A common question I get is regarding creatine added to pre workout drinks. Many companies put creatine in their pre workout supplements, and many people add creatine their home made pre workout drinks, but should they?
I have the facts on creatine being added to pre workout drinks in this vid!

36 Comments
  1. Brian Nordberg 6 years ago

    Very true. I once had a nurse insist that I stop creatine supplementation because my bloodwork showed higher than reference creatinine. I wanted to demonstrate that my levels would stay high even after a cessation of creatine supplementation. I researched how long elevated creatine levs persist in the muscle tissue. It was on the order of several weeks! Clearly timing of intake is not that critical. One could even skip a day now and then with no real effect. Thanks as always for the rational, reasoned, and informative articles and videos.

    • Dennis 6 years ago

      Hi Brian, appreciated your comment and agree with your finding regarding taking creatine. I never got orderly in taking creatine but experienced benefit anyway. Loading, unloading, blah blah blah.
      Dennis

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Data has shown it takes approx 30 days for creatine tissues levels to go back to base line. However, I find creatinine levels will drop to normal far quicker then that, usually a week or so.

    • NJJoe 6 years ago

      Interesting reference to creatinine levels. I don’t use creatine. I have a WPI shake daily (approx. 30g protein) daily. Sometimes, after a hard & long workout, I’ll have another half serving (15g) simply because I just don’t eat a whole lot of protein. A year ago, my MD asked if I was taking creatine because my creatinine level was slightly elevated. I told him no, just a protein shake. He didn’t seem too concerned, and just said be sure and drink plenty of water, of which I do. The following visit (6 months later) my creatinine level was just about the same, only this time, the lab raised the spec (upper limit) on what it should be. MDs are just following protocol, if they see anything unusual, its their responsibility to bring it to your attention. Best to have an MD who looks at the whole patient’s picture, not just numbers on a page.
      From WebMD: “The amount of creatinine in the blood depends partly on the amount of muscle tissue; blood creatinine levels are generally higher in men than in women. Also, people who have large muscles, such as athletes, normally have above-average blood creatinine levels.”

  2. Dennis 6 years ago

    Thanks for your info. I sporadically use Cell Mass in pre-workout. Its ok and when I do it does ok. In general though I’m not a big creatine person. Cell Mass for me seems to supply an energy and recovery mixture that I experience quickly. Maybe I need to look at it again and see if I can find something like that without the creatine. Any suggestions? As always, you’re a person without marketing hype bs. I’m 60, been there did that. My trophies are only collecting dust in the cellar anyway. lol. I appreciate your info.
    Dennis

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Suggestions in terms of what specifically Dennis? Creatine has so many potential health benefits, it’s a “no brainer” supplement in my view. Lots of info on that here on the site via more vids, reports, articles, etc. Good luck!

      • Dennis 6 years ago

        suggestions in terms of pre-workout drink. I presently like what I find in Twin Labs “Endurance Fuel”
        Waxy maise, fructose, maltodextrin.

        • Author
          Will Brink 6 years ago

          I linked my general recipe for a good pre workout drink in the vid, which can
          also be found here on the site on a search as well. Take a look at that.

  3. Thomas Fram, AKA Capt. Fram, Methuen Ma. PD and NEMLEC 6 years ago

    Nice job explaining this. Way to much junk in all these work out supplements. Keep it simple, keep it smart, keep it safe. My principles for police work, tactical work, working out, and life.
    Tom

    • Dennis 6 years ago

      ………….preciate it Tom

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Capt. Fram, I try to follow the K.I.S.S principle in all things if possible. People add complexity to a thing where none is needed I find! 🙂
      I hope you and the NEMLEC crew are well. Per usual, if there’s anything I can do to assist, let me know….

  4. kevin 6 years ago

    What’s the difference between creatine and creatinine? My vague understanding is creatine is a supplement. Creatinine is a kidney function test.
    kevin

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Essentially correct yes. I cover the creatine/creatinine connection in my free report on creatine as well as various articles/vids here on the site and in my books and programs: Body Building Revealed and The Sports Supplement Bible.

