A berry-flavored gummy, on the other hand, seems a lot easier for my stomach to tackle pre-workout. Cue up Create Wellness’ creatine monohydrate gummies instantly grabbing my interest: These vegan, low-sugar creatine gummies promise creatine benefits in bize-sized form with flavor that's reminiscent of a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.
We recently caught up with Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD, Create’s in-house scientific advisor, and Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, the lead registered dietitian for the Kansas City Chiefs, who shared what science has suggested about the purported energy-fueling, cognition-boosting abilities of creatine. Plus, I tried these gummies myself to see how they impacted (and helped fuel) my exercise routine—and let me say, the effects were relatively immediate.
How Create’s creatine gummies help boost energy
Before we delve into the benefits of creatine, it’s important to understand what it is. According to Dr. Smith-Ryan, creatine, a building block of protein, is formed naturally in the body from these three non-essential amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. But what sets them apart is that all three have a role in protein and energy metabolism, immune function, and antioxidant status in the body.
First of all, it's important to keep in mind that your body can naturally produce these amino acids when consuming certain foods. According to Bonci, creatine is found only in animal-sourced foods and is most abundant in beef, pork, and fish. "Eating these types of foods will result in a daily creatine consumption of one to two grams a day," Bonci says. "But remember: When we compare creatine in foods to creatine from supplementation it is important to realize that foods containing creatine also provide protein and minerals, whereas a creatine supplement only provides creatine, nothing else." But since creatine isn't available in plant-sourced foods, she notes that stores of creatine in folks that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet might be lower.
That said, trying creatine supplements may have its perks. However, as per Bonci's recommendation, it's always best to consult with a sports dietitian who can do a thorough evaluation of overall intake and provide guidance regarding supplementation before starting.
Delving into the benefits of creatine, Bonci notes that research shows it can be beneficial for improving exercise performance, lessening fatigue, and potentially playing a role in improving mood, stress, and cognitive health. And as mentioned, supplementation can help boost creatine intake without relying on animal-based foods. “Whole foods [do tend to] take longer to metabolize, which may impact recovery [compared to supplementation],” Dr. Smith-Ryan says.
But the main difference comes down to the dosage and amount you’ll get from simply eating food. “There are about 0.8 grams of creatine in four ounces of chicken—25 grams of protein—so to get five grams of creatine through diet, you would have to consume six chicken breasts, and that’s 125 grams of protein,” Dr. Smith-Ryan says. To put things into perspective, you get one gram of creatine per Create gummy.
What's more, Bonci says that creatine can help with athletic performance. "Creatine supplementation can increase phosphocreatine levels in muscles, as well as free creatine, resulting in delayed fatigue. It also helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the most basic form of energy in the cells," Bonci says, which she adds is especially useful for athletes performing high-intensity exercise. "Creatine supplementation can lead to an improvement in exercise performance, faster recovery, injury prevention, increased muscle strength and mass, improved power, decreased cramping, and delayed fatigue," she says.
"Creatine supplementation can lead to an improvement in exercise performance, faster recovery, injury prevention, increased muscle strength and mass, improved power, decreased cramping, and delayed fatigue.—Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN
Some research also points to some therapeutic benefits linked to consuming creatine. An older 2012 study demonstrated creatine supplementation to be a safe, effective, and tolerable adjunct to medication for the treatment of brain-related disorders linked with dysfunctional energy metabolism. Meanwhile, another more recent study from 2019 assessed creatine for its positive effects on increasing mood. Lastly, a 2021 study looked at the benefits of creatine on cognitive health and its uses for treating brain injuries. "Creatine supplementation may improve blood flow to the brain, maintain ATP energy in the brain, and decrease levels of reactive oxygen intermediates resulting in a decrease in the brain damage that often follows concussion known as secondary injury," Bonci says.
That said, Dr. Smith-Ryan notes that the benefits of consuming creatine will highly depend on the person and their lifestyle. But generally speaking, it can help with muscle recovery, boost energy, and potentially help make a workout more effective. In terms of dosage, Dr. Smith-Ryan emphasizes the importance of staying consistent with a daily creatine regimen. “Often people forget to take the powder, but the gummies can be taken any time, and hopefully, at least daily,” she says. Bonci also recommends taking no more than three to five grams per day.
Additionally, consuming creatine around when (or after) you engage in some sort of physical activity, though it's caffeine-free, can potentially boost its effects. “We also know that anything consumed around exercise usually has better absorption due to vasodilation and energy use. I often like to take my creatine mid-morning or late afternoon as we also have creatine in our brains, and thus it can provide a slight boost in energy,” Bonci says.
I tried creatine gummies, and here’s how they impacted my workout routine
Is pre-workout your pre-gym jam? For me, it’s definitely not. I fall into the category of highly caffeine sensitive and can barely tolerate more than one cup of joe; I get very jittery. That said, finding ways to increase my energy while working out without feeling overly caffeinated is one of my top priorities, which is why I naturally gravitated towards Create’s caffeine-free creatine gummies.
For starters, I loved the fact that I could control my dosage based on how much I consume. On the packaging, it says, “For build: take three to five gummies; For maintenance: take two to three gummies.” I opted for the latter, as I tested this product primarily for its exercise performance benefits.
I try to get in a quick workout every afternoon—but as the day progresses, I tend to lose focus (and motivation to hop on the Peloton) and feeling low-energy. This week, I started taking two creatine gummies paired with a large glass of water about an hour before getting on the stationary bike.
Shortly after eating the gummies, I felt an immediate surge of energy, like after downing a protein shake or glass of matcha. At first, I felt a little anxious about it, perhaps it was the feeling of increased blood flow throughout my body. Wait, did I take too much? But after about 10 minutes or so, my anxiety seemingly dissipated, and all that was left behind was a focused form of energy (hi, amino acids) that helped me find the motivation to hop on the bike. In truth, it was very different and much more pleasant than the jittery feeling I get after sipping on an energy drink before a workout. I had no jitters and didn't get that tunnel-like vision feeling I often do when ingesting excessive caffeine. And each day that I ate the gummies, I felt that same exact way.
In truth, it was very different and much more pleasant than the jittery feeling I get after sipping on an energy drink before a workout. I had no jitters and didn't get that tunnel-like vision feeling I often do when ingesting excessive caffeine.
As for how it impacted my workout, I felt as though I had more energy throughout the ride and experienced less fatigue overall. Recovery also felt much easier than usual, and I didn't get the usual cramps in my legs after getting off the bike. All in all, my final thoughts are that these gummies are a great way to overcome the barrier to entry into the creatine world that’s accessible to just about anyone. (Plus, makes me feel much better than a neon-colored pre-workout drink, which is basically a one-way ticket for acid reflux for me.)
An RD explains what to eat for optimal energy:
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