A Lean Life is a reader-supported site. Any purchases made through links might earn a commission at no cost to you.

Pre-Workout With Creatine

3Creatine Brands Reviewed

94 Hours of Research

48 Reviews Examined

3 Experts Interviewed

David | A Lean Life

Published by David Williams

As an engineer, David loves technical product comparison and analyzing the data to assess top products.

Table of Contents

If you’re interested in optimizing your training performance, recovery, and results, you’ve undoubtedly considered taking a pre-workout with creatine.

But would that offer any unique benefits?

We first have to understand what creatine is and what makes it work to answer the question. So, let’s dive in and explore.

What is Creatine And What Benefits Does It Offer?

Creatine is an organic acid produced in the body with the help of some amino acids. We store most of the creatine as phosphocreatine (PCr) inside skeletal muscles, with trace amounts found in the brain, liver, and kidneys.

To understand creatine’s functions, we have to take a brief look at adenosine triphosphate (ATP)––the energy currency for all cells in the body. ATP molecules consist of adenosine and three phosphate groups.

Under normal circumstances, your body breaks ATP molecules, releasing energy for your cells. These molecules convert to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and your body begins re-synthesizing them into ATP for later use.

As you start training, ATP demands can increase as much as 1,000-fold. When that happens, ATP breakdown rates far outgrow ATP synthesis, leading to a temporary depletion. As you can imagine, a lack of energy molecules means your muscles cannot contract with the same force, leading to a drop in performance and exhaustion.

Once you’ve taken some time to recover, your body has produced a new ‘batch’ of ATP, allowing you to do more physical activity before getting tired again. This is one reason why traditional gym training is based on alternating between work and rest until you complete all of your sets.

Creatine comes into the picture to speed up the ATP re-synthesis process, allowing you to train slightly more before getting tired. As mentioned above, most creatine in the body is stored as phosphocreatine. These molecules can donate their phosphate groups to accelerate ATP synthesis when your body needs it quickly, such as while training.

Aside from helping you train harder, creatine supplementation can lead to quicker fitness progress because you get to do slightly more work in the long run.

What is Creatine Powder

What Makes Creatine a Good Pre-Workout?

As discussed in the previous point, creatine plays a pivotal role in ATP re-synthesis, which is essential for our athletic performance. Exercise increases ATP demands significantly, making it impossible to maintain intense activities for a long time.

By taking creatine, you speed up the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate molecules, which offers benefits in the form of more strength, improved endurance, and quicker recovery between training sets.

How Soon Before Training Should You Take Creatine?

Creatine timing is highly individual and depends on stomach sensitivity, convenience, and overall nutritional habits. For example, if you typically eat your pre-workout meal a couple of hours before training, you can have your creatine then. Some research finds that taking protein with your creatine could lead to slightly better retention. (1)

Alternatively, you can take your creatine when it suits you most. For instance, people who don’t eat a pre-workout meal can simply take their daily creatine dose before training with some water or juice. If you find that taking creatine on an empty stomach leads to nausea, but you don’t eat before training, consider adding a small snack or simply taking your creatine with your first meal of the day.

What matters most is that you take creatine consistently to achieve muscle saturation. The timing is of lesser importance.

Creatine Form: Pills vs. Powder

Two popular forms of creatine are pills and powder, and people often wonder which is superior for absorption and reaping the benefits. While arguments could be made for both forms, powdered creatine is outstanding on all fronts.

For one, powder creatine gets absorbed quickly and more efficiently than pills. Instead of digesting the pills, the powder is already broken down, and absorption occurs more effectively.

Second, powder is much cheaper per dose. A simple creatine monohydrate tub can cost as little as $15 and last you for two months or longer. In contrast, creatine pills offer much less creatine for each dollar you spend and cost a lot more in the long run.

Third, powder goes down more easily. Most people hate taking pills because the experience is unpleasant. Powder is much better because you can mix it with some water and drink it in a few seconds. You can even pour the powder into your mouth and wash it down with water or juice.

Best Creatine Powder

What to Mix Creatine Powder With

Creatine works well with water. It mixes relatively well, and the taste isn’t so bad that it would be impossible to stomach. Alternatively, you can mix creatine with some fruit juice to mask the taste.

Add a small scoop of creatine to a glass, pour the liquid on top, stir for a bit, and swallow the mix in a few large gulps. You don’t need much liquid, just enough for the creatine to mix in well.

Three of The Best Creatine Brands to Consider

1. Thorne Creatine

Thorne is a brand known for its well-researched products. Their product is NSF Certified for Sport and is trusted by coaches, athletes, and casual trainees worldwide.

2. MuscleTech Platinum Creatine

MuscleTech is another high-quality creatine monohydrate. Unlike many options on the market, this product boasts almost 100 percent creatine per dose. The product works well, has fantastic reviews online, and is easy to consume.

3. MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate

MyProtein is another trusted brand that offers high-quality products, including whey protein and creatine monohydrate. Their creatine is affordable and mixes well with liquids.

Extra Pre-Workout Tips to Elevate Your Training

Aside from consuming protein, another fantastic way to improve your workouts is to do some low-intensity cardio for five minutes before training. Doing so is beneficial for warming up your body, improving your training performance, and keeping yourself away from training injuries.

Jumping into your weights workout with cold muscles is a surefire way to underperform and injure yourself eventually.

Good hydration is also essential, especially if you take creatine. Water makes up a large percentage of your body, and drinking up ensures that you feel great, recover well, and perform at your best. According to some research, as little as two percent dehydration can lead to significant drops in athletic performance. Hydrate well within 24 hours of training. (2)

Click to return to the homepage.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

References

  1. Preiato, D. (2019, August 12). Creatine and whey protein: Should you take both? Healthline.
    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/creatine-vs-whey
  2. Dehydration and its effects on performance. Human Kinetics. (n.d.).
    https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/dehydration-and-its-effects-on-performance