  5. -Derrick 6 years ago

    Once again Will, you put science into the marketing hype so we can look beyond ads, labels, and of course “dude magic”= “hey dude, this (magically) worked for me… I’ve no idea how it works, but I’m buff, so it has to work,” and make informed decisions on what it actually efficacious versus garbage. Kudos once again!
    Brian, I haven’t done nearly as much empirical research on the effects of creatine, but if you eat meat (i.e. (lean) red meat and fish sources), then you’re getting creatine, yes? So if could be that your levels of created could remain elevated due to consistent intake of food stuffs that bear creatine. Granted, it isn’t perpetual, so the more your body uses those phosphate donations (hair growth, strength training, cognitive functions, and basic metabolic functions used to sustain homeostasis) the less you’ll have until you ingest a creatine source again.
    From what I gather, as Will asserted in the video, creatine is not an instant form of energy. It supports muscle growth through the conversion of energy, namely cyclic ADP – ATP, which could allow more resistance to be moved, thereby developing more muscle fibers.
    I’m sure you’re all aware that trying to explain science (statistical and clinical) to some at the gym who shun off science is often tantamount to trying to get stop an addiction in its tracks; sometimes no matter what proof you present, some just won’t accept science as a means of measurable, repeatable, predictable, and conditional truths. I’m glad there are sites out there like this and folks like you all that contribute to my “understanding” of muscle physiology.
    -Derrick

  6. ksamurai 6 years ago

    No doubt you are well informed on the research, and your articles are very well informed and appear to be objective. However, I can tell you without any shadow of a doubt, based on years, nay decades of taking creatine monohydrate on and off at varying doses and times, that creatine pre-workout does in fact provide me with an energy boost and increased drive and endurance through my workouts. I don’t do the whole load phase thing… just 3-5 grams pre-workout, only on workout days. This can’t be a placebo effect, otherwise it would not be so clear and consistent of an effect on me. Some workout days, I don’t take it, and these workouts are often somewhat lackluster for me. But when I do take it, I mean I’m practically buzzing within 15-20 minutes. I believe I’ve heard this referred to as “creatine sensitivity”… call it what you will. There may not be research to support it, and some % of population may not experience this effect, I can’t say, but I know what effect it has on me. I am not a sucker for supps either, I supplement creatine mono, whey protein, joint supplements, fish oil, and a basic multi-vit. That’s it. My focus is more on nutrition and exercise, and healthy living in general.
    Just wanted to share my experience for what it’s worth… Thanks!

    • -Derrick 6 years ago

      Ksamuri,
      The whole notion behind the placebo effect is that the participant doesn’t know if he or she is in the experimental group or the control group. With the exception of genetics, illness, and desease, we are pretty much all the same. I believe that if you’re happy with your results, great, keep on doing what you’re doing. However, if the science contradicts your anecdotal research, then you may have to adjust your notions of efficacy here.
      Could it be that since you’re aware of what you take and you associate a lackluster workout with the absence of creatine as a pre-workout drink and robust workout with the contrary, I believe it may be purely psychosomatic my friend. That is, there is another (confounding) variable for which you haven’t accounted in your study. Welcome to statistics (read: sadistics). Most everything can be explained away by something else. Temporality doesn’t necessary infer causation. So, have you experimented with creatine AFTER the workout or at different times prior to your workout? Again, the placebo effect is meaningless if you’re aware of the placebo.
      -Derrick

      • ksamurai 6 years ago

        Hi Derrick, I welcome your skepticism and it is warranted. I am familiar with the placebo effect, so I must concede that the elevated energy levels that I experience soon after taking creatine mono- are ‘potentially somewhat’ due to placebo, but only to the extent that placebo is compounding an utterly unmistakable ‘actual’ effect.
        I do have familiarity with (and some formal education in the derivation of) statistics. There is the concept of ‘outliers’, which are typical in any given sample, and are not always the result of flawed data. Statistics deal with ‘probability’, not universal truth. There are often exceptions to the rule of ‘probability’. That being said, I’d be curious to read any reference you might have that might disprove any stimulant effect of creatine supplementation.
        To answer your question, like I mentioned before, I have used creatine on and off, with varying frequency, dosages, and approaches to phasing, loading, etc. For the last few years or more, I have settled on 3-5 grams pre-WO, only on workout days.
        Interesting comment you made, “the placebo effect is meaningless if you’re aware of the placebo”… To share an experience I have had on several occassions (anecdotal again sure, and bordering on silly, but probably as close as you can get to a blinded study with only one person… There have been several occassions where I took my pre-workout dose of creatine, then subsequently bailed on my WO in order to complete some other task or chore (mowing the lawn, paying bills, etc.). Later, having basically forgotten that I took creatine, I’ve noticed increased levels of physical and cognitive energy before putting two and two together that, “oh yeah”, I had taken creatine. This has happened to me more than a few times.
        Admitedly that is very unscientific, but it’s pretty compelling when you experience it. I see no reason to take creatine post-WO and miss out on this wonderful side effect.
        Believe it or not… makes no difference to me. Just wanted to share that the effect is consistent, unmistakeable, and unsubtle to me despite any research to the contrary.
        Thanks!

