While you can technically take creatine at any time of the day, we'll explore how timing your intake around exercise can optimize its effects.
Whether you aim to boost your energy and performance during your workout or promote muscle recovery and growth afterward, creatine should be part of your routine.
In this article, we'll dive deep into the best time to take creatine and adequate amounts for your goals.
So, let's explore the science behind it and unlock the secrets for timing your creatine intake.
Should I Take Creatine Before a Workout?
If you're seeking to enhance your body composition and strength, combining creatine supplementation with resistance exercise has been shown to be a powerful duo - that’s no secret.
But, should you do it before or after your workout?
There are many studies that suggest there’s not much of a difference. So, if you aren’t using creatine at all right now, incorporate it where it makes the most sense and you can be consistent.
For example, a group of college athletes were given creatine pre or post-workout with 25 grams of protein to compare effects, both groups had an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in fat(1). So, whichever works best for you.
Or Should I Take Creatine After a Workout?
The research suggests that when it comes to maximizing your results in terms of fat-free mass and strength, consuming creatine immediately after your workout may hold an edge over taking it before your workout.
Now, this was in a small group of healthy male bodybuilders that were split into two groups. One group had 5 grams of creatine post-workout and another had 5 grams pre-workout.
The biggest differences here were a gain in fat-free mass and a loss of fat mass.
If you are looking for composition changes, this might be a simple sneaky trick for you to implement and reason to be more specific with timing(2).
Is it Better to Split Creatine Intake Throughout the Day?
You may be wondering about something called the loading phase - this is where the splitting of creatine intake comes into play most.
Whether you’ve heard of it or not, there are definitely some benefits worth knowing about, but first, you’ll want to understand how to do this properly.
So, here's the deal: during the loading phase, you'll be taking a higher dosage of creatine for 5-7 days to give your muscles a power-packed boost.
Picture this: it's like turbocharging your car before a race.
Spiltting Creatine Intake During the Loading Phase
Research has shown that if you take creatine four times a day at 5 grams each time, for 5-7 days during the loading phase, you can boost your muscle creatine levels by up to 40%!
That's like giving your muscles a major energy infusion, priming them for intense workouts and explosive strength gains(3). That’s one way to maximize your potential.
Once you've completed the loading phase, it's time to shift gears into the maintenance phase. During this phase, you'll typically take a lower dosage of 3-5 grams of creatine daily to keep those muscle creatine levels in tip-top shape.
Now, it's important to note that the exact dosage can vary based on your weight, so make sure to adjust accordingly.
Now that we've covered the basics, let's get practical with some examples.
Timing Creatine During the Loading Phase
During the loading phase, you could schedule your creatine intake like this: take 5 grams of creatine mixed with water before breakfast, then another 5 grams before your lunch, another dose before your workout, and finally, one more dose before bedtime.
Boom! You'll be fueling your muscles throughout the day, giving them the boost they need to crush your workouts and make serious gains.
Once you've completed the loading phase, it's time to switch to the maintenance dose. Let's say you weigh around 150 pounds (68 kilograms).
In that case, you can stick to a daily dose of around 3-5 grams of creatine. As we discussed above, for the most optimal results try sticking to it after your workout. If not, make it work best for you.
What Does Research Say About Creatine Timing?
Creatine takes the spotlight for all the right reasons! This powerhouse supplement is backed by solid scientific evidence, making it a go-to choice for many fitness and wellness enthusiasts.
One of its many benefits is the ability to help you build up your muscle mass and strength, no matter your age, gender, or fitness level(4).
Now, here's the exciting part: creatine works its magic by boosting energy production in your muscles during those high-intensity workouts.
What does that mean for you? You'll be lifting heavier weights, knocking out more reps, and pushing yourself to new heights with the addition of creatine in your routine.
Creatine isn't just about maximizing performance; it also provides a huge benefit for recovery. It comes in to reduce muscle damage and inflammation, leading to faster recovery and less post-workout soreness.
Wouldn’t it be nice to bounce back quickly from intense workouts, feeling fresh and ready to conquer your next workout?
