Updated: Oct 12
TL;DR: There is no advantage to taking creatine with sugar or carbohydrates, in fact there may even be a disadvantage.
Although mixing a carbohydrate source with creatine may produce an insulin spike, is it really beneficial and what are the negative effects of this?
In this article, we will discuss whether or not you really need to combine sugar and creatine.
Table of Contents:
Should You Combine Sugar and Creatine?
Combining sugar (and other carbohydrates) with creatine has long been a proposed beneficial way to take creatine. It has been told all over forums that it increases the effectiveness of creatine.
But is this really true? According to latest research, taking carbohydrates with creatine does not alter the effectiveness of creatine, in fact it may be detrimental.
Because of this, I don't recommend taking creatine with sugar or other carbohydrates, instead I recommend taking it with an adequate amount of water.
Though combining creatine with sugar isn't beneficial, you can still consume creatine with fruit juice, milk, and other carbohydrate containing foods and drinks.
What Does the Research Say?
One study researched twenty male students comprising of three groups, listed below. (1)
Creatine + carbohydrates
No creatine (control group)
Three 30 second anaerobic Wingate tests (AWTs) were conducted by each group, followed by 6-minute rest periods.
The creatine only group ingested 5 grams of creatine 5 times per day for 4 days.
The creatine + carbohydrates group received the same amount of creatine as the other group, but they also consumed 500 ml of a commercially available energy drink containing 100 grams of simple sugars after each 5 gram dosage of creatine.
Over all three AWTs, the creatine only group's average mean power increased substantially (5.51%) compared to baseline, but not the creatine + carbohydrate group (3.06 %).
Following acute loading, mean power for the second AWT was enhanced (4.54 %) for the creatine only group.
Mean power increased for the third AWT for both the creatine only (8.49 %) and creatine + carbohydrates (5.75 %) groups.
Over all three AWTs a significant change was recorded in average peak power following the acute loading for the creatine only group (8.26%) but not for the creatine + carbohydrates group (4.11%).
Peak power was significantly improved following the loading only for the creatine only group during the third AWT (19.79%).
No changes in AWT performance were recorded for the control group after intervention.
The findings of the this study suggest that ingesting creatine together with carbohydrates will not further improve performance compared to the ingestion of creatine only.
In fact, some of performance tests didn't increase as much in the creatine + carbohydrates group as they did in the creatine only group.
However, this study was small in size meaning more research is needed to make any complete conclusions.
Some early research suggests that combining creatine with carbohydrates doesn't improve its effectiveness more than taking creatine alone.
On the contrary, combining creatine with simple carbohydrates (sugar) may even reduce the effectiveness of creatine.
However, the study is small and more research is needed to make any conclusions.
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This evidence-based analysis of the combination of creatine and sugar features 1 reference, listed below.
1. Theodorou AS, Paradisis G, Smpokos E, Chatzinikolaou A, Fatouros I, King R, Cooke CB. The effect of combined supplementation of carbohydrates and creatine on anaerobic performance. Biol Sport. (2017, Jun) ✔
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