        • ksamurai 6 years ago

          I do find it interesting that you and Will are able to rule out the effects that creatine has on my energy levels as pure placebo. I am definitely not as well read as you guys on the subject, but a quick search turned this study up. I could probably find more out there, but I need to get back to work 😉
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324203

          • Author
            Will Brink 6 years ago

            Incorrect. We have not ruled anything out. The burden of proof is on those who make the claim, and what’s supported in the lit and known mechanisms of creatine is as I say. What I/we are saying is, you will be unable to show it’s not placebo using a personal anecdotal n=1 claim period, regardless of how convinced otherwise. That’s simply how science works. That’s why double blinded studies exist, and in my view, even those studies that are double blinded that lack a control group, are suspect.
            Thus, it may or may not be placebo in your case, but there’s also nothing you can supply that would be able to confirm it’s not placebo at this time via personal anecdotal info.
            I have had people tell me for 20 + years now how X supplement had Y effect on the person and “couldn’t possibly be a placebo” and what they were using was 100% worthless stuff.
            I have posted a very interesting vid here on BZ regarding the power of placebo worth watching here:
            http://www.brinkzone.com/brinkisms-and-other-stuff/the-power-of-your-mind/
            Regarding that study (which is an abstract to a study vs the actual study…), creatine does have cognitive effects, but a study on Ten rugby with sleep deprivation, is of no value to the conversation at hand I assure you.
            If YOU feel you benefit from taking creatine pre workout, and stated above and in the vid, continue to do so.

        • -Derrick 6 years ago

          Ksamurai,
          Hey, please do not mistake my comments as any sort of insult to your intelligence or what you’ve experienced; I am a perpetual student and I’m always learning; I meant no disrespect at all. I am merely positing that a confounding variable “may” be the reason for the effect. Granted, statistics are generally about probability, but at some point we have to make a decision to say, “yes this is (statistically significant, p= .05 or .001),” or “maybe,…” if nothing else. You’re absolutely correct in that probability still leaves room for chance & error and they must be considered.
          I was just stating that a placebo usually works because the participant believes that a treatment was administered. I can almost assure that unless you tell people that it’s not a sugar pill, they’ll somehow believe it is, thus tainting the placebo and treatment to an extent. This is profound in depression studies. Point is, there are so many things that bear upon our energy levels and how we can (and do) measure them. As you may know there are examples of guys lifting heavier when a couple of hot women walk into the gym, but suddenly, they can’t maintain their normal resistance when animal-strength guys walk in and start their workout. The mere stimulus of wanting to be seen and admired caused (?) a 10-20lb increase in a matter of minutes?? I tend to have more energy when it’s sunny outside (even if it’s cold) than when it’s warm, but cloudy. Yup, stranger things have occurred, but most assuredly, they can be answered.
          Still, if whatever you’re doing is working well for you, then it’s a great thing! Stay healthy, friend!
          -Derrick

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      “This can’t be a placebo effect, otherwise it would not be so clear and consistent of an effect on me.”
      Actually, it can be. The placebo effect is a real effect and hence why it’s simply not possible to depend on personal anecdotal n=1 claims. That being said, per the vid, no harm done and if you feel it helps your workouts, by all means, keep doing what you feel is working for you.
      All good to me. 🙂

      • ksamurai 6 years ago

        “The placebo effect is a real effect and hence why it’s simply not possible to depend on personal anecdotal n=1 claims.”
        Oh, there are ways around it… (i.e., poor short-term memory, lol).

    • Dennis 6 years ago

      K, I have the same effect. But I believe it has something to do with ATP production. ( essentially, electrical energy within cell) as well as the cell being bloated with water.

  7. welstar peter 6 years ago

    yes! you are absolutely right. I have been telling people and have been practicing not to have creatine as a pre-workout, but as post workout. Good to hear the same thing from you, cause I have never heard or read this thing in internet except college books.

  8. mikey 6 years ago

    Good info as usual Will! I do earlt a.m. workouks abd ive found that im stronger and have mire endurance when i take creatine the night before.

    • anthony peter galigo 6 years ago

      ill try that for a couple of weeks and see how my workouts go thanks

  9. Doug 6 years ago

    great comments Will. Having used Creatine Monohydrate for many years, I can attest to it’s effectiveness when taken in proper dose on a consistent basis. Adding to a pre workout drink might work OK for those who workout 5 or more times per week, but for the average gym goer who works out 3 times a week it is unlikely to keep your creatinine levels consistent.

