Monday, February 25, 2013

Creatine: does it matter when you take it? By Vic Goyaram

Creatine: does it matter when you take it?
Researched and composed by Vic Goyaram
What type of supplement is Creatine?
Many people take Creatine without really understanding what supplemental creatine does. The function of Creatine has been presented in an earlier article in Kreol language on this page but I will touch on it briefly again.
Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP) is the energy currency in the body. During muscle contraction, as in exercise or other muscular activities, ATP loses one phosphate molecule to give Adenosine Di-Phosphate (ADP). This loss of one phosphate molecule gives energy to power your muscle cells during contraction. This system of energy is called the Phosphocreatine (PCr) system. 

Supplementation increases the "Phosphocreatine Pool" in muscle. 
As you keep exercising your stores of ATP become depleted and can affect your performance. Your body can replace this ATP back by using  your glycogen stores, fatty acids and amino acids but these processes take time. The PCr system is preferred for high intensity movements like high-intensity weight training, high intensity cardio and sprinting. Creatine supplementation helps by increasing the concentration of creatine in muscle (the muscle creatine pool).  As creatine exists in the form of creatine phosphate in the body, this pool is called the "Creatine Phosphate pool". The aim of taking supplemental creatine is to saturate this pool. Therefore creatine is more of an "accumulative" supplement. Meaning you are trying to keep your creatine phosphate pool full by constantly taking it on a daily basis. In contrast as an example, caffeine is not an accumulative supplement, it is a "quick effect" supplement. Meaning you take it now and you may feel the effect in the gym 30 minutes later. Creatine does not work this way. You cannot take creatine now and expect it to make a difference in 30 minutes' time. With this in mind, IT DOES NOT MATTER WHEN YOU TAKE CREATINE.

Some reasons for taking creatine at specific times
The above discussions pertain to plain creatine monohydrate powder. However, some creatine supplements come with fast carbohydrates and amino acids. These supplements can be used post-workout because you want the fast carbs and other recovery ingredients in your system after training, although the practice of fast carb consumption post-workout has been re-evaluated.

  • If you are taking creatine monohydrate with simple carbs, then post-workout is good. If you are taking plain creatine monohydrate with water (which absorbs quite decently too) then you can use it any time but particularly in the morning when stomach acidity is highest. Read more about this in our Creatine Stability article 
  • If you feel by taking it before a training it gives you a psychological boost (an aspect not to be neglected at all) then take it before training. I have not seen any study that has compared the effect of taking creatine at certain times. 
Creatine in preworkout supplements then?
Many pre-workouts include creatine in their formulas but it is unlikely that it is the creatine which is giving you the workout boost after the acute ingestion of the pre-workout. As we will be discussing in an upcoming article on pre-workouts, this effect is likely to be attributed to Caffeine rather than creatine. An acute dose of Creatine is unlikely to give any performance benefit because there need to be some prior loading in order to provide an effect. By loading I simply mean previous regular use that has added to your creatine phosphate pool.

The take-home message
  • There is no evidence that taking creatine at certain times of the day being better in  terms of muscle performance enhancement. 
  • Taking a serving of creatine before workouts (acute dose) won't give you any further benefits except a possible psychological boost. 
  • Take creatine whenever it is convenient for you. Personally I prefer taking it in the morning with water. 
  • Remember you need to take creatine for some time in order to feel an effect. 3-5grams per day with or without a loading phase. 
©,2013, Veeraj Goyaram, Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited.

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