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What To Mix Creatine With?
Liquids & Other Supplements

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 13, 2021

One of the biggest improvements I see with clients in building muscle mass and improving athletic performance often comes from introducing creatine powder.

But with all the other supplements that you might have in your stack, it might become a question of how to best mix the different products.

That’s where timing and a bit of knowledge around how creatine may work when combined with other supplements comes into play.

We sat down with our dietitian to give us some advice that we can share with you now.

Why Should You Consider Mixing Creatine?

Man Jogging Outdoors

Most of the time, you’ll find creatine supplements in powder form, and it’s usually labeled as creatine monohydrate.

The main advantage of a powder is that you can mix it with pretty much anything that you can imagine.

But that doesn’t make all those ideas you come up with ideal.

Certain combinations will compliment each other better than others.

However, mixing up the right combination at the right time of day can give your body a significant boost to gain more from each training session.

“Creatine is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bouts of high-intensity activities such as weight lifting or sprinting.” - WebMD.com.

The good news is that adding just a few grams of creatine to some other supplement shakes is easier than you might think.

What Can You Mix Creatine With?

Here are the seven ways we recommend our clients mix creatine.

1. BCAAs

Powder and Pills

Most people will take BCAAs as a post-workout to help with muscle recovery and reduced soreness.

But there’s also some scientific evidence that would suggest that BCAAs may help to maintain higher levels of mental performance during exercise [1].

When you combine better mental stamina and motivation with a boost in physical performance, then you might have a recipe to power through training sessions more effectively.

Our recommendation is to mix the two and drink them just before you start warming up. That way, you should start feeling the effects when your workout intensity picks up.

2. Beta-Alanine

Pills and Powder

This is another favorite of ours because your body may get a double boost for training performance.

Beta-alanine is something you’ll find in quite a few different supplements, but we generally recommend isolating it.

Studies have shown that it may help with performance levels in high-intensity training [2].

I work with several professional athletes from different sports who have noticed positive improvements in their muscles when they combine it with creatine.

The two work differently but ultimately may provide more strength and delay fatigue.

Imagine being able to lift more and not feeling as tired as you go through your sets.

3. Post-Workout Protein Shakes

man holding a protein shake

If you’re one of my clients, then protein powder after a workout is an absolute must.

Getting that boost of amino acids at exactly the right time is the best way to help speed up your recovery process.

But something many people don’t realize is that you may be able to improve your protein shakes with a scoop of creatine.

Studies have shown that taking creatine post-workout may further speed up the recovery time, allowing you to train the same muscles again sooner [3].

4. Pre-Workout Supplements

woman drinking from tumbler

Many high-performance athletes rely on pre-workout supplements to gain some small improvements in their exercise performance levels during training.

When you add those small improvements up over a 4 or 5-day training week, then you can see how big a difference this might make to your muscle size.

Adding some creatine to your pre-workout drink could give it another bit of a boost.

What I would say, though, mixing creatine and pre-workout is something that you would only need to consider if you’re training at least four days a week.

And you should also check the content label of your pre-workouts to see if it already contains creatine, as quite a few of these products do.

 

5. Smoothies

person drinking a smoothie

Most of the creatine powder products I have used generally don’t have any flavor.

That makes them ideal for adding to morning smoothies, especially if you exercise first thing in the morning.

I often head to the gym at 7 am to get my own training session done before I meet clients at 8 am.

And getting that creatine boost with my breakfast smoothies seems to be a great way to get a performance boost and allow me to work my muscles a bit harder.

6. Breakfast Cereal

bowl filled with cereal

Depending on the day, I often recommend that my clients eat a large bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

It’s an amazing filler that could help you avoid snacking, but it also provides great energy for intense training sessions.

This is especially the case during bulking phases.

And adding creatine may give your breakfast that added kick to allow your muscles to work harder and feel less fatigued.

And getting that creatine boost with my breakfast smoothies seems to be a great way to get a performance boost and allow me to work my muscles a bit harder.

7. Water Or Fruit Juice

kiwi juice

Finally, there’s the good old-fashioned water and juice option.

I generally recommend this for folks who plan their exercise sessions for later in the day and who don’t take any pre-workouts.

In that case, it’s best to keep it simple, and personally, I think a small glass of juice could be the most effective option.

It’s one way to get a small boost of glucose that the creatine can then transform into ATP, which is the type of energy your muscles use [4].

What You Should Not Mix Creatine With?

pouring coffee and alcohol

Now, I just want to highlight a few things that you want to make sure you avoid mixing with.

Caffeine

The creatine and caffeine debate has been going on for longer than I’ve been a personal trainer.

And the first thing I would say is that there really isn’t any risk of side effects. The problem is really more down to the fact that caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates you.

So, you would have a positive effect from creatine and counteract it with dehydration; that’s not a good recipe for muscle building at all.

We’ve also done some tests on our team, and we noticed a clear decrease in performance when we took creatine with coffee before a training session.

Alcohol

First of all, you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol before you exercise for obvious safety reasons.

And mixing creatine with your favorite tipple will also do nothing for your body

FAQs

Can You Mix Creatine With Whey?

Yes, you can mix creatine with whey, and it’s a common way to improve the effectiveness of a protein shake. Creatine has been linked to improved recovery times, allowing you to train harder at your next gym session.

How Much Water Should I Drink When Taking Creatine?

You should drink an extra 16 ounces of water when taking creatine. The process of providing more energy to muscle fibers also draws in more water, which is why expert advice recommends the additional water intake.

Is It Bad to Take Creatine on an Empty Stomach?

No, it's perfectly fine to take creatine on an empty stomach. Although there is some evidence that a sudden dose of creatine may cause stomach cramping and bloating. Those are two things you don’t want to bother you in the middle of a training session.

Should You Take Creatine Every Day?

No, you shouldn’t take creatine every day unless you’re on a professional-grade training plan that involves exercising more than five days a week. For most people, it would be a waste of their supplement budget as the main benefits come from taking it on your intense training days.

Final Tip On Mixing Creatine

The final tip I want to give you is that you should pick one of the above options and stick with it for a few weeks.

Whether you plan to mix it with a pre-workout or post-workout protein shake, make sure you give it some time to notice the changes.

The last thing you want to do is change things around every day as it won’t give you a clear picture of which option works best for you.

Try it out, and then report back to us how it works out for your training sessions.


References:

  1. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-2-2-63
  2. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0224-0
  3. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-6-13
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12701817/

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