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Creatine vs Pre Workout Supplements: Which One Should You Choose?

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Supplements can be a valuable tool for anyone looking to improve their fitness. In fact, you may be wondering which is better: Creatine or pre-workout.

The truth is that both of these supplements have advantages, but which is best for you depends on your physical or fitness goals.

Creatine and pre-workout supplements are appropriate for all gym-goers and exercise enthusiasts and are not restricted to those who follow a specific routine. They can also both be taken safely daily, though the timing of each may differ slightly.

It’s time for another supplement comparison! This time, we’ll look at creatine and pre-workout supplements, two of the most popular nutritional supplements on the market! Both can be highly effective in terms of increasing strength and hypertrophy. That being said, should you take just one or both? If you could only choose one, which would it be? This article will cover everything there is to know about these two supplements.

WHAT ARE SPORTS SUPPLEMENTS?

Let’s first discuss sports supplements in general; specifically, what are they? Sports supplements are a type of exogenous compound that is taken to improve athletic performance. Every supplement will contain different combinations of compounds that will be accepted for various purposes.

The most important thing to remember is that these are all “supplements”; they are meant to be taken in addition to a diet. Remember that neither creatine nor pre-workout supplements can outperform a poor diet, insufficient sleep, or poor programming.

What Purpose Do Pre-Workout Supplements Serve?

Pre-workout supplements boost energy levels, allowing you to perform better in the gym. They generally work by supplying more ATP—the energy that muscle fibres use as fuel—to other cellular processes, particularly during high-intensity workouts.

Another advantage you may notice is that your muscles do not feel as tired during the workout, allowing you to push yourself further.

And, unlike Creatine, it’s generally a good idea to cycle pre-workouts because your body may become accustomed to the ingredients, and you may lose some of the benefits.

WHAT IS CREATINE?

Creatine is the most popular sports supplement on the market right now. This is due to the fact that it is also the most researched and practical. Creatine is a naturally occurring non-proteinogenic amino acid required for basic life functions. It is required for the resynthesis of ATP, a high-energy phosphate that provides energy during short-duration, high-intensity events, such as weightlifting, via the phosphagen system.

ATP, also known as our bodies’ “energy currency,” is the compound that actually provides energy for muscular contractions to occur, which means that if we don’t have enough Creatine, our workouts will suffer greatly. While we do have some creatine stores in our bodies, they are usually only 60-80% full, depending on your diet. Creatine supplementation simply fills these gaps, allowing us to operate at full capacity. 

According to a review of all creatine studies, the vast majority of users can expect the following benefits:

  • Short-term gains in strength and power of 5-15%.
  • During sets of maximal effort muscle contractions, 5-15% more work is performed.
  • 1 to 2 kg weight gain in the first week of loading, typically in the form of increased muscle mass.
  • Long-term gains in strength and performance are 5-15% higher.

WHAT IS PRE-WORKOUT?

A “pre-workout” is an umbrella term for any supplement that is intended to be consumed shortly before a workout to improve performance. While each pre-workout has its own blend and doses of various compounds, a few common ingredients can be found. The following are some of the most common ingredients found in pre-workout supplements:

  • Caffeine
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Arginine
  • L-Citrulline

Take note that many pre-workout supplements contain Creatine! Some even at the correct dosage.

Again, any pre-workout on the market may contain some, all, more, or different amounts of these ingredients. As a result, determining whether they “work” is difficult, but overall, yes. For example, the ISSN position on energy drinks states that energy drinks appear to have a benefit in terms of improving performance in general. Having said that, caffeine is the primary ingredient responsible for the observed improvements. 

Regardless, most pre-workouts work through a variety of mechanisms: 

  • Stimulants are used to provide energy. 
  • Using a muscle buffer to reduce fatigue. 
  • Increase nitric oxide levels to allow for increased workloads. 

CREATINE VS PRE-WORKOUT: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? 

One of the most significant distinctions between Creatine and pre-workout supplements is how they make you feel during a workout. You don’t “feel” Creatine working when you take it. While you may find that you are able to lift a little bit heavier or perform a few more reps, this comes from having more ATP rather than being “psyched up”. On the other hand, you will undoubtedly feel the effects of your pre-workout. That’s why there are so many gym memes about taking your pre-workout, being late to the gym or being stuck in traffic; you’re afraid of freaking out. The stimulation may vary depending on your pre-workout blend, but you’ll feel energised and ready to go.

