Creatine and caffeine are two of the sports nutrition industry’s most studied, effective, and popular dietary supplements. However, there are many misconceptions about these two ingredients, which confuses consumers about what to take, when to take them, and their benefits.
Not to mention, creatine and caffeine are often combined within supplement products, such as a pre-workout. This article will cover the key differences between creatine and caffeine and answer the commonly asked question, “does creatine have caffeine?”
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Does Creatine Have Caffeine?
No, creatine does not contain caffeine. In fact, creatine isn’t even classified as a stimulant, so you can take it any time of the day without worrying about it disrupting your sleep.
It’s important to note that several pre-workouts contain caffeine and creatine but are completely separate ingredients. If your goal is to build lean muscle mass, gain strength, and/or boost athletic performance, creatine is one of the best supplements you can take.
What is Creatine, and is it a Stimulant?
Creatine is not a stimulant! Creatine is an organic compound that’s naturally present in various foods, such as red meat, seafood, and poultry. The body also produces creatine using a combination of the following amino acids — glycine, methionine, and arginine. So why should you supplement with more creatine if you can get it from your diet and your body already makes it?
Although creatine is nonessential, creatine supplementation is extremely beneficial because it increases your phosphocreatine stores within the skeletal muscle. Creatine supplementation leads to greater ATP (adenosine triphosphate) availability, which is the primary energy source for cells. Therefore, higher creatine stores lead to greater power, strength, and lean muscle mass over time.
Does Creatine Keep You Awake?
Creatine does not keep you awake! You can take creatine any time of the day. The timing isn’t that important as long as you remember to take it. For optimal results, consume 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate daily.
Furthermore, you don’t need to do a creatine loading phase, which means taking 20 grams of creatine daily for 1-2 weeks before doing a maintenance dose of 5 grams daily.
After a few weeks, you may notice creatine’s performance-boosting benefits. Creatine also has some cognitive benefits, so it may also provide you with brain-boosting benefits as well!
Does Creatine Give You Energy?
Creatine does not give you energy like caffeine does. However, it does replenish cellular energy (ATP) during the first 10-20 seconds of intense exercise. Creatine is stored in the body as creatine phosphate, and it’s primarily located in the brain and skeletal muscle. As you begin to exercise, your body uses ATP to fuel that movement. The body converts ATP into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to unlock the energy.
Unfortunately, ADP is useless until creatine phosphate donates one of its phosphate groups to turn the ADP back into ATP. In conclusion, higher creatine stores allow you to regenerate ATP faster. While creatine may not give you stimulatory energy, it gives you more potential for cellular energy. Since it is not a stimulant, it will not disrupt your sleep.
Can You Take Creatine If You’re Sensitive to Caffeine?
Yes, taking creatine is fine even if you’re sensitive to caffeine because it doesn’t contain caffeine and is not classified as a stimulant. With that said, before taking any dietary supplement, consult with a qualified healthcare professional. Creatine has been studied rigorously and seems to be safe for most people, but it’s always good to check.
Is it Okay to Mix Creatine and Caffeine?
Yes, mixing creatine with caffeine is fine for most people. In fact, several pre-workout supplements contain both creatine and caffeine.
Some parties believe that caffeine counteracts creatine’s effects because of their different muscle relaxation time, but that theory is overstated. Studies have shown that taking creatine and caffeine does not lead to any negative pharmacokinetic reactions. In other words, they don’t negatively impact one another.
It is important to note that combining creatine and caffeine ingestion may cause mild digestive discomfort, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. If you experience stomach upset, consume caffeine before your workout and creatine after the workout. You can also modify your caffeine intake and creatine supplementation to see if that helps.
Creatine and caffeine are two of the most effective ergogenic aids on the market, especially for high-intensity exercise. Additionally, a good amount of literature shows they are both safe to consume. Creatine is not a stimulant and does not contain any caffeine, so you can consume it anytime.
Even though creatine does make more energy available in the form of ATP, it does not stimulate your central nervous system as caffeine does. Creatine has a wide range of benefits, from performance to cognitive. It’s a great supplement to take, regardless of whether you train or not!
However, caffeine and creatine are commonly paired together in a pre-workout supplement. Creatine should be taken daily. Since the co-ingestion of caffeine and creatine may upset your stomach, keep an unflavored creatine monohydrate on hand so you can still reap all of the creatine’s benefits. If you decide to supplement with caffeine, monitor your daily caffeine intake because excessive doses can cause side effects.
- Trexler ET, et al. May 2016. “Effects of Coffee and Caffeine Anhydrous Intake During Creatine Loading.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 30(5):1438-46. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808512/