You’re pumped. You ordered your creatine, you’re ready for all the gains, but the question is should you take creatine before, or after your workout?
Studies show that creatine can help you build strength and more muscle mass through the generation of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, improving peak power and performance. Although creatine is an effective sports performance supplement, there is some confusion on the best time to take creatine for optimal results.
Creatine is one of the most well researched performance supplements ever created. Studies have shown that creatine can help improve performance, strength, build more muscle and increase power output during high-intensity training.
Creatine is a combination of three amino acids: arginine, methionine, and glycine. On average, eating a well-rounded diet consisting of lean protein, quality carbohydrates, and healthy fats, will provide 1-2g of creatine per day. Foods rich in creatine are typically found in protein such as red meat, poultry, and fish.
Although you obtain creatine from your diet and synthesize creatine within your body, supplementing additional creatine is a safe and effective way to elevate muscle creatine reserves, increasing the capacity for more muscle power and strength.
Not only knowing what supplements to take, but when to take them is important to optimize effectiveness and athletic performance. Most research shows that creatine should be taken either before or after your workout, since the direct mechanism of creatine is to generate more adenosine triphosphate or after post-workout based on the hypothesis and notion that your muscles are in a nutrient depleted state and will uptake and synthesize creatine at a faster rate.
So, when’s the best time to take creatine? Before your workout, after, or does it even matter? And do you need to supplement creatine on rest days, or just on training days? Research shows that creatine timing does in fact matter to some degree, yet other studies show there’s no difference at all.
One thing that the studies do in fact reveal is that creatine monohydrate requires a loading phase (if you want your product to be effective faster). A loading phase simply means that you need a larger dose over a period of time to maximize the muscles storage and for creatine to reach it’s peak effect.
Loading creatine monohydrate will maximize creatine stores and availability up to 20% giving you more power output and strength during short bouts of exercise. The skeletal muscle within your body will store enough adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to produce approximately 10 seconds of high-intensity activity; more creatine content will lead to greater increases of strength and power output.
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So the question is, if you have to load creatine to saturate your muscle tissue for more fuel and ATP production, does it really matter when you take it? Let’s dig into what the studies say.
A study published in the Journal Of International Society Of Sports Nutrition investigated The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. 19 study participants were randomly assigned to a post or pre workout supplementation of 5g of creatine for four weeks.
The study found that consuming creatine immediately after your workout is superior to before your workout vis a vis body composition and strength (R). The major limitations of this study include the small sample size as well as the brief treatment duration.
Another study conducted with 32 older male participant for 32 weeks also found that compared with resistance training alone, creatine supplementation improves muscle strength, with greater gains in lean tissue mass resulting from post-exercise creatine supplementation (R).
Other studies have shown no difference at all between taking creatine before or after your workout (R). However based on the results, research does suggest that taking creatine closer to the pre or post exercise windows rather than another time of day yields greater and more effective results.
The type of creatine you supplement with does matter. Studies show that creatine monohydrate improves performance, power, and speed, yet there are quite a few different types of creatine to choose from. Creatine ethyl ester, hydrocholoride, Magnesium Chelate, Nitrate, Pyruvate, and Kre-Alkalyn have all been created to address the negative side effects associated with bioavailability of creatine monohydrate.
Studies investigating the performance benefits amongst the different types of creatine, have all shown positive yet similar results – with exception to Kre-Alkalyn.
Kre-Alkalyn is a ph corrected form of creatine monohydrate, adding an alkaline powder to stabilize ph levels. This inevitably maximizes absorption, reducing the amount of creatine needed and eliminating the need for a loading, cycling, and de-cycling protocol. Studies show that supplementing with Kre-Alkalyn will lead to improved performance gains, with added benefits to endurance, power, and speed with 3g per day.
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Despite the timing, creatine is consistently one of the most popular ergogenic aids. Studies show that creatine supplementation increases muscle creatine and phosphocreatine levels approximately 15-40% within skeletal muscle tissue which enhances anaerobic training capacity and improves performance outcomes. Empirical evidence suggests that more studies are required with larger sample sizes to further investigate and confirm whether creatine is more effective taken pre or post workout. The research does show however that creatine supplementation does in fact help improve strength, power, and body composition. Whether you take creatine pre or post workout, it really comes down to personal preference.
Looking for the best creatine supplement to stack on more gains?
Swolverine’s Kre-Alkalyn® is a patented pH correct form of creatine phosphate. With the addition of creatine phosphate (PCr) into the muscle cells, the body increases its immediate energy supply, by facilitating the production of ATP which increases power output and strength. High-intensity training programs require the body to go under strenuous aerobic and anaerobic conditions. By supplementing the body with creatine, you will induce a greater improvement in exercise endurance and athletic performance, resulting in improved times, more peak power, and stronger lifts.
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