If you take your training seriously and pay proper attention to what you eat, the chances are you’ve heard of and considered using a pre-workout supplement.
Marketed as the product which can take your workouts to the next level, there are so many pre-workout options available, that choosing the one which aligns most closely with your training needs can be a troublesome process.
I can see it now. Hours and hours of internet research, wasting your valuable time going round in circles trying to look beyond the sales pitch and drill down to exactly what each product offers you.
Well, now you don’t need to. We’ve put together this Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout review so that all the key information you need to make the right decision for you is in one convenient place. How kind of us!
Gold Standard pre-workout ingredients
At first glance, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout looks to have all bases covered. Hallelujah, finally a pre-workout product which is actually going to help you make the gains you’ve been dreaming of for years.
Woh woh woh… let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It can have all the ingredients it likes but if they aren’t present in the right quantities then it won’t be of any use to anyone. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and see whether Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout is as effective as it appears or is actually just too good to be true!
1. Creatine Monohydrate (3g):
The fact Gold Standard includes a dose of creatine at all makes us suspicious from the off. Generally speaking pre-workout supplements only have so much room per scoop and in order to obtain a meaningful dose of creatine from any pre-workout, it would have to make up the vast majority if not all of that scoop.
As a result, it is no surprise that Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout contains a suboptimal dose of creatine at 3g. All scientific studies point to a 20g per day loading phase for one week followed by 5g daily for an extended period of time in order to achieve optimum supplementation.
As a result, the 3g per serving within Gold Standard isn’t going to achieve what you want it to… Trust me!
If you want the benefits of creatine, which include increased strength and lean muscle mass, then your best bet is to source a pure creatine supplement rather than looking for its inclusion in a pre-workout. The multi ingredient nature of pre-workouts and limited space per scoop, means they will never include the optimal 5g dose.
2. Beta alanine (1.5g):
Beta alanine is converted by the body into something called carnosine which can help to buffer lactic acid and reduce the feeling of fatigue in your muscles when you are completing short duration anaerobic exercise.
Unfortunately, in order to do those things it needs to be dosed at significantly higher levels than the 1.5g which is included in Gold Standard pre-workout, with most studies pointing to an optimal dose of around 5g daily.
3. Citrulline malate (1.5g):
The ultimate ‘pump’ ingredient, citrulline malate helps to improve your circulation by producing nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes vasodilation (expanding of your blood vessels) and therefore allows more blood to be pumped around the body.
This means more oxygen and nutrients can be transported to your working muscles, which doesn’t just mean a great swell, but also should help you to fight fatigue during your workout. Win win!
Once again, however, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout doesn’t contain nearly enough of this ingredient to have the physiological effects described above. Scientific studies suggest a daily dose of 6-8g of citrulline malate for optimal training effect, which means this pre-workout barely contains 25% of the recommended amount!
4. Carnitine (375 mg):
Carnitine is yet another amino acid (it seems pretty much every nutritional supplement going is part of this family). It’s principal role in the body is in the transport of fat so it can be used by the body as fuel.
Sounds pretty useful stuff right? Especially if you’re looking to trim down a little and improve your body composition. Now, the actual evidence to support the effect of carnitine supplementation on burning fat is sketchy at best, but there are certainly studies out there which suggest it may help so it can’t do any harm.
As far as optimal dose is concerned, most of these studies have demonstrated that 2-3g per day over an extended period of time is most effective. Once again, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout flatters to deceive, with an infuriatingly low dose of 375 mg!
5. Tyrosine (250 mg):
The main metabolic function of tyrosine is in the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline, known collectively as catecholamines. These hormones are responsible for the fight or flight reflex you experience in stressful situations.
Tyrosine also plays a role in the production of dopamine, which regulates the reward and pleasure centres within your brain, as well as thyroid, which helps to regulate metabolism.
As a result, it’s inclusion in pre-workouts mainly to do with stimulating you mentally and ensuring you are properly motivated to get the best from your training session. Whilst the effects of tyrosine supplementation on your actual training performance appear to be quite limited, it’s benefits for cognitive performance could be pretty useful.
