women exercising in the morning

April, 12, 2023

The Best Natural Pre-Workout to Crush Your Gym Sesh

Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that pre-workout fueling literally means eating before your workout? You would think so! The timing, amount and kind of pre-workout fuel can vary depending on the individual and the type of workout being performed. What you do to fuel yourself day in and day out also is part of your “pre-workout regimen.”

The Best Natural Pre-Workout to Crush Your Gym Sesh

Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that pre-workout fueling literally means eating before your workout? You would think so! The timing, amount and kind of pre-workout fuel can vary depending on the individual and the type of workout being performed. What you do to fuel yourself day in and day out also is part of your “pre-workout regimen.” 

Now, if you’re looking for a little boost to fuel your workouts, you will begin to see these “cute little bottles” and supplements tooting improvements in athletic performance. Those are the supplements that you want to consume 30-60 minutes before your workout to give you the ability to push a little harder and longer. 

A study published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that those who took a pre-workout supplement containing B-vitamins, adaptogens and caffeine 30-minutes before their workout, improved oxygen delivery to muscles, training volume and increased muscle mass!  

On another note, if you choose to fuel with food, a general rule of thumb is to consume a meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein 1-3 hours before a workout or as tolerated by the individual. It is also important to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise by drinking water or other fluids that restore electrolyte balance. 

Winning Workout Routine with Pre-Workout Food Fuel

A winning workout routine must be matched with eating food too! If you notice you’re hungry after taking a pre-workout supplement chances are you’re underfueling yourself throughout the day. There are three macronutrients you want to be sure you’re consuming as part of your routine and include: carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body during exercise and can be found in foods such as fruits, grains, and vegetables. This is also the preferred energy source that helps “top off” your muscles' storage of carbohydrates and is used during short and high intensity routine (1). This is called glycogen, the process by which your body stores carbohydrates in the muscles and liver.

Protein is important for repairing and building muscles, and can be found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, tofu and dairy products. In one study it showed that consuming protein before a training session optimized performance and speeds up recovery (2).

Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocado, can also provide a slow-burning source of energy for longer workouts. Since fat has more calories in it based on volume it can weigh you down during your workout and is advised to limit especially just before an activity. But, you do need it to allow your body to transport fuel throughout your body!

Overall, it’s important to also fuel meals to best help with your performance. According to Nancy Clark, a well-known Sports Dietitian explains that “by choosing both carbs and  protein (oatmeal + eggs, or pasta + meat sauce), you will be able to exercise better 24 and 48 hours after hard muscle-damaging exercise. You’ll have a lower blood level of creatine kinase (CK), a marker of muscle damage.”

Best Natural Pre-Workout Ingredients

Entering your workout filled with the right energy and strength, consistently, will help you to outperform any personal record you have for yourself. Not only are there the three macronutrients to consider as part of your training but also vitamins, minerals and natural ingredients that don’t leave you with crashes in performance.

As a matter of fact, they have been proven in research to give you that cutting edge in performance and muscle recovery. The top ones include:

Caffeine: This natural stimulant is found in coffee, tea, and many other plants. Its supposed mechanism of action has been to increase the release of calcium within the muscle to help support a faster response to the physical activity (3). It also helps to preserve muscle glycogen use by preventing breakdown. Caffeine in a way steps in and helps the body to improve focus and endurance (3). Ethan’s Clean Energy Shot extracts its caffeine from natural sources such as green tea and guayusa which leaves those pesky jitters behind.

Creatine: This naturally occurring compound is found in muscle tissue and can help improve strength, power, and muscle growth. Creatine has been shown to improve lean muscle mass along with your training schedule (4). The key to supplementing with creatine is consistently taking it over a period so that you can improve muscle stores and increase lean body mass. 

One study showed an increase of 60% in muscle mass compared to a group that conducted strength training alone! (5)

Beta-alanine: This amino acid can help improve endurance and delay fatigue by buffering lactic acid in the muscles. (6) Lactic acid leaves a burning feeling which causes delay in recovery if not enough oxygen reaches the muscles. 

