.
Because creatine accumulates in the muscle tissue, time is required for this PWO to work. In other words, creatine needs to build up after a few days before the user begins to notice results.
Although, thanks to Performance Lab’s enhanced Creapure® version of this energy booster, the rate of absorption and, therefore, accumulation may be lessened, allowing for quicker performance enhancement results.
Cordyceps Sinensis (as Cordyceps Super™), 750mg
Traditionally eaten in Asia as a health tonic, Cordyceps sinensis is a type of fungus that grows on insect larvae and that seems to improve exercise capacity by stimulating mitochondrial ATP energy production and cell oxygen utilization. How cordyceps improve oxygen utilization remains somewhat of a mystery, but the result of this bio-mechanism is a greater resistance to muscular burnout.
Such natural, fungal ingredients can be difficult to supply in supplement form without denaturing their bio-benefits. Performance Lab gets around this complication with Cordyceps Super™, a nature-identical cordyceps extract concentrated to a 16:1 potency. And, yes, this patented fungus extract is created without the use of larvae, preserving Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout’s vegan status.
L-citrulline has quickly supplanted L-arginine for the “Best N.O. Booster” throne by, well, actually working. Not to say that L-arginine supplements don’t outright work, but the problem with L-arginine, as a supplement, is that it fails to completely absorb into the body in a bio-active state.
L-citrulline, on the other hand, may more effectively access the body, where it converts to the amino acid L-arginine and delivers the amino’s N.O. boosting benefits. The result is great circulation for better muscle pumps and endurance.
So, perhaps L-arginine still holds the Best N.O. Booster title, given that it’s still L-arginine doing all the work here. But L-citrulline is the superior supplement for actually getting L-arginine into the body.
L-Glutamine (from Ajinomoto®), 250mg
The most abundant amino acid in the body …and we need more of it?? Yes, when you’re exercising, actually. L-glutamine plays a key role in protein metabolism and muscle repair. It’s an anabolic support amino, one that seems to work by:
- Accelerating the clearance of lactic acid;
- Increasing growth hormone (GH) levels;
- Protecting against oxidative stress.
Glutamine deficiency is a marker of muscle atrophy. By supplementing L-glutamine in a pre-workout context, much of the deleterious aspects of high-intensity training (e.g., lactic acid build-up, oxidative stress) have less of a negative impact on muscle growth and repair.
Another amino acid highly concentrated in the muscle, namely fast-twitch muscle tissue, L-carnosine seems to promote muscle growth by:
- Providing antioxidant protection against oxidative stress;
- Inhibiting catabolic advanced glycation end-products (AGEs);
- Reducing the impact of muscle-damaging acid build-up.
By protecting against the fatigue producing effects of high-intensity exercise, L-carnosine helps exercisers extend their workout time and, ultimately, improve their muscle and strength gains with greater ease.
Himalayan Pink Salt, 350mg
As earlier mentioned, sweating comes with water loss and electrolyte loss. The latter in particular makes it difficult for exercisers to rehydrate. Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout’s unique inclusion of Himalayan pink salt helps remedy this issue by supplying sodium chloride with naturally occurring trace minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract (min. 95% proanthocyanidins), 100mg
Protecting the tree against the harsh climes of the sea, maritime pine bark supplies a rich complex of antioxidants called proanthocyanidins. In supplement form, these antioxidants offer significant protective advantages against free radical damages and inflammation. Often taken in the context of cognitive enhancement, these antioxidants not only protect the brain against oxidative stress but also the body. Not to mention that the extract’s N.O. boosting benefits seem to improve circulation across the brain and body for better attention capacity and muscular endurance.
Other Ingredients: Vegan Plantcaps® Capsules
A vegan formula isn’t enough to qualify as a vegan supplement. The “Other Ingredients” also need to fit the bill. Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout fits its all-natural formula in all-natural, vegan, non-GMO Plantcaps® capsules. Constructed out of fermented tapioca, Plantcaps® register in the body as food, doing nothing to interrupt the absorption of this product’s formula.
No junky additives, no colorants or magnesium stearate. Just clean, green capsules and that’s all. Groovy, man.
To buy or learn more, visit:
– www.PerformanceLab.com –
Who Takes Vegan Pre-Workout Supplements?
Not only vegan exercisers but the non-vegan doods and doodettes as well. Naturally, people who work out, of course. This isn’t the type of supplement you can take and sit on your ass and expect results. Perhaps you may see some mass gain, due to the body’s higher concentration of water in the muscles to counterbalance the extra creatine, but this sort of mass gain doesn’t exactly translate to strength or athletic gains without high-intensity training.
Having said that, people who aren’t into creatine (or can’t take it) may not be super into this stack. Even so, it’s an incredibly efficient and safe form of creatine, one that may be used daily for a long time.
When should I take Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout?
Prior to working out, of course. The “Suggested Use” directions on the label advise: “On training days, take 4-6 capsules 45-60 minutes pre-workout with 16-32 oz. of water. For best results, take consistently.”
Do I need to cycle creatine?
Not this creatine. I’ve supplemented high doses of cheap creatine before, and for many consecutive months, and while the experience was mainly positive, I did develop elbow tendonitis after awhile due to the dehydration issues. This wasn’t the case with Performance Lab’s premium, easy-to-absorb creatine.
I don’t see any special need to cycle Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout. My recommendation is to just listen to your body and see it how it responds to ongoing creatine supplementation. And to drink plenty water.
The Before, During, and After Workout Supplement Stack
So, you enjoy Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout and now you want to take it to the next level. Or rather the next levels. Fortunately, the Performance Lab supplement line offers a series of SPORT supplements that you can stack together for added exercise enhancement.
The total pre-, intra-, and post-workout Performance Lab supplement stack includes:
- Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout: the subject of this review, Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout improves muscular endurance and energy for longer, better workouts. More on Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout.
- Performance Lab SPORT BCAA: branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supply the correct, muscle-optimized ratio of L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine for improved muscle gains and recovery. More on Performance Lab SPORT BCAA.
- Performance Lab SPORT Post-Workout: this stack focuses primarily on muscle replenishment and rehydration, priming muscle tissue with an anabolic, muscle-growing metabolism. More on Performance Lab SPORT Post-Workout.
A few ingredients overlap between these three stacks, including creatine and electrolytes. But this only translates to greater results where these ergogenic ingredients are concerned.
Plus, all of these supplements fit the vegan bill, so no worries there.
Do you need a pre-workout to work out? Here’s sort of the reverse philosophical question of the philosophical question poses in this article’s intro: Is there even a workout without a pre-workout?
Or do workouts just suddenly appear out of nowhere without a pre-stage? Sort of like the Big Bang theory, or something?
Either way, jumping into a workout without a pre-workout does sort of make the workout …less of a workout.
Adding Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout into the mix jumpstarts the gym experience from the go, allowing exercisers to get the most out of their reps and sets – and to pack in more reps and sets within their gym-time.
The result is a stronger, better you.