You scoop your pre-workout powder into a glass or shaker, add water, mix and chug. We know the benefits of this mix will help us in the gym and recover afterward, but right this second, you are making that face. That "this is the most disgusting thing ever" face.
Perhaps you don't like bitter, sweet, or metallic flavors. Perhaps your pre-workout tastes spicy. Or maybe you made a mistake and bought that god-awful lemon-lime flavor.
No matter your tastes, we are here to help you get through this tough time and make your pre-workout taste better.
We will explore why they taste so bad and give you solutions and answers to help improve the flavor of your powdery mix so you get to the gym without that sourpuss face.
Table of Contents
- Why Does Pre-Workout Taste So Bad? (Culprit Ingredients)
- Make Your Pre-Workout Taste Good (How To Add Flavor)
- What Should You Do If Your Pre-Workout Tastes Horrible?
- Make Your Own Pre-Workout
- Frequently Asked Pre-Workout Taste Questions
Why Does Pre-Workout Taste So Bad? (Culprit Ingredients)
Chemical compounds, minerals, and vitamins all have a taste. Even if they don't have a flavor, they hit our taste buds and react. Some are bitter, sour or meaty, or even metallic.
All of the ingredients on your pre-workout label have a taste, and often they don't mix well on the pallet.
Creatine is a compound found naturally in the body. It is also consumed through protein-rich sources like meat and fish. As a supplement powder, though, it has a highly bitter taste. Combined with other bitter flavors and your pre-workout will cause a bitter face pucker.
Creatine can help boost performance, reduce muscular fatigue, and aids in lean mass and muscle growth. While creatine monohydrate is the go-to source, other options are available and proving just as popular. Unfortunately, the unpleasant taste still leaves much to be desired.
When you pick up brand-name pre-workout supplements off the shelf, the labels won't say things like "tangy," "metallic," or "bitter." Instead, you find things like "Rainbow Candy," "Breezeberry," or "Baja Burst."
Artificial flavors and other artificial masking agents hide these bitter, tangy, or spicy flavors of the ingredients, but they come at a cost.
Not only do you get some unnatural combinations, but artificial flavoring can add a heavy chemical taste to your glass. Even a good flavor or a good pre-workout brand can have a bad aftertaste because of the main ingredients. If your pre-workout tastes bad, this is probably the reason.
Caffeine is the most popular pre-workout ingredient and stimulant and comes from many sources: coffee bean extract, green tea, matcha tea, and even dehydrated caffeine are all extremely bitter when in powder form.
Combine the caffeine and creatine, and you have a bitter taste that will linger on the tongue for hours. Many pre-workout taste issues can be traced back to these ingredients.
Related Article - How Much Caffeine Is In Pre-Workout? (Guide For Top Brands)
Like the caffeine and creatine before it, BCAAs are also present with a highly bitter taste. While amino acids are flavorless, the bitter element combined with other bitter tastes in the mix can make your pre-workout virtually unbearable without attempting to make the pre-workout taste better.
BCAAs help you recover, aid in endurance, and avoid burnout. They also do a great job building muscle, aiding digestion, blood flow, and lean muscle mass. Without them, your workouts can plateau or suffer, but they can make your pre-workouts taste bad.
Know More - BCAAs Vs Pre-Workouts (Key Differences)
Make Your Pre-Workout Taste Good (How To Add Flavor)
You can do several things to improve the flavor and taste of your pre-workout. Before you can alter the taste, you need to understand your ingredients to know what to change. You won't want to add acidic flavors like lime or lemon to a pre-workout that is already sour.
Based on the ingredients and flavors already in the mix, you can create the base flavor to complement what is there and improve the flavor. Here are 6 different methods to help when your pre-workout tastes bad.
1. Add Fresh Citrus Juice
If you purchase a sweet or flavorless pre-workout blend, you can add a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime juice. This will add flavor and antioxidants to your drink as well as phytonutrients which are shown to protect cells from oxidation damage.
