Next to whey protein, pre-workout is probably one of the most recognizable supplements on the market today. Their energy-rich formulas are designed to boost performance, enhance focus and get us pumped up from first set to last.
Now, pre-workouts can range in terms of potency, but flavors are less inclusive. Due to the prevalence of niacin, vitamins and amino acids in each blend, a majority of pre-workouts will feature a tart, citrusy flavor. Additionally, pre-workout isn't typically viewed as a potential source of protein. After all, there are other supplements that cater more efficiently to that macronutrient.
Well, in an effort to flip the supplement industry on its head, PB2 — whose main claim to fame is powdered peanut butter — recently launched a lineup of plant-based pre-workouts delivering helpful hits of caffeine and 10 grams of complete protein in each serving. Available in two flavors — Tart Cherry for high intensity training and Raspberry for endurance-based workouts — this latest nutritional add-on looks to add more to your regimen than just a simple spark of energy.
But would the smooth hints of fruit and energy — and, of course, peanut butter — be enough to replace our normal pre-workout supplements? Would the plant-based power suffice for a needed recharge before the gym? To find out, I tested both the Tart Cherry and Raspberry offerings across multiple workouts and sessions to see if the blends bested the rest of the pre-workout market. Here's what I found.
What's Good About PB2 Plant Pre-Workout?
The peanut butter taste is unique to the pre-workout market.
Knowing PB2's history, I expected this pre-workout supplement to include some peanut butter hints, and I'll be honest, I was skeptical of the reception, especially since other pre-workouts typically follow a citrus-based palette. Surprisingly, though, I enjoyed the creamy, nutty notes of the concoction and felt the taste to be a welcome reprieve from other, more sour options.
In terms of flavor, I preferred the Tart Cherry over the Raspberry, simply because the peanut butter didn't overshadow the fruity base. You get mild hints of cherry in the High Intensity Blend, whereas in the Raspberry Endurance Blend, the fruit was more subdued. If you like peanut butter, like myself, either pick is still worth a taste or two.
PB2 Plant Pre-Workout doesn't leave you with a niacin flush or other negative side effects.
Another perk of the PB2 Plant Pre-Workouts is the ingredients used. Many pre-workouts can hide behind a proprietary blend, mixing ingredients and hiding their dosage all for the sake of performance. Each ingredient was listed right on the nutritional facts sheet, and I was easily able to determine potential side effects prior to ever taking a sip. Neither PB2 Plant Pre-Workout supplement contains niacin, so it was nice to get through a workout without feeling my skin crawl or face turn red.
Additionally, I also admired the small hint of protein found in each serving. While it wasn't an absolute necessity, having that extra 10 grams of protein made it easier to fulfill my daily intake goals without having to scarf down an extra protein bar or plan a heavier meal. This could also be beneficial for athletes who typically ingest a whey protein shake 30 minutes before training, allowing for quick digestion and energy in one fell swoop.
The one revision I would make to PB2, however, is to include the caffeine dosage on the packaging. According to the brand, each serving contains roughly 95 milligrams of caffeine — about the same amount as a cup of coffee — but the packaging doesn't state this, specifically. You can infer that caffeine is present — coffeeberry is listed as one of the ingredients — but it would be nice to know just how much you're ingesting.
What's Less Than Ideal About PB2 Plant Pre-Workout?
The peanut butter flavor might not be the best before intense training activities.
I'll admit, I did enjoy the peanut butter tastes across both PB2 offerings. When it came time to hit the gym, however, I typically quenched my thirst with either plain water or my bcaa-enriched, tart-tasting intra-workout supplements. The flavor meshing was sometimes too much to take, and left me drinking more so to remove the nutty aftertaste rather than for hydration.
This factor could simply be a mental block, however, since I found no issue with PB2 Plant Pre-Workout before a run or on slower training days. I think I've been conditioned through previous supplements to crave that citrus bite during intense training, so take this criticism with a grain of salt.
The energy spark was lacking at times.
A pre-workout is designed to provide the juice to your workout regimen, but PB2's latest creations left a little on the table in this department. While there's a definite jolt, it was more akin to drinking my morning black coffee, and for me, that's simply not enough to power through RPE 8 regimens. I get the purpose of this limited spark, and the natural ingredients can only deliver so much, but regardless of with blend I chose, it didn't measure up to previous supplements I've taken in the past.
What I will say, however, is both the High Intensity and Endurance blends performed exceptionally well when it came to cardio-based training. I typically don't supplement with a pre-workout before these routines, so it was nice to find that little bit of added juice. Plus, the included protein dosage kept my muscles energized and fueled to power through those last sprints and stretches.
If you're more sensitive to caffeine, I feel you'd get more out of either powder. For me, though, I found these were best saved for days when strength training wasn't top of mind.
PB2 Plant Pre-Workout: The Verdict
This all-new pre-workout is worth a try, especially if you're sensitive to more potent products and want a cleaner, refreshed way to juice up before training. While I enjoyed the taste and performance of both blends, I think this is best suited for runners or those that want a caffeine hit without the coffee taste.
Additionally, both PB2's High Intensity and Endurance blends are available for roughly $30, with each container housing roughly 18 servings. At approximately $1.60 per scoop, it's not the most outrageous cost for a pre-training spark. Just be ready to replenish your stock a little more frequently than other pre-workouts on the market today.