And here's a little something extra: research suggests that creatine might even offer neuroprotective benefits. Yep, you heard it right. Some studies have shown promising results, indicating that creatine could lend a helping hand to individuals with neurological conditions(5).
So, whether you're a fitness enthusiast, an aspiring athlete, or someone seeking to boost your strength and recovery, creatine could be your secret weapon.
Should I Take Creatine on Rest Days?
You might be wondering, "Why bother with creatine if I'm not doing anything physically demanding?"
There's more to it than meets the eye! Even on your well-deserved rest days, incorporating creatine can be a game-changer for your fitness journey. Who wouldn't want that extra edge?
By adding creatine supplementation to your routine on those rest days, you're setting the stage for a solid comeback to your workouts.
How? Well, remember that creatine accelerates muscle recovery, preventing muscle breakdown and supporting overall health.
So, don't hold back - even on a relaxation-filled rest day!
Let it work its magic behind the scenes, fueling your muscles and preparing you to return to your workouts stronger than ever.
Because when it comes to achieving your fitness goals, every little advantage counts.
When Should I Take Creatine on Rest Days?
As we discussed above, taking creatine before or after your workout doesn’t make that much of a difference. However, if you are in a loading phase, make sure you stick to your routine.
That’s going to be the most important part of the incorporation of creatine to your routine. You want to make sure that you are building the habits, so continue “flexing the muscle” if you will.
Keep timing similar to the days you train, so that the habit stays in place.
What's the Best Way to Take Creatine?
Creatine has the ability to draw water into your muscles, which is what allows for an increase in their fullness and strength. However, this means that it's even more important to keep your body well-hydrated to support this process.
It’s also important that you are eating and properly fueling yourself to get the most benefits. You’ll need a good blend of nutrition, training, and the right supplementation to reach your goals.
What to Eat When Taking Creatine?
When taking creatine, you’ll want to make sure your diet is also on point. Some studies, like the one with college athletes, show that drinking protein in combination after your workout can be beneficial.
If you are trying to reap the benefits of creatine, you’ll want to prioritize your protein intake while you make sure you are eating adequate carbohydrates and fats for overall health and wellness.
There are many macro and calorie calculators online that can help give you a baseline for this based on your goals, activity level, age, etc.
How Much Water to Drink With Creatine?
Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day is essential when supplementing with creatine.
Aim to drink at least 8 cups (64 ounces) of water daily, and even more, if you are doing intense workouts or training in a hot environment. Try mixing your creatine with 8 ounces of fluids to help you reach that goal.
By staying hydrated, you'll make sure that your muscles are primed to absorb and utilize creatine optimally. Plus, staying hydrated has a plethora of other benefits for your overall health and well-being.
What if I Experience Side Effects With Creatine?
When starting something new, it’s always important to consider any side effects that could potentially occur.
Fortunately, with creatine, extensive studies have been conducted to explore its effects on the body, and the findings are rather impressive.
Unlike some other supplements that may carry potential risks and negative side effects, creatine has proven to be a safe choice.
In fact, one study examined the long-term effects of creatine supplementation, up to 21 months, on markers of health status in athletes undergoing intense training. The results? Drumroll, please. No apparent differences were observed among groups in a panel of qualitative urine markers(6).
This means that, even with extended use, creatine supplementation did not adversely affect the health markers in comparison to athletes who did not take creatine.
This study as well as many others provide reassurance and solid evidence that creatine is a well-researched supplement. So, if you're considering adding creatine to your supplement regimen, you can do so with confidence.
But, as always, it's essential to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new supplement to ensure it aligns with your individual circumstances and goals.
The bottom line is that creatine is a well-researched supplement that has shown its effectiveness in increasing muscle mass, enhancing strength, and improving athletic performance.
It can be taken before or after workouts, although post workout may have a slight edge over before, but consistency is the key to success. Additionally, proper hydration is important when supplementing with creatine.
So, if you're looking to maximize your gains and boost your fitness journey, creatine is a trusted choice backed by science.
And if you're wondering what is the best type of creatine for your goals, be sure to check out our in-depth guide on creatine monohydrate vs creatine HCL.