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Is Creatine A Pre Workout? (Similarities & Differences)

Creatine is one of my all-time favorite supplements as it’s safe, cheap and good for you.

But can creatine replace pre workout?

Here’s whether you can take creatine as a pre workout:

Creatine can be taken as a pre workout, although it won’t provide all the benefits of pre workout. If you’re taking creatine as a pre workout, then you should take 5 grams of creatine an hour before working out.

What Benefits Do Creatine And Pre Workout Share?

Improved Workout Intensity

Creatine works by converting ADP to ATP – the energy currency of your cells.

So when you take creatine, your muscles have more available ATP.

(In other words, your muscles have more energy after taking creatine.)

So if you can crank out 10 reps without creatine, then you should be able to squeeze out a few more with creatine thanks to the increased energy.

Improved Size And Strength

By cranking out more reps, your muscles will experience more ‘good’ damage.

And when repairing this damage, your muscles adapt by getting bigger and stronger.

Will Creatine Provide All The Benefits Of Pre Workout?

Creatine Won’t Improve Your Pump

Pre workout helps improve your pump thanks to an ingredient called citrulline malate.

Your body breaks down this ingredient to an amino acid called arginine, which is then broken down further into nitric oxide (NO).

NO helps dilate your blood vessels which improves blood flow to the muscles and results in a more vascular pump.

Creatine Won’t Improve Your Focus

Most pre workouts contain a ton of caffeine.

In fact, some include 4 times as much caffeine as a cup of coffee!

Well, according to research, those with the highest caffeine intake have better reaction time, verbal memory and spatial awareness.

Also, some pre workouts include nootropics, like Rhodiola, to help improve focus even more.

Rhodiola has been shown to improve performance and reduce mental fatigue in night shift workers. (Source)

Creatine Won’t Increase Fat Loss

Research shows that the caffeine found in pre workout helps increase fat loss.

In one study, those who took 10mg of caffeine per kg of body weight increased fat oxidation by 13%.

Another study found that taking 300mg of daily caffeine can boost daily energy expenditure by 79 calories.

Does Creatine Give You The Same Side Effects As Pre Workout?

One of the downsides of pre workout is that it has a range of side effects, such as:

  • Acne
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Tiredness
  • Increased anger
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive urination

Let’s explore each of these in a bit more detail to see whether creatine may cause these side effects too.


The ingredients in pre workout which cause acne are caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

The caffeine can cause dry skin which may aggravate acne, and the artificial sweeteners can increase insulin resistance, which has been linked to acne.

Whereas there’s no evidence to suggest that creatine can cause acne.


Unfortunately, creatine is one of the ingredients in pre workout that can make you feel sick.

In one study, 175 ALS patients took either 10g of creatine or a placebo over an average period of 310 days.

According to the results, 23% of the creatine group experienced nausea.


Research suggests that creatine significantly increases water retention.

In other words, it makes your body store more water, which can cause bloating.


While creatine itself doesn’t cause tiredness, you may feel more tired if you’re squeezing out more reps than normal thanks to creatine.

Increased Anger

According to research, creatine may cause aggression in certain individuals.

For example, a study of 19 subjects had 10 males take creatine and 9 males take a placebo.

After taking 2500mg of daily creatine for a week, 2 of the participants felt more aggressive and nervous.

Also, a quick peek on Google shows that a few folks feel angrier when taking creatine.

To be clear, this is just anecdotal so you have to take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s still worth noting.

Excessive Sweating

Creatine itself won’t make you sweat more.

That said, if the creatine helps you crank out more reps, then your body temperature may increase more than usual, as more energy is being burned.

To help combat this rise in body temperature, your body may sweat more to keep you in homeostasis.

Excessive Urination

When your muscles’ creatine levels are full, any excess creatine is converted to creatinine which is a waste product.

Our bodies flush out waste products through peeing, so if you take a lot of creatine, it may make you pee more.

How To Take Creatine As A Pre Workout

If you’re taking creatine as a pre workout, then you should take it around an hour before working out.

This will give your muscles enough time to absorb it.

Also, most studies done on creatine have used 5g of creatine as a serving size, so it would make sense to take 5g.

(Most tubs of creatine come with a 5g scoop, so this should be easy enough!)


To summarize, while creatine won’t give you the same buzz as pre workout, it will help you crank out more reps.

And so, there’s no issue taking creatine as a pre workout.

One of the main benefits of taking creatine as a pre workout is that there are fewer side effects.

That’s all for this article, but should you be taking Gatorade as pre workout?

Hope this helped!