When Is Really The Best Time to Take Creatine?
Are you also confused on the best time to take creatine? Fret not, you’re not alone. With a lot of studies published in the past few years about the benefits of creatine in muscle-building, metabolism, endurance, and overall body performance, it’s no wonder that it is becoming one of the essentials of gym goers.
However, fitness coaches and experts cannot seem to agree on the best time to take creatine, creating a great deal of confusion among existing users and interested individuals.
I used to be one of those individuals too; and, unfortunately, I couldn’t find an article on the internet that would fully explain to me on how to take creatine. So I took the time to read all related published studies on taking creatine (and there’s a lot of them!) and compiled all I found here.
I hope this will help you as how it clears a lot of my doubts on my creatine intake schedule.
Why Should You Be Concerned about Timing?
Solid science has shown that timing plays a vital role on the effects of some supplements.
Several studies suggest that we can get the maximum benefit of certain supplements when we take them at certain hours of the day or on or before certain activities like eating, working out, and sleeping.
For example, there has been a scientific basis on the importance of timing on consuming carbohydrates. When taken anytime with the absence of appropriate physical exercise, and such case would continue over periods of time, the person becomes prone to obesity and diabetes, just like in the case of an individual who has high carbohydrate intake and sedentary lifestyle.
However, with timing, carbohydrates can significantly influence muscle recovery and growth by replenishing muscle glycogen and protein synthesis. So timing can really help you achieve or go against your fitness goal.
We want the best value we can get from the money and time we put in from taking a supplement.
Knowing the appropriate time to take a supplement is practicality. Making a trial-and-error can be expensive, plus we run the risk of getting unwanted results.
The Three Teams and their Reasons
Since there is conflicting advice out there, creatine users have fallen into one of these three teams. They chose their respective sides for good reasons. Now, let’s take a deeper look into their analysis and conclusion.
The usual argument of this team is this: more creatine in the body means energy boost, more energy means more muscle power and longer endurance, which then translates to longer and extreme workouts, and which means more muscle can be built in the process.
This team also want to emphasize that you should not take creatine just a few minutes before working out. They said this is the reason some people don’t feel an energy boost even after they’ve taken creatine before starting their workout.
They point out that the body still needs time to process the nutrients. The person should take it at least 30 minutes before the workout.
Sounds very logical, right? However, before we commit to this routine, let’s hear the other team’s argument.
Creatine users in this team point out that the nutrient level of our muscles is surely low after a workout, which means that our system is naturally waiting for the supply of nutrients and is primed to receive whatever comes its way.
So when you take creatine together with your protein and carb supplements at this time, our body can quickly absorb the precious nutrients. Thus, this way, we can supposedly get the most of our creatine intake.
This group’s argument is based on the fact that several journals have been published about the wonderful effects of creatine supplements, so there is actually no need to stress about timing.
For this group, it doesn’t matter when you take creatine, given that you are using proper dosage because the bottom line is you still get the benefits and experience the changes in your body.
What the Science Community Is Saying
After hearing all three sides, you might be confused as ever on the right time to take creatine since they all seem to have valid points. Now it’s time to take a look at what the scientific community has to say about this.
Team Post-Workout seem to get some backing on their point when a journal published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition made and continued to make a buzz in the fitness industry. In its conclusion, it states that when resistance exercises go with creatine supplementation, it increases muscle strength and lean mass.
Based on how the abstract of this journal is written, it is no surprise that a lot of fitness websites and blogs, trainers, and enthusiasts conclusively take that taking creatine post-workout has better results. However, the problem is these people didn’t read the whole study, for sure, since the content shows a different light.
Upon closer inspection, the claim of having better results when taking creatine post-workout seem not as strong as the abstract claims. Yes, both groups benefited from the supplementation, but it should be noted that the result is more or less equal.
There is only less than 5 percent chance that the said post-workout supplementation creates better results. This study further proves that creatine has good effects, but it still has to come up with a more substantial evidence on the significance of timing.
So, When is Really the Best Time?
The answer is: it depends.
If you’re taking creatine with carbs and protein supplements, it is best to take it 30 minutes to an hour before and after your workout.
In 2006, Australian researchers found significant results in a 10-week trial of subjects taking protein-carbohydrate-creatine supplements pre- and post-workout.
They have 80 percent more lean muscle mass and 30 percent more muscle strength compared to the group who took the supplements in the morning and before bedtime.
However, when taking creatine alone, it does not guarantee that you will have the same results. As long as there’s no solid proof yet on the best time to take creatine as a standalone supplement, then you can take it depending on the nature of your lifestyle, workout routine, and experience.
In short, whatever works for you as long as you stay within optimal dosing, which is 2 to 5 grams per day. However, if you’re in the first 5 to 7 days, you can help saturate your cells by increasing the dosage.
After this timeframe, taking creatine more than the suggested dosage does not offer any difference so better save your money and stick to 2 to 5 grams daily.
Additional tip – Creatine will only work if you follow the right training program. If you your aim is to achieve a more defined muscle body, ensure that you perform the right exercises regularly.
Ensure you’ve balanced a variety of workouts including push-ups, bench press, deadlifts and more. Click here to learn more.