  10. anthony peter galigo 6 years ago

    thanks i drink my disoled in hot water before i work out first thing in the morning

  11. Rick 6 years ago

    Yo will, I’ve been telling clients this for years… Thanks for reassurance!

  12. mark grove 6 years ago

    Creatine in Preworkout drinks? Never!!
    Great tips and knowledge on your part Will. Thanks.
    Yeah, you are right creatine is best after a workout for better results.
    But here’s a question fer ya Will even I’m not sure on. Is Creatine good for recovery purposes after a workout, or is it better in the growth phase?
    Hope that makes sense.
    Mark in Canada

  13. Warren Dostie 6 years ago

    I have to agree on this Will, I use creatine myself, but taking it before a workout is pointless. The stuffs expensive to boot, why not use it right! I go for whey, caffeine, ribose, glutamine and beta-alanine in my pre workout drink, and whey/Hershey bar with almonds for after.
    Good post
    Warren

  14. Eldon L Raison 6 years ago

    Hey Will. Hope this message finds you well today. I am 56 years of age, a retired military disabled vet and have been training since 1982. Near the end of last year, I had to deal with some prostate cancer. I had 6 weeks of radiation therapy and had 160 radioactive implants inserted in my prostate. Had a couple infections during recovery and also took a shot to re3duce my testosterone. Pre surgery, my score was 856mg/ml. As of 3 weeks ago, it was 10ng/ml. Went through bad mood swings and gainded some real fat, about 10 lbs worth from inactivity and the shot. Because of the infections and the healing time, I missed months of training. I hooked up to your site a while back and get a lot out of them. Like many others, I had no response to creatine that made me desire to keep trying new delivery systems. Then I saw your video and gave it a try. I used extremely hot water and patience. Talk about a difference. All that said, I have been using it with NO Explode, Ribose, BCAA’s, L-Glutamine and the product “FIT” by MHP. After the first week back, I almost quit altogether. Sick and sore like mad. And I know how to come back from a layoff. But I hung in and it’s been 9 straight weeks of training and man it’s going great. I guess my theory is that maybe it’s possible that certain supplements work better at certain times for certain age groups. I know exactly how creatine works and never use it to stimulate my CNS. I learned from years of lifting that it takes patience to see if certain stacks, timing, amount, etc…work for someone. In 6 months my Urologist is putting me on test therapy. I have no desire to use orals. But next to injections, which type do you believe works best? Patches, creams, ect…? I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Will.
    Eldon L. Raison
    Retired USAF

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Ed, glad to hear you’re on the mend. Regarding your list of supplements you’re using, for the cost of just one of them, you’d save years of wasted time and $$$ by reading my Sports Supplement Bible book or using by Body Building Revealed Program. Some of those supps you list = waste of $$$ and better money spent on other things.
      A search of this site will also find plenty of free info on some of those supps.
      You’re final Q is too complex to answer here. I have some extensive articles here and vids in TRT/HRT.
      Personally, I think IM injection (dose correctly/scheduled correctly) is still the best option for most men as the other options are often a PITA and or don’t seem to get T levels to where they are really needed for best effects.

  15. James 6 years ago

    Years ago I remember Bryan Haycock quoting some research that indicated increased uptake of creatine in the exercised muscles, thus making pre-workout an ideal time for ingestion. Has that been debunked?

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Not debunked no. I was just looking that that study by Tallon the other day and was speaking with him about that. BTW, he has a few articles here if interested.
      His data showed exercised muscles had improved uptake, but I don’t see how that relates to pre workout per se. Why not post workout for example?
      Trained muscles having superior uptake to un trained makes perfect sense, but again, no actual timing of the creatine intake was compared if you see what I’m saying.
      A study that looked at creatine uptake into muscle and comparing pre workout vs post workout vs say before bed (on rising or what ever) would settle that actual question and I don’t know of any such study.
      I’d day if anything, studies may suggest post workout may be beneficial, but again, would there be any real differences in tissue levels at the end of say 4-6 weeks?
      Probably not is my guess, but it’s an ongoing topic and I was told there may be some new data that may yet again, bring new info, so stay tuned! 🙂

      • Philip 6 years ago

        I don’t add creatine to my pre-workout drink, but I do dissolve it in very warm water with a tiny bit of dextrose in a mug, then head to the gym (5 min car ride) and then drink my whey protein. I remember in BBR that doing what was fine, this is still true?

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