Creatine is a supplement that many people take before and after workout sessions.
There’s still some debate about which of these two times of day is best for creatine intake.
This post will explore the pros and cons of both before and after workouts to help you decide when to take your creatine.
Creatine supplementation used to be frowned upon before workouts.
However, more recent studies show that it is safe to take and can improve your exercise regimes.
The main reason why creatine before a workout was deemed unsafe is because of its ability to draw water into the muscles before training sessions.
This sudden increase in size could cause muscle tears or cramps before your workout and lead to poor performance.
However, recent studies show that pre-workout creatine supplementation causes no harm before training sessions.
Some research shows it may improve the outcome of workouts as well as increase muscle size and strength gains over time!
Why should I take creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps provide energy to all cells in the body.
It’s also used by athletes before and after workouts to help increase strength, power, and muscle mass.
Supplementing creatine can help increase its concentration in your cells leading to health and fitness performance benefits that include:
- helps muscle cells produce more energy
- boosts the formation of proteins that create new muscle fibers
- raises insulin-like growth factor IGF-1 that promoted increased muscle mass
- decreases myostatin levels which is responsible for stunting muscle growth
- improves exercise performance
- speeds up muscle growth
- may help with neurological diseases
- may lower blood sugar levels
- can improve brain function
- may reduce fatigue and exhaustion
Should I take creatine before or after a workout?
Nutrient timing is an important topic in the fitness industry and among athletes for those looking to optimize their training.
There are conflicting opinions on when you should consume creatine before or after working out. Some say before, some say after.
The reasoning for both choices has its merits and will be observed in this post.
Taking Creatine Before A Workout
The reasoning behind taking creatine before a workout is that it can help reduce muscle fatigue before training sessions.
Creatine acts as an “energy reserve” in the body and will be used during hard exercise to produce more energy for muscles before they become fatigued by high-intensity activity.
Taking creatine before a workout also helps increase strength output, power production, and lean mass gains when combined with resistance training.
Taking creatine before a workout also increases performance in high-intensity cardiovascular exercises like sprinting or cycling.
This is because it helps to shuttle more oxygen throughout the body and produce ATP (the energy currency of cells) very quickly when required during these types of activities.
Creatine taken before workouts has been shown to not only help you lift more weight but also protect against muscle soreness after workouts.
Taking Creatine After A Workout
The logic for taking creatine post-workout instead is that it helps with recovery.
After a workout, your muscles are hungry for nutrients and ready to absorb large amounts of nutrients to help them recover.
Taking creatine after a workout ensures that it is there before your muscles are depleted of their reserves.
You want to take creatine before the muscle cells become depleted to not waste this opportunity for increased absorption and uptake by the body.
When Is the Best Time To Take Creatine?
Until more conclusive research is completed, the safest option is to take creatine when it works for you.
No matter when you choose to take creatine, rest easy knowing it’s safe to consume.
There was a study done where subjects were split into two groups.
The first group took creatine either early in the morning or late at night.
The other group took creatine immediately before or immediately after working out.
At the end of the study, the group that took creatine closer to their workout, whether before or after, gained more muscle and strength.
You can even try splitting your daily dose in half and taking half before working out and the other half after your lift.
Do You Take Creatine On Rest Days?
Supplementing your diet with creatine on rest days is most likely less important than exercise days.
However, if you’re worried about taking creatine without working out, don’t be.
Your main goal for taking creatine on rest days is to maintain your creatine stores before they are depleted.
When starting to use creatine, a “loading phase” is recommended before transitioning into a maintenance phase.
A loading phase consists of taking 20 grams per day for five days and then switching to the standard dose of five grams per day after that.
This is because creatine stores can be depleted within two weeks if not supplemented with daily doses.
This makes it important to keep those levels from dropping too low before they become refilled.
However, a loading phase is not required by any means.
Should You Take Anything Else With Creatine?
The benefits of creatine are well known, but before you start taking it, research all the possible benefits of creatine by itself.
There have been studies that both support taking it with other ingredients such as protein, carbs, and amino acids.
While other studies concluded no benefits from taking creatine with other ingredients.
The studies that indicated the benefits of taking creatine with carbs required almost 100 grams of carbs which equates to 400 calories.
If you’re worried about gaining weight, you should just take the creatine with one of your carb-heavier meals.
Including protein in that specific meal may also help your body retain the creatine consumed.
What is the Best Way to Take Creatine – Which Form Is Best for Me?
Creatine is available as both powder or pill.
Both have their benefits and disadvantages.
Powders contain a higher dose per serving and come unflavored.
You can just throw some in your shaker bottle with water and take it before or after your workout.
Pills are more convenient if you’re on the go, but you tend to get less dosage per serving.
Both are effective ways to supplement your diet with creatine.
What Is the Best Type of Creatine?
Creatine monohydrate has been shown to have a quicker effect on strength, power output, and lean body mass than other types of creatine.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common type of creatine with over 100 studies backing its safety and effectiveness.
You’re probably wondering, when should I take creatine monohydrate?
Treat it like any other creatine supplement and take it when you can, preferably as soon as possible before or after your workout.
How much water should I drink with creatine?
Proper hydration is essential when supplementing creatine. You should be drinking roughly 16 cups of water daily based on your exercise regimen to get the most out of the supplement. Creatine might also cause you to gain some weight from the water stored in your muscles.
Should you take creatine while cutting?
You can take creatine while cutting. It can help support and protect your muscle mass during a cut by storing water in your muscles. It also helps boost and preserve muscle fibers from damage.
When are you supposed to take creatine?
As discussed above, research indicates that taking creatine shortly before or after you workout is best, instead of waiting long before or after. On rest days, it can be beneficial to take it with a meal that contains carbs and protein to help retain it, but timing isn’t as important.
Do you take creatine every day?
Research indicates that there are no adverse side effects from taking creatine, and it is safe to take it every day. The recommended daily dose is three to five grams. Taking creatine on training and rest days helps promote increased performance and retains muscle mass.
How long after taking creatine will I see results?
If you supplement with creatine, you may gain weight due to water retention in the muscles. It can take anywhere from seven to 28 days to see the results of creatine intake depending on how much creatine is retained in your body.
There is no debate that creatine is a safe and effective supplement to help you reach your fitness goals.
However, the best time to take it is still up for debate.
No matter when you choose to take it, just be sure that is near the time of your workouts.
It’s also important not to consume more than five grams per day or else your kidneys may become stressed from excess creatine in the bloodstream.