Creatine ranks as the most frequently used supplements ever by athletes and bodybuilders. Globally, the number of creatine supplements on offer for use by individuals into resistance training are on the rise, alongwith increased use. However, there is little consensus among individuals who subscribe to two schools of thought about the timing – creatine before or after workout? While some advocate that the best time to take creatine supplements is before a work workout, others insist that benefits accrue only when consumed after a workout.
It is important to understand the right timing of intake of supplements, as it impacts results and has a specific purpose. Consuming it at the wrong time will not only produce below than desired outcomes, it can also negatively impact health. Let’s drill down into all the reasons before coming to a conclusion on scientifically proven, ideal timings for consumption of creatine supplements.
Creatine before or after workout? What is creatine and what are its benefits?
It is important to get this fact straight to understand the importance of timing your supplement intake. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body, which is vital for multiple functions such as muscle mass, strengthening and energy. Creatine is present in foods, and is also made synthetically in laboratories for use as supplements. The intake of supplements helps to replenish the creatine levels in the body, boost performance and enhance lean muscle mass.
Creatine is a combination of amino acids, which are in turn the building blocks of proteins, in addition to working as intermediates in metabolism. Muscle mass, endurance and energy are all intrinsically linked to protein, which explains the importance attributed to supplements. Consuming creatine before or after workout has an impact on the outcomes because of the role and the manner in which creatine supplements work in your body to offer the desired results.
Golden hour and nutrient timing
On either side of the argument about taking creatine before or after workout are justifications and science. Nutrient timing is essential and directly impacts the outcome of the intake. Nutritionists speak of the golden hour, the ideal window during which supplements need to be consumed. The argument is that the body utilizes the supplements best during this period which gives the best results. Creatine from food sources is certainly a natural way of meeting requirements, but because the timing is not right, the benefits are not optimal. For instance, red meat is a rich source of proteins and creatine. Even if you take red meat in sufficient quantities, you may not get the best results. It is essential to ensure that the substances reach your muscles at the right time.
Why are supplements more effective than the natural sources of the substances?
The primary reason for the effectiveness of supplements are the presentation of the supplements. Creatine powder is in the form of crystals, and are fine milled. The supplements are often a very fine powder that instantly dissolve in your mouth and work quickly to reach the targeted muscles. Typically, the superior quality creatine crystals are milled to 200 mesh, which makes them highly dissolvable in a drink. This is precisely why arguments regarding consumption of creatine before or after workout are of importance. As the creatine is delivered to the body, it begins various actions – glycogen replenishment, and muscle protein synthesis.
Reasoning of proponents of taking creatine prior to a work out – hypertrophy
Proponents of creatine consumption prior to a workout, point out that the supplements taken before a workout help to deliver energy, which gives the individual the ability to put in more effort into the workout. As the muscle fibers in the body are packed with nutrition, you get more energy to lift more weight and continue your exercise for higher reps. Consequently you push the bar and workout heavier. This helps in getting the desired results. The whole purpose of resistance training is to achieve hypertrophy of muscles – the gain of muscle size or weight. Strength training is intended to make muscles large in size, and this partly answers the reasoning in the argument about suitability of taking creatine before or after workout.
Reasoning of supporters of taking creatine after a work out – recovery and rest
The word golden hour of nutrition is more commonly attributed to the period immediately after a work out. Arguments put forth in favor of taking creatine after a work out are based on the actions that take place in your body after a work out. The muscles that have been exercised are in a state of readiness to accept nutrients. This is important because the muscles are damaged and need to be replaced. When the muscles receive the right kind of nutrition at the right time, the muscles grow longer and stronger. This helps to increase the size of the muscles in addition to making them stronger. Stronger muscles help an individual to push himself or herself to the next level by lifting heavier weights at higher reps.
Creatine before or after workout? Why after workout is always a better deal?
There are multiple studies that have proved the effectiveness of taking creatine after a workout. While it may be too early to settle the argument of creatine before or after workout by concluding that after work outs are a better option, it is actually a proven fact that there is a slight edge when you take supplements after a work out. The reasoning is pretty simple. You will certainly try your best to push yourself to the maximum during a workout. This effectively means that you can still achieve most of what you aimed to achieve without a supplement to boost you prior to your workout. However, this is not the case when it comes to taking a supplement after a workout. There is a specific role and this cannot be replaced by human will. Nutrition is a must during the rest and recovery phase and the golden hour right after a workout is the best time to give your body and the muscles the nutrition most required.
The golden hour answers the question – should I take creatine before or after workout?
Hypertrophy cannot be achieved without the right nutrition. If you do not give your body the right nutrition after you have pushed yourself to the maximum, then the muscle fibers that form in place of the torn and damaged ones are likely to be shorter and weaker. Consequently, you will find that your abilities are slowly decreasing. You will see lesser improvements in the size of your muscles. The results of studies conducted about the best results have conclusively shown that there is a slight difference in outcomes among individuals who were given nutritional supplements after a work out than those before a work out. However, the study requires additional studies to understand how it impacted people with different metabolism and scales of activity. It however, has given a basic comparison that speaks in favor of taking creation after a workout.
What you need to bear in mind deciding on taking creatine before or after workout
When you decide on taking creatine before or after workout it is important to bear in mind the following factors. The response of different bodies to supplements and exercise will vary on a granular level. The broad areas of impact will remain the same, but when you go into the finer details, you will find differences. Similarly, it is important to understand that you will hit a plateau at some point of time. The ideal way to take nutrition would be to take a small portion of the desired loading quantity prior to your workout, and a major portion after your workout. This needs to be taken within one hour of your workout. There are many who adopt a safe practice of taking supplements before a workout, after a workout and before going to bed. This is also a good choice, though it depends on the kind of supplements consumed.