Do You Know When To Take Creatine To Maximize Its Effects?

Creatine Powder shaped like a flexed arm

When you look at supplements, you’re going to find products that are ineffective and so hyped up people snatch them up without really knowing what they are getting. However, of these supplements, creatine is probably one of the rare muscle compounds that actually work for most people, but the question is, do you know when to take creatine to maximize the benefits?

What Is Creatine?

Before we can talk about when you should be taking creatine, we should first talk about what it does. Creatine is going to boost your strength and help you build muscle while improving how hard you work out. You’re going to be able to work out much longer also.

Creatine Content in different meat products table graphic

You can find creatine naturally in beef and pork, but it is very hard to get the amount of creatine that your body needs to achieve the effects you are looking for. That is why many body builders and athletes turn to creatine supplements. These powders are odorless, nearly tasteless, and it can be mixed with your favorite cold beverage.

When To Take Creatine?

Ever since creatine has touted as one of the best ways to help bulk up, there has been some debate on when the best time to take creatine would be, before workout or after. Some even say you can take it whenever you’d like. But that doesn’t answer the question.

Creatine Before Work Out

Some people would argue that taking creatine before your workout is going to give your more ATP, which is the primary source of cellular energy. When you have more ATP, you’re going to have more power available for your muscles, which means that power is going to activate the fibers in your muscles easier, allowing you to lift more weight. More weight means more muscle.

how does creatine work infographic

Creatine After Work Out

On the other hand, people believe taking creating after your work out is better because your muscles are depleted of nutrients at this point, so they are going to be more receptive to any nutrients you introduce to them. When you have creatine in with your protein and carbs, it is believed that your body is going to soak up those nutrients much easier, giving your body all of the benefits from those nutrients.

Whenever You Want

Then we have the people who say that you can take creatine whenever you want because it is a stored supplement and your body uses it as it needs it.

The Truth According To Research

According to research, it may be more beneficial to take the supplement after your workout. In this research, 19 male body builders were divided into two groups. One group was given the instructions to take 5 grams of creatine before working out, while the second group took the same amount of the supplement immediately after working out.

group picture of male & female bodybuilders

The subjects were to train for 5 days a week for a month, consuming 1.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

The creatine did boost the men’s strength and muscle mass, those who took the supplement after working out gained more lean mass and were able to increase their bench-press one-rep max more than the subjects who took the supplement before working out.

So, it would appear that taking the supplement immediately after your workout. It also goes beyond that, too. Dosing is also important when you’re incorporating creatine into your routine.

How Much Creatine Should I Take?

Now that we know when is the best time to take creatine (after working out), you also need to know how much you should take.

There are two phases when taking the supplement: the loading phase (first week of taking the supplement) and the maintenance phase (after the first week of use).

The Loading Phase

Most creatine brands will tell you to take 15 to 25 grams each day for a week. During this period, you’re saturating your body with the supplement, allowing you to see results much quicker. Keep in mind, quicker results doesn’t always mean better results.

Typical Creatine Dose

When taking this much creatine, you will want to break it up into 5 gram increments and space them out evenly throughout the day.

The Maintenance Phase

During the second phase, the maintenance phase, you are going to dramatically decrease the dose of creatine to 5 grams per day.

Dosages

When you’re thinking about buying creatine, you will want to know how many your doses will be. Typically speaking, you’re going to need about 175 grams of creatine in your loading stage and 70 in the week after that. With this consumption rate, 500 grams is going to be able to last you about a month and half, whereas 1,000 grams will last three months.

guy in gym drinking creatine supplement

Here is a simple break down of the dosages you may need accordance to your body weight:

  • Below 155 pounds: 12 – 16 grams for loading, 4 – 8 grams for maintenance
  • 156 to 175 pounds: 13 – 17 grams for loading, 5 – 9 grams for maintenance
  • ​176 to 199 pounds: 14 – 18 grams for loading, 6 – 10 grams for maintenance
  • ​200 to 225 pounds: 15 – 19 grams for loading, 7 – 11 grams for maintenance
  • Over 225 pounds: 16 – 20 grams for loading, 8 – 12 grams for mainte

Conclusion

When it comes to the question of when to take creatine, the main consensus seems to be that your body gets the most benefit when you take it after. However, there are some people who take it whenever it is most convenient for them.

If you’re in the loading phase, it doesn’t seem to matter when you take the creatine before or after workout, because you’re going to be spreading the dose out in 5 gram increments throughout your day.

Do keep in note that when you’re taking creatine, you’re going to want to take it for anywhere from 1 1/2 months to 3 months, stopping for a month, and then repeating the cycle. We do want to point out that there hasn’t been any conclusive studies that show you if cycling is beneficial or not. Sometimes it’s more about personal preference.

Resources

Creatine Supplementation and Exercise, International Society of Sports Nutrition

Effects of Creatine on Performance and Training, Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

Creatine Side Effects & Warnings, Mayo Clinic

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