Athletes or fitness enthusiasts like you prefer creatine for better performance and rapid recovery. But when is the best time to take creatine?
Study shows it’s best to take creatine mixed with your protein shake at least 30 minutes before you start your daily training session. That generates more ATP, which means cellular energy. And that means more activation of muscle fibers. It indicates that getting the benefits of creatine requires proper absorption.
A fun fact is you can take creatine any time you want. Yes, taking it half an hour before a workout is best, but it will work the same. How?
Throughout my article, I will explain the timing of creatine intake and other important factors. Let’s start;
How Creatine Works?
Before we dig down to timing creatine intake, you must know how it works. Creatine lifts water content within your muscle cells. That plays a vital role in muscle growth.
You can skip this part if you have heard or read about it a thousand times!
Creatine enters the body and binds with a phosphate molecule to form creatine phosphate. You must have heard of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s energy source. After binding with creatine phosphate, it produces ATP.
That is when a phosphate group is hydrolyzed, and energy in the form of heat is released to drive performance, such as muscle contraction. Because of that energy release, ATP is now called ADP (adenosine diphosphate).
Creatine donates its phosphate group to ADP and re-forms ATP! By returning ADP to ATP, creatine increases your ATP stores. As a result, you can train harder and longer.
Good God!! I have tried to put it as simply as possible!
When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine: Different Time For Different Goal
The whole idea behind taking creatine properly is to increase creatine levels rapidly during any workout. Taking creatine 30-60 minutes before exercise gives your body enough time to elevate its creatine levels.
However, according to exercise, creatine intake timing might change. Let’s know about it.
Taking Creatine While Working-out
Research shows that it may be better to take creatine shortly before or after exercise rather than long before or after. You can also split your daily dose and take it throughout the day.
In a 10-week study involving adults who were weight trained provided a dietary supplement containing creatine, carbs, and protein. The study had two groups. Group one took the supplement soon before and after exercise. Group two took it in the morning and evening, not close to exercise.
Group one gained more muscle and strength. It suggests that creatine intake close before or after exercise can be more effective for muscle building.
Again, I have found another study conducted on nineteen healthy recreational male bodybuilders. They were divided into PRE-SUPP and POST-SUPP groups. The PRE-SUPP group consumed 5 grams of creatine immediately before exercise. The POST-SUPP group consumed it immediately after exercise.
The study showed increases in lean mass and strength in the POST-SUPP group. Overall, there’s almost a similar result whether you take creatine before or after working out – when you are actively working out.
Taking Creatine on Rest Days
Paul Falcone, the senior scientist for LADDER, says creatine stores can be maintained at high levels even if creatine is not taken every single day. However, it is crucial to be consistent with the dose. You can aim for 5 grams every day for maintenance, but you can skip a day here and there.
Creatine on rest days doesn’t require proper timing, just like on exercise days. Taking creatine on has one crucial purpose: maintaining the creatine level in your muscles.
Can You Take Creatine At Any Time?
Creatine can be taken at any time of day. Doesn’t matter when you work out, your workout routine, or what you take as a diet. It’s just a great supplement for every occasion. It works best when it’s maintained regularly.
You might think you’ll put on fat if you take creatine and don’t work out. But the fact is Creatine contains no calories and has no impact on your fat metabolism. So taking creatine and not working out is just going to lead to nothing.
Potential Side Effects of Creatine
Creatine is very safe to take, even if you’re not into a daily workout. You can just consult with a nutritionist to know if it is good for your health or not, and take it on a regular basis. However, research has found a few side effects. Check them out.
Within 2 to 3 weeks of daily creatine intake, you will see changes in your body weight. You will gain 2.5 to 5 pounds of weight as a starter. Research has found increased water levels in the body through muscle gains. Creatine can cause water retention in people who consume an excessive amount.
With gained muscle mass, there’ll come dehydration. It’ll occur because your body will push water into muscles, make them look bigger, and enhance their performance. But you might feel slight dehydration, which you can avoid with enough fluid.
When creatine enters your muscle cells, it may increase intracellular osmolality. It leads to a fluid shift from the extracellular compartment to intracellular spaces. The resulting shrinkage of extracellular fluid volume causes muscle cramping.
Research has found that taking 10 grams of creatine every day will increase the risk of diarrhea by 56%. You should set your daily intake to 3–5 grams. That’s why the 20-gram loading protocol is also split into 4 servings each day.
When taken at recommended doses, creatine doesn’t affect your digestive system.
Click to see the link between creatine and upset stomach.
Does creatine cause muscle tightness?
Many authorities have theorized that muscle tightening and cramping in a subset of individuals who use creatine is due to dehydration. The recommendation for creatine users is to drink more fluids.
Can I take creatine with caffeine?
When taken in moderate amounts, creatine and caffeine shouldn’t negatively influence your body and training. Instead, they may enhance your performance. Both creatine and caffeine have been widely studied for their ergogenic benefits.
My friend and I both started taking creatine together back when we were in college. Due to a lack of proper knowledge and research, we used to be so concerned about the timing of taking creatine. We even set the alarm for it. Many times it embarrassed us in front of the whole class.
Finally, we found that you can take creatine at any time of the day as long as you maintain proper and regular doses. There are no significant changes in performance due to timing it.
If you are concerned about the timing of creatine intake, just take it 30 minutes before you start working out. Within that time, your muscle will have enough boost to take you through a few more rounds, a few more reps, and a few more sets.
I hope my article was of help. To get more, visit our blogs.
I started my professional career as a sports medicine consultant in Rola, Missouri. My primary role was to suggest suitable supplements for my patients according to their pre-existing conditions and lifestyle goals. I believe a healthy lifestyle is the most important if you want to make your life really meaningfull.