In this article, you’ll find a detailed comparison between pre-workout and creatine supplements and a science-backed conclusion as to which one is the best.
It is never a bad idea to supplement your gym performance and workout goals with some nutrients or stimulants. But choosing the right pill or powder, in that matter, is an arduous task.
But no worries.
If you are confused about whether you will benefit more from consuming pure creatine or a concoction of multiple beneficial ingredients that pre-workouts offer, this article will help you make an informed decision.
In this read, you will find which supplementation is more appropriate for the workout plan you are pursuing and their different benefits.
In addition to this, I have also added one of my best picks for the two supplements so that you can also evaluate both products from your own experience.
Pre workout vs Creatine – What are they?
A pre-workout supplement is a combination of ingredients designed to improve energy and focus during your workouts.
These supplements usually contain stimulants like caffeine and other ingredients like amino acids and Creatine. When used correctly, pre-workout supplements can help you work out harder and longer while also improving your focus.
However, it’s important to start with a low dose to see how your body reacts.
Some people may experience side effects like jitters or anxiety from taking pre-workout supplements, so it’s important to listen to your body and find the right dose for you.
On the other hand, Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that helps to supply energy to cells, primarily in the muscles.
It is found naturally in the body, and can also be taken as a supplement. Creatine has been shown to improve exercise performance, increase muscle mass, and reduce fatigue.
It is thought to work by increasing the availability of ATP, the energy molecule used by muscles.
Creatine is safe for most people but can cause side effects such as weight gain and dehydration. Some experts believe that creatine should only be taken by people who are engaged in intense exercise, as it is unclear whether it offers any benefits for those who are not highly active.
But a serious question to ask is…
Is Pre-workout the same as Creatine?
No, pre-workouts and creatine are not the same things.
The difference between the two comes in the purpose of their consumption.
Creatine is taken to target muscle growth, endurance, and hydration.
In contrast, pre-workouts contain a blend of diverse ingredients that target the body’s different systems that are involved during gym workouts.
These ingredients may increase mental focus, pump muscles, increase hydration, boost strength and energy, and increase stamina and endurance, thus helping to improve the overall workout performance.
Considering the difference in nature of the effect of these two supplements, pre-workouts help to instantly jack up your workout performance within 20 to 30 minutes of intake.
But on the other hand, instead of showing immediate results, creatine slowly accumulates in the muscles as intramuscular creatine stores to promote muscle gains and recovery.
Nonetheless, you can use either creatine or pre-workouts or a combination of both to help with muscle gains.
Which is better – Creatine or Pre-workout?
Creatine seems to be better than pre-workouts in the long run. But, the nature of your workout (aerobic or anaerobic), your workout regime, and your ultimate fitness goals determine which dietary supplement is more suited to your needs.
If I talk about the science of things, creatine has a more scientifically sound standing than pre-workouts.
There are disparities among the trials that have been carried out to evaluate the potential of pre-workouts, and there are also case studies that report its harmful effects.
On the other hand, all the available research on creatine has mutually agreed to provide an optimum dose for it, and its safety and efficacy are also well established.
Moreover, creatine is a pure and research-proven supplement. But in contrast, pre-workouts may contain artificial colors, flavors, sugars, and other filler ingredients along with the proportion of active ingredients they offer.
Regarding the duration of consumption, pre-workouts don’t seem suitable for long-term consumption, and long-term studies are also unavailable.
The reason is that pre-workouts contain caffeine and other nootropics that meddle with CNS, leading to anxiety or other psychological symptoms.
It also includes ingredients that modulate the blood flow, which may increase the risk of developing high or low blood pressure.
The artificial sugars, stabilizers, colors, and other synthetic ingredients are also not safe for long-term consumption.
The maximum duration for pre-workout consumption is considered safe between 8-12 weeks. On the other hand, a long-term dosage of 1 g creatine was evaluated by this clinical trial in older women between November 2011 and November 2013 and was found to be safe.
If you are looking for something to help with muscle gains, creatine supplements might be your preferred product.
But if you want to improve your overall workout performance, pre-workout supplements may be the winning contender in this case.
Scroll down to know which of these two supplements will best suit you according to your needs.
Pre-workout – What is it good for?
The ingredients in pre-workouts are primarily believed to help you last longer in the gym by preventing muscle fatigue and improving energy, stamina, and endurance. It may also help you focus better by promoting mental alertness and motivation.
Pre-workouts may also contain ingredients that help in recovery and reduce inflammation.
Even though the potential of pre-workouts to boost exercise performance is still under research, some of the clinical trials that evaluated their different aspects have reported positive results with regard to their performance-enhancing properties but still further research is required to validate these findings.
According to this research paper, pre-workouts containing caffeine led to increased anaerobic power performance.