Nitric oxide boosters: These include ingredients such as citrulline, arginine, and beetroot extract, which can help improve blood flow, oxygen delivery, and nutrient uptake in the muscles.

B Vitamins: These vitamins, including B6 and B12, are involved in energy metabolism and can help improve energy levels and reduce fatigue.

Adaptogens: These natural compounds, including ashwagandha and rhodiola, can help reduce stress and improve mental and physical performance during exercise. Lion’s mane specifically potentially can increase a hormone called IGF-1 which is responsible for muscle growth. (7)

Electrolytes: These minerals, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium, are essential for proper hydration and muscle function.

Things to Avoid in a Natural Pre-workout

With so many supplements out there on the market it can often get a little overwhelming as to what formula is best when it comes to natural pre-workouts. Below are a few ingredients that are not considered natural and you may want to avoid. Here are a few that don’t add any performance benefits to your physical activity routine. 

Artificial Sweeteners: Many pre-workout supplements contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin. While these sweeteners may be low in calories, they can cause negative health effects and are best avoided as they interfere with normal energy metabolism. 

High Levels of Caffeine: While caffeine can provide a boost of energy, high levels of caffeine can cause negative side effects such as jitters, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. Look for natural pre-workouts that contain moderate levels of caffeine, or other natural energy boosters such as green tea or yerba mate.

One research study found that the ingestion of lower doses of caffeine (3 mg/kg body mass) triggered greater effects on cognition and brain activation when compared to moderate and higher doses (6 or 9 mg/kg body mass). (8)

Synthetic Additives: Some pre-workout supplements contain synthetic additives such as colors, flavors, and preservatives all which only improve the look and texture of the product. These are best avoided in favor of natural pre-workouts that contain whole food ingredients.

Excessive Sugar: Pre-workouts that are high in sugar can cause a crash in energy levels after the initial boost. Look for natural pre-workouts that are low in sugar or use natural sweeteners such as honey or stevia.

Artificial Fillers: Some pre-workout supplements may contain artificial fillers such as cellulose, silicon dioxide, or titanium dioxide. These fillers are often used to improve the texture or appearance of the product but may have negative health effects.

Synthetic Stimulants: Some pre-workout supplements contain synthetic stimulants such as DMAA, DMBA, or AMP citrate. These stimulants can have negative health effects and are best avoided in favor of natural pre-workouts that use natural ingredients to boost energy levels.

Final Takeaway to a Natural Pre-workout

Natural pre-workout supplements can really enhance and add a boost to performance. When selecting the right ingredients, combination and amounts at the right times it can really make a difference. Ethan’s Clean Energy Shots blend natural plant derived caffeine, B Vitamins and adaptogens that give you the kick you need, without all the unnatural rubbish that could actually hinder your progress.  

If you don’t want to eat food before a workout, this natural pre workout supplement is clean, organic with ingredients that are actually good for you. Give it a shot [pun intended] and experiment with it to see the benefit yourself! 


An 8-ounce cup of green tea with a dash of honey is a great option for a pre-workout. Since it has a lower dose of caffeine (about 20-50 mg per cup) it can still give you the same benefit as would a pre-workout.

Authored By

Christa Brown, MS, RDN, LD

Christa Brown is the owner of Christa Brown Nutrition and Consultants LLC with a practice focus on diabetes management and content development for brands and fitness influencers. She is a licensed dietitian with a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education and a certification in Gut Health by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Being someone who has struggled with prediabetes, she uses her journey to help make nutrition easy to understand and above all else, relatable for the consumer. You’ll find her quoted in some of the major online magazines including Parade, Women’s Health, Food Network, Everyday Health, Healthline, Fitbit, Livestrong and Well + Good. People describe her as a trailblazing spark-plug full of happy energy and it bleeds into every part of her work. When she’s not working at her ergonomic desk with a yoga ball for a chair, she’s outside pruning a bush, video recording a new recipe, surfing at the beach or begging her husband to go to a new restaurant in the evenings!

Read more

Keep Reading