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Does Creatine Help With Recovery? (What Does Science Say?)

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Creatine Monohydrate is one of the best performance enhancing supplements, because it’s one of the most studied supplements, a very affordable one but most important reason is – it works! (aside from you guys who fall into the creatine non responders category). 

Most of us are checking out Creatine because of its effects on power production and strength during training. Lots of folks however are asking me questions “aside” from performance, like – does creatine help with recovery? Does creatine help you recover faster? Let’s check what the science says…

Creatine supplementation will (again in most cases) raise the baseline levels of creatine in muscle cells (phosphocreatine ultimately, a kind of form of stored energy). That as a result will lead to increased ATP production during training in highest intensities, when the human body primarily relies on Phosphocreatine (P-Cr) to restore ATP rapidly.

Other benefits are related to improved recovery and ability to reduce the risk of injuries, so if you are wondering, does creatine help injury recovery? The answer will be – it can, but not directly. Will talk about that more later in the article. 

So let’s answer the main question…

Does creatine help with recovery? Yes it does, but not always. The primary goal of creatine is to enhance your strength and power in the gym but it can help with recovery as well. So, if you want to get benefits of creatine supplementation, make sure you are getting the right dose and form of creatine.

does creatine help with recovery

Does Creatine Help With Recovery?

Yup. Besides enhancing performance in the gym, you might get some of the benefits of taking creatine like improving overall health, helping to recover from injuries or even maintaining mental and functional activity, etc

There is scientific evidence that suggests that creatine monohydrate can possibly reduce muscle damage and improve recovery from intense exercise. So if you are considering taking creatine for sore muscles or basically taking creatine for muscle recovery, know that there is a connection between supplementing creatine and muscle recovery and enough evidence in my opinion to justify that decision. 

Another thing is that we know restoring glycogen levels is an important part of recovery from training. It is crucial especially during in-season, when there is higher training volume or frequency, to avoid overtraining. Data suggest that folks who supplemented creatine monohydrate, maintained better glycogen levels.

athlete drinking creatine

The scientists also showed that taking creatine helped keep muscles performing well when doing intense, high-volume resistance training. This is especially important during the early phase, where without creatine, there might be a slight drop in performance.

What 3 Benefits Does Creatine Have?

✅ Performance Enhancement

Like I said, correct Creatine supplementation should increase phosphocreatine levels in the muscles causing as a result better ATP resynthesis. By replenishing ATP stores faster, you can expect performance enhancement – your body does not (most likely) store enough creatine in muscle cells, and that part can be actually improved.

By storing more, we are allowing the body to work at a kind of higher pace by helping with fuel availability/delivery, and that is the reason why it can be a valuable tool in high intensity training like for example one that aims for strength and power improvements like lifting and sprints.

✅ Injury Prevention

Many research studies have shown that supplementing creatine combined with resistance training or even competing can either have no impact or actually lower the chances of getting musculoskeletal injuries – so nothing really to lose and a lot to gain if you ask me!

creatine powder

People who use creatine tend to have fewer cases of cramping, heat-related issues, muscle tightness, strains/pulls, injuries without direct contact, and overall fewer injuries or missed practices compared to those who don’t use creatine.

✅ Cognitive Benefits

In addition to its physical advantages that we covered above, and let’s be honest 🙂 that most folks are looking for, creatine may offer cognitive benefits since its supplementation has been shown to raise creatine levels in the brain as well!

This can potentially lead to enhanced cognitive function and memory, especially in older adults. Moreover, there’s potential for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety as there is some beneficial correlation.

How to Take Creatine for Best Results

1. Take It Consistently

Creatine only works when it is taken consistently. It does not offer acute effects/benefits. It is about raising that baseline level and that unfortunately takes time. How long? It depends but on average you can expect full saturation and positive effects after 4 weeks of supplementing creatine every day.

2. Take the Right Dose

Don’t fall into the trap of any advertising that you can take less of this or that. Dosage of 3-5g every day is a great start. If there is no specific reason to do so, skip the loading phase as it can lead to some GI tract discomfort. I should mention this above but keep in mind that the timing of creatine intake absolutely does not matter.

athlete taking creatine in gym

Take it whenever you want – when it is most convenient for you. You can mix it with water, juice, any beverage or like me, with protein shake. You can even split the dosage into a few doses in a day if that suits you better for some reason.

3. Take the Right Creatine Form

Just like above, don’t listen to fancy advertising… Creatine Monohydrate is still the best form you can get. It’s the cheapest, most studied one with a plethora of evidence about safety of its consumption, even at higher doses.

Some companies will say that their creatine form has better solubility but to be fair creatine monohydrate still has good solubility and it can be even improved with few tricks, but that being said, it is still very well absorbed, so no worries, you don’t need to spend more money on that one “better” form – stick with creatine monohydrate.

Creatine We Recommend

NAKED Creatine Monohydrate Powder

Naked Creatine
  • Form: Powder
  • Servings per Container: 200
  • Type: Monohydrate
  • Suitable for Vegans: Yes 
  • Other Ingredients: None
  • Price per Serving (5g): $0.3
  • Company Founded: 2014
  • Recommended by Athletes: Kenzie MarianoDaniel Victor

If we will take into consideration all of the above, there is one product that stands out as one that checks all the boxes. Naked Creatine gives you the best form out there – Creatine Monohydrate – with 5g in each dose which will be perfect for almost everyone.

naked creatine instagram
Photo by @nakednutrition

Big 1kg product will not only offer you a great price per serving but also will make sure you have enough servings for consistent supplementation without worrying about buying a supplement every few weeks. Additionally  no additives, vegan friendly, single ingredient formula, gluten and GMO free and tested for heavy metals. I don’t think you can ask for more from a creatine supplement.

Protein we recommend

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Transparent labs grass fed protein
  • Serving Size: 32.96 grams
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.8
  • Protein Percent Of Weight (%): 85%
  • Proteins: 28 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram (depends on flavor)
  • Fat: 0.5 gram (French Vanilla only)
  • Added Sugar: 0 gram
  • Calories Per Serving: 120
  • Recommended by Athletes: Hafthor BjornssonPaul SklarSean Harris

As you will see later in the article, I always suggest making sure you cover your macronutrient needs before reaching for any performance enhancing non-essential supplement. For that reason if you are missing protein (like many people do) in your diet, I highly recommend getting Whey Protein Isolate from Transparent Labs.

No artificial additives, 100% grass-fed whey gives you 28g of protein in each 33g scoop. 1g of carbohydrates and 0g of fat makes it a very versatile protein powder. Great taste and 3rd party testing makes it an even better choice. 

TL grass fed protein

Another thing is that there is no reason why you can’t have that protein shake even if you are not struggling to get enough protein during the day. It can be a great, tasty addition and a nice tool to add some variety into your diet.

Next thing is having that shake during a day (after workout for example if you are struggling to get any food soon after, like me 🙂) is a great way to get your creatine dosage as well, as you can mix them together and kill two birds with one stone.

FAQ

Will Creatine Help With Sore Muscles?

It might. Results of many studies show that taking creatine can help athletes in handling increases in training volume and intensity. In my opinion evidence is quite strong about creatine supplementation and it benefits in improving glycogen loading, inflammation reduction and muscle enzyme release after intense workouts. All of that allows for better tolerance of high training volumes. Better tolerance for higher training volume means better recovery.

Does Creatine Affect Injury Recovery?

Yes it can. Does creatine help heal tendons? No. It’s not a panaceum. It won’t directly heal your injury. However it can help, facilitate a better recovery process.
Because using creatine has been linked to increased strength, researchers have been curious about how creatine supplementation affects the rate of muscle loss during limb immobilization or rehabilitation. Creatine supplementation combined with resistance training showed better results in hypertrophy and a faster recovery from muscle atrophy.

Is Protein or Creatine Better for Muscle Recovery?

It depends. Let’s talk about priorities. Proteins are one of three most important nutrients you need to get with foods. They are essential. If you are missing protein in your diet there is no reason why we should even talk about supplementing performance enhancing compounds.

Protein deficiency will eventually lead to health problems regardless if you train or not. Same about recovery. You won’t recover properly without having enough proteins. You need proteins for your muscles, brain, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and more… I think you see the picture now 🙂

That being said, if you already cover your protein needs in a day there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider creatine supplementation, especially if you are physically active, as it can be a valuable tool in your box.

Conclusion

Let’s summarize… The scientific evidence for creatine supplementation for recovery, performance enhancement, and reducing the risk of injuries, is strong. Creatine can help with strength and power training, glycogen storage, potentially reducing muscle damage, and can improve (fuel) high intensity performance.

Additionally, creatine has potential cognitive benefits. Take it consistently – every day, the right dose – 3-5g daily, and choose the right form – Creatine Monohydrate. While it helps with sore muscles and injury recovery, it’s not a substitute for crucial healthy habits like balanced diet, enough quality sleep and physical activity… But if all of it is there, you can definitely check the Naked Creatine Monohydrate!  

What is your experience with creatine supplementation? Have you tried creatine only for performance enhancing effects or were looking for something more like better recovery or maybe suggested boost in muscle gain? Did it work? Share your protocol with us in the comment section below!

Also read:

References:

  1. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine Richard B. Kreider, Douglas S. Kalman, Jose Antonio, Tim N. Ziegenfuss, Robert Wildman, Rick Collins, Darren G. Candow, Susan M. Kleiner, Anthony L. Almada & Hector L. Lopez https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
  2. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update Robert Cooper, Fernando Naclerio, Judith Allgrove, and  Alfonso Jimenez https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/
  3. Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury Michael Greenwood, Richard B Kreider, Charlie Melton, Christopher Rasmussen, Stacy Lancaster, Edward Cantler, Purvis Milnor, Anthony Almada https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12701814/
  4. “Heads Up” for Creatine Supplementation and its Potential Applications for Brain Health and Function Darren G. Candow, Scott C. Forbes, Sergej M. Ostojic, Konstantinos Prokopidis, Matt S. Stock, Kylie K. Harmon & Paul Faulkner https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-023-01870-9
  5. Timing, optimal dose and intake duration of dietary supplements with evidence-based use in sports nutrition Alireza Naderi, Erick P. de Oliveira, Tim N. Ziegenfuss, Mark E.T. Willems https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545206/
  6. Ergogenic effects of creatine in sports and rehabilitation Peter Hespel, Wim Derave https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18652080/

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Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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