This 2014 trial reported a slight increase in lean body mass and lower body strength with a pre-workout containing a proprietary blend of beta-alanine, creatine, BCAAs, and caffeine.
Another clinical trial evaluated the efficacy of a pre-workout containing a proprietary blend that included creatine, TMG, and dendrobium extract (Dendrobex™).
And it was found that this pre-workout increased the energy, concentration, and focus and lowered fatigue in the subjects.
According to this review, pre-workouts may increase time to exhaustion during endurance exercise, increase muscle creatine and protein, and improve aerobic exercise performance and muscle endurance.
How does it work?
Pre-workouts combine different ingredients that have a reputation for regulating the various body systems. For instance, caffeine may interact with the Central nervous system to increase mental alertness.
Arginine and citrulline may boost nitric oxide levels to increase the blood flow to the muscles so that more oxygen and nutrients get delivered to them.
Betaine is a methyl donor and an osmolyte that promotes protein synthesis and increases muscle hydration, thus helping to promote muscle gain and endurance.
Key ingredients of Pre workout supplements
Although the available pre-workout formulations vary greatly, most of them may contain Nitrogen Oxide boosters (arginine, citrulline), nootropics (caffeine), Beta-alanine, betaine, branched-chain amino acids, amino-acids (L-theanine, L-tyrosine), antioxidants (vitamin C, beetroot extract), vitamins (B-vitamins), minerals (magnesium, calcium), and electrolytes.
Crazy Nutrition Pre-train Pre-workout
If you want to put pre-workout to the test, Crazy Nutrition Pre-train pre-workout is a good option as it contains all the primary ingredients present in different pre-workouts.
This pre-workout will hit you with the optimum concentrations of the active ingredients like 7g of citrulline malate 2:1 and 2.5 g beta-alanine.
The arginine, glycerol monostearate, and citrulline malate serve as a muscle pump and increase blood flow. Whereas beta-alanine increases the muscle carnosine levels, that in turn works to prevent lactic acid accumulation.
Other ingredients like the amino acid phenylalanine help to burn fat. And the herb ashwagandha helps to promote mental focus and reduce stress.
One of the ingredients, glucuronolactone, promotes the breakdown and availability of glucose and energy and thus increases stamina, improves mood, and reduces mental focus.
Taurine added to the pre-workout powder helps to increase endurance, reduces muscle fatigue, initiates fat metabolism, and improves workout performance.
It also contains betaine anhydrous, which will promote muscle hydration and endurance.
The best part is that it contains EnXtra as a botanical and jitter-free source of caffeine that will retain your focus and alertness for up to 5 hours.
Vitamin C in it as an antioxidant, and the vitamin B blend plays an essential role in regulating metabolic pathways involved in exercise and increasing energy production.
And the mineral iron added to the formulation helps remove lactic acid from the muscle, which causes muscle fatigue and muscle soreness. It also promotes red blood production, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscle.
The Bioperine added on top of these ingredients promotes their better absorption in the blood and body.
- $39.99 for 20 servings
- No risk of jitters, stomach issues, and cramps.
- Does not have any banned ingredients and is legal everywhere in the world.
- Comes in 3 different flavors.
- It is a vegan and plant-based product.
- The green apple flavor is caffeine-free.
- Doesn’t have creatine.
- Long-term supplementation may make stimulants ineffective, requiring higher doses.
- Contains artificial sugar sucralose.
Creatine – What is good for?
Research and clinical trials prove that incorporating creatinine supplements in your daily exercise regime may benefit your brain and muscles. Moreover, creatine nitrate has also been approved by FDA as a dietary source of creatine.
This 2013 review concluded that creatine helps to improve body mass and muscle recovery. Moreover, it is also said to aid lean muscle gain and increase muscle strength as well.
Creatine also imparts a protective effect on the spinal cord and improves neurological function.
According to the conclusions drawn in this 2012 review paper, creatine enhances strength for short-duration intermittent high-intensity resistance training.
However, it is not very beneficial in sports-specific exercises such as sprinting, swimming, or agility training. Creatine yields better results during anaerobic rather than aerobic exercise. But it improves endurance during aerobic exercise lasting more than 150 seconds.
How does it work?
Creatine is available as an energy store in the muscles that get phosphorylated into creatine phosphate, making the phosphate available for ATP production, thus, providing quick bursts of energy and aiding muscle contractions. The optimal energy production from creatine works in the same way in the brain to improve brain health.
Key ingredients of Creatine
Creatine supplements are available in the form of micronized creatine monohydrate, creatine gluconate, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine HCL, creatine ethyl ester, or creatine nitrate.
