Caffeine And Creatine: A Dynamic Duo Or Just A Fitness Fad?

Caffeine and creatine: a dynamic duo or just a fitness fad?

Is mixing coffee and creatine a killer workout combo? This study offers food for thought

IN RECENT YEARS the gym has become a hotbed of quirky tips and bizarre hacks geared to maximise athletic performance. Some are legitimate, others amusing. One that’s been doing the rounds on TikTok and on gym floors nationwide of late is that combining two powerhouse supplements, caffeine and creatine, could boost your performance in the gym, as well as offer significant cognitive benefits.

Well, if you’ve started chucking a scoop of creatine into your morning coffee or adding a shot of espresso to your creatine shakes, you probably need to take a look at the findings of this study from Jacksonville State University in the US.

First, let’s look at the two supplements in isolation. Caffeine has been found to boost strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic performance by binding to adenosine receptors, particularly the A2A subtype. Your morning coffee could also be a handy tonic for breaking down fat cells while increasing neuronal ‘excitability’. Creatine, on the other hand, replaces adenosine triphosphate (ATP) during anaerobic exercise, increasing short-term power output and training volume, giving your muscles a steady stream of solid, continuous energy.

In the study, a double-blind, randomised, crossover, placebo-controlled trial, researchers provided 12 resistance-trained male athletes with either creatine nitrate, caffeine, or a combination of both. They then had them complete standardised resistance exercises (bench and leg press at 70 per cent 1RM) and a Wingate anaerobic power test. Forty-five minutes after the test, they assessed their cognitive performance and cardiovascular responses.

Let’s start with the good news. The results showed that the combination of creatine and caffeine significantly improved cognitive function, particularly in cognitive interference tests, for up to seven days. So, taking a creatine-caffeine cocktail before you work out can certainly help you feel more switched on and ready to attack a sweaty circuit class. 

The bad news? The study found that the effects of a pre-gym caffeine-creatine chaser on short-term exercise performance were pretty minimal. So, while these supplements can be great sidekicks for getting you pumped up for a gym session, they might not be the double-barrelled performance enhancing silver bullets we had hoped.

It’s worth noting that creatine had varying effects depending on the exercise involved, especially in endurance sports and in situations where extra body mass might impair performance. And while caffeine’s effects on anaerobic performance might not be as robust as once thought, it’s still a safe supplement to take before exercise to give you an extra kick.

So, go ahead and give these supplements a try, either together or in isolation. You’ll get a buzz for sure, just don’t expect miracles and don’t forget the most important supplements of all – hard work and dedication. Happy lifting, gents.

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