As a result, if you require that stimulation, a good pre-workout could make your workout much more enjoyable. If you’ve had a long day at the office, a scoop of your pre-workout will get you ready to go. However, if the prospect of pushing more weight excites you, or if you simply dislike stimulation, Creatine is the way to go. 

When you see Creatine and a pre-workout supplement right next to each other in a supplement store, it can be a little perplexing. 

However, it is critical to understand that they serve very different functions. 

1. Mass and Strength Gain 

Creatine has been shown to improve your muscles’ ability to build strength when taken on a regular basis, a process known as creatine loading. 

Many people mistake it for a supplement that will give you more strength and improve your performance during workouts. 

While it may improve your workout performance, it is more about what Creatine does after your workout, when your muscles begin to develop new and stronger fibres due to more effective protein synthesis. 

2. Endurance and Energy

This is where pre-workouts come into play, providing you with a natural and minor boost in power and endurance. The main goal is to improve your exercise performance by increasing the amount of ATP available in your muscles.

As a result, you can lift a little bit more and push fatigue and muscle failure out a little bit further.

Those small gains add up over the course of several weeks and months.

What Is Better Creatine or Pre-Workout?

The benefits of Creatine have been researched the most and have been proven time and time again. Creatine has been shown to help with muscle building, endurance, and brain function. Preworkout, on the other hand, is still debatable. There hasn’t been as much research, and there are still some questions about the regulations surrounding certain ‘Health and Fitness Supplements.

Supplements are becoming increasingly complicated, especially in a world where steroid use is becoming more acceptable. Why should people care what’s in their pre-workout if they’re fine with buying a little vile over the internet and sticking a needle in their ass to get the muscle gains they want?

Again, I’m not here to bash pre-workout supplements, but stay safe and stick with a well-known brand.

If you had to pick just one, however. Maintain your creatine intake. It’s tried and true, safe, and effective. After all, your body manufactures Creatine; all you’re doing by taking a creatine supplement is replenishing your stores. Your body can only produce so much on its own, so keep your supplies stocked!

What about Creatine-Rich Pre-Workout Supplements?

Although some pre-workouts contain Creatine, adding creatine monohydrate to a pre-workout formula is not a very effective way to gain performance benefits. According to research, creatine monohydrate requires a loading phase before it is truly effective. Before your muscle tissue can be used as a viable fuel source, it must be saturated with creatine phosphate. As a result, a dose of 10-15g per day for 10 days is required before it will work. At most, all pre-workout supplements will contain 3-5g of creatine monohydrate.

If you want to improve your strength, speed, and power, you should add Kre-Alkalyn to your pre-workout supplement regimen rather than creatine monohydrate. Kre-Alklayn, unlike creatine monohydrate, is absorbed immediately, so there is no loading phase. Creatine monohydrate has poor absorption and converts to a toxic byproduct called creatinine, which is why so much of it is required. One 3g serving of Kre-Alkalyn is equivalent to a 10g serving of creatine monohydrate. Not to mention that there are no associated negative side effects with monohydrate, such as bloating, cramping, or water retention.

Some pre-workouts do contain Creatine, so you probably don’t need any more. On average, your body produces 1-2 grammes of Creatine per day on its own, but most people begin with a loading phase when taking Creatine. Creatine loading typically lasts 5-7 days and consists of taking 20 to 25g of Creatine per day, divided into 4-5 doses.

After the loading period, it is recommended to take 3-5g per day. The goal of loading is to first saturate your muscles so you can see the benefits sooner. As a result, you should take a creatine-rich pre-workout supplement on a daily basis. That’s fine; after your initial loading period, you can stop and only use the prework.

And if your pre-workout only contains a small amount, you’ll need to replenish your creatine stores. It all comes down to the brand of pre-workout supplement you use.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TAKE CREATINE VS PRE-WORKOUT TO INCREASE PERFORMANCE?

As previously stated, Creatine and pre-workouts function very differently on almost every front, including proper dosing. As a result, we’ll break down what an appropriate dosing protocol looks like for both of them.

PROPER CREATINE DOSAGE:

You must follow a “loading” protocol in order for your creatine stores to become fully saturated. This is a time when you consume a lot of Creatine to fill up your stores quickly. In general, this entails taking 20 to 25g of Creatine per day for 5-7 days. Keep in mind that the 20-25g can be divided into smaller doses throughout the day, so you do not have to take the entire 20-25g at once.

