Whatever your goals are in the gym, it's important to always incorporate a pre-workout and post-workout regimen.
Today we’ll concentrate on taking creatine supplements as part of your sports nutrition.
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies. It’s made up of three amino acids and about 95% of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscle. The other 5% is distributed in the heart, brain, and other tissues.
The main job of creatine is to fuel our muscles with energy when we’re exhausted or increase endurance to fight off muscle fatigue especially during exercise.
Fun Fact: Our bodies produce muscle creatine content at a rate of 1-2 grams per day. But that’s not enough to take us through a workout session.
Hence, creatine workout supplements are necessary to help in the continual production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — which is the main source of muscle power.
How does that work?
When your body regenerates ATP levels, it triggers creatine to supply your muscles with energy especially during high-intensity exercise or heavy lifting.
Then, with increased energy levels, the glucose metabolic breakdown slows down.
As a result, there’s a reduction in lactic build-up and an increase in muscle strength and endurance.
THE DEBATE: CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION BEFORE VS. AFTER A WORKOUT
Creatine is one of the most common ingredients you'll find in the supplement market. A proven supplement that's been researched and studied for years, Creatine can be added to your supplement game to improve your training, lean muscle mass, and recovery.
Taking Non-GMO Creatine Monohydrate can help build lean muscle mass, maximize strength, and improve endurance and anaerobic performance.
Creatine works in your body to:
- Boost the formation of new muscle fibers thereby leading to the growth of new skeletal muscles.
- Increase a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 that boosts muscle thickness.
- Double cell volume by increasing muscle’s water content thus increasing your muscle size.
- Reduce myostatin which is a molecule that causes stunted muscle growth.
But the real question is, when is the best time to take creatine to maximize the benefits.
Let's get into it.
ROUND 1 - TAKING CREATINE BEFORE A WORKOUT
The two top arguments for taking creatine before a workout are:
- Effective muscular performance
- Improved mental performance
Whether you’re doing high or low-impact exercises, mind-muscle connection is key to getting your desired results.
When it comes to muscular performance, having creatine prior to working out will ensure that you have enough ATP. That means that your muscles’ cells will continuously have the energy to activate the muscle fibers.
As a result, you’ll be able to lift more weight or achieve more reps.
On the contrary, without some creatine supplement, you’re more likely to suffer muscle exhaustion. That encourages a fermentation process which leads to the overproduction of lactic acid.
Wondering what that is? Well, have you ever felt a burning sensation in your muscles when you’re trying to push harder during a workout?
That’s the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscle tissues. It comes with muscle breakdown and soreness and at that point, you just can’t take another second at it.
So next time you’re aiming to get the most out of your exercise routine, take creatine ahead of time to help mitigate lactic acid buildup.
To fight off premature exhaustion even better, you can combine creatine with your pre workout to increase energy, endurance, and mental clarity.
ROUND 2 - TAKING CREATINE AFTER A WORKOUT
Taking creatine immediately after a workout can aid in muscle recovery.
During a workout, your muscles undergo different breakdown processes to sustain you. As a result, essential nutrients drain out and that’s where post-exercise supplementation comes in.
You may have considered ingesting creatine as a dietary supplement along with your meals to improve your muscle recovery. But that isn’t sufficient to feed your body with enough storage for your next workout since it takes a longer time to digest and absorb.
Using creatine right after a workout is the most suitable option because it replenishes what you used up during the exercise to aid in quick muscular recovery. As a result, that keeps your skeletal muscle mass stores optimized ready for your next gym session.
Combining creatine with carbs increases glycogen storage in the muscles which will give you energy and delay fatigue throughout the day.
Additionally, creatine also helps to reduce inflammation. Therefore, if you experience injury during a workout, taking creatine will help in recovery (alongside a doctor’s advice).
Lastly, supplementing with creatine after resistance exercise encourages the growth of fat-free mass. That’s because you immediately ingest ATP and so gain more muscle fiber size and lean mass as opposed to unnecessary fat mass.
The best time to take creatine depends on your goals, but the key is to keep your creatine stores saturated.
If you’re aiming for healthy weight gain and maximum concentration in the gym, take creatine 30 minutes before your workout. It’ll supply you with enough strength to increase muscle size over time.
