Mixing Creatine with Your Coffee | Pros and Cons Explained

The question of whether or not you can mix creatine with coffee is far more rational than it may sound at first. After all, caffeine is the world’s most popular natural stimulant, with benefits that it confers to your athletic performance as well. 

Similarly, creatine supplementation is a common practice in the health and fitness community, and creatine has proven itself to be beneficial when taken before, during, and after workouts. With this in mind, it’s reasonable to think that taking creatine and caffeine together — by scooping and stirring creatine into your coffee — is a perfect shortcut to combining the performance advantages of both caffeine and creatine. 

However, is this a case where it’s okay to take creatine and caffeine separately, but if you mix them together you ruin them both? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding, “No.” Still, there are several questions worth answering before you make the marriage of creatine and caffeine in your morning pick-me-up a part of your daily routine. 

Understanding Creatine and Coffee

Coffee probably doesn’t leap right out to you as a dietary supplement intended to enhance exercise performance. Yet, when you break coffee down based on its components and its intent, it’s easy to see how it could be classified as such. The caffeine contained in coffee is well known to boost energy, which has clear implications with respect to your workouts.

If you combine creatine with caffeine intentionally, you are certainly merging two supplements that are very well respected within the field of sport nutrition. Still, before we can understand what the concurrent supplementation of caffeine and creatine is likely to do for you, the smart move is to investigate what creatine and caffeine are likely to do for you separately.

What is Creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the world. It is an amino acid derivative available in ordinary food sources that saturates your muscle cells, and your corresponding muscle tissue. However, this is only really true when creatine is taken in supplement form.

Despite being readily available in dietary food sources — and particularly in meat and fish — creatine cannot safely be ingested in large enough quantities from natural food sources to maximize its potency. This is especially true when considering creatine’s loading phase of at least 20 grams per day. As such, pinpoint creatine supplementation is considered to be a requirement if you want to get the most out of your creatine intake.

Why is Creatine Great for Exercise?

Creatine supplementation is practically a requirement for serious weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes who rely on the development of strength and power. Creatine is credited with increasing muscle mass, improving athletic performance, and preserving muscular endurance. 

In addition, creatine has been very beneficial for athletes hoping to improve their cardiovascular performance in everything from aerobic capacity in swimming to anaerobic running performance. As a result of this, creatine supplements are credited with everything from improving body composition, and enhancing exercise performance across the board.

What are the Potential Drawbacks to Taking Creatine?

Despite its scientifically proven benefits, taking creatine has been linked with a few minor annoyances and discomforts. None of these inconveniences are linked with the actual effectiveness of creatine at its intended role of physical performance enhancement.

The first inconvenience is the mandatory creatine loading phase of 20 to 25 grams per day that is required in order for athletes to reap the full advantage from creatine supplementation. For some people, the scheduling of creating ingestion during the loading phase can be an inconvenience.

Another drawback to creatine supplementation is the digestive discomfort that occasionally accompanies beginning a regimen of creatine intake. Some people are unwilling to contend with any form of stomach discomfort, and if your stomach is especially sensitive, creatine monohydrate may be more than you are prepared to contend with.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a stimulant and an ergogenic aid — or a tool to enhance physical performance — that is available naturally through many dietary food sources, including seeds, nuts, and fruits. Despite this, most caffeine consumption takes place through drinking beverages that are manufactured to maximize the potency of the caffeine. This includes coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks.

The majority of caffeine ingestion is casual, and is undertaken for the sake of improving mental alertness. This is a major factor in the early-morning consumption of caffeine, as many people ritually drink coffee immediately after waking up to improve their cognitive performance before heading off to work.

Why is Caffeine Great for Exercise?

Aside from being a casual morning stimulant, caffeine is a remarkably effective pre workout supplement. This is because caffeine intake boosts energy, which adds strength to your muscular output during resistance training. 

Caffeine acts by preventing the binding of adenosine with its receptors, enabling it to effectively reduce fatigue in your body while boosting alertness. All things considered, caffeine elevates physical performance and mental performance, and helps you to get the most out of your body at times when you might otherwise feel hindered by fatigue.

What are the Potential Drawbacks to Taking Caffeine?

While caffeine supplementation can be advantageous when done to improve mental and physical performance, there are some proven drawbacks to leaning upon caffeine too heavily. 

