Creatine is a well-known supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It is popular for its ability to enhance performance, particularly in high-intensity, short-duration activities. However, a question that often comes up when people talk about this renowned supplement is should you take creatine before or after a workout? In this article, we will explore the research by scientists. Give you the up-to-date information, about when to take creatine.
Should you take creatine before or after a workout? Irrespective of the time you took creatine, you are right. It could be before or after a workout. The most important thing is to consistently consume the recommended dosage everyday. So next time you are wondering whether should you take creatine before or after workout, know that timing matters less.
Is the timing of creatine intake really important?
When it comes to getting the most out of creatine the question of timing is often a concern. Does it matter when you take creatine? You will get to know the best time to take creatine monohydrate before you read this article completely.
Truth be told, the answer might not be as direct as you might think because it's a controversial topic that has generated several debates and studies over the years.
Some of the studies on when to take creatine have produced several results leaving creatine users wondering if they can optimize their gains based on specific timing or if taking creatine on rest days could be advantageous for their fitness journey. However, some findings suggest that taking creatine before or after a workout might help it get absorbed by the muscle effectively leading to results. These findings have led people to believe that precise timing is crucial for maximizing the benefits of creatine supplement.
Taking a look at a broader picture, some of these studies do not provide strong evidence. Although timing could have some influence, the overall daily intake of creatine seems to be more significant in determining its effect as compared to timing. Having creatine at all times due to continuous intake according to dosage recommendation appears to be more crucial than obsessing over exact minutes before or after the workout.
Practicality and convenience are other factors to consider, focusing solely on unnecessary timing could be stressful and make your routine complex. Instead, individuals could benefit from a balanced approach that emphasizes a consistent creatine intake based on their choice and schedule.
Overall, certain research indicates that consuming creatine after exercising may improve its absorption into the muscles. But in the big picture the specific timing of when you take creatine is not a determinant. What matters is to consume the recommended amount every day whether it's before or after your workout.
Therefore, you can stop contemplating when should you take creatine or can you take creatine before a workout. The freedom is yours to take creatine at a convenient time and prioritize establishing a routine to optimize its long-term advantages for your performance.
What does the latest scientific evidence say?
Creatine is one of the most studied supplements by scientists, if not the most studied. Some researchers aim to determine if the optimal timing of creatine intake in relation to workout can influence the uptake, utilization and effectiveness of creatine in improving performance. Given that creatine's effects occur after it has accumulated in the muscles, which takes 1-4 weeks of constant supplementation depending on the dose, the timing of a single creatine supplementation is unlikely to affect this process. However, to be sure of this assumption, let’s take a further look at some of the most recent research so you can have answers to creatine timing questions.
Review #1: Timing is not a factor that will influence the improvement in performance
The first review focuses on achieving optimal fat loss in resistance-trained athletes. The use of creatine to lose fat and maintain muscle mass relates mainly to its effects on the concentration of muscle phosphocreatine. The increased phosphocreatine levels enhance high-intensity exercise performance, leading to better adaptations, increased work capacity, and improved strength and muscle gains.
The authors concluded that timing of creatine supplementation, combining it with carbohydrate intake, and conducting a loading phase has no effect on performance enhancement. The loading phase is suggested only when a rapid saturation of phosphocreatine stores is required, e.g. when starting supplementation in the middle of the fat loss phase.
Although the authors investigated nutritional strategies and the use of various weight loss supplements, the conclusions regarding creatine remain relevant for all purposes because its mechanism of action does not change. So, the first batch of scientific information confirms that timing is not a factor that will influence the improvement of performance.
Review #2: Creatine timing should not be considered a real concern
Another review we will be considering focuses on the possible mechanism that may be involved for creatine to function effectively and whether the timing of creatine supplement should be seen as a real concern.
The authors concluded that exercise helps to increase the accumulation of creatine in muscles when combined with creatine supplement, as this is backed up from the mechanism involved for creatine to achieve its function effectively.