Take creatine immediately after an intense bodybuilding workout to help replenish your energy sources and muscle force recovery.
Pro Tip: Fill your diet with healthy carbohydrates and proteins to supplement your long-term creatine supplementation routine.
To maximize muscle retention take a POST workout rich in electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates that rebuild muscle tissue while refueling muscle glycogen.
HOW TO TAKE ATH NON-GMO CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Add 2 scoops of ATH Creatine to your liquid of choice. ATH Sport keeps the supplement clean and natural by not including any artificial flavors or odor additives.
It easily dissolves in any drink and doesn’t cause stomach issues.
Pro Tip: Creatine stacks well with our BCAA, POST, and PRE supplements.
BCAAs are the perfect intra workout drink that creatine can be added to, to support muscle recovery, prevent loss muscle mass, and boost protein synthesis.
POST gives your body the carbs and protein it needs after an intense workout to improve and shorten recovery times. Taking creatine with carbs increases the amount of creatine that is absorbed by your muscles. Add POST to your workout regime to maximize creatine benefits.
PRE can be taken 20-20 minutes before your workout to increase energy and endurance, improve cognitive functions, and increase work capacity.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW MUCH CREATINE SHOULD I TAKE?
The amount of creatine that you should be consuming depends on whether you are intaking a daily serving or if you are in a loading phase.
Normal Daily Dosage = 5g
Loading Phase Daily Dosage = 20-25g
*Loading phases last 5-7 days.
HOW TO LOAD CREATINE?
Loading phases consist of intaking 20-25g of creatine per day for a period of 5-7 days.
Once your loading phase is complete, continue to supplement with 5g of creatine each day.
HOW TO USE CREATINE?
Although creatine can be added to your drinks of choice, science tells us that taking creatine with carbohydrates maximizes its potential and benefits.
5 High Carbohydrate Fruit Juices:
- Prune Juice
- Grape Juice
- Passion-Fruit Juice
- Pineapple Juice
- Orange Juice
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE CREATINE?
Research has shown some evidence that supports creatine intake pre-workout, during workout, as well as post-workout.
The key to creatine intake is to keep your creatine stores consistently high in order to reap the benefits.
DO YOU NEED TO CREATINE LOAD?
Short answer NO.
Long answer...loading phases are a faster way to increase the creatine stores in your muscles.
Loading phases consist of intaking 20-25g of creatine per day for a week. Suggested daily intakes of creatine are 5g. Your muscles can still achieve complete saturation, however it will be a slower process of about a month.
DOES CREATINE NEED TO BE CYCLED?
No, creatine does not need to be cycled.
Typically, when you cycle on and off of a supplement, you're doing so because your body is developing a tolerance to the said supplement.
Since your body naturally produces creatine and will continue to produce creatine even with supplementation, your body does not create tolerance or sensitivity to creatine, meaning a cycling period is unnecessary.
SHOULD I TAKE CREATINE ON REST DAYS?
Yes, you should still supplement with creatine even on rest days to keep the creatine stores in your muscle saturated in order to start seeing benefits. Whether you are loading or supplementing with a daily serving of 5g, consistency is key in order to maintain saturation and reap the benefits.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP TAKING CREATINE?
Once you stop supplementing with creatine your muscles' creatine stores will begin to deplete after two weeks.
4-6 weeks after you have stopped supplementing, the extra creatine stores in your muscles will be completely depleted and your body will return to producing 1-2 grams of creatine per day.
IS CREATINE FOR ME? SHOULD I BE TAKING CREATINE?
Creatine has been scientifically proven and studied for over 25 years to support energy production in muscles, muscle growth, lean muscle mass, muscular endurance, as well as explosiveness and power.
DOES CREATINE CAUSE HEADACHES?
Long answer...dehydration is the key factor in individuals that are experiencing headaches, no matter what supplements are being taken.
When supplementing with creatine, your body's need for water increases, however, if you are not taking in adequate amounts of water, chances are you will become dehydrated, which causes the headache.
IS CREATINE SAFE?
YES! Creatine is the most widely researched supplement on the market.
In a 21 month consecutive study of long-term creatine supplementation, Creatine was found to produce no ill health effects.