Few dietary supplements for athletes and fitness enthusiasts have been as rigorously evaluated for effectiveness as creatine monohydrate. Nearly all experts now agree that creatine offers real benefits for those who are training and working out regularly. Specifically, creatine supplements have been shown to increase endurance, speed up recovery and assist with the formation of lean muscle mass.
That doesn't mean that the authorities are in complete agreement about the use of creatine. Opinions differ greatly when we ask them, when is the best time to take creatine? Here is a look at the three main positions on the subject:
Creatine should be taken before a workout
Those who support taking creatine before a workout point to the effects that creatine has on the muscles as the rationale for their position. Creatine has been shown to increase the amount of energy or ATP in the muscles during workouts, so it follows that using creatine prior to a workout could give you the biggest boost in muscle cell energy. Why is this helpful? Increased energy in the muscles can allow you to produce more powerful movements and decrease the risk of premature fatigue.
Creatine should be taken after a workout
Experts who hold that creatine is most beneficial after workouts are most concerned with how the body absorbs and uses creatine. During your workout, your body must use up many of the nutrients in your muscles in order to power them. There is some evidence to suggest that your body will direct more of the creatine to your muscles if you take your supplement while your body is in this depleted state. A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggested that creatine supplements are most effective post-workout; however, the actual clinical evidence from the study doesn't definitely prove that this is the case. More research is definitely needed to swing the debate fully in the favour of the post-workout advocates.
Creatine can be taken anytime
Some experts believe that it doesn't matter when creatine or any other supplement is taken and say that there is no proof that it matters to your body when you take any type of supplement. Because your body stores creatine anyway, it is possible that if you take a supplement, your body can easily route the nutrient to the muscles even if it's not needed right at that moment. The excess stores of creatine could be equally beneficial whether you work out within an hour or not until the next morning, especially when you're taking the supplement daily and constantly supplying your muscles with extra creatine.
Until there is more evidence to prove one position right over the others, the best approach is to take creatine at a time that fits your workout schedule and your lifestyle. Most experts recommend taking 2 to 5 grams per day, and if you do so regularly using a high quality supplement like those sold here at Sportsfuel, you'll be able to enjoy the benefits of creatine no matter when you use it.