This nutrient boasts benefits such as giving you more power and strength, more muscle, and better aerobic capacity. While it’s become one of the most well-research supplements on the scene, there’s still the question of when is the best time to creatine to maximize its benefits?
Before we get to that, let’s go over what creatine is. Creatine is a substance found in our body that’s synthesized by the liver from three amino acids: methionine, arginine, and glycine. On its own, our body will produce around one gram per day. However, creatine is also found in food such as beef, salmon, and pork. This nutrient is an energy source which is why it has now been created into a supplement for anaerobic exercise and intense weight training. You’ll find creatine in multiple supplemental types such as creatine monohydrate, serum, citrate, and malate.
The point of taking creatine supplements is to saturate your muscle creatine stores. So when should you take it to achieve that goal? Turns out, there are arguments for every side that you can imagine so we’ll examine each and then let you know our conclusion.
Before a Workout
Proponents of taking creatine pre-workout claim that the supplement increases your power output during your workout so you’re actually exerting more force than you would be without it. This force activates more muscle fibers which means you can lift more weight and ultimately get more muscle growth.
After a Workout
This team argues that you should take creatine after a workout because that’s when your muscles are more ready for nutrient influx so your body will soak up the creatine and receive more of its benefits than before a workout.
It Doesn’t Matter
There’s even a group that claim you can take creatine whenever you want because it’s good for you. Creatine levels stay at high and readily available in the muscle after it’s consumed, so according to this group of believers, it’s fine to take it whenever it’s convenient for you.
Best Time to Take Creatine
After doing our own research and reading the studies on it, we fall somewhere between the second and third arguments. Taking creatine before you lift weights can actually have a negative effect on your performance because the supplement will cause your muscles to steal water from the rest of your body and store it. So while your muscles look bigger, you haven’t actually gained new tissue and you’ll probably experience some cramping due to the fluid depletion.
Nutritionists have discovered that taking creatine after your workout along with a simple carbohydrate increases the amount of creatine that is converted to phosphocreatine. This phosphocreatine is stored in your muscles so that when you do high-intensity exercises, your muscles release creatine to create ATP which is the energy source for our muscles. The more ATP that’s synthesized during your workout, the more capacity you have to build muscle.
Overall, we’re not positive that there’s a huge difference in the effects of creatine based on when you take it as there’s no real evidence that shows taking a dose at a specific time of day results in greater gains. But, if pressed for an answer there seems to be a slight edge to taking the nutrient after you finish your workout. Even if there’s not a ton of research proving when it’s best to take the supplement, there’s plenty showing that you definitely should take it to maximize your muscle-building workouts. We recommend trying different times to find out what works best for you.