From the research, ATP-CP systems are important in regulating muscle metabolism by supplementing the creatine and improving ATP resynthesis. More energy becomes available during exercise which can lead to extended work capacity in skeletal muscles as a result delaying the point at which muscle fatigue sets in.
However, the author concluded pre exercise, post exercise and during exercise creatine timing options are not only backed up by limited but also contradictory evidence because creatine was administered wrongly for people who participated in this research.
On a final note, the author concluded that because there is not enough reliable data to definitely say whether timing matters or not. Creatine timing should not be considered a real concern.
Review #3: Pre-Exercise And Post-Exercise Produce Similar Benefits
The third review discusses the purported mechanisms and variables that possibly justify creatine timing and critically evaluate the research examining the strategic ingestion of creatine during a resistance training program.
Sodium-potassium pump activity is one of factors that will influence the uptake of creatine because creatine transport occurs against sodium dependent gradients. More so, chronic exercise is another factor that increases the transportation and accumulation of creative In the muscle.
At high physiological concentration insulin administered with creatine can influence creatine accumulation. Plus, insulin also enhances sodium-potassium pump activity.
Hyperemia- An increase in blood flow due to widening of blood vessels supplying a muscle and other part of the body is another factor that influences the uptake of creatine.
Although, the factors stated above can stimulate the creatine uptake. The participants of the resistance show similar results even when creatinine is administered to them at different sessions of the exercise. The authors concluded pre exercise and post exercise consumption of creatine produces similar benefits.
How Do I Recommend Using Creatine
Achieving your fitness goals requires the strategic combination of exercise, nutrition, and supplementation. The main thing to focus on is doing these things consistently. One perfect workout a month won't make you strong if you miss all the other workouts. One perfect balanced meal a day won't help if all the others are filled with junk food.
For creatine, you also need to care not about a separate ideal time to take it (especially since science tells us that it really almost doesn't matter), but about consuming the right dose day after day. And the best way to do that is to develop the habit of taking the right dose of creatine every day.
An example of how this can be done is to combine creatine with healthy post-workout meals. After a strenuous workout, your body is in a prime state to absorb nutrients and replenish glycogen stores. A post-workout meal rich in carbohydrates and protein is essential for muscle recovery and growth. By pairing creatine with this nutrient-dense meal, you can optimize the benefits of both components.
Because protein is vital for muscle repair and growth, carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores, and fat supports overall health and hormone production. As a result of the consumption of these nutrients with creatine, you can create an optimal environment for muscle recovery and growth. In addition, taking creatine after a workout and with meals can reduce the risk of stomach discomfort.
But what may be even more important is how you create the habit of using creatine on a regular basis. Most of us don't work out every day and taking creatine daily may require other habits. Be creative, find your own convenient way.
You can mix creatine with protein shakes if you take them every day, tie it to specific meals (for example, in the morning after breakfast) or take it at the same set time with any convenient drink. The key is to create a repeatable pattern that will ensure adequate creatine replenishment every day.
The best way to use creatine is to find a regimen you're comfortable with that you can maintain for months or even years. Timing is not crucial, consistency is! So, the best time to take creatine is when it is convenient for you.
Timing During The Loading Phase
When it comes to timing creatine during the loading phase, the general consensus is that there is no reason to worry about timing.
The creatine loading phase involves taking higher doses of creatine for a short period of time, usually 5-7 days, to rapidly saturate your muscles with creatine. During the loading phase, it is common to take 20-25 grams of creatine daily, divided into four or five 5-gram servings throughout the day.
If you distribute them evenly throughout the day, you will have creatine intakes both before and after training, there is nothing to think about. So focus on finding a regimen that's comfortable for you, so you can consume the right amount of creatine during the loading phase while avoiding stomach discomfort.
Some people prefer to take creatine after every meal, some with every protein shake, and some between meals with a glass of water or juice. Any of these methods work great.
