Are you a fitness enthusiast? If you are, then you know that creatine is one of the most researched and consumed supplements in the fitness industry. Despite its popularity, creatine has been flooded by misinformation and confusion, especially when trying to learn how to take it for the first time. Some studies show that taking creatine after workouts helps to boost your muscle mass and muscular strength. Other researchers claim that taking creatine before a workout helps indigestion. Here is an insight on the most appropriate time to take creatine, risks, and benefits.
The Science Behind Creatine Timing
Looking at the various publications on creatine timing, it is evident that taking your supplements after rigorous training is more beneficial compared with taking them before workouts. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that participants who took creatine pre-workout had leaner bodies than those who take after resistance training.
Similar results were reported from a study published in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition. In this research, it was identified that the body fat percentage of subjects who took creatine supplements after the workout was higher than that of participants who took it pre-workout. Therefore, if you plan on increasing your body fat you should take the supplements immediately after training.
On the other end, there is research that supports taking creatine before resistance training. This was showcased by Canadian researchers who noted an increase in leg press and chest press had more than 1RMs after taking supplements before training. The study further showed that the creatine timing did not affect the increase in body composition.
It is, however, worth noting that the participants involved in the study had not engaged in resistance training for 16 weeks. This implies that the subjects would have gained muscle strength regardless of the time of consumption. The same results were witnessed in the placebo group.
Aside from not working out for a while, the subjects who took creatine pre-workout were found to have a significant increase in calorie consumption. Therefore, they could not rule out the role of food intake in increasing muscle strength. From the studies mentioned above, you can conclude that consistency is key when taking creatine to increase body composition, muscle mass, and strength.
How Does Your Body Respond when Consuming Creatine Pre-Workout?
The growing popularity of creatine is mainly attributable to its ability to boost your athletic performance. That said, you should note that some researchers encourage pre-workout intake of supplements since it helps to replenish creatine levels during training. For instance, if you take your supplement 30 to 60 minutes before exercising, you have adequate time to achieve optimum creatine levels during resistance training.
Some people also prefer taking their supplements with caffeine to achieve peak performance during workouts. Studies have also shown that a combination of creatine and caffeine helps physically active men to post better performance, especially during high-intensity sprints.
Nevertheless, you need to be cautious when adding caffeine to your supplement schedule. Some research shows that taking caffeine with caffeine has negative effects. They include fatigue during a workout, stomach cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and GI stress. It is, thus, advisable to try out the combination before engaging in resistance training to assess your body reaction.
You should also note that caffeine plus creatine does not achieve the same results for various workouts. For instance, you are likely to gain less lean muscle mass when engaging in high-intensity cardio exercises. This was determined after eight active but not fitness enthusiasts with a background of multiple sprint activities were studied. Half of the group ingested 15 g of creatine combined with caffeine while the others ingested placebo drugs. The results showed no significant elevation in prolonged sprint performance.
The dosage of creatine also determines the timing especially if you intend on engaging in resistance training. Health experts discourage fitness enthusiasts from taking more than 5g of creatine pre-workout. This ensures that your body has ample time to digest the supplements.
Consuming Creatine Post-Workout
As stated earlier on, most research encourages people to take supplements before resistance training. However, some studies show taking creatine post-workout can increase your lean muscle mass and muscular strength. This is attributed to the increase of skeletal muscle blood flow that helps to create more storage for creatine in the muscles.
Aside from increasing blood flow in trained muscles, creatine plays a crucial role in replacing cells during resistance training. This is achieved through the removal of glycogen and other nutrients experienced during the workout.
It is also worth stating that resistance training involves recovery. Researchers have established that taking creatine helps in the recovery of damaged muscles. This does not imply that supplements can achieve full recovery after resistance training on their own. They tend to work best with the combination of high-protein, high-carb, or both meals after resistance training.
The study involved assessing markers of muscle damage namely muscle soreness, range of motion, muscle serum protein activity, and strength. A group of twenty-two weight-lifting males aged between 19 and 27 years ingested either creatine or placebo for ten days. The researchers collected data pre-exercise and post-workout to assess the variation of the markers identified in the study. It was concluded that there was no difference in muscle recovery, especially after hypoxic resistance training.