If your pre-workout formula is bland or spicy, adding a few squeezes of citrus fruits can help add flavor and tone down spice.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is cheap and easy to add to any drink to help pass the pre-workout taste test. You can get juices from thawed frozen fruits as well, if you are on a budget.
Orange, lemon and lime, as well as other citrus flavors, shouldn't be added to pre-workout supplement mixes that are already sour, though. The malic acid and citric acid are already sour and can make a sour mix even worse.
2. Mix Pre-Workout With Coconut Water
Most pre-workout supplements are bitter or sour and need to be sweetened up. The best method for this is to add a splash of coconut water. It is naturally sweeter than plain water and has a lot more benefits.
Coconut water studies show that it helps maintain hydration levels with the essential nutrients it contains. Coconut water also contains electrolytes to help you recover and stay hydrated during intense workout sessions.
However, you will want to avoid coconut water additions if your pre-workout is already sweet.
3. Drink Pre-Workout with Milk
We are all told to stay clear of dairy when working out, but there are some natural benefits to our bodies that can't be ignored. When used as the base for your powder mix, milk (soy, coconut, or regular milk) can remove bitter flavors.
Milk also contains vitamins, calcium, minerals, and fats to help raise energy levels. Further, you will also find casein and whey in milk, which are shown to help improve muscle recovery after high intensity workout sessions and cardio performances.
4. Make A Smoothie
Using fruits to blend into a smoothie can eliminate almost any bad pre-workout tastes. Cherries, berries, watermelon, and oranges are the most common, but you can also use apples, pear, peaches, or almost any other fruit.
Frozen fruits seem to work best, and you will want to limit the amount of solid food used in your smoothie. If you add too much, your body will work on digestion rather than moving blood to the muscles during your workout or fat-loss cardio routine.
5. Add a Pinch of Salt To Your Pre-Workout
If you are a long-distance runner or endurance sport athlete, you already know about the benefits of salt. Adding a pinch of salt to your pre-workout can increase serum electrolyte concentration and hydration levels.
Salt will also help bring out the sweetness of the flavor of your supplement mix, making it taste better and work harder for you. More reps, longer sets, and staving off dehydration make adding salt a win-win.
Related Article - Salt As Pre Workout? (4 Main Benefits)
6. Add Additional Flavors/Mix Pre-Workouts
Adding other natural flavors can also create unique flavor combinations. Cocoa powder, vanilla, yogurt, and ice cream can be added to enhance or change the flavor and make your pre-workout more palpable.
Choosing fresh, natural ingredients can also add minerals, proteins, and vitamins to the mix as well as amino acids, micro-nutrients, and antioxidants. It also helps you avoid artificial flavors, colors, and dyes.
Another less common option is to mix complimentary flavors of different pre-workouts. Assuming the ingredient amounts won't put you over the top for any particular daily recommended values, mixing a lemon and lime flavor or cherry and vanilla flavor workout supplement may help improve the taste of them on their own.
Finally, mixing your pre-workout with flavored water is always an option, too. You just want to avoid sparkling water or carbonated water. Flavored waters have powerful flavors that come through the pre-workout powder to help them become more palpable.
Lemon water is popular to help combat any taste issue you may have. While you may not get a bubblegum ice cream flavor with a homemade pre-workout, you will avoid proprietary blends and nasty tasting ingredients.
Find Out About - Can You Take Creatine With Pre-Workout?
What Should You Do If Your Pre-Workout Tastes Horrible?
So how to make pre-workout taste better? If none of the flavor additions above are viable or you don’t have the ingredients on hand, there are other ways to take your pre-workout without having a horrible taste.
The effectiveness of the following options can be hit or miss, but in a pinch, it may work for you.
Hold Your Nose While Drinking It
One of the most common methods to deal with a taste or flavor we dislike is to plug our nose. Why does this work, though? The scent sense is one of the most powerful of the five senses, and it connects directly to the taste sense.
When you eat or drink, the odors travel through the nose and down the back of your throat; during this time the tastes and flavors are enhanced.
