Our bodies are like machines, which means that a wide variety of parts (cells, tissues, and organs) ensure that it runs smoothly.
This also means that if one part of our body is lacking, the whole system is affected.
Usually, our body keeps everything in check, but occasionally it may need some help. Many people, especially those who work out their body need an additional boost from supplements.
There are numerous supplements available on the market that target various functions in the body.
Our supplement of discussion is creatine and everything related to the supplement.
Creatine Timing: When Is the Best Time to Take It?
How much creatine you take and what qualifies on enough creatine varies between individuals. How intense your exercise routine (like resistance training) is, how active you are usually, and your diet.
People who are very active and exercise intensely need to take creatine to supplement the deficit in their system.
There are two groups divided on the timing around taking creatine to provide the maximum benefits.
However, this division is better geared towards those who are regular users of creatine or have used creatine before and have decided to start taking creatine again.
When you begin to use creatine, it may be smart to start with creatine loading. This loading phase usually lasts from 5 days to 1 week.
The creatine dosage for this loading phase is roughly 2o grams. Supplementing creatine in this way rapidly increases the amount that is stored.
Once this phase is completed, you can reduce the creatine intake from 20 grams to anything between 2 to 10 grams.
This will be your maintenance dose for exercise and rest days.
Allowing you to increase your energy levels to exercise for longer or harder (think greater muscle contraction).
1) Taking Creatine Before a Workout
A study submitted in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition discussed the best time to take creatine.
Before you exercise or after.
The results were mixed, and so there is still open debate into which supplement timing is ideal for muscle building.
The mixed review means that it is entirely up to the individual and their trainer when they decide to use creatine.
For some people, the ideal creatine timing is pre-workout. A pre-workout stack usually recommends a minimum time that the supplement should be taken before exercise.
This allows for the maximum effect of creatine on your workout.
You can find numerous pre-workout supplements on the market.
They come in a variety of formulations and flavors, so you can enjoy the experience.
It makes your workout days more bearable to have a supplement that is easy to consume and tastes nice.
It is best to take creatine immediately prior to exercise as opposed to a longer duration.
When studies were conducted into creatine and its timing, it was found that the longer the duration between consuming creatine and exercise, the less the effect of the supplement.
Hence, it is best to take creatine close to the time you wish to work out to maximize its effect on your training.
2) Taking Creatine After A Workout
The other group in the study was the group that took creatine post-workout. As we discussed previously, the results were in conclusion on detailed examination.
This is why some people and trainers prefer to take the supplement after they exercise.
There are post-workout creatine products available, just as there are supplements for pre-workout.
These post-workout supplements come in numerous formulations, flavors and are made by various brands.
They are taken soon after exercise to ensure their maximum effect. The dosage depends on the individual product and your personal requirements.
The reason some people choose to take the supplement after exercise is to reduce the time spent recovering.
It also allows them to have energy for the remainder of the day after they exercise.
The remainder of the energy can be stored for the future, and any protein breakdown that occurs after a workout can be minimized.
3) Should Creatine Be Taken On Rest Days?
If you plan to take creatine regularly, it is best to use creatine on days off. This is done to ensure that the amount of creatine in your body does not drop.
The time to take creatine on days off does not have to be as strictly followed. You can take creatine anytime during the day.
This keeps the stores high and prevents the need for loading creatine.
4) Can Creatine Be Taken With Meals?
There is no definite study that shows an apparent benefit of taking creatine with or without a meal.
However, that does not mean that you can not take creatine with a meal.
Keeping in mind the time to take creatine according to your exercise schedule, you can have creatine with your meals.
It is a great way to have other nutrients with creatine.
The general consensus is to do what is best for you and your health.
What is Creatine?
For starters, creatine is not some synthetic substance that people pump into their bodies. It is a substance that the body makes itself.
Creatine has a similar chemical formulation to proteins.
It is created using amino acids like arginine and glycine through a process similar to protein synthesis.
Once formed, creatine can be used to create energy, or it may be stored in the muscle tissue.
Creatine levels, like all other substances in the body, are affected by a variety of factors.
These factors include hormone levels such as IGF-1 and testosterone, the total muscle mass in the body, exercise, and your nutrient intake, mainly meat.
Of course, this begs the question, if the body makes creatine monohydrates, then why do people require supplements.
Generally, people who take creatine products like monohydrate powder are looking to improve their exercise performance, boost their muscle growth, or gain weight.
They require this dietary supplement because their body cannot keep up with the demands that come with intense exercise.
Supplementing creatine does not directly increase creatine levels in the body.
The creatine monohydrate is stored in the muscles in the form of phosphocreatine.
