Latest posts

Forum Statistics

Threads
23,552
Posts
465,020
Members
27,025
Latest Member
willypear
What's New?

Creatine and Caffeine

PillarofBalance

PillarofBalance

Strength Pimp
Staff Member
Feb 27, 2011
17,069
4,625
#1
Caffeine is a commonly used in conjunction with fitness programs. Many weight loss supplements come loaded with caffeine. Additionally, athletes often use caffeine during training for its stimulatory effects. Ironically, chronic caffeine use will also lessen the boost in strength you receive from creatine. One recent study has shown that extended caffeine use COMPLETEY ABOLISHES the physical benefits typically afforded by creatine use (ref. 1). By contrast, a single dose of caffeine immediately before exercise either has no effect (ref. 2),or even enhances the improvement in strength observed with creatine (ref. 3). Therefore, at least as far as creatine is concerned, chronic caffeine consumption appears to be much more counterproductive than an occasional cup of coffee.

This result initially came as a complete surprise to the scientists conducting the research. They had originally expected caffeine to ENHANCE creatine’s benefits since caffeine should create a more permissive environment for creatine transport into muscle. In fact, creatine is transported into skeletal muscle equally well with, or without, caffeine. The most likely hypothesis, therefore, is that caffeine is exerting its inhibitory effect directly on the contractile machinery of muscle.




Certain wrong explanations, however, can be discounted from the start. First, the fact that caffeine is a diuretic has nothing to do with its counterproductive effect. Diuretics increase the amount of fluid that is excreted from the body in the urine. By apparent contrast, ingesting creatine monohydrate powder causes our muscles to retain more fluids thereby reducing urine production. These opposing effects of caffeine and creatine have inspired rumors that caffeine counteracts the benefits of creatine by preventing muscles from retaining fluids.

Making this mental link is erroneous and assumes that water retention by skeletal muscle, otherwise known as muscle volumizing, is the source of creatine’s physical benefit. Although increasing the girth of our muscles, muscle volumizing has no proven effect on strength. In other words, size alone isn’t the basis for strength, rather augmented energy stores (ATP and PCr) and increased contractile proteins (increased protein synthesis) are the true source of strength. Our muscles get bigger when we train because the amount of proteins they contain increases. Blood flow to our muscle also increases causing them to swell. With reference to training, therefore, size and strength do go hand in hand. On the other hand, inflating our muscles with water without the benefit of these other biochemical processes accomplishes very little, athletically speaking.

A more feasible explanation is that caffeine interferes with the contractile properties of muscle.

Would it surprise you that relaxation and power are one in the same? In truth, strength is the outcome of the coordinated interplay between muscle contraction and relaxation. For example, when performing a biceps curl the triceps must relax at the same time as the biceps contract for the bar to rise. If both muscle groups remain contracted (or relaxed) the bar goes absolutely nowhere! In other words, without the coordinated relaxation of antagonistic muscle groups there is no power. On a mechanistic level it is the presence of calcium that triggers contraction. Calcium must therefore be stingily hidden away into special storage compartments when muscle relaxation is required and only released from these intramuscular storage sites when contraction is desired.

It is thus relevant that one of PCr’s primary roles in muscle is to provide the energy to return calcium into these reservoirs. In this manner creatine (PCr) assists in muscle relaxation and enhances our athletic performance. Interestingly, caffeine has the opposite effect of allowing calcium to escape from these intracellular calcium storage sites. Caffeine would thus hamper muscle relaxation. In agreement with these findings a recent study has shown that caffeine interferes with creatine’s ability to facilitate muscle relaxation, especially during moments of fatigue (ref. 2). Caffeine might thusly confound the ability of PCr to store away calcium and in doing so nullify part of creatine’s benefit.

Take Home

If you’re serious about getting the most from creatine, avoid chronic use of caffeine. Scientific studies show that the equivalent of three cups of coffee per day for as little as three days is sufficient to completely negate the benefits typically afforded by creatine (ref. 1). On the other hand, an occasional cup of coffee doesn’t seem to render much harm (refs. 2, 3).

Scientific References:

1. Vandenberghe K, Gillis N, Van Leemputte M, Van Hecke P, Vanstapel F, Hespel P. (1996) Caffeine counteracts the ergogenic action of muscle creatine loading. Journal of Applied Physiolgy Volume 80(2),pages 452-457

2. Hespel P, Op’t Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M. (2002) Opposite actions of caffeine and creatine on muscle relaxation time in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology Volume 92, pages 513-518

3. Doherty M, Smith PM, Davison RC, Hughes MG. (2002) Caffeine is ergogenic after supplementation of oral creatine monohydrate. Med Sci Sports Exerc Volume 34, pages 1785-1792
 
ajdos

ajdos

MuscleHead
Sep 8, 2010
2,282
386
#3
Its been my understanding up to the point Im reading this article that creatine and caffeine taken simultaneously has been the issue with caffeine rendering creatine into creatinine which is the by product of creatine metabolism and what the body excretes through urine, fesces and sweat.
This article seems to shed new light on it, but Im not seeing the science here, they refer to studies but not the actual mecanism and action that inhibits creatines benefits, would like to see more about that.
 
PillarofBalance

PillarofBalance

Strength Pimp
Staff Member
Feb 27, 2011
17,069
4,625
#4
Its been my understanding up to the point Im reading this article that creatine and caffeine taken simultaneously has been the issue with caffeine rendering creatine into creatinine which is the by product of creatine metabolism and what the body excretes through urine, fesces and sweat.
This article seems to shed new light on it, but Im not seeing the science here, they refer to studies but not the actual mecanism and action that inhibits creatines benefits, would like to see more about that.
Not sure if this answers your question, but the use of caffeine prevents muscle relaxation. The example from the article is during a bicep curl, the tricep must relax on the concentric part of the exercise. So where, creatine helps with relaxation, caffeine hinders it. They seem to negate eachother.
 
Top