One issue is that caffeine intake has been known to result in dependency — complete with withdrawal symptoms — when taken regularly, and in large quantities. (1) It has also been shown to result in involuntary muscle contractions and tremors, along with increased nervousness, headaches and insomnia. It is also not great for individuals with high blood pressure.

With these drawbacks aside, responsible caffeine supplementation has been shown to enhance physical performance during training, and also to accelerate exercise metabolism. (2

Exploring the Pros of Mixing Creatine with Coffee

When you think about dropping additional powders and flavorings to your coffee, adding creatine probably isn’t the first idea that leaps to mind. After all, there is a wide range of sweeteners and creams you could reach for instead. 

Despite how bizarre the idea of scooping creatine into your coffee instead of an ingredient like chocolate or cinnamon might seem, creatine has the potential to benefit you well beyond what other ingredients might do for your taste buds.

Saves Time

If your intent is to merge creatine and caffeine supplementation, scooping creatine into your coffee is one of your best and tastiest means for mixing them together. This is especially true if you already have a habit of working out in the morning, and sipping coffee prior to training. 

By dropping creatine into your coffee, you are effectively transforming your morning coffee into a single-dose, multipurpose pre workout supplement. This can save you the hassle of handling your supplementation in two separate rounds.

Combines Effects

Creatine and caffeine are ergogenic aids that are both known to improve power production. While supplementing creatine on its own is a practice that is well known to boost muscle growth, taking caffeine can reduce perceived exertion during your training activities.

This pairing of two dietary supplements that are both effective power generators can help you extend training time and crank out more reps, which ultimately contributes to increased muscle growth in its own right, along with the generation of more lean body mass. (3)

Improves Creatine Drinkability

One of the most frequent criticisms from people who consume creatine is that drinking creatine in cold beverages results in an unpleasant, gritty residue being left in the container. This is a byproduct of creatine’s infamously poor mixability. Well it just so happens that the solubility of creatine increases linearly with a rise in temperature. 

In short, if you decide to mix creatine and caffeine by way of coffee, you can improve the enjoyment with which you consume creatine, because it's grittiness completely disappears. This is also likely to come in especially handy during the creatine loading phase, when you’ll consume 20 or more grams of creatine daily instead of a five-gram maintenance dose. When you have to mix creatine and consume it four times a day, you’ll want it to go down as smoothly as possible.

Examining the Cons of Mixing Creatine with Coffee

As straightforward as the idea of taking creatine and dropping it into your coffee might seem, there are some elements to ingesting both creatine and caffeine together that might make the idea less appealing. 

This isn’t to say that either is a dietary supplement you shouldn’t take. It’s more a matter of whether the idea of taking both creatine and caffeine together is the most beneficial way to improve exercise performance.

Can’t Isolate Cause and Effect

If your objective is to gauge the individual effectiveness of various supplements on your exercise performance to see what’s working best for you, then concurrent supplementation with both creatine and caffeine may leave you wondering how much of a benefit each one had on your body. This is especially true if you have never supplemented with either, and you begin your supplementation regimen with each at the same time.

With that being stated, you may not care at all where the advantages came from as long as they display themselves where it matters, in improved aerobic capacity and body composition, and elevated muscular endurance. However, if you are trying to get the best handle on which supplement works best for you in your quest to gain muscle mass and endurance, you might want to keep them separated for at least a little while.

Mixing Creatine and Coffee May Not Work Exactly As Planned 

There have been some contradictory study results with respect to whether the decision to consume creatine alongside caffeine is an optimal one. There are some study results indicating that the combined effects of blending creatine and caffeine is minor to non-existent. (4)

There are even study results that suggest that caffeine blunts the effects of creatine, that caffeine inhibits creatine with respect to power-production potential, or that caffeine counteracts whatever other positive benefits creatine might convey. (5) All the same, there are also study results that suggest there are no such complications resulting from simultaneous supplementation of creatine and caffeine.

Combining Creatine and Coffee May Cause Digestive Issues

Taken on its own, it’s been shown that caffeine stimulates the digestive tract in such a way that may cause an upset stomach; studies show that mixing creatine with caffeine does not offset this problem. (6)

Obviously, no matter how advantaged you may feel from combining caffeine and creatine, if you’re experiencing abdominal discomfort every time you mix the two together, you’ll probably be inclined to stop consuming caffeine with creatine prior to working out.

Practical Tips and Recommendations

Can you put creatine in coffee? The answer is obviously yes. However, If you’re still wondering whether or not you can safely mix creatine with coffee, here are some tips that you may want to take into consideration.

