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You know that creatine is a great supplement to take before your workout, but you’re not sure if you can safely mix it with a pre-workout supplement.
So, can you mix creatine with pre-workout? Yes, creatine can be safely mixed with pre-workout to give you both the benefits of creatine and the extra energy boost of a pre-workout supplement. This enables you to perform at a higher exercise intensity, lift more weight, and complete more reps and sets.
For these reasons, many commercially available supplement blends or “stacks” (products with a combination of supplements) contain both creatine and pre-workout.
Beyond that, you might wonder whether it’s more effective to consume creatine and pre-workout together or separately and what the benefits and drawbacks are. I’ll cover this in the article below and discuss considerations for who should and shouldn’t mix creatine with pre-workout.
Is It Safe To Mix Creatine With Pre-Workout?
It is safe to mix creatine with pre-workout as long as both products have been objectively certified by an independent third party for purity, safety, and quality.
Third-party certification can assure you that the products actually contain the ingredients stated, in the amounts stated, and that they are safe for consumption.
According to multiple studies, when it comes to otherwise healthy individuals, there is no scientific evidence that short- or long-term use of creatine has any detrimental effects.
Also, there are no studies showing adverse effects from the interaction of supplemental creatine and other common pre-workout ingredients such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, or a group of three essential amino acids that are not produced naturally by the body) and beta-alanine (a non-essential amino acid that can help improve muscular endurance).
It’s also important to note that creatine is already found in many pre-workout supplements. However, one of the challenges of pre-workout supplementation is that the specific combinations of pre-workout ingredients are often covered in a “blend” that does not actually disclose the actual amounts of each ingredient.
The risk then is that if you don’t know how much of the ingredient is in each serving, you won’t know if it’s a safe or effective amount.
We encourage you to be a safe and informed consumer. Dietary supplements should be discussed with and disclosed to your healthcare provider to ensure that they are appropriate for you as an individual.
Learn more about creatine in the article Most Common Types of Creatine.
Should you take creatine? If so, when and how much?
Is It More Effective To Consume Creatine and Pre-Workout Separately?
No, it is not necessarily more effective to consume creatine and pre-workout individually at different times of the day. And because creatine can often be found in pre-workout supplements, you may not even need to consume it separately unless the amount in your pre-workout is lower than the recommended dosage of 5g.
As I’ll discuss below, creatine is optimal to take before a workout to increase creatine levels in the body before exercise and enable you to workout harder and for longer. It makes sense, then, to consume creatine along with any other pre-workout supplements.
Benefits of Mixing Creatine & Pre-Workout
The benefits of mixing creatine with pre-workout are:
- Control of Dose
- Control of Quality
Creatine and other pre-workout ingredients are generally recognized as “ergogenic,” meaning they enhance physical performance, stamina, or recovery. It’s good to know this term since it commonly appears on supplement labels.
Specifically, caffeine (a common stimulant in pre-workout supplements) is noted as ergogenic after supplementing creatine.
Creatine allows individuals to train longer and harder, achieving more reps and sets or higher weights. Various pre-workout ingredients delay the onset of fatigue and promote higher performance and improve recovery.
The end result is greater improvements in common markers of performance such as lean body mass and aerobic and anaerobic fitness (i.e. exercise that improves your cardiovascular health and exercise that requires short bursts of intensity, respectively).
The combination of creatine and caffeine can also boost muscular strength and endurance when supplementation is paired with a resistance training program compared to following a training program alone.
Mixing creatine and pre-workout (that contains no creatine or only a small amount of it) is an easy way to ingest these products in a single shake.
It is much easier to add creatine to your existing pre-workout shake or add pre-workout to another drink that already contains creatine than to consume them separately.
3. Control of Dose
When you combine creatine with pre-workout, you can control the dose of creatine to be sure that it is truly the desired amount for your goals compared to a “blend” that contains creatine but does not state how much creatine is actually in each serving.
4. Control of Quality
When you combine creatine with pre-workout, you can choose third-party certified products for each of the ingredients. This means that you can ensure the highest possible quality for your supplementation.
Related Article: Caffeine Pills vs Pre Workout: Pros, Cons, & Which Is Best?
Drawbacks of Mixing Creatine & Pre-Workout
The drawbacks of mixing creatine with pre-workout are:
- Sensitivity to ingredients
- Potential for decreased water intake
- Digestive distress
1. Sensitivity to Ingredients
If an individual has a sensitivity to one or more ingredients in the pre-workout product, adding creatine to a pre-workout supplement would be a drawback.
For example, some people can experience heart palpitations if they are highly sensitive to caffeine, a common pre-workout ingredient. In this case, it is better to avoid pre-workout or pre-workout formulations containing caffeine and get your creatine in a different type of drink.
2. Potential for Decreased Water Intake
Another drawback of mixing creatine and pre-workout is the potential for decreased water intake compared to having two separate shakes.
3. Digestive Distress
There are some anecdotal reports that creatine and other pre-workout ingredients result in digestive distress such as stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. This seems to vary on a case-by-case basis at an individual level.
If you experience digestive distress when combining pre-workout and creatine, it’s a good idea to stop taking them together. Take only one product for two weeks to see which one is causing the distress.
If a pre-workout stack seems to be the issue, it is worth taking a break from the stack and trying each of the ingredients in isolation for two weeks at a time to see which ingredient is causing the issue.
Once the ingredient that causes distress is identified, you can avoid it in the future.
Related Article: Creatine Makes Me Feel Sick: Why & How To Fix?
How To Combine Creatine & Pre-Workout For Maximum Effectiveness
- Creatine: The recommended daily dosage is 3-5g/day, after an initial loading phase of 20g daily for 5-7 days. During the loading phase, I recommend splitting the 20g into four servings of 5g each, spread across the day. One of these servings could be included with pre-workout.
If your pre-workout supplement also contains creatine, take this into consideration as part of the total daily dose of creatine.
- Pre-workout: Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended dose. Since caffeine can cause unwanted side effects for some people (heart palpitations, tremors, headaches, or upset stomach), pay careful attention to the amount of caffeine in the pre-workout. The recommended dosage of caffeine for exercise performance is 3-6mg per kg of body weight (1.4-2.7mg per pound of body weight). For an individual weighing 150lbs, this would be 205-405mg of caffeine.
For caffeine-sensitive individuals, it is also important to consider other sources of caffeine during the day such as coffee, tea, and caffeinated soda. Avoid or eliminate these sources or consider choosing a pre-workout supplement that does not contain caffeine.
Time of Day
Creatine and pre-workout supplements should be taken 30-60 minutes before training to give the supplements time to be absorbed into the body to provide their benefits that I discussed above.
Related Article: Should Beginners Take Creatine? Who SHOULD & Should NOT Use
Who Should Mix Creatine With Pre-Workout?
I would recommend that all individuals who are currently taking creatine and pre-workout supplements consider taking them together, especially if forgetting to take one supplement or the other is a common problem.
This is especially true for athletes who are looking to maximize physical performance for competitions.
However, even for people training for general health and fitness, these products will allow them to get the most out of their workouts.
For people looking to lose weight and/or cut body fat, the benefits of being able to train harder or more intensely will allow them to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. This helps to keep metabolism high to help burn calories for losing weight.
For people looking to gain muscle mass, the benefits of being able to train harder and improve muscular performance will assist with adding additional muscle mass and size (hypertrophy).
Related Article: Does Creatine Make You More Vascular? (What Science Says)
Who Should NOT Mix Creatine With Pre-Workout?
Anyone who experiences negative effects from creatine and/or pre-workout, taken separately or together, should not take the problematic supplement. This can include caffeine-sensitive individuals or anyone who experiences tremors, heart palpitations, digestive distress, or other undesirable symptoms when taking creatine or pre-workout.
It is worth trying different brands and formulations to see what ingredients do and don’t cause concern. A good approach is to try pre-workout and creatine in isolation for at least two weeks at a time to determine the effects of that one ingredient.
You can then use this information to come up with your own personalized blend to make a pre-workout stack that works for you, or you can look for commercial products that contain only the ingredients that work for you.
If you’re not sure whether mixing creatine and pre-workout will be beneficial for you, book a call with one of our Registered Dietitians or nutritionists to discuss the most optimal supplement strategy for you.
Can You Buy Creatine & Pre-Workout Together?
Yes, you can buy creatine and pre-workout together. There are several pre-workout formulations on the market that contain creatine as one of their ingredients.
Here are just a few examples of pre-workout products that already contain creatine:
- Beyond Raw LIT Clinically Dosed Pre-Workout contains 1.5g of creatine.
- Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout contains 2.5g of creatine.
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout contains 3g of creatine.
As you can see, a single serving of most of these products contains less than the daily recommended dose for creatine, with only the Optimum Nutrition Pre-Workout meeting the low end of the target range of 3-5g of creatine.
If you use one of these pre-workouts, you can add your own creatine separately as needed to get to your desired dose.
As a reminder, current labeling requirements mean that “blends” do not need to disclose how much of each ingredient is actually in a serving of the product, and claims about effectiveness do not need to be proven.
We encourage you to look for third-party certification and to buy supplements from reputable companies.
Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?
It is perfectly safe to mix creatine and pre-workout to give you more energy for your workout, help you remember to take both supplements, and reap the benefits of improved performance.
Learn More About Creatine Usage
- Can You Dry Scoop Creatine? Benefits, Risks, & Effectiveness
- Can You Take Creatine Forever? (What The Science Says)
- Creatine Every Other Day: Should You Do It? Pros & Cons
- How Long For Creatine To Work (1-Week & 1-Month Results)
What Else Can You Mix Creatine With?
- Can You Mix Creatine With Protein Powder? (Yes, Here’s How)
- Can You Mix Creatine With Milk? (Yes, Here’s How To Do It)
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.