If you're committed to a keto lifestyle, the question of whether pre-workout supplements align with your dietary choices is a common and understandable concern.

In this article, I'll delve into the keto-friendliness of pre-workout products, and as a certified sports nutritionist, help you make informed decisions to optimize your workouts while staying in ketosis.

Yes, a pre-workout supplement is good for a keto diet. Most pre-workout supplements are low-carb (or no-carb) and low-calorie powders, which won't significantly alter your carbohydrate intake for the day. In most cases, a single serving of a pre-workout powder will contain less than one gram of carbs, making it very keto-friendly.

More importantly, most pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, which is quite beneficial for ketosis in the following way.

  1. Caffeine acts as a nervous system stimulant, and it "excites" your brain. 
  2. The pituitary gland perceives this as an emergency and "tells" the adrenal gland to secrete adrenaline.
  3. Adrenaline then speeds up the release of free fatty acids. 

In even simpler terms, caffeine instructs your body to break down fat for energy, perfectly aligning with the goal of a keto diet.

Is Pre-Workout Keto-Friendly? (Stay In Ketosis!)

Is Pre-Workout Necessary On Keto Diets?

Pre-workout supplements are not inherently necessary on a keto diet, as your body will quickly adapt to the lack of carbohydrates as the primary source of fuel, and you shouldn't feel fatigued for more than a week. However, we can't ignore individual differences.

As I say to all my clients, your primary source of fuel should be whole foods. That said, keto is a restrictive diet that forces your body to rely on fat for energy, which isn't the most optimal way to function or train, meaning you could feel more tired than usual. 

Therefore, some of you may find pre-workout supplements necessary for a temporary energy boost, improved focus, or enhanced performance before your resistance training or cardio sessions. 

What Is Actually Necessary On Keto Diets?

Eating Enough Calories

The main reason I see people turning to powerful pre-workouts on a keto diet is because they're starving themselves on top of being on a restrictive diet. You have to eat enough calories from whole food sources to stay energized and lose weight properly.

Maintaining a balanced caloric deficit of 300 to 500 calories is the only efficient way to stay healthy on a keto diet. I am fully aware that rapid weight loss (5% over 5 weeks) is more effective, but slower weight loss (5% in 15 weeks) offers better body composition and long-term results without the pre-workout assistance.[1]

Getting Enough Restful Sleep

You must prioritize quality sleep in order to stay healthy and energized on a keto diet. The last thing you should do is sleep 4-6 hours per night and load up on caffeine to get through your workout. This can have adverse effects on your body and growth potential.[2]

Drink Enough Water

Drinking enough water, more than 2 liters per day, is a fundamental, non-negotiable aspect of maintaining overall health, especially when following a ketogenic diet and/or taking pre-workouts.

Water is necessary for the process of beta-oxidation, a process of breaking down fatty acid molecules. On keto, you'll be burning additional fat for energy, making hydration even more important.

Additionally, if you turn to pre-workouts for energy, keep in mind that caffeine is a diuretic and could lead to more frequent urination, increasing the need for hydration even further.

man drinking water after working out

5 Benefits Of Pre-Workout While On Keto Diet

The benefits of a keto pre-workout supplement are well-known and reported. However, there isn't a lot of information about keto-friendly pre-workouts other than lower or no-carb formulas.

1. Boosts Energy

As I said earlier, keto can sometimes lead to reduced energy levels. This mostly happens in the initial transition phase, but since that's usually the make-or-break phase in a diet, every bit of help is welcome.

Caffeine in pre-workout can provide a quick but long-lasting energy boost to support your workouts when your body is still adjusting to using fat for fuel.

2. Faster Metabolism

Pre-workout supplements can stimulate your metabolism and promote fat burning, as I explained earlier.

Since this is the goal of most folks on a keto diet, speeding up your metabolism and fat oxidation will complement your dietary efforts by further encouraging the body to burn fat for energy.

3. Reduced Muscle Cramping

Electrolyte imbalances are common on the keto diet, and that's often the culprit behind muscle cramping if you're properly hydrated.

As you may know, some pre-workout supplements include added electrolytes like sodium and potassium, or coconut water powder, which can help prevent muscle cramps and maintain proper hydration levels.