Common Questions Asked About Creatine Timing:
Is it okay to Creatine during resistance training?
Over the years, there have been questions on whether you can take creatine during workouts and the risks involved. Well, studies support pre-and post-consumption of workouts. That said, it has been established that taking your creatine while the workout is beneficial to your body. You have to ensure that your dosage does not exceed 5g to make it easy to digest and achieve creatine levels during the workout.
Before this data was available, there were myths about taking creatine during a workout. One of them was that it caused dehydration and muscle cramps. Athletes were also made to believe that taking supplements during resistance training exposed them to muscle injuries.
Several studies have, however, debunked the myths around the subject.
In one study, it was established that there was no significant difference in injury rates in NCAA Division IA football players. Furthermore, there was no noticeable gap in the number of dehydration cases, cramping, and illness between those who took creatine during training and the placebo group.
As we have seen above, creatine timing does not have a significant impact on the functionality of your body. This is because your body composition will gradually build with creatine intake. Therefore, you may prefer taking your creatine while engaging in high-intensity exercise, which is okay.
Can you solely use creatine as a pre-workout?
A common belief is that creatine on its own can be used as a pre-workout. However, this is not true. This is because pre-workout is made up of ingredients such as beta-alanine, BCAA’s, and caffeine. The ingredients are crucial in providing additional energy and enhancing vascularity required during resistance training. Therefore, creatine cannot achieve the desired results without the combination of the mentioned ingredients.
Secondly, creatine is mostly used to increase lean muscle mass in your body. The same results cannot be achieved through pre-workout supplements. Supplements mainly make your body appear bigger by increasing blood flow to the muscles. This is mainly attributable to the overproduction of nitric oxide. You also experience less fatigue during resistance training.
Researchers have also noted a variation in time-lapse of the effects felt from pre-workout supplements and creatine. On one end, creatine enables your body to develop leaner muscles over an extended period. This is because it can be stored in the muscles for future workouts. On the other hand, pre-workouts are rapid energy boosters that wear off after a short period.
Subsequently, there was research done to determine the contribution of energy-boosting pre-workout supplements toward increasing skeletal muscle weight. This involved administration of 250 mg L-citrulline daily to six-week-old mice. The mice were then subjected to weight-loaded swimming exercises for 15 days. The team of researchers then collected data on the biceps femoris muscle mass and gastrocnemius.
The results showed that the mice increased their skeletal muscle weight and subsequent improvement in time to exhaustion during resistance training thanks to the L-citrulline ingredient contained in the supplement.
These results have, however, been refuted by some researchers. In a study, 75 resistance-trained men took L-citrulline, L-citrulline-malate, or placebo capsules daily for 8 weeks. The team collected data on body composition and strength pre and post-workouts. It was noted that there was an increase in leg press over the resistance training period. However, there was no significant difference between groups whereas no changes were identified in the bench press with resistance training.
This study deduced that L-citrulline is only short-term and has no significant differences in the tested variables. Therefore, it cannot be used to achieve long-term body composition in humans.
In conclusion, creatine is mainly for increasing lean muscle mass and muscular strength whereas pre-workout supplements serve as an energy boost. The other difference is that pre-workout energy boosts are temporary as the effects wear off after a few hours. On the other hand, creatine has a long-term effect on your body composition.
Years of research have shown that taking creatine post resistance training is best for achieving your body composition goals. This is noticeable through lean muscle mass changes exhibited during your training program. You can improve the results by combining creatine with a high protein or high protein meal after resistance training.
We have also seen that taking creatine monohydrate before or during exercises has various merits. This includes easy digestion of supplements and replacements of cells damaged during a workout. You should, however, take time to check out how your body reacts to taking creatine before taking them during resistance training.
The takeaway from this article is that consistency is key in achieving workout goals, especially when taking creatine and supplements. Therefore, you need to pick a time that you are comfortable following during your workouts. Feel free to consult with professionals for assistance.
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