Creatine is one of the core supplements serious lifters are taking. Its effects have been well documented and for most people, the question is less about why they should take creatine, and more about when they should be taking it. This has been the object of many studies — it is one of the most researched supplements on the market, but people still seem to be taking it at the wrong times.
KNOW THE BEST TIME TO TAKE CREATINE
THE LOADING PHASE
To maximise the benefits of creatine, it needs to be loaded. This means you need to ingest a lot of creatine to overload the cells for the first week of taking it.
For the first seven days, you should be taking around five grams of creatine, four times a day. After the first week, you will have reached full cellular capacity. You can then reduce the amount to between two to three grams a day to maintain full capacity.
THE PROPONENTS OF PRE-WORKOUT CONSUMPTION
The rationale used to be that you should take creatine before your workout. The reasoning was that creatine supplementations boost ATP, which gives your body more energy to complete its workout. More energy would mean you can lift heavier for longer and therefore, build more muscle.
DEBUNKING THE MYTH
A recent study looked compared the effects of taking creatine before and after a workout. They gave 19 gym rats the same workout for four weeks. One group took five grams of creatine before every workout, while the other took the same amount after their workouts.
After just four weeks, the group after-workout group gained twice as much lean mass and cut an average of 2.2 grams of body fat. They also increased their strength, adding weight to compound lifts.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that only taking creatine after your workout is the only way to go, it does indicate that you should be taking it after you finish a workout. Some proponents now advocate taking it both before and after your workout.
As long as you are taking it after your workout, you can take it before as well. Both groups recorded substantial gains in muscle mass and fat loss, so like the old saying goes, “you’re lapping everyone on the couch”.
As long as you are taking it you are beating everyone who isn’t, you can just get the most bang for your buck by ensuring you reach for the creatine after your next workout.