GAIN MUSCLE

Can You Mix Creatine with Pre-Workout?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 13, 2023

Creatine and pre-workouts are arguably the two most bought supplements among lifters. 

But you're wondering... can they be mixed?

You can mix creatine with pre-workout and neither supplement would have adverse effects or interference issues when combined.

And is one better than the other?

No they both serve similar but different purposes.

Creatine has hundreds of studies proving its efficiency for strength and muscle building. 

While pre-workouts can contain any number and type of ingredients that can range in efficiency and research.  

For example, there are pre-workouts that already contain creatine, but it's a cheap enough ingredient to buy on its own that you wouldn't need to look for it in a pre-workout. 

And no creatine doesn't contain caffeine

We can dig deeper into this topic below...

Can I Mix Creatine With Pre-Workout?

Yes, creatine can be mixed with pre-workout supplements.

This combination can potentially enhance workout performance and muscle recovery.

However, it's important to monitor your body's response and adjust the dosage as needed.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new supplementation regimen.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is one of the most researched supplements to date. 

It's a combination of three amino acids, methionine, arginine, and glycine. 

While it can be naturally made in the body, it can also come from food and diet. 

But the amount of red meat we'd need to consume to get the benefits of creatine would not be sustainable as you'd need to consume 1 to 2 pounds of beef or fish for around 1 to 2 grams of creatine on a daily basis.  

And we recommend taking at least 5 grams per day to get the most out of it. 

So you can see where supplementation comes into use. 

Using creatine will ensure you're filling up the creatine stores in your body, allowing you to benefit from increased strength and lean body mass. 

Creatine can be used in either water, mixed with pre-workout, in a protein shake, or smoothie. 

Water retention can happen and how much water you should drink depends on your activity level but generally around 3-4 liters per day

What is pre-workout?

There's a reason why pre-workouts are one of the most popular categories today. 

It's because it works. 

Generally, anything you get with caffeine will give you a little boost to your performance. 

But choosing something with the most useful ingredients can make the biggest difference to your workouts. 

Pre-workouts can range widely when it comes to ingredients but the most useful ones will have big scoops with useful ingredients like citrulline, betaine, beta-alanine, tyrosine, and stimulants as well.

If it uses proper clinical dosages, they'll help with nitric oxide, and strength and can even increase lean muscle mass. 

While caffeine and stimulants aren't completely necessary to have in a pre-workout, they can help increase focus and energy

Creatine vs Pre-Workouts?

A pre-workout will have a mix of ingredients while creatine supplements are just one ingredient.

Pre-workout can also have creatine like the ones here.

It's a good idea also to mix your creatine with your pre-workout since it may have bioavailability-enhancing ingredients like AstraGin or BioPerine.

You'll also be ensuring you're topping off your creatine stores just before your workouts, and you'll also benefit from the ingredients in your pre-workout.  

The main difference between a pre-workout and creatine is that pre-workout will enhance energy, focus, pumps, and strength by using several different ingredients while creatine has one primary purpose and that's for ATP production. 

You can take your creatine anytime during the day while a pre-workout should only be consumed 30-60 minutes before your workout for maximum benefits.

And a pre-workout with stimulants shouldn't be taken too late in the day, not after 4-6 pm or it may interfere with your sleep. 

Creatine also takes time to build up in your body for it to work and this can take a week or more. 

So while creatine can be used pre-workout, the effects won't be immediate whereas pre-workouts have effects on the same day.

When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?

The timing of creatine supplementation can be a key factor in how well it works.

But when exactly should you take creatine for optimal results?

According to a fascinating review by Naderi and colleagues, there are five golden opportunities throughout your day to take creatine.

Before Your Workout:

Think of it as fueling your body's energy tank.

Taking creatine before you hit the gym can boost your phosphocreatine stores, giving you that extra push for high-intensity exercises.

During Your Workout:

While it's not as common, some fitness enthusiasts swear by taking creatine mid-workout, especially during those long, grueling training sessions.

After Your Workout:

This is when your muscles are like sponges, soaking up nutrients.

Post-exercise creatine supplementation can lead to greater increases in muscle creatine stores, thanks to this enhanced absorption.

Mealtime:

Ever thought of having creatine with your meals?

