Can you mix creatine with pre workout? Mixing creatine with pre workout provides a convenient way to combine the beneficial effects of multiple compounds and control both the dose and quality. Consuming pre workout and creatine together is generally considered safe.
Can you take Creatine with Pre-Workout?
Taken usually 30-60 minutes before exercise, pre-workout powders contain a mixture of ergogenic ingredients that boost energy levels and improve performance during a workout.
Commonly added ingredients with proven research include caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine. Brands tend to add them in different forms and doses depending on the specific pre-workout design and ingredient blend.
Due to the accumulative effect of creatine, the pre-workout dosage doesn’t matter. Focus should be placed on the total daily consumption after a suitable loading period has been followed depending on how quickly you want to saturate your muscle creatine stores.
With this, adding creatine to a pre-workout can be a great way to ensure your daily intake, if for example a smaller pre-workout dose is used or if you want to split your daily intake throughout the day. It can also be a convenient way to combine the beneficial effects of multiple compounds.
So whilst we are talking about adding creatine to a pre-workout, you shouldn’t solely rely on one for your daily intake. The effects of creatine and accumulative meaning timing doesn’t matter.
Let’s take a look at the benefits in more detail first.
What are the Benefits of Mixing Creatine with Pre-Workout?
It just can be a convenient way to take it. Mixing creatine monohydrate with pre workout can combine the ergogenic effects of multiple compounds to give you a host of benefits. These include:
1. Improved Performance
Creatine and other common pre-workout ingredients such as beta-alanine and caffeine are ergogenic, meaning they have beneficial effects on different physical attributes and therefore performance.
Creatine is involved in providing energy for the ATP-PCr system (phosphagen system), one of the body’s main energy pathways, highly involved during high-intensity exercise. Adding creatine to a pre-workout can lead to improvements in muscular strength and muscular endurance therefore improving performance and recovery. As the effects of creatine are accumulative, this is due to the saturation of muscle creatine stores and not just the pre workout itself. Having creatine in a pre workout doesn’t improve performance markers in itself. It helps to add to the daily amount alongside other creatine sources. This is an important distinction to keep in mind.
Alongside caffeine (known to improve energy levels and focus) and beta-alanine (a well-known fatigue reducer), this gives you a pre-workout mix that includes three of the most widely-researched ingredients known to have beneficial effects on workout performance.
During the day, you only have so much time to focus on important things which include your meal prep, supplement intake, gym routine, and recovery schedule.
Taking creatine together with pre-workout combines two tasks into one and allows you to form a daily habit of taking the recommended dose of creatine alongside your pre workout before the gym.
Whilst pre-workout is generally safe to consume daily as long as you monitor your caffeine intake, It’s likely you won’t be training every day.
This means that you’ll need to take the creatine separately on your rest days which is something to take note of when getting into a regular schedule.
3. Quality Control
Whilst creatine is often included in most pre-workouts, you only have so much control over the type and purity of the creatine used.
If you have a favorite pre-workout but it contains a proprietary blend, you have no idea how much creatine you’re taking.
If you put creatine in pre workout, you can control the type of creatine used and pick one that’s suited for your goals and lifestyle. You can choose a creatine powder that’s third-party tested to ensure the purest form or creatine that’s certified for sport if you compete in tested events.
When you mix pre workout with creatine, you can control the dose to make sure you’re hitting the recommended daily amount. Whilst you can do this when taking them separately, it’s much easier to monitor the amount you take in one go rather than having to keep track.
This also builds on my last point about some pre-workouts containing a proprietary blend without the ingredient doses listed.
Why is Creatine not a Mandatory Component of a Pre-Workout?
At the beginning of high-intensity exercise, the ATP-PCr system plays an important role in short duration, high intensity movements. As exercise continues, the intensity and rest periods will dictate how much of a role it plays. Supplementing with creatine increases your phosphocreatine (PCr) stores which helps to produce more ATP. This is then used for energy during your workout.
The effects of creatine supplementation are accumulative meaning that your muscles become more saturated as you supplement.
Creatine can be taken by following a loading protocol (20 grams split over one to four doses for 5-7 days) then a 3-5 gram maintenance phase or using a maintenance dose from the start.
Both protocols result in the same muscle saturation, with the loading protocol simply speeding up the process. Due to the chronic effect of supplementation, creatine isn’t one of the main ingredients in most pre-workouts.
Rather, it's added to some formulations and taken as a separate powder to hit the correct daily intake level or mixed into the powder.
What are the Best Options for Using Creatine?
