Creatine is such a popular and effective fitness supplement that practically all gym-goers use it.
That's why the most frequent question I get from my clients is not whether I recommend using this supplement but rather when to take creatine.
Paying attention to timing is less important than you think.
Since you Googled this, you surely want a more detailed answer, so let's put this dilemma to bed once and for all.
- When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?
- Does It Matter When You Take Creatine?
- Can You Take It When You Are Not Exercising?
- How Much Creatine Should You Take?
- Should You Take It With Something Else?
- FAQs About Creatine Timing
- So, When Should You Take Your Creatine?
When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?
Ever since people began to differentiate supplements from PEDs like anabolic steroids, creatine has become a supplement used by men and women alike.
Many studies have proven that creatine improves strength, increases muscle mass, and helps you recover more quickly both during exercise and after a workout.
However, you must have met at least one gym bro who told you that you are making a huge mistake because you are taking creatine "at the wrong time."
Are you really failing to maximize the effects of creatine just because you take it before/after a workout?
Before a Workout?
It certainly makes sense to take creatine before a workout because it maintains a continuous supply of energy to muscles.
And how exactly does creatine work?
Creatine is not energy per se but helps to regenerate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the body's energy source.
ATP fuels almost all bodily processes, including muscle contraction during workouts. ATP then transforms into ADP, which is useless. This is where our main star - creatine - enters the scene. Creatine reforms ADP back to ATP.
However, is it crucial to take creatine right before a workout? No, it's not.
If you take it on the way to the gym, it will be useful. However, if the muscles are already saturated with creatine because you've been consuming it for some time, you don't need to replenish the stores right before.
After a Workout?
It's almost equally reasonable to take creatine after a workout when we know all its benefits. Even one study speaks in favor of it.
After strenuous activities, your reserves are depleted, and you can replenish them immediately. This will prepare you for the next workout but also speed up recovery and give you extra energy to get through the rest of the day.
So is it necessary to replenish reserves immediately? Again, it's not because you can't spend everything you've stored for just one workout, no matter how grueling.
What About Different Variations? (Including Monohydrate)
Different types of creatine supplements are available on the market, and monohydrate is by far the most popular and researched type.
Other types are:
There are several other types, and I do not doubt that new ones will hit the market in the near future.
The difference in effectiveness has yet to be scientifically proven. The only thing that has been proven is that some types are more soluble.
Which type of creatine you take will not affect the timing. You can take each at any time of the day, depending on what you find most effective.
Does It Matter When You Take Creatine?
Seriously, it does not matter when you take creatine (or is it negligible.)
It is worth mentioning that the number of studies is limited. The researchers also faced certain methodological limitations.
Maybe comprehensive studies in the future will show that there is a difference. Even if this difference is established, it will still not be significant enough for the general population.
If there were such a big difference, it would be easy to notice even without a study or during the ones conducted so far because the evidence is ample enough today.
What the studies may prove in the future will only have an impact on professional athletes and bodybuilders, where even a difference of 1% affects the final outcome.
Can You Take It When You Are Not Exercising?
You should definitely take creatine when you are not exercising. I have already explained how creatine participates in ATP energy production. This is what distinguishes it from pre-workout supplements, for example.
We take pre-workouts to instantly increase our focus, pump, and strength, thanks to caffeine and other ingredients. However, our body uses creatine even in a state of rest. As ATP participates in brain functions, DNA repair, and intracellular signaling, among other things, creatine reserves are constantly being used up.
Therefore, take creatine daily to keep the reserves full and prepare yourself for the next workout. This way of taking creatine is like a prolonged, sustainable loading phase.
How Much Creatine Should You Take?
You should take 3 to 5 grams of creatine every day depending on your body weight, fitness goals, age, health condition, and other factors.
That's about twice as much as your pancreas, kidneys, and liver produce.
The exception is the creatine loading phase. It's a different approach than taking 5g constantly without a break. Such a strategy consists of three parts.
The first part is the loading phase, when you take 20 to 30 grams of creatine daily, split into equal doses. This phase lasts about a week.
It is followed by a maintenance phase, taking about 5 grams for a month or two. Then you take a break for a few weeks.
Be careful not to take too much creatine. That increases the chances of experiencing side effects, and it is also pointless because you will excrete through the urine the excess amount the body cannot process.
Should You Take It With Something Else?
Taking creatine with something else is just fine. No contraindication has been confirmed with any other legal substance for improving physical performance.
There are reports that caffeine and creatine don't go well together, but those theories are far-fetched. Everything will be OK if you stick to the recommended doses of both substances.
A raised insulin level at the time of creatine ingestion can "open the door" for creatine to enter the muscles in larger quantities.
That's why you can eat something sweet before, but you don't have to make a routine out of it. You will store enough creatine even with an average insulin level.
FAQs About Creatine Timing
There is no best time to take creatine for muscle gain. Any time of the day is excellent. You can take it in the morning, evening, before training, or after training. Or in the middle of the day, when you remember it's time for it.
So, When Should You Take Your Creatine?
Take creatine when it's most convenient for you.
It is much more important that you take it every day (remember it during rest days), exercise hard and regularly, and take care of your diet, rest, and recovery.
I would like to hear when you take creatine and what timing works best for you.