Updated: Oct 12
TL;DR: There is a possible interaction between caffeine and creatine, but there is also research suggesting there is no negative impact on performance. It's likely that combining these supplements is fine, providing you stay hydrated.
If you're taking creatine to help you enhance your gym exercise or gain muscle mass, you should learn more about how creatine and caffeine interact.
Caffeine and creatine are two of the most popular supplements.
Despite their widespread usage, there is still debate over whether it is safe to combine caffeine-containing drinks and supplements and creatine.
Although earlier theory and research indicated that caffeine could reduce any of creatine's benefits, many experts contend that there is little current evidence to back this up.
In this article, I'll explore the current research on combining caffeine and creatine and if it is a good idea or not, I'll also explain any benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
Table of Contents:
Is It a Good Idea to Combine Them?
Caffeine and creatine are two of the most powerful and proven performance boosters.
Creatine increases the body's energy production and caffeine is a potent stimulate, both are able to increase strength, endurance, and enhance muscle growth.
There are two adverse effects associated with the combination of creatine and caffeine, those being increasing the risk of dehydration and possible stomach upset and discomfort.
Although, negating the risk of dehydration is simply a matter of drinking enough water when taking creatine and caffeine.
Usually eating a meal before taking a supplement that causes stomach irritation can reduce any discomfort.
Some research suggests there is no negative impact on exercise performance when combining these two supplements.
In fact, there may be a performance enhancing benefit that outweighs any potential conflict between the two supplements.
More research is needed, but it seems as though combining caffeine and creatine improves exercise performance. There are two possible adverse effects, but they can be easily negated.
Due to the lack of research, I wouldn't say it is a good idea to combine them, but I don't see any evidence to suggest that it would be a bad idea either.
What the Science Says
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that is mainly found in coffee and tea. Synthetic versions may also be found in energy drinks, pre-workout supplements, etc.
It's classified as a stimulant since it works on the central nervous system to make you feel more awake.
Creatine is an amino acid derivative that promotes muscular growth and strength. It's one of the most researched ergogenic aids, and it's well-known for its strength-training effects.
Creatine and caffeine both enhance performance in different ways. On the surface, this would seem to be an excellent supplement combination.
However, some early research suggested that consuming high doses of caffeine reduces the performance advantages of high-dose creatine.
The most probable reason for this might be to do with conflicting effects on muscle relaxation time and possible gastrointestinal discomfort when both substances are taken in large quantities. (1)
A 2017 Study Suggests There's No Impact on Performance
Caffeine was previously believed to counteract the performance-enhancing effects of creatine. However, the majority of recent research contradicts this.
In a five-day study conducted in 2017, 54 men were divided into four groups: (2)
Anhydrous caffeine (300 mg) with creatine (20 grams)
Instant coffee (300 mg caffeine) with creatine (20 grams)
Creatine only (20 grams)
A placebo group
There were no significant changes in power or sprinting performance across the groups, according to the findings. Caffeine and creatine users complained of more stomach pain, however. (2)
Caffeine and creatine have no pharmacokinetic interactions, which means how the body reacts to a medication, according to a 2015 review of studies.
They also discovered that multi-ingredient pills combining both creatine and caffeine may help with strength and power. (3)
More study is required due to contradictory findings on the effects of combined caffeine and creatine on sports performance.
Though there is little study on the combined efficacy of the two substances, their individual advantages in sports and athletic performance are generally acknowledged.
Increases Risk of Dehydration & Causes Stomach Discomfort
It's been argued that the actual reason behind caffeine's alleged impact on creatine has less to do with particular interactions between the two and more to do with your level of hydration. (3)
In those who take little to no caffeine on a daily basis, caffeine may function as a diuretic (promotes urination). Caffeine users, on the other hand, are less sensitive to its diuretic effects. (3)
Creatine, on the other hand, may cause water retention. This may have a detrimental impact on performance due to their conflicting effects on hydration.
Lowering in blood pressure.
Inability to properly regulate body temperature.
Reduction in the body's capacity to generate energy.
These symptoms, along with the slew of other adverse effects from dehydration, would lead to a poor athletic performance.
One other side effect from this supplement combination is stomach discomfort.
Caffeine and creatine seem to have no detrimental impact on athletic performance when taken together, and may even improve power and strength.
They may, however, raise the probability of stomach pain as well as the danger of dehydration, if not addressed properly.
Increased Muscle Mass: Caffeine and creatine have both been related to increased strength and muscular growth. They may, in particular, assist you in lifting greater weight or doing more repetitions, which promotes muscular growth.
Increased Strength & Power: When you exercise, creatine ensures you have enough energy. It does this by boosting the amount of phosphocreatine in your muscles. This allows your cells to generate more energy (ATP) in working muscles more rapidly, resulting in increased explosive power and strength.
Increased Energy & Alertness: Caffeine activates the central nervous system by preventing the chemical adenosine from attaching to sleep-inducing receptors in the brain. This may provide you a boost of energy to help you get through your exercise.
Both creatine and caffeine have been shown to be safe and very effective performance enhancers in multiple studies.
They've been proven to boost muscular growth, strength, and performance in power, sprinting, and high-intensity sports.
Dehydration: Although additional study is required, creatine alone increases the risk of dehydration, combining creatine with caffeinated drinks and supplements may raise the risk of dehydration even further.
Stomach Discomfort: The passage of digested food through the intestines is aided by caffeine. This may result in stomach pain and more frequent bowel motions. Caffeine sensitivity is greatly based on the person.
Insomnia & Sleep Issues: Caffeine, because of its stimulating properties, should not be consumed too close to bedtime. Because lack of sleep may impair athletic performance, coffee should be avoided at least 6 hours before bedtime.
Caffeine and creatine are both considered to be safe and effective sports performance enhancers on their own.
In some individuals, the combination may cause sleep disturbances, dehydration, and stomach discomfort, among other adverse effects if dehydration becomes an issue.
There are best practises for sports and athletic performance whether you opt to take creatine and caffeine together or separately.
However, before beginning a new supplement regimen or altering your dosage, always get medical advice.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) advises consuming 0.9-2.7 mg of caffeine per pound (2-6 mg/kg) when used as a performance improver.
For most people, around 3-4 cups of coffee per day is sufficient.
Caffeine reaches its peak around 45-60 minutes after consumption. So, if you're going to exercise, consider drinking a cup of coffee or a preworkout around an hour before you start.
ISSN advises beginning with a “loading dosage” of 0.3 grams per kilogram (0.14 grams per pound) per day for around 7 days, then changing your daily dose to 3-5 grams per day on an ongoing basis.
For example, a 200 pound (~90 kg) person would take about 27 grams of creatine per day for the first week, then lower their dose to the typical 3-5 grams per day.
It's probably also ideal to take creatine just before your workout, but additional study is required to pinpoint the precise timing.
Creatine and caffeine together in modest quantities should not have a detrimental impact on your exercises. In fact, combining the two may help you perform better.
Creatine and caffeine have both been extensively researched for their ergogenic properties. They may help with muscular development, strength, and power in particular.
However, stomach discomfort and a risk of dehydration are possible adverse effects of this supplement combination.
Before adding creatine or caffeine to your diet or changing your dose drastically, it's advisable to consult with a doctor.
This is particularly true if you're doing both at the same time or altering your exercise or overall physical activity.
If you want to improve your workout performance without the risk of combining supplements, both creatine and caffeine are excellent choices on their own.
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This evidence-based analysis of the combination of creatine and caffeine features 11 references, listed below.
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3. Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE. Creatine and Caffeine: Considerations for Concurrent Supplementation. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2015, Dec) (Review) ✔
4. Thomas DT, Erdman KA, Burke LM. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. (2016, Mar) ✔
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6. Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2017, Jun 13) ✔
7. Grgic J, Grgic I, Pickering C, Schoenfeld BJ, Bishop DJ, Pedisic Z. Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance-an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses. Br J Sports Med. (2020, Jun) (Meta-Analysis) ✔
8. Guest NS, VanDusseldorp TA, Nelson MT, Grgic J, Schoenfeld BJ, Jenkins NDM, Arent SM, Antonio J, Stout JR, Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Goldstein ER, Kalman DS, Campbell BI. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2021, Jan 2) (Review) ✔
9. Southward K, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ, Ali A. The Effect of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. (2018, Aug) (Review) ✔
10. Iriondo-DeHond A, Uranga JA, Del Castillo MD, Abalo R. Effects of Coffee and Its Components on the Gastrointestinal Tract and the Brain-Gut Axis. Nutrients. (2020, Dec 29) ✔
11. Clark I, Landolt HP. Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. (2017, Feb) (Review) ✔
✔ Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.
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