When you plug your nose, you stop the additional flavor enhancements from your senses, and the food or drink has a more bland taste. While it doesn't remove the flavor entirely, it can help get it down.
Learn About - Can You Snort Pre-Workout If Don't Like The Taste?
Make Your Own Pre-Workout
Making an all-natural pre-workout (good tasting pre-workout) isn't that difficult. It can cost a bit more as you need to purchase all of the main ingredients, such as your branched-chain amino acids, minerals, caffeine anhydrous, and flavorings.
The good news is that you can also make smoothies, add fruit juices and control exactly what goes into your mix and how much. The ingredients are also left up to you. If you want orange juice or fresh ginger, coconut milk, or even more whey protein, you can add it.
By mixing your own pre-workout drink, you also get full control over the flavor and taste so you can create something you enjoy drinking. There won’t be any artificial flavors, and you can use your favorite sweetener to mimic sugary tastes.
Without a proprietary blend, you will know exactly what and how much is in your own mix. You can avoid many chemical compounds and other pre-workout formulations that may not help you burn fat or enhance workout performance.
The one downside to a homemade pre-workout is the lack of experience with amino acid additions, nitric oxide, and beta-alanine tingles and ensuring you get the best ingredients for your mix. Experience, testing, and trial and error will help you nail the best pre-workout tastes made from scratch.
Use Less Mixer To Drink It Quicker
Another method is to dilute the pre-workout further than recommended. For example, you can use a larger glass with more water or use less powder when mixing in your normal glass.
Less mix won't alter the flavor but can diminish the taste, and it also makes the mix thinner (if yours contains whey or creatine), allowing you to drink it faster to be done with it.
While you want to avoid sports drinks, the best pre-workout flavor may be the one you buy, but only after you dilute the pre-workout down a bit with more water.
Buy A Different Brand/Flavor
Another simple option is to try a different flavor of your favorite brand, or, alternatively, change brands. Some formulas use more flavoring than others, and it can make a huge difference on your tongue.
If you find that fruit punch is your favorite flavor, C4 may be too sweet, while Optimum Nutrition may be just right. It is a matter of preference, but trying different brands can be the best option for you.
Recommendation | Our #1 Pre-Workout
Frequently Asked Pre-Workout Taste Questions
What does pre-workout taste like in general?
In general, the tastes and flavors of a pre-workout aren't horrible, but you will need to get used to it. Because of the amino acids, though, almost all pre-workout mixes naturally have a bitter or sour taste. This is combated by adding sweeteners and flavorings to the powders, but it doesn't always help.
Why do some pre-workouts taste spicy?
Some pre-workouts use capsicum in their ingredient list to help boost your metabolism. While it works great, it is also the main compound in chili and bell peppers that give them their bite. Pre-workout supplements with capsicum have a spicy taste.
What is the tastiest pre-workout flavor?
The tastiest is an opinion, and everyone's is different. However, fruit, watermelon, vanilla, and lemon-lime are the most popular and most often purchased flavors available. Your favorite and tastiest mix may be one of these or something completely different.
What should you not mix with pre-workout?
There are several things you should avoid mixing into your pre-workout. That list includes juice pulp, carbonated water or soda, bottled juice, and flavored coffee. These items can diminish the effects, make the mix too thick to drink, or make the taste unbearable.
We take pre-workout to boost athletic performance, but it is no secret that pre-workouts taste bad. Some are even downright horrible. If you know the base taste, though, you can add ingredients and flavorings to counteract them.
Too sweet, and you should add citrus. If your mix is too sour, you can add coconut water. Adding other flavors can keep spice tastes down, add sweetness or change the taste entirely.
Once you find a flavor and taste that works for you, you can take your pre-workout without making that bitter-sour face and go on to enjoy your workout.
Hopefully this guide has helped you learn how to make pre-workout taste better. If you find that your pre-workout tastes bad or the pre-workout you bought just isn’t right, you can change the taste and flavor to suit your needs.
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Last Updated on October 11, 2022