Creatine Before or After Working Out. Does It Really Matter When We Take It?

Creatine is an essential supplement in any athlete's diet, but do you know the best time to take it?
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Quando assumere creatina ©NutthasethVanchaichana

In the world of fitness, it seems like you always have to be at the cutting edge. The latest workout, the latest diet or the latest supplement. But sometimes, the best known is what works best. And when it comes to classics that are still totally relevant, creatine is at the top of the list. But the question that has the whole community on tenterhooks is: when is the best time to take creatine? Before or after a training session? Let’s answer this burning question, but first, let’s look briefly at what creatine is and what its effects are.

What Does Creatine Give Us   ?

Creatine, especially in its creatine monohydrate form, is one of the most studied and scientifically backed supplements of all those you can find in the market. Did you know that there are more than 700 scientific studies that support the use of creatine??

Creatine is an organic compound that occurs naturally in muscle cells and supplies energy. About half of it is produced in the kidneys and the rest through diet. Those who take it are looking for more energy when performing high intensity or strength exercises, as it can lead to an increase in muscle mass, strength and performance, as shown in several scientific studies. For example, this publication in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, highlights the positive effects of taking creatine when exercising and proved the result of taking 5 grams of creatine daily and its impact on improving endurance, strength and hypertrophy.

This other study by Richard B. Kreider, professor of physiology at Texas A&M University in the United States, proves that short-term creatine supplementation improves power/maximal strength (5-15%), work carried out during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions (5-15%), single effort sprint performance (1-5 %), and work carried out during sprints (5-15%).

All this shows us that those who supplement with creatine, experience an increase in their muscle mass, strength and performance. Creatine accumulates in the muscle, giving us more energy when we train.

The Big Question: Creatine Before or After Training?

As for when is the best time to take creatine  , the question that has brought you here, the great debate begins. The question that has the entire gym community in suspense; Is it better before or after training? Well, unlike its benefits and, to the disappointment of many of us, there does not seem to be a clear answer. And it is that science does not quite agree.

Some research claims that taking creatine after training is the best idea. In a study published in theJournal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, subjects who took creatine after resistance training experienced a greater increase in lean body mass than subjects who took creatine before their workouts.

Another study published in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition supports this same idea. The researchers compared the results of several studies on the timing of creatine consumption. They looked at the physical development of several people having taken creatine before or after doing different exercises, such as leg or bench presses. At the end of the research, they concluded that “creatine intake after exercise provides greater muscular benefits than before exercise”.

Reading all this information, it would seem that it’s already clear. You have to have your creatine ready in your gym bag and drink it as soon as you finish training. But hang on, not so fast, because there are also studies that say otherwise. For example, a group of Canadian researchers found better results in people who took creatine just before training, and this research from 2020 found benefits in taking creatine during training.

All of this leads to the conclusion that the right question is not when, but how. This recent study from of 2021 confirms this, concluding that “the evidence supporting the importance of the timing of creatine supplementation around exercise (i.e., before or after or during) is currently limited to a few studies.” It goes on to explain that the various claims of when to take creatine are not supported by solid evidence, and that this should not be considered a real concern at this time.

Experiment a little with your creatine intake. Most people tolerate creatine well, but if it bothers you, take it after your workout. If drinking it before a workout makes you feel like you could lift a Volkswagen Beetle, you’ve got your answer. As with many aspects of fitness, this should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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