Despite the acute studies showing potential benefits of taking creatine before/after exercise, many long-term studies have not found creatine timing to make a difference. Taking creatine before or after exercise or delaying creatine timing for several hours after an exercise does not seem to influence strength, performance, or muscle mass parameters.
- Does creatine timing does not seem to matter for muscle gain? No.
A lifter can take creatine pre or post exercise; the research suggests it makes very little difference.
3-5 grams of creatine per day is sufficient for creatine stores to be saturated. There is no need for a loading phase.
Caffeine has been shown to negatively affect the uptake of creatine. Take caffeine separately from creatine for optimal benefits.
HOW MUCH CREATINE MONOHYDRATE SHOULD I TAKE PER DAY?
Creatine monohydrate is one of the market’s most widely researched sports performance-enhancing supplements. Daily doses of creatine, with high intensity exercise, have been found to result in a greater increase in lean muscle mass. Creatine is naturally occurring in the body. It comes in various forms, such as creatine monohydrate, german creatine, creatine magnapower, creatine magnesium citrate, creatine HCL, and creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine is produced from three amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Red meat and fish are good sources of creatine in foods. Creatine is then stored in muscle cells, which can be converted into phosphocreatine and used for energy.
After taking creatine for a few months, each workout could see an increase in reps, which could lead to better body composition, such as more muscle mass. Some women have suggested that a pre workout with creatine causes side effects such as bloating and weight gain.
The amount of creatine you take daily can influence the amount of intracellular water stored. The traditional way of taking pure creatine is a loading protocol of 20-30 grams of flavored creatine. However, low doses of creatine (i.e., 2-3 grams) do not result in these rapid changes in intracellular water. Some companies have developed low-dose forms of edible creatine gummies.
SHOULD I TAKE CREATINE MONOHYDRATE BEFORE OR AFTER A WORKOUT
Creatine mixed with pre workouts and other ingredients to enhance performance, such as beta-alanine, citrulline malate, and caffeine, has been found to work synergistically. Although caffeine intake can blunt the effects of creatine uptake in muscle cells, most studies have shown that consuming caffeine with creatine does not blunt increases in lean muscle mass. So, it is probably best practice not to consume creatine with your morning cup of coffee.
Supplementation with creatine has been found to increase lean body mass and performance by increasing high-energy phosphate metabolism, cell swelling, glycogen metabolism, and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.(1) Some of the leading researchers in creatine research put together an article titled “Creatine O’Clock: Does Timing of Ingestion Really Influence Muscle Mass and Performance?”(2) The article is free to read, but here is a synopsis.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Exercise blood flow increases dramatically, so possibly by taking creatine before exercise, the increased blood flow would increase creatine uptake in muscle. There was a study in which creatine was enhanced by 37.3% in exercising conditions but 25.7% in the non-exercise condition.
Other studies have found that creatine was increased in muscle before exercise compared to not exercising. This suggests there may be an advantage to taking creatine before exercise.(3, 4)
Creatine also seems to be better absorbed with carbohydrates or carbohydrates and protein than creatine by itself. For example, 50 grams of protein and 47 grams of carbohydrates co-ingested with creatine resulted in a significantly greater creatine uptake than creatine alone.(5)
Several studies have found that caffeine can impair the ergogenic effects of creatine. However, a recent meta-analysis found that creatine combined with caffeine does not alter creatine uptake or kinetics. (6) The review article suggested that it’s best to take caffeine before exercise and creatine after exercise to reduce the potential interference effect of combining caffeine and creatine.
Despite the acute studies showing the potential benefits of taking creatine before/after exercise, many long-term studies have not found creatine timing to make a difference. Taking creatine before or after exercise or delaying creatine timing for several hours after an exercise does not seem to influence strength, performance, or muscle mass parameters.
The authors of the review paper concluded, “To date, it appears that pre-exercise (several hours before or immediately prior to training sessions) and post-exercise (immediately following or several hours after training sessions) creatine ingestion produce similar muscle benefits in young and older adults.”
· What time you take creatine (i.e., before exercise, post-exercise, rest days) does not seem to influence muscle mass or strength gains.
· Combining creatine with caffeine may inhibit some benefits of creatine. It’s best to take creatine and drink your coffee (i.e., caffeine) separately.
1. Chilibeck PD, Kaviani M, Candow DG, Zello GA. Effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscular strength in older adults: a meta-analysis. Open Access J Sports Med. 2017;8:213-26.
2. Candow DG, Forbes SC, Roberts MD, Roy BD, Antonio J, Smith-Ryan AE, et al. Creatine O’Clock: Does Timing of Ingestion Really Influence Muscle Mass and Performance? Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. 2022;4.
4. Robinson TM, Sewell DA, Hultman E, Greenhaff PL. Role of submaximal exercise in promoting creatine and glycogen accumulation in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1999;87(2):598-604.
6. Elosegui S, López-Seoane J, Martínez-Ferrán M, Pareja-Galeano H. Interaction Between Caffeine and Creatine When Used as Concurrent Ergogenic Supplements: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2022:1-11.