These functions as reserved energy that can then be used during resistance exercise.
The increase in energy assists in building muscle along with other benefits that come with more creatine in the body.
In the fitness world, creatine is a supplement used regularly due to its ability to increase lean mass and reduce fat mass and numerous other properties of creatine.
What Are the Functions of Creatine?
Creatine supplementation is not just important in the world of sports science.
This is why there has been extensive research into creatine, its functions, and how it affects overall health.
This provides insight into creatine for informational and educational purposes as well as for sports nutrition needs.
There has been mixed research about creatine in the world of sports medicine.
Generally, the International Society of sports nutrition can agree on certain benefits of creatine. Creatine is beneficial for muscle strength, improving muscle repair, increasing cellular energy, and boosting body mass.
Additionally, research has shown improved mental performance with creatine supplementation.
Not only is creatine monohydrate beneficial for muscle gains and strength gains, but it is also beneficial for your mental health.
Creatine supplementation has been shown to benefit symptoms of Parkinson’s disease along with other neurological issues such as Huntington’s disease.
How Does Creatine Monohydrate Work?
Like many molecules in your body, creatine works in various ways to provide you with numerous benefits.
A creatine supplement can be used immediately as energy in high-intensity exercise or stored in muscles.
The overall research suggests that creatine supplementation shows improvement in athletic performance and health.
1) Energy Production
There are various ways that creatine works and affects the body to improve exercise performance and health.
The body uses creatine by converting it into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s main source of energy.
2) Boosts Cell Signal Transduction
Creatine has been shown to improve signal transduction between cells.
This has a profound effect on the muscular mass in the body.
Not only does it assist in boosting skeletal muscle hypertrophy, but it decreases the time required for muscle repair.
3) Decreased Breakdown of Proteins
Creatine supplementation is beneficial in the reduction of protein breakdown in the muscles.
The decreased breakdown in protein benefits the growth of muscles and decreases the creation of substances that lead to muscle cramps.
This allows for more time spent working out and less time spent on rest days, which boosts muscle mass.
4) Increased Workout Time
There are other ways creatine is used to benefit the body, mainly the ways in which it builds more muscle.
Taking creatine increases the ability to work out for longer periods.
This increases muscle growth as periods or intensity of exercise are increased.
5) Increased Production of Hormones
The creatine from creatine supplementation can be used to increase the levels of anabolic hormones in the body.
Anabolic hormones are famously known as substances that increase muscle size.
More research needs to be done into other hormones, but one hormone whose levels creatine boosts is IGF-1.
This hormone increases the production of growth hormone, which is vital for the growth of tissues.
6) Reduced Levels of Myostatin:
The body creates a protein called myostatin, whose main function is to decrease the growth or completely inhibit the growth of new muscle mass.
Creatine has the ability to decrease the production of myostatin which has a direct effect on increasing the production of new muscle cells in the body.
7) Enhanced Retention of Water:
Creatine increases water retention in muscles.
This occurs due to an increase in the muscles cells from the increased water retention. This is better known as cell hydration of cells.
The increase in water levels in muscles cells is one way in which creatine increases muscle growth.
What Are Creatine Supplements?
As discussed previously, the body naturally produces creatine in the liver and kidneys.
After which, it is mainly used by the muscles during exercise or stored in the muscle for energy. In our diet, creatine can be found in foods such as meat, seafood, or milk.
Despite being made in our body, you must take creatine daily to maintain a healthy balance between intake and usage.
People who work out require higher levels of creatine.
This is need is usually not met with diet. Hence the need for supplements.
Creatine supplements are an alternative way to boost your daily creatine intake. Supplement creatine comes in various formulations and quantities.
It comes in the form of powders, ready-to-go drinks, and bars.
The creatine content of these supplements varies.
This allows you to choose the supplement that is best suited for your needs.
It also makes it easier to choose an easy supplement to add to your lifestyle, be that a powder, premade protein drink, or bar.
Is Creatine Safe?
A major concern for anyone is the safety of a substance. With various products that have negative effects, it is easy to wary of any supplement.
Thankfully, creatine has been studied extensively, and its usage is backed by scientific research.
It is a substance that is well tolerated with no harmful effects on the body.
Not only does creatine assist in building muscle and increasing energy levels, but it also helps in combating dehydration and cramping that can accompany exercise.
Creatine is harmless for those who have a healthy and functioning system.
However, those with kidney or liver problems should contact their doctor prior to taking creatine.
Hopefully, after reading this, you will find you are much better suited to deal with creatine. It has numerous benefits, from increasing muscle mass, boosting energy levels, and even improving mental performance.
Additionally, there are no restrictions on when to take the supplement. So, why not start your creatine today.