Creatine and caffeine are popular pre-workout fixes for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and those who pursue a more active lifestyle. Many claim that taking them both ensures greater results, specifically increased mental alertness and better physical performance, but what’s the truth to it? Does creatine have caffeine? Does it double each other’s effects?
This article will break down the facts and answer commonly-asked queries about this increasingly popular pre-workout combination.
- Can I take creatine and caffeine together?
- How much creatine and caffeine should I take?
- Can creatine and caffeine cause side effects?
- Are there any contraindications against taking creatine and caffeine?
Do Creatine Supplements Contain Caffeine?
Creatine and caffeine are distinct compounds with unique benefits. Creatine, an amino acid derivative, boosts muscle strength and mass, while caffeine, a stimulant, enhances mental alertness and athletic performance.
*Check the nutrition facts label for any product you buy.
• Despite having the same composition, creatine and caffeine are completely different compounds; creatine is an amino acid derivative while caffeine is considered a stimulant drug.
• Taking them together as pre-workout supplements is safe, but it may cause digestive problems among a few people.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine supplements help improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and promote muscle recovery after a workout. Creatine is an amino acid in your body’s muscles and the brain – but the body usually stores creatine as phosphocreatine in the muscles, where it’s used for energy, which is why athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts take creatine orally to boost strength, increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance.
Benefits Of Creatine
Taking creatine is effective at augmenting training workouts and increasing muscular strength and lean body mass, as various studies have revealed, especially when combined with various training exercises.
Creatine supplements provide a continuous energy supply by keeping production up in working muscles, with 95% stored in the skeletal muscle and used during physical activities. It helps athletes to perform more reps during their workouts, resulting in greater strength, muscle mass, and performance.
Creatine doesn’t just stop with increasing strength and muscle mass, but it also helps:
- Maintain bone health – One study showed that creatine supplementation might help reduce age-related skeletal muscle and the decline of bone mineral density and ease the effects of bone-related conditions like osteoarthritis.
- Protect and benefit the liver – Creatine supplementation can reduce fat buildup in the liver and prevent the risk of conditions like fatty liver, non-alcoholic liver disease, and hepatic damage.
- Slow down skin aging – One study found that creatine (via dermal penetration, among other ingredients) to the face daily for six weeks can reduce sagging and wrinkles among male subjects.
- Reduces oxidative stress – Creatine was proven effective in protecting the mitochondrial DNA from oxidative damage. Some experts also consider creatine as a direct-acting antioxidant that can scavenge ROS superoxide radicals
- Prevent injuries – Studies show taking creatine can help reduce injuries to the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.
- Improve cognition functions – Creatine, according to various studies, can improve performance during cognitive tasks like critical thinking, focus, and memorization, especially among older adults who suffer from age-related reduced brain functionality and neurological diseases.
Food Sources Of Creatine
People can get creatine through specific food sources, although they don’t contain the same amounts as commercially-manufactured supplements. Foods with creatine include:
- Leafy vegetables
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural chemical with stimulant effects that affect the central nervous system, heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure. People commonly use caffeine to be more mentally alert, relieve headaches and migraines, sharpen memory, and improve athletic performance
The body absorbs caffeine quickly and feels its effects quickly, reaching peak levels in your system 15 to 120 minutes after consuming it. When ingested, the enzymes in the liver break it down, metabolizing it into paraxanthine and theophylline, which are compounds that temporarily block the A1 and A2 adenosine receptors in the brain. It also triggers adrenaline, giving a mental and physical energy boost, increased alertness, and heightened attention and memory.
While generally safe under moderation, taking caffeine come with side effects. Frequently taking high amounts of caffeine can increase caffeine tolerance, which makes you more dependent on it. Caffeine withdrawal can be difficult, causing symptoms like:
- Muscle pain
Those who have caffeine sensitivity/intolerance usually experience the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Frequent bathroom urgency.
Caffeine & Sleep Deprivation
If you’re into drinking coffee, it’s important to track your caffeine intake. Otherwise, it could cause sleeplessness (insomnia), restlessness, and even increased heart rates — easily disrupting sleep and reducing the amount of deep sleep, which in turn, causes daytime sleepiness and an increased need to consume more caffeine.
Creatine and Caffeine: Are They Related?
Caffeine has a chemical formula of C8H10N4O2 ((8) carbon, (10)hydrogen, (4)nitrogens, and (2) oxygen atoms), while creatine has C4H9N3O2. While they have the same chemical substances, creatine does not have caffeine and are two completely different ingredients.
Their difference lies in the fact that caffeine is a common stimulant drug, while creatine is an amino acid derivative intended to provide energy for muscles and helps in improving strength, increasing lean muscle mass, and promoting faster recovery.
Should You Mix Creatine and Coffee or other Caffeine Sources?
Many people mix their creatine and coffee together. But is it safe? – Yes, it is.
Science considers both creatine and caffeine as ergogenic aids, which athletes use to improve physical performance, endurance, and recovery. While their individual) benefits as effective pre-workout substances have already been established, newer studies have also shown their effectiveness as a pair.
One research paper showed that pre-workout supplements containing both creatine and caffeine helped increase muscular strength and physical endurance, while another study revealed that taking a blend of caffeine and creatine helped increase high-intensity interval training (HIIT) power and increase sprinting speed and lean body mass.
Possible Side Effects
Taking creatine and caffeine together is generally safe, but everyone may have a different reaction to this combination.
In one study, researchers noted that a combination of creatine and caffeine caused mild gastrointestinal discomfort among some of its study participants (which isn’t rare for people taking creatine). Also, it was once thought that caffeine might decrease creatine’s efficacy, though it has since been disproven.
The combination may also cause water retention; as creatine draws water into your muscles’ cells while (excessively) taking caffeine can retain them further there, so it’s important to balance them out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take creatine and caffeine together?
Yes, creatine and caffeine are safe to be taken together to help improve physical performance in sports and workout routines.
How much creatine and caffeine should I take?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers 400 mg (about 4 cups) a safe amount of caffeine for healthy adults to consume daily, while experts recommend taking 5g of creatine 4 or 5 times daily.
Can creatine and caffeine cause side effects?
While generally safe, combining creatine and caffeinated beverages may cause dehydration, stomach discomfort, and water retention in some people.
Are there any contraindications against taking creatine and caffeine?
People with caffeine sensitivity, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or liver disease should not take creatine and caffeine together, as they could result in some side effects.
Taking creatine and caffeine, separately or mixed, can enhance physical performance, greater muscle gains, improve brain function, and promote better cognition. Though similar in chemical components, creatine does not have caffeine, and the two are completely different ingredients.
To experience the best results, it’s important to eat a hearty and healthy meal before taking them together and avoid drinking caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime to prevent insomnia.
When in doubt, you can always consult your healthcare provider, a fitness expert, or a dietitian to discuss your needs and preferences.