When To Take Creatine – What Science Says

man wondering when to take creatine

Creatine supplementation has been shown to benefit the body and improve physical performance. But, in order to boost muscle growth, when is the best time to take creatine?
Despite substantial studies on creatine and creatine monohydrate, there are few studies on the best time to consume it accessible.
So the most significant question for many lifters is now “When should I take creatine?” And not, “Should I take creatine?” Here’s what the science says about taking creatine and when to take it.

What Exactly Is Creatine?

Creatine Monohydrate

You might have heard about creatine previously from your gym buddies. It’s one of the most popular supplements used in conjunction with whey protein. Creatine is a dietary ergogenic (performance enhancer), which means it can help you improve your mental or physical performance when exercising. There’s also a lot of evidence to support creatine’s use in the fitness world.

Over 95% of creatine is found in our skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine in intramuscular or free creatine in the brain, kidney, and liver. Every day, about 1-2 percent of intramuscular creatine is broken down into creatinine, which is eliminated in our urine. To sustain pre-existing creatine stores, you need 1-3g of creatine every day, depending on your muscle mass, and around half of this comes from our diets.

Creatine’s major function in our bodies is to improve training performance by increasing the amount of ATP (energy) available for muscular contraction. This allows for faster muscle fiber hypertrophy and growth. Creatine has also been recommended as a supplement that can aid in speedy recovery after training and lower the chance of injury.

When To Take Creatine – What Science Says

Many studies have shown that taking creatine after a workout is better than taking it before. Subjects who took creatine after a resistance training activity gained more lean body mass than those who took creatine before their workouts, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

This is supported by research published in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition. Researchers discovered that taking creatine after an exercise was more effective at improving body composition. The body fat percentages of the subjects who took creatine after their workouts were lower than those of the subjects who took it before exercise at the end of the trial.

This trial also revealed that consuming creatine soon after a workout improved muscular strength. The subjects in the post-workout creatine group increased their bench press 1RMs more than the subjects in the pre-workout creatine group.

man working out after taking creatine

While most studies have found that taking creatine after a workout is best, taking it before workout can also be beneficial. Increases in chest press and leg press 1RMs occurred regardless of timing when creatine was consumed, according to Canadian researchers. In fact, at the end of the trial, those who took creatine before working out had higher 1RMs.

There’s also some evidence that taking creatine during a workout can help. Creatine supplementation during a workout can boost not only muscular strength but also muscular endurance.

Other studies, on the other hand, have found no difference in taking it before or after exercise.

Overall, based on the limited data available, it becomes clear that when you take creatine isn’t as important as taking it consistently. Even if you take it on non-training days, it will assist your body build up creatine stores, which it can then utilize the next time you exercise.

Our Best Bet Is To Take Creating Shortly Before Or After Workout

Supplementing right before or right after exercise appears to be preferable to supplementing long before or after exercise.

Adults who weight trained were given a nutritional supplement containing creatine, carbohydrates, and protein throughout a 10-week research.

Two groups of participants were formed. The supplement was taken by one group shortly before and after exercise, while the supplement was taken by the other group in the morning and evening, hence not close to workout.

The group who took the supplement close to exercise acquired more muscle and strength at the end of the study than the group that took it in the morning and evening.

According to this research, it may be better to take creatine close to the time of your workout rather than later in the day.

You may, for example, take the entire amount after you exercise or split it in half and take half before and half after you exercise.

There’s no unanimous consensus about the precise timing to take creatine, but it’s likely to prove beneficial when taken close to the time of your workout.

Should I take Creatine On Rest Days, And At What Time?

On rest days, when you take creatine is likely to be less significant than on exercise days.

The purpose of supplementing on rest days is to keep your muscle creatine levels high.

A “loading phase” is usually recommended when starting to supplement with creatine. For around five days, you’ll be taking quite large amounts (about 20 grams) 

This gradually increases the creatine concentration in your muscles over a period of a few days.

Following that, a daily maintenance dose of 3–5 grams is suggested.

The aim of supplementing on rest days if you’re on a maintenance dose is to keep the high amounts of creatine in your muscles. Overall, it’s unlikely that taking this dose makes a significant difference.

Girl taking creatine before workout

Benefits Of Creatine

Creatine has significant advantages, the most noteworthy of which is that it increases muscle mass. It can help you gain muscle and strength while also making your workouts more effective.

Other potential benefits of creatine have been demonstrated in numerous research, including:

As we age, we lose muscle mass naturally. It’s been proven that taking a creatine supplement can help older persons maintain and recover muscular mass. When the research participants were also practicing resistance training and actively exercising their muscles, the best effects were obtained.

2. Creatine May Boost Athletic Performance

Creatine was found to provide muscles with bursts of power when tested. It helped athletes enhance their jump height, rowing ability, and soccer performance.

3. Creatine May Help Reduce Certain Syndromes

A condition known as guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency prohibits some people from generating creatine. Low amounts of creatine in the brain can induce seizures, impaired mental function, and movement issues in people with this illness. Individuals with low amounts of creatine in the brain can benefit from taking a creatine supplement on a regular basis to improve mobility and minimize seizures.

Some people believe that creatine has a slew of other advantages, but there isn’t enough research to back up such assertions.

Creatine is deemed safe when used properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Creatine supplements are permitted by the International Olympic Committee, professional sports organizations, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Creatine Side Effects

There are a few things to consider before taking any creatine supplement.

Not everyone can take all supplements, no matter how safe they are. You should see your doctor before starting to take creatine in the following conditions:

  • People with renal diseases or who have had a kidney removed do not have the same filtering abilities as the rest of us. This is also true for persons who have a disease like diabetes that raises their risk of developing renal disease. Creatin has been linked to the worsening of renal disease. Your doctor may tell you that you can’t take any more supplements since your body can’t handle them safely.
  • A lot of supplements (including creatine) may not be safe for people who have had a liver problem or are receiving medicine for liver-related ailments.
  • There is insufficient evidence to support the safety of ingesting creatine when pregnant or breastfeeding. Creatine should be avoided by pregnant women as a precaution.

Some people have trouble processing supplements because their body’s filters, the kidneys and liver, aren’t in good shape. Before taking any supplements, see your doctor if you have a family history of kidney or liver illness. They can assist you in determining which supplements will be most beneficial to your body.

Talk to your doctor about adding a creatine supplement if you’re on any strength or performance steroids or other performance-enhancing substances. Many strength supplements already include creatine, and adding more creatine to your diet could lead to overdosing.

**Creatine draws water from your body and stores it in your muscles, so stay hydrated when taking it. When exercising, have water on hand and exercise with caution in hot weather. To be adequately hydrated while taking this supplement, you’ll need to drink more water than usual.

Take Away

Creatine is a safe and effective supplement, but when to take it is still a point of contention – so further studies are required.

On workout days, evidence suggests that taking creatine just before or after exercising is preferable to taking it later.

It may be useful to take it with food on rest days, but the timing is unlikely to be as critical as on exercise days.

Furthermore, combining creatine with carbohydrate and protein-rich diets may help you get the most out of it.

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