4. Improved Mental Focus

While ketones produced during ketosis have been associated with improved cognitive function, some people report feeling foggy or less sharp than usual when dieting.

Thankfully, a great deal of pre-workouts contain ingredients such as L-tyrosine, L-theanine, or Alpha-GPC which help enhance mental clarity and focus during your workouts.

5. Improved Endurance

With carbs being restricted, muscular endurance can take a big hit, especially in the context of a prolonged cardio session.

Thankfully, all high-quality pre-workouts contain NO-boosting ingredients such as L-citrulline, which aid in nitric oxide production, leading to the widening of the blood vessels.

In other words, citrulline makes nutrient delivery to the muscles far more effective and thus enhances endurance and performance.

jacked man drinking pre-workout

When Are Pre-Workouts Bad For You On A Keto Diet? (Ingredients To Avoid)

A pre-workout drink is safe to take regularly. However, there are a few negative aspects I should tell you about.

When They Contain Excess Caffeine

Pre-workout formulas sometimes utilize too much caffeine. While having enough energy can be great, it can lead to pre-workout jitters, lack of sleep, anxiety, and other performance-limiting side effects.

It is possible that excessive caffeine in pre-workout can lead to mild dehydration, leaving your body without the necessary fluids to facilitate fat oxidation.

When They Contain Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols, or compounds derived from sugars, should be avoided. They are not digested properly and get broken down in the large intestine.

This process, when too much sugar alcohol is consumed, can lead to bloating, gas, dehydration, or even diarrhea. As you can imagine, these will not benefit your diet regimen, potentially side-tracking you from your diet. 

When They Contain Artificial Sweeteners

While artificial sweeteners don't add to your total daily calorie intake, they still have to be metabolized and can impact blood sugar and insulin levels, potentially compromising ketosis.

Therefore, steer clear of pre-workouts that contain sucralose, aspartame, Ace-K, or other similar sweeteners.

When They Contain Beta-Hydroxybutyrate

Some specialized keto-friendly pre-workouts such as Perfect Keto contain beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in their formula to support ketosis.

While BHB is one of the three main ketones in your body that provide energy to muscles, your brain, and your heart when not enough carbs are consumed, ingesting too much can lead to various gastrointestinal issues detrimental to your diet.[3]

When They Provide Excess Electrolytes

Along with water hydration, adding electrolytes back into your system during or after a workout performance can be highly beneficial.

However, taking too many electrolytes (just like too little) can cause electrolyte-to-fluid imbalance, which can lead to cramping muscles, dizziness, bloating, water retention, a confused state of mind, and an irregular heartbeat.

Are These Popular Pre-Workout Brands Keto Friendly?

Almost all major brands of pre-workout supplements are Keto-friendly. With low to no carbohydrates, they are, by nature, good for Keto diets. Let's look at some of the best Keto pre-workout brands.

Transparent Labs BULK

Transparent Labs BULK is a very keto-friendly pre-workout with only 1 gram of carbs per serving. Seeing how that's well below a maximum daily intake while on a keto diet, this pre-workout can only help you - especially seeing how effective the dosages of active ingredients are.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.2g
  • L-Tyrosine: 1g
  • Citrulline Malate: 8g

4 Gauge

4 Gauge is keto-friendly, beginner-friendly, and extremely budget-friendly if bought in bulk pre-workout. It is essentially perfect for keto dieting. It's only 4 calories and less than 1g of carbs per serving, meaning you can safely take double the dose to improve your performance further while staying on track with your diet.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.15g
  • L-Theanine0: 2g
  • Citrulline Malate: 6g

Legion Athletics Pulse

Keto diets try to eliminate most carbohydrates, but you are allowed some. If you have extra carbs to spare, you can look to Legion Athletics Pulse. With less than 1g of carbs per serving, Legion Athletics uses only high-quality ingredients.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.35g
  • Beta-Alanine: 3.6g
  • Citrulline Malate: 8g

Beyond Raw LIT

With attention to detail on Beyond Raw LIT ingredients, keto-diet followers can rest easy. This pre-workout contains only 2 grams of carbs per serving, which may be more than some of the others on the list, but it is still very keto-friendly.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.25g
  • Beta-Alanine: 3.2g
  • L-Citrulline: 3g

C4 Ultimate

Being inarguably the best pre-workout supplement out of the entire C4 lineup, it offers less than 1g of carbs per serving while providing you with very good dosages of other active ingredients compatible with the keto diet.