Creatine can be taken in various forms and mixed with different liquids. Here are the considerations to think about when taking it using different methods:
1. On its Own
When taking creatine on its own, mix 3-5 grams into a glass of water until fully dissolved. If you are wanting to saturate your muscles with creatine quicker, use a loading protocol of 20 grams a day split into 4x5 gram doses.
Creatine can also be mixed with your favorite juice, with some flavored creatine products adding an extra taste.
2. With Protein Shakes and Smoothies
Mixing creatine into a protein shake has become a popular consumption method, mainly due to research showing augmentation of muscle creatine stores compared to supplementation on its own.
Compared to taking creatine on its own, performance seems to be the same meaning mixing with protein shakes is down to personal preference. Expect your muscle creatine stores to be saturated sooner with the addition of protein.
Taking creatine with a protein shake or smoothie is much the same as mixing it with water. Add it in and make sure it dissolves before consuming. Some creatine may have a slightly gritty taste but it’s unlikely to affect the overall flavor.
3. As part of a Pre Workout
When taking creatine alongside a pre-workout, the pre-workout dose should be taken into account as part of your overall daily intake.
Start by reading the pre-workout label to see if it states the form and amount of each ingredient. If it states the creatine dose, look for the amount per serving and take note. After adding the pre-workout power to a suitable liquid, add the creatine powder so that the total dose makes up 3-5 grams.
If you’re thinking about when to take creatine and pre workout, usually 30-60 minutes before your gym session is enough time for the ingredients to digest and therefore start to take effect.
Creatine Interaction Effects
Whilst creatine is proven to be ergogenic on its own, what about interference effects? Can you take creatine with pre workout without any negative interactions?
As two of the most widely researched ergogenic aids with proven performance benefits, caffeine and creatine are two commonly added pre-workout ingredients.
Whilst caffeine was previously thought to blunt the effects of creatine, new research has now disproved this. Care should be taken however to monitor your hydration status when taking caffeine in powdered form. This can just be normal daily monitoring with no need for particular special attention with normal supplement and fluid intakes.
Caffeine acts as a diuretic meaning it promotes water loss from your body whilst creatine helps the muscles to retain water. However, usually the fluids that we drink alongside with caffeine (like coffee, or water in your pre-workout) are enough to compensate for water loss due to caffeine diuretic effects.
To monitor your hydration status, you can check for example the color of your urine - it should remain a pale straw-yellow color. You can also check your weight before and right after the workout and replenish around 125% of lost water...
Creatine Pre-Workout we Recommend - Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
The Transparent Labs Creatine HMB combines 5 grams of creatine monohydrate with 1.5 grams of HMB to give you a muscle and strength-building powder that’s great to add to a suitable pre-workout.
The 5 grams of creatine monohydrate is at the evidence-based dosage whilst the added HMB may have beneficial effects on muscle breakdown and recovery, however HMB supplementation is still a topic of ongoing debate regarding its potential benefits compared to just leucine supplementation.
Transparent labs operate with full transparency, providing high-quality creatine power that’s free from artificial sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives. It’s available in 11 flavors and two tub sizes.
Creatine Containing Pre-Workout we Recommend - Naked Energy Pure Pre Workout
The Naked Energy Pure Pre Workout is a vegan-friendly, non-GMO pre-workout that combines three evidence-based ingredients into one powder with no artificial sweeteners and additives. Naked Nutrition has independently tested each ingredient for heavy metals to ensure a clean boost in energy and performance.
Each serving includes 200 mg of caffeine for improved energy and focus, 2 grams of beta-alanine to help reduce fatigue during workout, and 1 gram of creatine monohydrate for increased muscle strength, recovery, and performance.
Naked Nutrition offers the pre-workout in four flavor options, with a stim-free version for those who don’t want caffeine.
Should you take creatine pre-workout or post-workout?
Is it better to take creatine with pre-workout or protein?
Is it okay to mix creatine with anything?
Should I take creatine with pre-workout?
Adding creatine into a pre-workout combines the effects of multiple ergogenic aids into one supplement. It provides a convenient way to achieve your daily intake, control the quality, and choose the type of creatine suited to your goals.
When taking creatine with a pre-workout, aim for 3-5 grams daily whilst taking the pre-workout dose into account. Creatine and caffeine, beta-alanine (most common ingredients in pre-workouts) can safely be taken together as long as you drink a normal fluid intake during the day.
Do you mix creatine with your pre workout? What about other ingredients? Let me know in the comments.
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- Robert Cooper, "Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update" NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/ (2012)
- G. R. Steenge, "Protein- and carbohydrate-induced augmentation of whole body creatine retention in humans", Journals, https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jappl.2000.89.3.1165 (01 SEP 2000).
- Jacob M Wilson, "International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand", BMC, https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-6 02 (February 2013).
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