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Do Caffeine and Creatine Mix? Is Creatine a Steroid?

Q. I've heard recently, that caffeine and creatine don't mix and that taking caffeine defeats the purpose of taking creatine. Dude, I can't go without my coffee! What's the scoop on this?

A. It is inadvisable, but it isn't lethal or damaging in ways that one might associate with a "warning". It's not like mixing speed and beta-blockers mixing coffee and creatine isn't going to cause you to drop to the ground gripping your chest in excruciating pain. However, it isn't going to serve you well if the reason you're taking creatine is for intra-cellular volume and muscle growth. Caffeine, as everyone knows, is dehydrating and draws water out from the body. It's a natural diuretic and can cause a lot of imbalance within the body in terms of mineral and electrolyte retention. The other issue is that when you dose creatine, you're supposed to take in carbohydrate at the same time. Coffee actually reduces carbohydrate uptake by up to 25% or so. In laymen's terms, that means that you won't be able to pull much into the muscle in the first place, or keep much in once it's in because of dehydration. I actually don't know why people even consider this to be a problem, however, since it's easy to have your coffee in the morning, piss it out and then dose creatine in the afternoon around your workouts. Unless you guzzle caffeine day in and day out, it doesn't make much sense. As a side note, keep in mind that coffee can be beneficial as a mild diuretic during cycles where heavy water retention and lethargy are the norm. It has its place.

Q. Is Creatine a steroid? I take creatine half an hour before I go training on a regular basis, then one day a fellow gym user said to me it was a steroid.

A. Basically creatine is an amino acid (the basic building block of proteins) that is produced naturally by your body (of course your body makes testosterone too, but that doesn't mean that you should supplement with it).. Creatine serves as a ready energy source for activities requiring quick bursts of energy (sprints, weightlifting, etc). Creatine supplementation not only allows you to generate more force in your workouts (by supplying more energy), but it also has been shown to aid recovery. Your buddy at the gym is definitely misinformed.

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