Especially with a meal that contains carbohydrates and protein, creatine uptake may be enhanced due to the insulin response from carbohydrate consumption.

Before Sleep:

Night owls, rejoice! Some research suggests that taking creatine before you hit the hay may support muscle recovery and growth during the night. (See: Can I take creatine before bed?)

But remember, we're all unique. The optimal timing may depend on your individual goals, workout schedule, and how your body responds to creatine.

When it comes to dosage, Naderi and colleagues suggest a dosage protocol related to body weight, typically around 3-5 grams per day for maintenance after a loading phase.

Whether you're a fan of a single dose or prefer daily supplementation over several weeks, both methods have been shown to be effective.

However, for those long-term gains in muscle strength and size, chronic daily supplementation often takes the crown.

So, when should you take creatine?

While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, taking it post-exercise seems to be a winning strategy for many.

But remember, consistency is key.

Whether you're a pre-workout, post-workout, or any-other-time kind of person, sticking to a regular supplementation schedule can help maximize your muscle creatine stores and enhance your performance over time.

Can you mix creatine with pre-workouts?

Yes, you can mix creatine with pre-workout, as long as the pre-workout doesn't already have creatine. 

If there's at least 3g of creatine in your pre-workout, then you'll be set for maximizing its benefits. 

Can I replace pre-workout with creatine?

While creatine can help with strength and muscle gains, it won't completely replace your pre-workout. 

The reason for this is that a pre-workout can contain multiple ingredients, including creatine.

So if you want to make the most out of your focus and energy, then consider using both, creatine and pre-workout. 

FAQ

Q: Can mixing creatine with pre-workout cause side effects?

A: Some people may experience side effects like stomach upset, muscle cramps, or caffeine-related effects. It's important to start with a lower dose and monitor your body's response.

Q: Is it safe to take creatine and pre-workout every day?

Yes, it's generally safe to take creatine and pre-workout daily, but it's always a good idea to have rest days from pre-workout supplements to avoid building up a tolerance to their effects.

Can I take creatine and pre-workout on rest days?

While it's not necessary to take pre-workout on rest days, taking creatine can help maintain high levels of creatine phosphate in your muscles.

Can I mix creatine with other supplements like protein shakes?

Yes, creatine can be mixed with protein shakes or other supplements. However, it's typically recommended to take creatine before or during your workout for maximum benefits.

Do all pre-workout supplements contain creatine?

No, not all pre-workout supplements contain creatine. Always check the label to see what ingredients are included in your pre-workout supplement.

Does creatine cause weight gain?

A: Creatine can cause water retention in the muscles, which may lead to a slight increase in body weight. However, it can also support muscle growth, which could contribute to weight gain in the form of increased muscle mass.

Can I take creatine if I'm trying to lose weight?

Yes, creatine can actually support weight loss efforts by helping to increase muscle mass, which can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories.

Is it necessary to do a 'loading phase' with creatine?

A: A creatine loading phase, where you take a higher dose for a few days, can help to saturate your muscle creatine stores more quickly. However, you can also take a smaller dose consistently over a longer period to achieve the same effect.

Can I take creatine and pre-workout at night?

If your pre-workout supplement contains stimulants like caffeine, it may interfere with your sleep if taken too close to bedtime. Creatine, however, does not have this effect and can be taken at any time.

Are there any foods that naturally contain creatine?

Yes, creatine is naturally found in animal products like meat and fish. However, the amounts in food are much lower than what you would get from a supplement.

Can vegetarians and vegans take creatine?

Yes, vegetarians and vegans can benefit from taking creatine supplements, as their dietary intake of creatine is typically lower due to the absence of meat in their diet.

Is it safe for teenagers to take creatine and pre-workout?

While creatine is generally safe for teenagers, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. As for pre-workout supplements, they often contain stimulants like caffeine, which may not be suitable for all teenagers.

Final Words

Both creatine and pre-workouts are very useful to have in your supplement stack. 

Creatine is clearly the winner when it comes to research and safety, but a pre-workout can really put you in the zone with its benefits for mental and physical energy. 

Use both if you want to make the most out of your workouts. 

Check out the list here for the strongest pre-workout or if you want the safest pre-workouts then click here

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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