Article at a Glance:
- Some pre-workouts taste better than others, but in general, most pre-workouts have a bitter flavor that can prevent people from using them regularly and reaping their benefits.
- Pre-workout drinks can contain several ingredients that contribute to their bitter flavor: creatine, caffeine, and BCAAs.
- There are a variety of pre-workout brands and flavors out there, so try a bunch of them to find the one you like best.
- Try adding your pre-workout to a smoothie or mixing it with milk or coconut water to curb the bitter flavor.
- If you still can’t tolerate the taste of your pre-workout, mix it with less water and take it down quickly like a shot.
If you're one of the many people who use pre-workout drinks to improve your energy, stamina, and performance when you exercise, then you know they can be a lifesaver. You probably also know that most of these drinks don’t have a flavor that makes you want to sit back and savor them like you would a fine wine or a fresh cup of coffee.
Now, some pre-workouts taste better than others. (We think Re-Lyte Pre-Workout tastes pretty good, but we also know that everyone’s taste is different). In general, most pre-workouts have a bitter flavor that can prevent people from using them regularly and reaping their benefits.
Why Do Pre-Workouts Taste Bitter?
Pre-workout drinks can contain several ingredients that can contribute to their bitter flavor: creatine, caffeine, and BCAAs.
Creatine is an amino acid that’s found naturally in your muscles, as well as your brain and other organs. Giving your body extra creatine is thought to increase muscle strength and stamina during exercise, which is why it’s added to a lot of pre-workout drinks. Unfortunately, creatine has a bitter, sulfur-like taste that a lot of people don’t like. (We don’t include creatine in Re-Lyte Pre-Workout. You can read more about that here.)
Most pre-workouts contain caffeine, which has a naturally bitter flavor. Some pre-workout drinks contain natural caffeine (like Re-Lyte Pre-Workout, which contains caffeine from green tea extract), but many of these products contain something called caffeine anhydrous. Caffeine anhydrous is a dehydrated caffeine powder that’s especially potent and especially bitter.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Research shows that these amino acids can support strength, speed, endurance, and muscle recovery, which is why they’re included in pre-workout drinks. BCAAs, however, are notoriously bitter. Leucine, which is considered the most effective of the three, is the most bitter. Depending on the ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine in a blend, a pre-workout might be more or less bitter.
To mask the bitter flavor of these ingredients, a lot of pre-workout companies add sugar, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors, which can give these drinks a sickeningly sweet or chemical-y flavor that a lot of people think is even worse than the bitter flavor on its own. (We don’t do this with Re-Lyte Pre-Workout, BTW. You can read more about that here).
How Can You Make Pre-Workouts More Palatable?
If you’re a fan of the benefits of pre-workouts but not the bitter flavor, here are a few suggestions that could help:
#1- Try a Variety of Brands and Flavors
There are so many pre-workout brands out there, and each brand typically has multiple flavors you can try. We recommend trying a variety of them. Chances are, there’s one you’ll like better than the rest. Maybe you’ll find a pre-workout that you love and look forward to taking every day. But even if you just find one that you think is tolerable, you can use the other tips below to make it even better.
This may seem like unusual advice from a company that sells its own pre-workout mix. Shouldn’t we be telling you to buy ours now and forever? We do think Re-Lyte Pre-Workout is one of the best-tasting options out there, and we hope you give it a try. But we know everyone has a different palate and different priorities. Some people are going to love Re-Lyte Pre-Workout’s distinctive salty-sweet flavor and the fact that it has cleaner ingredients than other pre-workouts. Others might prefer something different. We’re each on our own journey when it comes to pre-workout drinks, just like everything else in life!
#2- Put it in a smoothie
Tossing your pre-workout mix into a blender with fruits, veggies, nut butters, or whatever else you enjoy in your smoothies is a great way to cover up the bitter flavor. If you’re using a flavored pre-workout mix, just remember to make sure that the flavor of your pre-workout mix complements the flavor of the smoothie you’re making. We wouldn’t expect watermelon lime pre-workout to taste great in a dark chocolate peanut butter smoothie. (But some people may love it, so have fun experimenting!)
#3- Mix it with milk
Maybe you’re not a fan of smoothies or you just want to keep your pre-workout routine quick and simple. If that’s the case you can try mixing your pre-workout with milk. The fat in milk is great at neutralizing bitter flavors. That’s why milk and coffee go so well together. Milk also contains protein, electrolytes, and vitamin D, which can support healthy muscles and workout recovery.
#4- Mix it with coconut water
Coconut water is another option for your pre-workout base. Coconut water contains natural sugars that give it a slightly sweet flavor, which can help counteract the bitterness of a pre-workout. It also contains beneficial electrolytes that help keep you hydrated during your workout.
#5- Use less water
If nothing seems to make the taste of your pre-workout more tolerable to you, but you’re not ready to give up on the benefits you get from it, we recommend taking it down as quickly as possible (without dry scooping… that can be dangerous). Mix it with a smaller amount of water and drink it fast like a shot. You can even keep a chaser nearby to cleanse your palate afterward.
- How To Make Pre Workout Taste Better (Easy guide)— Millennial Hawk.
- How to Make Pre Workout Taste Better? (8 Simple Ways)— Total Shape.
- Why Does Pre-workout Taste so Bad? (5 Easy Tips to Improve it)— Bodies By Byrne.
- Does Caffeine Affect the Taste of Coffee and Cola?— ThoughtCo.
- Guide to Caffeine, Caffeine Anhydrous, Dicaffeine Malate, Caffeine Citrate & Pterostilbene—Tigerfitness.com.
- Overcoming bitterness in BCAA-based nutrition products— Nutraceutical Business Review.
- Easy Ways to Reduce Bitter Taste in Any Food— wikiHow.
- Should You Drink Milk After a Workout?— Best Food Facts.
- 7 Science-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Water— Healthline.