Creatine, a supplement taken to help boost muscle growth and enhance athletic performance, often comes in the form of tasteless powder. But you'll find the best way to mix creatine with water, juice or smoothies can turn it into a nutritious snack.
Whether you're taking creatine at a higher dose for a short period of time, or taking low doses for a longer period of time, the supplement can provide you with more energy during workouts and help boost muscle growth.
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You can mix creatine with a variety of healthy liquids — including juices, protein shakes and smoothies — to make the experience tastier and more well-balanced.
Take It in Water
It goes without saying that perhaps the easiest and most convenient way to take the supplement is to mix creatine with water, and take it before a workout. If you're taking a short-term loading dose to give yourself a boost of energy during an intense lifting period, MedlinePlus recommends taking about 20 grams of creatine a day for up to a week. It's important to switch to a lower dose if you plan on taking it long-term, around two to 10 grams a day for a few weeks.
You can take your daily dose of creatine with as much water as you'd like. If you don't like the taste of creatine powder, add more water to allow it to dilute. Though this may be the most tasteless, there are a variety of benefits that come along with mixing creatine with water.
Some experts warn that creatine may increase your risk of becoming dehydrated because of its tendency to trigger your muscles to pull water from the rest of your body. This results in the increased water retention in your muscles.
A January 2018 study published in Sports Health notes that creatine may cause water retention because it's osmotic, causing your muscles to soak in water from your bloodstream and lead to temporary weight gain from water in your muscles. This may also lead to an increased risk of muscle cramps, dehydration and heat illness.
There isn't a lot of evidence to support this idea, however. One June 2017 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found no link between creatine and dehydration.
But to be safe, you should drink plenty of water when you use creatine and avoid working out in intense heat to prevent dehydration, according to MedlinePlus. Plus, taking creatine with several glasses of water before or after a workout is important to keep you hydrated as you sweat during exercise.
Add to Juices and Smoothies
If creatine with water just isn't doing it for you, experiment with different kinds of juices and smoothies to not only get the strength boost but also get in some essential carbohydrates and nutrients.
The best way to mix creatine with juice is to find juice that's ideally fresh and without added sugars. These days, it's easy to find cold-pressed juices that can provide you with the vitamins and minerals of fresh fruits and vegetables, without all the added sugar of pre-made juices.
Whether you're picking up fresh juice from a store or making your own at home with a juicer or blender, the best juice to drink with creatine should contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.
Fresh juices retain more of the vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, according to Harvard Health. Also, if you're combining several different fruits and vegetables into one blender, you'll get a denser serving of those nutrients than you would by eating a single fruit, like an apple, as a snack.
It's important to keep in mind, however, that juice also has a few downsides. It contains less fiber than the whole fruit or vegetable and will often have higher levels of sugar than a single fruit, with the ability to raise blood sugar levels.
For those who are watching sugar in their diets, eating whole fruits and vegetables may be better than getting a denser serving of those sugars in one drink. In addition, juices tend to be less filling or satiating than whole fruits and vegetables, which may leave you feeling hungry if that's your only meal.
Smoothies can also be high in sugar, especially if you're buying pre-bought smoothies or ordering one at a restaurant. To be safe, make these drinks at home.
Still, taking creatine with juice and smoothies can be a great way to pack in some extra nutrients before a workout, as long as you're combining it with an overall healthy, balanced diet. You can experiment with different juice and smoothie recipes to keep things interesting.
Green juice: Juices aren't just about fruit. The best juice to drink with creatine may in fact contain vegetables and be just as delicious.
To make a green juice, add in about two cups of spinach leaves or kale, several stalks of celery, two cucumbers, two apples, half a lemon and some ginger. Spinach and kale are dark, leafy greens that are packed with vitamins A and C, folate and magnesium, according to the Mayo Clinic. Apples also contain vitamin C, which works as an antioxidant.
Beet juice: Don't shy away from beets. Another best juice to drink with creatine may have a rich magenta color. For a juice with an entirely different taste, throw two or three beets into a juicer, along with six carrots, two apples, half a lemon and some ginger. Beets supply you with folate, fiber, copper, magnesium and potassium, and they may have heart health benefits, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Apple, carrot, blueberries: You can't go wrong with berries — they're filled with flavonoids and may be beneficial to heart health. For a sweeter, more fruity juice, combine apples, carrots and blueberries (or other berries) along with any other fruits of your choosing. These juice options will give your creatine dose a little more flavor — and nutrition.
Blueberry and banana smoothie: The best way to mix creatine with liquids is to blend it into a smoothie. Toss some frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries into a blender, along with a banana, an avocado, some Greek yogurt, a few spoons of almond butter, milk and some honey.
This smoothie will not only provide you with plenty of nutrients from the fruit, but also potassium and healthy carbs from the banana, as well as protein from yogurt and almond butter. Blend in creatine to make it an even more effective morning meal before a workout.
Mix Creatine With Protein
Protein or creatine? Athletes or weight-lifters will often find themselves wondering which supplement will be most beneficial. But it's possible that taking a combination of both protein and creatine supplements could work for you. This may be especially helpful for bodybuilders or people who are hoping to gain more muscle mass in a short amount of time.
While creatine provides fuel for muscles during the workout, protein is important for the aftermath, when your muscles require plenty of protein to rebuild and grow stronger. A combination of creatine and protein on a daily basis can not only help you lift more in the gym, but also recover faster.
A July 2017 study published in Nutrients found that whey protein supplements were more effective than a carbohydrate supplement after resistance training in jump-starting protein metabolism. Whey protein was also found to improve exercise performance and recovery after intense resistance training.
Whey protein is a common form of protein supplement that comes as a powder and can be easily mixed into drinks or soft foods like yogurt, applesauce or even pancake batter. According to the Mayo Clinic, whey protein has been shown to possibly be effective in strength training programs to increase muscle mass, healing wounds and helping people recover from malnutrition or severe weight loss.
For a protein-packed, filling snack or meal replacement, mix some scoops of whey protein with water, coconut milk or regular milk, cinnamon and creatine. You can also create whey protein smoothies with almond milk, bananas, frozen berries and avocados.
Mix protein and creatine powder into oats or applesauce before a workout, or stir some into your morning coffee (or iced coffee in a blender) to pair it with caffeine and get a strong start to your day.
- MedlinePlus: "Creatine"
- Sports Health: "Creatine Use in Sports"
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport, and Medicine"
- Harvard Health: "Are Fresh Juice Drinks as Healthy as They Seem?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Slide Show: 10 Great Health Foods"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Heart Healthy Power Foods"
- Harvard Health: "Eat Blueberries and Strawberries Three Times Per Week"
- Nutrients: "Whey Protein Supplementation Enhances Whole Body Protein Metabolism and Performance Recovery After Resistance Exercise: A Double-Blind Crossover Study"
- Mayo Clinic: "Whey Protein"