Crazy Nutrition’s CRN-5 creatine formula
Crazy Nutrition’s CRN-5 creatine formula lets you benefit from five types of creatine. It has a stable formula with added electrolytes to support recovery, energy production, and rehydration.
The five creatine types added to the CRN-5 formula are creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine ethyl ester, creatine pyruvate, and tri-creatine malate.
Creatine monohydrate is the gold standard of creatine supplementation that has gathered users’ trust and sufficient scientific evidence.
Moreover, creatine monohydrate is Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. CRN-5 has the highest and optimum concentration of 4 grams creatine monohydrate. Since creatine monohydrate is the most widely available type, it makes the product affordable.
This study found creatine hydrochloride to be 38 times more soluble than creatine monohydrate, which means that a small concentration of creatine HCl can be more effective in increasing the creatine levels, which may also help to reduce the side effects of higher creatine supplementation.
According to this study, creatine pyruvate enhances performance and endurance by promoting energy metabolism and increasing aerobic metabolism.
Tri-creatine malate is more water-soluble and readily absorbed than other creatine types; thus, it is more effective in boosting energy production and muscle mass.
Manufacturers have added creatine ethyl-ester because they believe it may have better absorption and uptake rates than the monohydrate form.
Crazy Nutritions CRN-5 contains minerals that replenish the electrolytes in the body and promote hydration. These minerals are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The sodium in Crazy Nutrition CRN-5 occurs as tri-potassium citrate. It is the primary mineral that rehydrates the body and maintains hydration. The potassium occurs as tri-potassium citrate.
It acts as a urine alkalizer and helps promote kidney health by preventing kidney stones and assisting the removal of uric acid, which is the by-product of excessive creatine consumption.
The bioactive calcium and magnesium occur in the form of Aquamin Ag and Aquamin Mg, respectively. Aquamin supplements are well researched and are derived from natural marine sources that deliver a high mineral content and are more effective in product applications.
Aquamin Mg is more soluble than magnesium oxide in water which enhances its absorption and bioavailability.
- 30 servings (450 g) cost $34.99
- It has an optimum dose of 6g of creatine contributed by its five different types.
- Comes in orange mango flavor.
- It is packed with a premium blend of minerals.
- It is caffeine-free.
- It is suitable for vegetarians.
- 60-day money-back guarantee.
- It is cost-effective.
- It helps in rehydration, recovery, energy production, and strength.
- It is to be taken 30 minutes before the workout.
- It has artificial sugar sucralose.
- It has artificial flavor and color.
- Creatine ethyl ester is not very effective at increasing creatine levels.
When to take Creatine and Pre-workout?
The time of consumption is critical to the supplement’s working, and they greatly vary for both pre-workouts and creatine.
As the name implies, you should drink pre-workouts 20 to 30 minutes ‘before’ the regular workout session. This time interval allows the mix of ingredients in the pre-workout powder to be absorbed entirely in the body and take full effect.
In contrast to this, you may take creatine either before or after the workout session or during any time of the day.
The reason is that creatine is not absorbed in the body to show immediate effect; instead, it is stored in the muscle to fuel muscle growth, muscle function, and muscle repair ‘after’ the workout sessions.
In this small clinical trial, 19 bodybuilders were subjected to pre and post creatine supplementation for four weeks. The results reported that post-workout supplementation is more beneficial and leads to superior gains.
However, according to this review, you can also consume creatine before workouts or at any time of the day in two ways, either in the form of daily maintenance or in two phases comprising the loading and maintenance phases.
Research has proven that both these ways provide the same 20% increase in intramuscular creatine stores.
If you are looking to increase the creatine muscle saturation in a short time that is less than thirty days, the loading phase strategy will suit you better.
You have to consume 20g/day for 6-7 days in the loading phase and then shift to 3-5 grams daily during the maintenance phase.
Since a higher intake of creatine carries its risks, it is better and more effective to consume creatine in the daily maintenance strategy if you have time on your hand. This strategy enables you to consume 3-5 grams of creatine daily for about 28 days.
Final Thoughts on Pre-workout vs Creatine
In a nutshell, both creatine and pre-workout supplements are designed to function differently and help you achieve different workout outcomes.
Even though creatine has the edge over pre-workout here because of the sufficient scientific evidence to back its efficacy, neither creatine nor the pre-workout supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Authority.
While pre-workouts may contain traces of banned ingredients such as DMMA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has prohibited certain institutes from distributing creatine supplements.
So, if you are an athlete under the supervision of the NCAA or the International Olympic Committee (IOC), you need to be highly cautious of the dietary supplements you are taking.
Nonetheless, the user experience varies, and you need to stack up on both the available options to check what is working better for you.
I hope that this article on Pre workout vs Creatine serves as a guide to help you choose the right supplement for your needs.
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