Creatine is one of the most researched and popular sports supplements around today. There are various forms of Creatine available, however, the majority of research generally relates to Creatine Monohydrate - the most widely available and cost effective version of Creatine. The beneficial effects of Creatine are well documented and supplementation has been shown to increase size, strength and endurance. However, the best time to take Creatine to attain the greatest benefit remains a hotly contested issue amongst experts.
As a general rule Creatineis not taken in isolation and is thought to be best combined with protein and carbohydrate. Research has suggested that this combination is more effective when consumed pre and post workout than at other times of the day.
If you’re supplementing with creatine, it may benefit you to consume 30 minutes before a workout as part of your pre-workout shake.
What are the Benefits of Creatine?
- Increases in strength, power and rate of force development.
- Improved sprint performance, both faster and greater recovery between sprints.
- Improved agility performance.
- Increased leg power during cycling.
- Greater strength improvements in both the back squat and bench press exercises.
- Increased performance during team sports, such as rugby and football!
Creatine also helps muscles look “fuller” due to the fact it actually draws water within muscle cells, increasing the volumisation of your muscles.
Creatine has also been shown to buffer the build-up of lactic acid and nasty Hydrogen Ions that are a bi-product of intense training.
When should I take Creatine, and how much?
The best time to take creatine is before workout. Actually,creatine before a workout include that it should be able to increase power output acutely during your workout, allowing you to exert more force. More force might help you activate more muscle fibers and lift more weight. Those factors can lead to more muscle growth. So you can see where this is going.
Compared to resistance training alone, creatine supplementation improves muscle strength with greater gains in lean tissue mass. Based on the current study, not only can creatine benefit young athletes but older athletes as well, and more importantly, the best time to take creatine is before your workout. Taking creatine alone is not half as effective as when you take it with protein and carbs.
When using creatine, a ‘loading’ phase is often recommended consisting of 20g per day spread out over 4 servings, ideally taken at meal times. If you’d like to opt for loading, it may benefit you to make sure it last for a period of 5 days, followed by a ‘maintenance’ phase of 4-10g daily.
A loading phase is often recommended as it helps to increase intramuscular stores of creatine the fastest way possible. Once a loading phase begins it is assumed that your body’s creatine stores are topped up to its maximum, and all that’s needed is the amount to maintain and replenish creatine levels. Although this is recommended it’s not essential.
Alternatively some research has shown that a loading phase may not be necessary, and just consuming 4-10g daily will achieve the same results.
creatine is cheap and effective, and this is an easy way to get more out of your training.