Its  main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.3g
  • Beta-Alanine: 3.2g
  • Citrulline-Malate: 6g

recommended pre-workout!

Cellucor C4 Ultimate Pre Workout Benefits







Overall Rating


Alani Nu Pre Workout

Alani Nu is a pre-workout supplement mix that has one of the cleanest and most simple pre-workout formulations. It contains less than 1 gram of carbs per serving (essentially none), and since it contains tyrosine and theanine, it will likely clear up any of the keto-induced brain fog.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.2g
  • Beta-Alanine: 1.6g
  • Citrulline Malate: 6g

Bucked Up Pre Workout

Bucked Up utilizes dehydrated caffeine, the most common form of caffeine used in pre-workouts, at 200 mg. That means, if you're a stim-head, you can safely double-scoop Bucked Up pre-workout and get an insanely good dose. And, since Bucked Up is 0 carbs per serving, it will perfectly align with you keto diet.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine (Anhydrous): 0.2g
  • Beta-Alanine: 2g
  • Citrulline Malate: 6g

Ghost Pre Workout

Like other Keto pre-workout-focused brands, Ghost offers 1g of total carbs per serving. The Ghost Legend series offers some of the best premium ingredients that are soy, gluten, and sugar-free while also being vegan-friendly.

The main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.25g
  • Beta-Alanine: 3.2g
  • L-Citrulline: 4g

Total War

Total War Keto pre-workout supplements drink is a complete supplement that offers you a lot of nothing. Zero carbs, no fat, no protein, and no calories. If you are looking for a top-tier supplement without a lot of extras, Total War pre-workout may be for you.

Other main ingredient amounts per serving:

  • Caffeine: 0.32g
  • Beta-Alanine: 3.2g
  • Citrulline Malate: 6g
man mixing up some pre-workout

Tips For Homemade Keto Pre-Workout

You can make your own keto pre-workout powders ideal for an energy boost without adding carbs. 

For the keto-minded, one of the best options is to make keto fat bombs (made with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetened with a keto-friendly sweetener).

You could also try keto coffee - a standard cup of coffee with a teaspoon or two of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil and a single scoop of exogenous ketones. 

If you're just looking for a standard homemade pre-workout you can buy caffeine, tyrosine, theanine, beta-alanine L-citrulline, and other essential amino acids separately and create a perfect, keto and budget-friendly pre-workout.

Pre-Workout & Keto Diet FAQs

What should I eat before I work out on Keto?

There are several keto pre-workout snacks or meals you can take, but my personal favorites are fried eggs and bacon with Greek yogurt, and fried chicken breast with mozzarella, parmesan, and steamed broccoli.

Are there pre-workouts specifically for Keto?

There are several pre-workouts that are specifically designed for Keto diets, like the Perfect Keto Perform made specifically with exogenous ketones to aid in maintaining ketosis.

What type of sweeteners are approved on the Keto diet?

To maintain ketone levels, you should stick with non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia, erythritol, coconut oil, and monk fruit.

Does exercise speed up weight loss in ketosis?

Low and moderate-intensity workouts have been shown to increase fat loss by speeding up the metabolism while in ketosis.

However, you still need to eat and exercise properly and ensure you are not relying on minimal calories and high-intensity workouts to achieve those weight loss goals.

Can I take creatine on Keto?

You can take creatine on a keto diet. I would suggest using creatine monohydrate for the best results and minimal side effects.

Also Check Out - Pre-Workout Vs Creatine


Most pre-workout supplements are keto-friendly and beneficial for those following a ketogenic diet. All they do is provide a convenient energy boost without compromising your low-carb lifestyle.

So, as long as you're keeping your daily carb intake low and you're examining the pre-workout label to see the ingredients and nutritional facts, a daily dose of pre-workout powder will not affect the state of ketosis.


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5702468/
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22402738/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6640868/

Last Updated on November 1, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.