Nutritional supplementation is a common practice among athletes, with creatine and caffeine among the most commonly used ergogenic aids. Hundreds of studies have investigated the ergogenic potential of creatine supplementation, with consistent improvements in strength and power reported for exercise bouts of short duration (≤30 s) and high intensity. Caffeine has been shown to improve endurance exercise performance, but results are mixed in the context of strength and sprint performance. Further, there is conflicting evidence from studies comparing the ergogenic effects of coffee and caffeine anhydrous supplementation. Previous research has identified independent mechanisms by which creatine and caffeine may improve strength and sprint performance, leading to the formulation of multi-ingredient supplements containing both ingredients. Although scarce, research has suggested that caffeine ingestion may blunt the ergogenic effect of creatine. While a pharmacokinetic interaction is unlikely, authors have suggested that this effect may be explained by opposing effects on muscle relaxation time or gastrointestinal side effects from simultaneous consumption. The current review aims to evaluate the ergogenic potential of creatine and caffeine in the context of high-intensity exercise. Research directly comparing coffee and caffeine anhydrous is discussed, along with previous studies evaluating the concurrent supplementation of creatine and caffeine.
Trexler and Smith-Ryan are with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.