To be clear, you are not required to do so. You could start with a regular dose (3-5g) every day, but keep in mind that it will take much longer to completely replenish your creatine stores. You could take 10g or 15g per day at the same time. The amount you take during the loading phase is entirely up to you and may be determined by how well you tolerate Creatine (some may experience slight bloating when taking too high a dose). The amount you take will simply determine how many days you must take the loading dose. Following the loading phase, you can reduce to a daily maintenance dose of 3-5g.

PROPER DOSING FOR PRE-WORKOUT:

Dosing for pre-workouts is much simpler. For one, pre-workouts elicit acute benefits meaning that there is no need to load like with Creatine. You can take a pre-workout whenever you want and get a response quickly.

That being said, we’d like to discuss beta-alanine briefly. Because beta-alanine is commonly found in pre-workout supplements, many people believe it also has acute effects. This is not correct. While taking beta-alanine may cause “the tingles,” also known as paresthesia, this is a separate phenomenon that has nothing to do with increased performance (though these traditional medicines may be what you’re looking for!). In fact, beta-alanine is administered in the same manner as Creatine and requires a loading protocol. To achieve the desired results, you must take it on a long-term basis (which is why pre-workout without beta-alanine is just as effective).

While each pre-workout is slightly different, you should consume it 30-60 minutes before going to the gym. Unlike Creatine, however, you can take your pre-workout whenever you want. It doesn’t matter if you do it once a day, once a week, or once a month.

Does Creatine Make You Bigger? 

Taking 3-5 gms of creatine monohydrate per day has been shown to increase lean muscle mass. The first method is to increase energy production. Creatine supplementation raises your body’s phosphocreatine levels, which are used to produce adenosine triphosphate. ATP is the most fundamental form of energy found in your body’s cells. Maximum power in strength-based activities requires ATP energy.

Creatine can aid in muscle preservation during exercise by reducing muscle breakdown. It also allows you to push harder and get more out of a workout, signalling your body to build more muscle.

Creatine basically gives you more energy for a hard workout and allows you to push through muscle fatigue, which leads to muscle growth. 

Is Creatine required To Build Muscle?

The short answer is that Creatine is not necessary to build muscle, despite the fact that it has been demonstrated to enhance physical performance during resistance training. While it is an extremely effective tool, creatine supplementation is not required to build muscle. Keeping your creatine stores full has been shown to produce better results than not taking creatine supplements, but you can still build muscle without them.

However, of all the workout powders available, Creatine is the most beneficial. Protein powders are much better than they used to be, but you don’t need to use one to meet your protein requirements for the day. Other supplements that people use in conjunction with their training include essential amino acids, which can also be obtained through diet.

While you can get Creatine through diet, if I had to choose one supplement to take, it would be Creatine. It has no flavour so you can use it in anything. And as previously stated, it is the most researched supplement and has been shown to increase muscle strength and size.

Can You Take Creatine And Pre Workout At The Same Time?

Yes, without a doubt. In addition to the performance benefits of your pre-workout ingredients, adding Creatine to your pre-workout will directly stimulate ATP, allowing you to produce more muscle fuel. According to research, combining Beta-Alanine and Creatine can improve high-intensity training performance, strength, and lean muscle mass.

Is Creatine Beneficial for Pre-Workout?

Creatine can be used as a pre-workout supplement on its own. However, it must be loaded in order to effectively saturate your muscles’ creatine stores before providing any ergogenic benefit. Kre-Alkalyn can be taken before a workout and provide immediate performance benefits without the need for a loading phase.

Is it bad to take Creatine before working out?

Pre-workout supplements containing Creatine aren’t necessarily bad; they just won’t be as effective because the dose isn’t high enough. As a side effect, creatine monohydrate can cause water retention and bloat. If you want both Creatine and pre-workout, purchase them separately rather than combining them in a pre-workout supplement.

Which is more effective, Creatine or pre-workout?

Neither is superior to the other; they are two distinct products. Creatine is one of the most thoroughly researched and clinically supported ingredients, with proven benefits for increased strength and muscle mass. Pre-workout supplements are a combination of ingredients that improve performance by increasing energy, strength, and endurance. We recommend taking both if you want to maximise your performance benefits.

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