  1. Consider Decaffeinated Coffee

Coffee may be your favorite method for creatine conveyance, but if you consume coffee every time you take creatine — particularly during the creatine loading stage — you may end up quite jittery as a result. 

To keep the marriage of creatine and coffee from working against you, consider using decaffeinated coffee for at least a few of your creatine doses. That way, you get all of the benefits of creatine blended with the superior structure of hot coffee, but without the negative consequences of consuming too much caffeinated coffee.

  1. Start Slowly

Since the combination of creatine and caffeine may not completely agree with your digestive system, the interactions of the two supplements may be severe enough to make you reconsider taking them in tandem. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them at all, but you may want to consider a measured approach.

Instead of jumping in with both feet, you can adopt the strategy of combining the two supplements gradually. Either that, or consider whether the symptoms are mild or quick to subside, and also if your workout can be timed around any digestive challenges you might be experiencing. 

  1. Identify the Optimal Time to Drink

At least one set of study results involving trained young adults indicates the time at which you ingest creatine in relation to your workout can somewhat alter the benefit that you receive from it. (7)

Specifically, Taking creatine before, during, or after your workout can factor into whether or not it acts as more of a strength booster, contributing to the creation of new muscle mass, or as more of a recovery tool that helps your muscles bounce back rapidly.

Depending on which benefit you wish to prioritize, you may want to time the mixing of caffeine and creatine very precisely. This could mean that you drink the entire mixture before your workout, sip it gradually throughout your training, or add the creatine to your coffee later on in your exercise routine.

  1. There are Other Options

If coffee isn’t your preferred medium for consuming creatine, or if you’re not a fan of coffee in general, there are other solutions available for you to stack creatine and caffeine.

It is increasingly common to mix creatine with a pre-workout powder and consume the entire mixture either before or during a workout. So while coffee is an optimal mixing solution for creatine, coffee may not be your favorite liquid to scoop creatine into if it isn’t something you already drink, or don’t truly enjoy. If this is the case, there are plenty of options available for you to still take both.

Drink it if You Want… or Drink Something Else

The combination of caffeine and creatine is just one solution that sports nutrition has unearthed to further influence exercise physiology and produce positive outcomes in your body. 

In this instance, mixing creatine into your coffee has the capacity to boost your accumulation of muscle mass, delay the production of lactic acid, and make your energy systems more efficient across the board. This is all while giving you a general feeling of greater alertness.

With that being stated, there are other ways to take these ergogenic aids while yielding the same results. So if coffee simply isn’t your thing, there are other solutions available that will still permit you to experience the benefits of creatine and caffeine when they’re taken simultaneously.

 

References:

  1. Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013 Sep;3(3):114-130. doi: 10.1089/jcr.2013.0016. PMID: 24761279; PMCID: PMC3777290.

  2. Graham TE. Caffeine and exercise: metabolism, endurance and performance. Sports Med. 2001;31(11):785-807. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200131110-00002. PMID: 11583104.

  3. Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Roelofs EJ, Hirsch KR, Persky AM, Mock MG. Effects of Coffee and Caffeine Anhydrous Intake During Creatine Loading. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 May;30(5):1438-46. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001223. PMID: 26439785; PMCID: PMC4808512.

  4. Pakulak A, Candow DG, Totosy de Zepetnek J, Forbes SC, Basta D. Effects of Creatine and Caffeine Supplementation During Resistance Training on Body Composition, Strength, Endurance, Rating of Perceived Exertion and Fatigue in Trained Young Adults. J Diet Suppl. 2022;19(5):587-602. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2021.1904085. Epub 2021 Mar 24. PMID: 33759701.

  5. Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE. Creatine and Caffeine: Considerations for Concurrent Supplementation. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Dec;25(6):607-23. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2014-0193. PMID: 26219105.

  6. Elosegui S, López-Seoane J, Martínez-Ferrán M, Pareja-Galeano H. Interaction Between Caffeine and Creatine When Used as Concurrent Ergogenic Supplements: A Systematic Review. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2022 Jan 11;32(4):285-295. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2021-0262. PMID: 35016154.

  7. Ribeiro F, Longobardi I, Perim P, Duarte B, Ferreira P, Gualano B, Roschel H, Saunders B. Timing of Creatine Supplementation around Exercise: A Real Concern? Nutrients. 2021 Aug 19;13(8):2844. doi: 10.3390/nu13082844. PMID: 34445003; PMCID: PMC8401986.

 

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