How many carbs are in Preworkout?

Quick Answers

Preworkout supplements can contain varying amounts of carbohydrates, depending on the specific product. On average, most preworkouts provide around 5-20 grams of carbs per serving. The main sources of carbs in preworkout are ingredients like maltodextrin, dextrose, and fructose.

Many preworkouts are designed to be low-carb or zero-carb. These products aim to minimize carbs while still providing key ingredients like caffeine for energy. Low-carb preworkouts may have under 5 grams of total carbs.

So in summary:

  • Most preworkouts contain 5-20g carbs per serving
  • Carbs come mainly from maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose
  • Some preworkouts are formulated as low-carb with under 5g carbs
  • Certain preworkouts are designed with 0g carbs

The amount of carbs can vary greatly based on the specific ingredients and doses in a given preworkout product. Checking the nutrition label is the best way to find the carb content for any supplement.

What Are Preworkouts?

Preworkout supplements are formulations designed to be consumed prior to exercise in order to enhance performance and endurance. These products contain a blend of active ingredients intended to provide an ergogenic (performance-enhancing) effect.

The most common ingredients in preworkouts include:

  • Caffeine – Primary energy booster
  • Beta-alanine – Reduces fatigue and boosts muscle endurance
  • Citrulline – Enhances blood flow and oxygen delivery
  • Taurine – Stimulant that may improve mental focus
  • BCAAs – Branched-chain amino acids help reduce muscle breakdown
  • Creatine – Provides rapid energy to muscles

These core compounds all aim to either provide direct energy, enhance circulation and oxygenation, reduce fatigue, or protect muscles from excessive breakdown during training.

Preworkouts also tend to contain carbohydrates, vitamins/minerals, and other ergogenic aids depending on the specific formula. The carb sources vary between products.

Why Include Carbs in Preworkout?

There are several reasons manufacturers formulate preworkout supplements with carbohydrates:

  • Provide fuel for immediate energy and combustion
  • Enhance absorption of other nutrients
  • Improve taste, texture, and mixability
  • Delay onset of fatigue during training
  • Help restore glycogen (stored carbs) in muscles

Carbs are the body’s preferred immediate fuel source. During intense exercise, carbs help provide energy to working muscles.

Some ingredients like creatine also may be absorbed better when taken with carbs. The insulin response from carbs can help shuttle nutrients into muscles more efficiently.

Additionally, carbs improve the flavor and texture of preworkout drink mixes. Sugars make the supplements taste better and dissolve more easily.

Typical Carb Sources in Preworkouts

The most common sources of carbohydrates used in preworkout formula include:

  • Maltodextrin – Derived from starch, easily digestible
  • Dextrose – Simple sugar glucose
  • Fructose – Fruit sugar, very sweet
  • Sucralose – Artificial sweetener, no carbs/calories
  • Erythritol – Sugar alcohol derived from corn

Of these, maltodextrin and dextrose (forms of glucose) are the most common as they are quickly absorbed carbs. Fructose is also used in some products.

Artificial sweeteners like sucralose and sugar alcohols like erythritol may be used in low-carb/zero-carb preworkouts to provide sweetness without excessive carbs.


Maltodextrin is typically the primary carb source in preworkouts. It provides 4 calories per gram and a high glycemic index of 105.

Maltodextrin is derived from starch and is highly soluble. It can make up over half the total carb content in some preworkout blends.


Dextrose (glucose) is another fast-absorbing simple sugar. It is very rapidly absorbed by muscles.

Each gram of dextrose provides 4 calories. Dextrose comprises a smaller portion of total carbs compared to maltodextrin in most products.


Fructose is the sugar naturally found in fruits and some vegetables. It is sweeter than glucose.

Fructose has a lower glycemic index of 15-20 but provides the same 4 calories per gram as other sugars. It makes up a minor amount of carbs in preworkouts.

How Much Carbs Does a Typical Preworkout Contain?

Most standard preworkout supplements contain somewhere in the range of 5-20 grams of carbs per serving. However, the specific amount can vary substantially.

Some examples carb amounts in popular preworkouts:

  • Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre: 9g
  • Transparent Labs Bulk Pre: 21g
  • Nutrex Outlift: 7g
  • EVLution Engage: 6g
  • Cellucor C4 Original: 3g

As shown, carb content ranges from 3-21 grams per scoop/serving depending on product. The average is around 10 grams.

