When Is the Best Time to Take Creatine?

When Is the Best Time to Take Creatine?


When Is the Best Time to Take Creatine?

Posted by Nutravita, 8th May 2024


Understanding your body, your workout schedule and the nutritional profile behind creatine is key to maximising its benefits.

Pre-workout: Taking creatine before a workout can provide an immediate energy boost, gearing your muscles for high-intensity exercise.

Post-workout: Consuming creatine after a workout helps restore the muscle's energy reserves and supports recovery.

On rest days: Consistent intake, even on rest days, emulates the body's natural creatine cycle and ensures a steady supplement supply.

Ever wondered when the best time to take creatine is? As an essential supplement in your fitness journey, understanding the optimal time to take creatine can make all the difference in your performance and results. Whether it's pre-workout, post-workout, or another time entirely, we're here with the creatine facts to help you nail down when to supplement with creatine. 

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid-like substance that our bodies produce primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It also winds up in our muscles, brain, and other tissues, playing an essential role in energy production during intense exercise. 

When you workout, creatine serves as a form of energy for your muscles, improving strength and endurance. It's also frequently found in foods we eat - particularly meats and fish. Many athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts tend to supplement with this potent compound to boost their performance and achieve their fitness goals more efficiently. Yet, as impressive as it may seem, how your body optimises the use of this compound can vary, hence the need for strategies such as scheduling its intake at the right time.

What Does Creatine Do in the Body?

Our bodies harness creatine as a crucial source of natural energy, significantly benefiting both our muscular and neurological capabilities. When physical effort is demanded, creatine jumps into action, boosting our strength, power and speed. It plays a leading role in regenerating ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, known as the body's main energy currency. 

So, what happens when you lift weights or run to catch the bus? Your muscles tap into the creatine stored as phosphorylcreatine (PCr) to regenerate ATP. This process provides the energy you need during your workout and is also critical for a speedy recovery afterward.

But that's not all. Creatine also enhances muscle mass and strength by boosting the formation of proteins that create new muscle fibres. It even draws water into your muscle cells, causing them to swell and giving your muscles a fuller, more defined look.

Additionally, emerging research suggests that creatine could have neurological benefits by supporting brain health. More studies are needed to fully understand its impact, but it's an exciting prospect nonetheless!

When's the Best Time to Take Creatine?

On days when you're pushing yourself hard at the gym, studies suggest that you may reap maximum benefits by consuming creatine either shortly before or immediately after your workout. Why? Because your muscles, at this time, are especially receptive to nutrients and the creatine can penetrate your muscle cells more effectively. So, staggering your creatine consumption in line with your workout - say 15 to 30 minutes before or after - could potentially lead to more efficient absorption and subsequent results. 

Relaxing on a rest day? Even then, creatine shouldn't take the day off. While timing isn't as crucial on these days, it's beneficial to consume creatine with a balanced meal that includes protein and carbohydrates. This is because taking creatine with food can stabilise insulin levels, helping to drive the creatine into your muscles and enhance its impact.

In essence, your daily routine and exercise schedule can guide when you take creatine. Nonetheless, regardless of these variables, maintaining consistent overall creatine supplementation remains key. So continue to integrate creatine into your regimen, and your body will thank you with enhanced performance and recovery abilities.

Ready to unleash the beast within and dominate your workouts? Smash those plateaus and unlock your full potential with our newest supplement: Creatine.

Creatine Monohydrate Powder
Creatine is an amino acid that is used predominantly as a sports and gym supplement to improve exercise performance. It increases physical performance in successive bursts of short-term, high-intensity exercise, and these claims are substantiated by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). Daily creatine consumption can also enhance the effect of resistance training on muscle strength in adults over the age of 55.

Tips to Maximise Creatine Benefits

Maximising the benefits of creatine isn't just about when you take it, but also how you consume it and what you pair it with. One simple yet essential strategy involves combining your creatine with sugars. Research shows that your body can absorb creatine more efficiently when it's taken with carbohydrates, such as fruit or a smoothie.

The type of creatine you choose can also make a significant difference. Although various options are available, creatine monohydrate is your safest bet. It's the purest form, extensively studied, and consistently proven effective, making it a superior choice over other forms.

Taking the right amount of creatine is also crucial. While a 5- to 7-day loading phase involving a total daily dose of 20 to 25 grams (split into 4 to 5 smaller doses) is often recommended, it's not mandatory. However, it can help you saturate your muscles with creatine more rapidly. Afterward, a maintenance phase that includes a smaller daily dose of creatine, typically between 3 to 5 grams per day, will be sufficient to maintain elevated muscle creatine levels.

Lastly, consistency is key. Maintaining a regular and dedicated workout schedule, along with consistent creatine supplementation, is what will deliver the best results over time. So, find what works for you and stick with it!

Let’s answer some of your burning questions about creatine 👇

Does creatine need to be cycled? ♻️

It's currently a debate among fitness professionals. Some believe in cycling creatine, but there's no scientific evidence indicating it's necessary. However, our bodies do receive and process supplements differently, so a 'one-size-fits-all' approach won't work. Listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider for the best approach.

Can vegetarians benefit from creatine supplements? 🥕

Yes, as vegetarians usually have lower stores of creatine because the compound is primarily found in meats, supplementation could be beneficial.

Is creatine beneficial only for athletes and bodybuilders? 🏋️

No, the benefits of creatine aren't solely limited to athletes or bodybuilders. It can also enhance cognitive abilities and possibly aid in the treatment of some neurological and muscular diseases.

Could creatine cause dehydration? 🫠

A common myth suggests that creatine can cause dehydration, but research doesn't support this. In fact, creatine has been found to improve the body's ability to perform high-intensity, short-duration exercise, such as sprinting and weight lifting, as it increases muscle cell hydration.

How long does it take for creatine to work? 👀

Results from creatine supplementation may start being noticeable after a couple of weeks, provided one maintains a regular exercise routine and diet plan along with consistent supplementation.

Written by Riya Lakhani-Kanji MSc ANutr

Riya Lakhani-Kanji MSc ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer with a special interest in plant-based nutrition. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based.