An optimal dose of tyrosine supplementation has not yet been established, with recommended dosage varying between 500 mg irrespective of your weight to 150 mg/kg of body weight. The 250 mg quantity in Gold Standard may be beneficial or it may not be, but it certainly isn’t going to do you any harm.
6. Caffeine (175 mg):
The benefits of caffeine supplementation for mental alertness and increased fat burning potential are well known, so it’s inclusion in this pre-workout is a major positive.
At 175 mg, the dose is a little lower than our recommended 250 mg but it should still be enough for you to feel the effect.
Which ingredients are missing?
To be honest with you, there aren’t many, if any ingredients we would add to Optimum Nutrition’s pre-workout. The problem, at least for us, doesn’t lie in the ingredients that have been included, but rather the quantities of those ingredients.
If anything, it contains too many, which means there isn’t room to adequately dose any of them! This is a real shame, as on first inspection, gold standard looked like a really promising pre-workout option!
|● Contains so many of the most impressive pre-workout ingredients including creatine, beta alanine and citrulline.|
● Makes use of citrulline malate rather than l-citrulline which offers a combined benefit of increased circulation and energy boost.
● A decent amount of caffeine included, even if it’s a little lower than our preferred 250 mg dose.
● NO PROPRIETARY BLEND (of note anyway)
● Decent enough dose of tyrosine.
● Reasonably priced.
● Comes in lots of different flavours.
|● Suboptimal dose of creatine.|
● Pathetic dose of beta alanine.
● Pathetic dose of citrulline malate.
● Low dose of carnitine.
Gold Standard pre-workout side effects
There aren’t any significant side effects specific to Gold Standard for you to be worried about.
Pre-workout supplements normally come with warnings related to diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and the jitters because the vast majority contain stimulants at fairly high doses. Given the moderate quantity of caffeine included you are unlikely to experience the associated side effects unless you have a particularly low tolerance.
The best way of avoiding such negatives is to take half doses to start with in order to assess and build your resistance to these ingredients.
Whilst beta alanine is commonly associated with a tingling sensation on the surface of your skin, this does not represent any actual harm and usually disappears after 15 minutes or so. Take it is a sign that your pre-workout does actually contain beta alanine and is therefore not a complete waste of money.
Whilst creatine monohydrate has been linked to gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating due to its tendency to increase water retention, this shouldn’t necessarily be an issue with Optimum Nutrition’s Gold standard pre-workout as a result of the moderate dose per scoop.
At $29.99 per pot, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout comes in at 99 cents per serving, which puts it well within the reasonably priced bracket and makes it one of the cheaper pre-workout supplements on the market.
At a quick glance, the Gold Standard pre-workout supplement looks to be one of the best products on the market. After all, it contains all of the big hitters and there isn’t a single ingredient we would replace with another.
Unfortunately, as is the case with so many pre-workout supplements, the dosages of these key ingredients are often way under what is required to produce the desired effect. Having promised so much, our Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout review has no other option than to condemn this product to the supplement scrapheap. Do better next time!
How many calories are in one serving of Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout?
There are 5 kcals per scoop and 1g of carbohydrates, which makes this a great option if you’re looking to manage your weight.
Can pre-workout cause acne?
In a word no. Any changes in your skin condition are much more likely to be the result of hormonal changes your body experiences as a response to training.
When should I take my Gold Standard pre-workout?
Mix each scoop with 6-8 oz of water and consume 20-30 minutes before training.
1. Pérez-Guisado, J., & Jakeman, P. M. (2010). Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(5), 1215-1222. 
2. Chronic oral ingestion of l carnitine and carbohydrates increases muscle carnitine content and alters muscle fuel metabolism during exercise in humans- Journal of Physiology. 
3. Chronic oral ingestion of l‐carnitine and carbohydrate increases muscle carnitine content and alters muscle fuel metabolism during exercise in humans. The Journal of physiology 
5. Biomedical Research 2017- effects of tyrosine supplementation ration on anaerobic sports capacity and plasma catecholamine levels in soccer athletes.
6. Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain- J Nutr. 2007