Does Creatine Break a Fast?

Creatine is a performance-enhancing supplement loved by many gym-goers. It is prized for its ability to help increase muscle mass, boost strength, and improve exercise performance however, many question if taking this popular supplement breaks a fast [1].

Taking creatine alone does not cause a rise in insulin levels, nor does creatine contain any calories, which means it does not break your fast.

Whether you are intermittent fasting or fasting for other reasons, it’s ok to still use creatine as long as you do not combine it with other ingredients that contain calories or may cause an insulin spike [2].

What is Considered Breaking a Fast?

Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a common practice for many consumers. This involves cycling between fasting periods and eating periods. For example, many prefer to do a time-restricted fasting method such as a 16:8 schedule where an individual would fast for 16 hours (let’s say 8pm-12pm) and then has an 8 hour eating window (12pm-8pm).

Additionally, there are some types of fasting that allow certain amounts of calories, such as a twice-a-week method or alternate-day fasting which allow for small amounts of calories to be consumed. However, most fasting methods practiced refer to those that restrict any calories or foods that might cause glucose levels to rise [2].

Therefore, consuming any food or liquid that results in an insulin spike breaks a fast for these methods. Additionally, food and beverages that contain calories can sometimes cause a break in a fast. Because creatine does not result in an insulin spike and is calorie-free, it is unlikely to break a fast unless it is combined with additional ingredients [3].

This means creatine is safe for any type of fasting when taken on its own.

How Does Creatine Work in the Body?

Your body’s liver and kidneys make creatine from protein in your diet. Creatine is stored in the muscle cells and helps to supply energy during intense exercise. 

Although your body makes it, half of your creatine stores come from foods, specifically high-protein items such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Adding a creatine supplement can help increase your body’s storage and thus provide more energy for your muscles to use during your workouts [4].

Creatine can be a helpful addition to your supplement routine over other products, such as whey protein, if you are someone who prefers to exercise during your fasting windows. Although protein boosts creatine levels, it contains calories and may result in an insulin spike.

Benefits of Creatine

The main benefits of creatine include increasing muscle mass, boosting strength, and improving exercise performance. Creatine helps to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides energy to your cells. An increase in ATP means you are able to get more out of your exercise so you can see greater results.

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Increased strength
  • Improved exercise performance

Does Creatine Spike Insulin?

Creatine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, they are not part of the 20 amino acids required to make a protein. Additionally, creatine itself does not contain any calories, carbohydrates, or additional nutrients. Because of this, creatine does not invoke an insulin response.

Does Creatine Break a Fast?

No, creatine does not break a fast. Creatine contains no calories and does not invoke an insulin response. 

Keep in mind though, this is only if you consume creatine on its own, such as creatine monohydrate powder dissolved in water, unsweet coffee, or unsweet tea. If you combine creatine powder with other liquids, such as juice or milk, or other supplements, such as whey protein, it will break your fast. 

What is the Best Time to Take Creatine?

Like protein powder, it is recommended to consume creatine supplements shortly before or after a workout, although research is still not conclusive on the exact timing. Several studies looking at creatine timing before and after workouts have found no significant differences between the two.

The general consensus is that creatine supplementation on workout days should be timed closely before or after your workout. On non-workout days, the timing of creatine supplementation is not quite as important as the main goal is to keep your creatine stores up. This is typically during a maintenance phase [5].

What's the Best Way to Take Creatine?

Creatine is best taken as a powdered supplement. These are convenient and can be easily dissolved in liquid for rapid absorption. 

Be sure to choose a supplement from a trusted brand that offers third-party testing for quality and purity. Creatine monohydrate is the most researched form of creatine and is recommended for supplementation. 

Some research suggests combining creatine supplementation with a carbohydrate or a protein source may boost the benefits however, this means it must be consumed outside of your fasting window [6].

How Much Creatine Should I Take?

When you first begin taking creatine, it’s often recommended to start with a loading dose for 5-7 days, typically about 20 grams. The purpose of this is to rapidly increase creatine storage in your muscles. 

This increase allows you to draw from your stores during your next workout for improved performance. After the initial loading phase, you can reduce the amount of creatine to 3-5 grams per serving, also known as the maintenance phase [7, 8].

Bottom Line

Creatine is a very popular supplement for gym goers because of its benefits in helping to boost strength, increase muscle mass, and improve exercise performance but, many aren’t sure if it can be taken during fasting.

Creatine is a calorie-free non-proteinogenic supplement that does not invoke an insulin response. Taking creatine supplements alone will not break a fast, even if you are partaking in strict time-restricted fasting.

Also Read: When to Take Creatine, What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine