Creatine is a popular supplement used by athletes and bodybuilders. (Image via Pexels/Klaus Nielsen)

Should You Take Creatine before or after Workout?

Creatine is probably the only supplement that has been studied extensively due to its purported benefits in enhancing performance and increasing muscle mass. It can be taken as a standalone supplement or in combination with other ingredients designed to enhance exercise performance.

The accessibility of the supplement may be the reason for its popularity. It's available in the form of powder, tablets, energy bars, and drink mixes over the counter at pharmacies, supermarkets, and nutrition stores.


In this article, we will look at the best times to take this supplement, who can and cannot take it, the benefits it offers, and how much of it can be taken safely.

What is Creatine?


Creatine is a molecule found in muscles that facilitates the release of energy during anaerobic exercise. Most of this molecule in the human body is found in skeletal muscles.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), one of the body's primary sources of cellular energy, is reconstructed by ATPase. ATPase plays a key role in releasing energy from cell stores and in rebuilding ATP.


About half of the body's creatine is derived from animal sources, while the remainder is produced by the liver and kidneys. When the level of this chemical is low, your exercise performance can suffer. Therefore, it's best to take the supplement form of this molecule both before and after exercise for recovery.

How Does Creatine Work?


Creatine is a substance that can increase the size of muscles and improve health and athletic performance. It does this by increasing the amount of phosphocreatine in muscle cells, which gives you more energy to do heavy lifting, running and other high intensity exercises.

ATP, the body's energy source, is created when your body burns carbs, fat or protein. ATP provides energy by hydrolyzing a phosphate group. One molecule of ATP breaks apart when it is hydrolyzed, producing the energy needed for muscle contraction. Because one phosphate group has been lost, the resulting molecule is called ADP (adenosine diphosphate).

Creatine helps you to convert ADP back to ATP. Remember, ATP is the energy that fuels your muscle contractions!

Side Effects of Creatine

Be sure to check with a doctor before taking dietary supplements, as they can cause side effects or interact with other medications you are taking.


Creatine can cause:

  • weight gain
  • muscle cramps
  • muscle strains and pulls
  • stomach upset
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • high blood pressure and liver dysfunction.

Why You Should Take Creatine?

This supplement can enhance performance in short-duration, high intensity exercises, such as weightlifting and power exercises. It generally affects endurance, strength, and power.

The supplement can improve performance in the following areas:

  • Enhanced sprinting speed
  • Enhanced performance in maximum effort lifts
  • Enhanced strength and power
  • Enhanced muscle recovery time
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Enhanced muscle mass
  • Enhanced ability to exercise in heat

Who Should or Shouldn't take Creatine?

As creatine has been demonstrated to enhance athletic and physical performance, it's generally taken by athletes who compete in sports like bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, sprinting (swimming, cycling, running), basketball, rugby, field hockey, soccer (football), and lacrosse. It's also recommended for athletes who play ice hockey, volleyball, tennis and combat sports.

However, creatine is not recommended for those with kidney or liver disease, as well as diabetes. Children under the age of 18 and pregnant or nursing women should also avoid this supplement.


Additionally, avoid using creatine if you're taking any medication or dietary supplement that could affect your blood sugar, as the supplement may also affect blood sugar level.


If you take the supplement, make sure to drink enough water to avoid dehydration. Inform your physician before taking it or any other supplement, regardless of how healthy you are.

Taking Creatine Before Workout

Taking the supplement directly before exercise can cause the concentration of creatinine in the bloodstream to reach its highest point during the workout.

That's due to the fact that exercise increases blood flow to the muscles, which in turn makes it possible for creatine-rich blood to flow to the muscles. It's possible that the process is more effective in increasing the creatine load in the muscles, which in turn enables improved strength and power while exercising.


Taking Creatine After Workout

Dietary creatine is frequently insufficient to maximize the body's stores. Therefore, one of the best times to take the supplement is after a workout. That can aid in muscle recovery by replenishing what was used during your workout, as well as keeping your muscle stores primed for your next workout.

Additionally, it has been shown that the supplement when taken with carbohydrates, can help increase glycogen storage in the muscles after exercise (more than carbohydrates alone). Glycogen stores energy for future muscle use, which improves performance and delays fatigue.

Best Time to Take Creatine

Taking the supplement before or after a workout does not appear to be as effective as taking it close to the time of exercise.

Researchers have investigated the difference between taking the supplement during the workout window (immediately before or after exercise) and at other times of the day. Taking the supplement immediately before or after a workout, as opposed to other times of the day, can result in significantly increased lean body mass and decreased body fat percentage.


Hence, the best time to take the supplement is either immediately before or immediately after exercise. Check out this article to learn how to take creatine for maximum muscle gain.


How Much Creatine Should You Take?

Due to the difficulty of obtaining enough creatine from natural diets, supplements are an excellent way to increase muscle mass.

If you're supplementing for the first time, the best way to maximize your body's stores of this molecule is to take the supplement (about 5 grams or 0.3 grams/kg bodyweight) four times per day for five to seven days. After optimizing the body levels of the molecule, a daily dose of 3-10 grams (depending on your body size) may be sufficient to maintain desired levels of creatine in the body.

Do consult your physician before starting any supplement, as they're best to advise you based on your health status.

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