Creatine Timing Summary

Creatine is one of the most researched and popular sports supplements around today and is viewed as the most effective nutritional supplement available for athletes to increase high-intensity exercise capacity and muscle mass during training (Keswick et al. 2018). The gains in muscle mass have been shown as a result of an improved ability to perform high-intensity exercise, enabling an athlete to train harder, promoting greater training adaptations and muscle hypertrophy (Willoughby et al. 2001 & Olsen et al. 2003) However, as with any supplement for your body to gain its full potential the timings of which when you consume is incredibly important. So, what is the best time to take creatine?

Best Time To Take Creatine?

Creatine can be taken at any point in the day. This can be done in the morning or in the evening. The recommended dosage is different depending on your body weight but as a guideline we advise having 5g directly before or after a workout. Taking a dosage of 3-5 grams per day seems optimal.

To get the most out of every intense session it’s important that you use supplements at the optimal time for it to make a difference in your physique. Each supplement works differently and as such why they need to be consumed at different times. As an extreme example, you would never consume a pre-workout after hitting the gym. Creatine can be found in numerous forms, for example, creatine monohydrate, creapure and our very own creatine extreme. No matter which one you decide to consume the timings remain the same. So when is the best time to take creatine?

Although creatine monohydrate is often found in pre-workouts it doesn’t give you the surge of energy felt through caffeine stimulation and works through maintaining high levels of creatine stores through the day ready for it to be used during your workout session. However, the best time to consume creatine is post workout. The reason for this is simply due to how your body reacts after an intense session. As postworkout our body is fatigued and in need of protein and carbohydrates as it enters an absorbable state, meaning that anything that is consumed, it is ingested and processed quicker to your muscles that need it most. Combing creatine and a post workout shake or meal that contains carbohydrates can help to promote better recovery rates. Furthermore, creatine has been found to promote glycogen loading and carbohydrate storage, which is ideal to replenish energy lost and support re-fueling your muscles (Dave et al 2001 & Nelson et al 2001), so don’t forget to add a scoop of Whey protein 360 to your post workout drink too.

Although it’s essential to maintain creatine supplementation daily after your workouts, we all lead busy lives and often enough we can forget. So to get your body raring to go and increase your creatine stores as quickly as possible it is recommended to ‘load’ creatine. Consuming 3-5g daily will help to maintain and refill these stores as quick as we can. If you’re interested in learning a little more about dosages we have an article called  Creatine Monohydrate: Dosages And Timing‘  

Optimal Creatine Timing –

Creatine research is concerned only with a relatively short window of exercise and longitudinal studies are few and far between. However, as a general rule Creatine is not taken in isolation and is thought to be best combined with protein and carbohydrate. Research has suggested that this combination is more effective when consumed pre and post workout than at other times of the day. Other research has illustrated that taking a Whey Protein, Carbohydrate and Creatine drink post-workout (also referred to as the ‘Anabolic Window’) is more effective than consuming this at any other time of the day.

 

Creatine & The Anabolic Window

The Anabolic Window refers to the period of time immediately following strenuous physical activity. It is believed that because of the muscle breakdown that occurs during activity the muscles are much more susceptible to the recruitment of nutrients needed for recovery at this time. The Anabolic Window is considered to cover a period of anything between 45 minutes and 3 hours following exercise with muscle sensitivity diminishing over time. The simple fact is that there is no conclusive evidence to prove the existence of the Anabolic Window, however, there is also no reason to delay the consumption of nutrients following a work out either. Therefore, it makes sense to consume Creatine, Whey and Carbohydrate mix in the post-workout window to be assured of the maximum potential consumption benefits.

 

Creatine Research

Creatine research is a diverse body of literature. However, much of this research is conducted using participants that are either relatively new to weight training or Creatine supplementation. Research also tends to be concerned with a relatively short period of time, say 4-8 weeks – which is not representative of the majority of supplementation users health and physique goals. The problem with placing too much emphasis on the results from such research is that for those who are relatively experienced athletes, or those looking to take Creatine over longer periods the results may not be applicable.

It is a fundamental truth of physical activity that those who engage with training or supplements will experience the greatest gains at the outset of any new protocol, with the size of the gains diminishing over time. In short, research using untrained subjects may exaggerate the effectiveness of products when contrasted against long term use. That said, if you are new to the supplement and/or new to physical exercise, Creatine supplementation has been demonstrated to provide significant results in a short period of time. The more experienced of you will need to be more patient to see the beneficial effects of Creatine supplementation. Unfortunately, physical activity and exercise follow the law of diminishing returns – the more you do the less significant the results.

 

Best Time To Take Creatine Summary

  • The best time to take creatine is within 30 minutes of immediate postworkout due to your body being it its most absorbable state.
  • Creatine has the ability to promote glycogen loading and carbohydrate storage needed to replenish the body post workout (Derave et al. 2001 & Nelson et al 2001)
  • The quickest method of increasing creatine stores is to consume 0.3g a day for 5-7 days followed by 3-5g thereafter to maintain elevated stores (Keswick et al.2018)
  • It makes sense to consume a Creatine powder / Carbohydrate powder / Whey Protein shake as soon as possible following a workout.

 

We have a dedicated article called Creatine: The Ultimate Guide To This Well Known Supplement if you want more extensive info – for information solely regarding optimal timing for taking Creatine and its many iterations – continue reading.

References

Willoughby DS, Rosene J. Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on myosin heavy chain expression. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(10):1674–81.

Olsen S, Aagaard P, Kadi F, Tufekovic G, Verney J, Olesen JL, Suetta C, Kjaer M. Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training. J Physiol. 2006;573(Pt 2):525–34.

Derave W, Op’t Eijinde B, Richter EA, and Hespel P. Combined creatine and protein supplementation improves glucose tolerance and muscle glycogen accumulation in humans. Abstracts of 6th Internationl conference on Guanidino compounds in biology and medicine; 2001

Nelson AG, Arnall DA, Kokkonen J, Day R, Evans J. Muscle glycogen supercompensation is enhanced by prior creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(7):1096–100.

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