Once you have completed the loading phase, it's time to transition to the maintenance phase. This phase involves taking a lower dosage of creatine to sustain the elevated muscle creatine levels achieved during the loading phase. A daily dosage of 3-5 grams is commonly recommended.
Overall, It is important to note that the loading phase is not necessary for everyone to benefit from creatine supplementation. You can still achieve complete saturation of your creatine stores without the loading phase. Just stay consistent with your creatine intake with other health foods or protein shake whether it's during the loading phase or the maintenance phase, to maintain elevated creatine levels in your muscles.
The Creatine We Recommend
If you need a creatine supplement that will fit perfectly for your fitness goal, then take a look at The StrengthSeries Creatine HMB supplement by Transparent Labs. It is an outstanding product designed to support muscle and strength building. It combines the benefits of creatine monohydrate, HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate), vitamin D, and BioPerine. Now let's delve further on why you should consider our recommended creatine.
The product contains 5 grams (5,000 mg) of creatine monohydrate per serving. And for every container you get 30 servings in every container at ~$ 1.68 per serving which is economical enough for an excellent product like this. It contains zero artificial sweeteners, No preservatives, it is gluten-free, and tested by third parties, so you can be sure you are consuming a very safe supplement.
Furthermore, the HMB content of the product which is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine and has been shown to have additive effects when combined with creatine monohydrate. It helps to decrease muscle protein breakdown, promote muscle protein synthesis, prevent exercise-induced muscle damage, and enhance fast recovery. You get 1.5 grams of HMB per serving of the product which is an effective dose.
photo by @_keemfit
Just like their other products, Transparent Labs carefully curate this creatine with the total love of fitness enthusiasts and athletes in mind as this product is fortified with Vitamin D which is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including bone health by promoting the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, immune function, and muscle function. It has been shown to support muscle growth, improve mental sharpness, and reduce fatigue during training. Per serving, you get 12.5 mcg of vitamin D (about 60% of the daily requirement).
To crown it all, BioPerine is another great constituent of this product. It is commonly used as a bioavailability enhancer, meaning it can improve the absorption and utilization of various nutrients and compounds in the body due to the presence of its active compound called piperine, which has been shown to increase the absorption of nutrients by inhibiting certain enzymes that break down these compounds in the gut and liver.
Overall, with the constituents of this product, it's definitely a must-buy for an athlete who is ready to take their fitness journey to the next level.
When should I take creatine for best results?
How should I take creatine for best results?
Should I load creatine for 5 or 7 days?
The scientific consensus suggests that the timing of creatine intake is less crucial than maintaining a consistent daily dosage. Take creatine before or after a workout based on individual preference and convenience, Adhere to recommended dosages and pairing it with a balanced post-workout meal to maximize its benefits. Overall, The question of whether can you take creatine after workout or taking creatine during workout should be of less worry to creatine consumers.
Now you have learned that the best time to take creatine for muscle gain is based on your preference. Do share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section. We will appreciate your valuable input as it will help foster a healthy and engaging discussion.
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- Fernando Naclerio, "Achieving an Optimal Fat Loss Phase in Resistance-Trained Athletes", NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8471721/
- Ajmol Ali, "Timing of Creatine Supplementation around Exercise", MDPI, https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/8/2844
- Jamie Pugh, "Creatine O'Clock: Does Timing of Ingestion Really Influence Muscle Mass and Performance?", FrontierSin, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2022.893714/full
- A. E. Knitter, "Effects of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate on muscle damage after a prolonged run", Volume 89Issue 4, October 2000, Pages: 1340-1344. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jappl.2000.89.4.1340
- "Vitamin D", Harvard T.H. Chan, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
- Christine Mikstas, "Black Pepper: Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses", WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-pepper
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Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist, certified by FPA (Fitness Professional Association). Oleksandr adheres to the principles of evidence-based dietetics and instills in his clients a healthy relationship with food - without strict prohibitions on favorite foods and regular disruptions. His main task – not only get a result for you, but also maintain it for many years, enjoying tasty and delicious food.
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