Higher carb preworkouts may use doses of 20-30g or more, especially those marketed as mass gainers. On the lower end, some have just 2-3g carbs.

Macronutrient Profile

In a typical preworkout with 10g carbs per serving, the macronutrient ratio would be:

  • Carbohydrates: 10g – 40 calories
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

So in a standard 20-30 serving container, you would get:

  • Total Carbs: 200-300g
  • Total Calories: 800-1200

The majority is fast-digesting carbs with minimal amounts of protein or fat in most traditional preworkouts.

Low-Carb and Zero-Carb Preworkout Options

In response to the popularity of low-carb diets in recent years, many supplement brands now offer low-carb or zero-carb preworkout options.

These products minimize carbs while focusing on other ergogenic ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and amino acids.

Two examples of popular low/zero-carb preworkouts:

Legion Pulse Preworkout

  • 2g carbs per serving
  • Uses stevia and erythritol for sweetness
  • No maltodextrin, dextrose, or other carbs
  • 150mg caffeine, 6g citrulline, and more

Nutrex Outlift Amped

  • 0g carbs and sugar free
  • Contains 350mg caffeine
  • Includes creatine, beta-alanine, BCAAs
  • Sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium

These zero-carb options allow people on low-carb diets like keto to still benefit from preworkout supplements.

Preworkouts for Special Diets

People following certain diets like keto may want to select preworkouts designed specifically for their nutrition plan.

Here are some things to look for in preworkout supplements for popular diets:

Keto Preworkouts

  • Total carbs under 5g per serving
  • Avoid preworkouts with maltodextrin or high doses of carbs
  • May include exogenous ketones like beta-hydroxybutyrate
  • Should be very low or zero sugar

Diabetic-Friendly Preworkouts

  • Avoid large doses of simple sugars
  • Look for low glycemic carbs sources
  • Moderate carb dose under 10g
  • Don’t use products that spike blood sugar

Vegan Preworkouts

  • No creatine (derived from animals)
  • Plant-based protein sources only
  • May list vegan certification on label
  • Avoid lactose or other animal products

Checking the nutrition labels for carb content and ingredients is key for preworkouts if following a special diet.

Energy Drink Comparisons

Many people consider energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull as alternatives to preworkout supplements. Here’s how they compare:

Monster Energy Drink

  • 54g carbs per 16 oz can
  • Mainly sucrose and glucose
  • 180 calories per can
  • No “performance” ingredients

Red Bull Energy Drink

  • 27g carbs per 8.4 oz can
  • Mainly sucrose and glucose
  • 110 calories per can
  • Adds taurine, B-vitamins


  • 5-20g carbs per scoop
  • Maltodextrin, dextrose common
  • 30-50 calories per serving
  • Formulated for endurance, focus

Energy drinks tend to be higher in carbs and calories compared to preworkouts. While cheaper, they lack performance-enhancing ingredients.

High Carb Preworkout for Muscle Gain

Some preworkouts are specifically designed for muscle growth phases and can be very high in carbs.

These “mass gainer” preworkouts may contain:

  • 30-60g carbs per serving
  • Higher protein around 10-20g
  • Lower stimulants
  • Added creatine, amino acids
  • 130-300 calories per serving

The extra carbs and protein provide the building blocks for muscle growth. Lower stimulants prevent interfering with recovery.

Examples of high-carb preworkouts for mass gain include:

  • Evogen Carnigen – 48g carbs, 14g protein per serving
  • Nutrabio Super Carb – 52g carbs, 5g protein per serving
  • HyperMax Mass Pre – 60g carbs, 7g protein per serving

These can double as both a preworkout and post-workout recovery supplement for heavy training phases.


Most standard preworkout supplements contain 5-20 grams of carbs per scoop or serving.

The main carb sources are maltodextrin, dextrose/glucose polymers derived from starch. Some fructose or artificial sweeteners may be included.

Total carb content can range substantially based on the specific brand and formula. Some products are designed as low-carb or zero-carb preworkouts.

People following carb-restricted diets like keto may want to choose lower-carb options under 5g carbs. High-carb preworkouts with 30g or more are available but suited for bulking phases.

For most goals, a moderate carb preworkout with 10-20g per serving provides an effective balance. As always, read labels and select a product that best aligns with your needs and preferences.

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