Written by Jay Kayani
Optimal Time To Ingest Creatine
What Is Creatine?
Creatine (Cr) is a dietary supplement used to enhance performance. During exercise energy is provided via the ATP bond (Adenosine Triphosphate) splitting, providing energy between 0-10 seconds (Russell, Hertz, & McMillan, 2013). Cr is synthesized in the liver and to a lower extent in the pancreas, derived from 3 amino acids; glycine, arginine and methionine which is released into the blood (Haff & Triplett, 2015; D’Antona, et al., 2014).
Cr can be found in meats such as Herring, Beef and uncooked fish being most abundant providing 3-5 grams of Cr and a small amount is produced naturally in the liver (Busch, 2015). 95% of Cr is stored within the muscles whilst the remaining 5% is distributed in the kidneys and brain (Gropper & Smith, 2012).
Why Should I Consume Creatine?
Cr is a key component for chemical energy during a muscle contraction, undergoing phosphorylation that is rapid and reversible. The formation of PCr (Phosphocreatine) allows a phosphate to be donated to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) to resynthesize to ATP (Garazhian & Azimkhani, 2014). Cr is shown to supply 2b muscle fibres used in muscular contraction with ATP ensuring prolonged fatigue strengthening muscle contraction (Naish & Court, 2014).
Forbes et al cite consuming creatine monohydrate (CrM) supplementation is an effective strategy to enhance physiological adaptation via resistance training (Forbes, Waltz, & Candow, 2014). Evidence indicates CrM timing may be an important factor of muscle hypertrophy and strength (Cooper, Naclerio, Allgrove, & Jimenez, 2012).
When Is The Best Time To Ingest Creatine?
A study investigated the effects of a 2.3mg dose of CrM a day for 6 weeks on 20 male and 20 female participants, CrM was consumed daily 4 times alongside meals. The study found CrM did not have any effect on body composition or strength however plasma creatine increased, providing resistance to fatigue (Rawson, Stec, Frederickson, & Miles, 2011). In agreement Bornstein suggests regardless of timing, CrM will still provide benefits (Bornstein, 2016).
Antonio et al conducted a study based around the pre/post workout argument regarding CrM consumption. 19 bodybuilders carried out 5 gym sessions a week for 3 weeks consuming 5g of CrM prior to resistance training , the pre group demonstrated a greater increase in lean body mass (2013).
The study by Antonio et al concluded that post workout CrM consumption resulted in decreased fat mass and increased lean muscle tissue (2013). However this advantage may have come from increased blood flow after high intensity training (Deminici, Rosa, Franco, Jordao, & De Frittas, 2013).
The Effects On Performance
Cooper et al suggest consuming CrM during exercise increases creatine storage and promotes faster ATP regeneration during high intermittent bouts, improving performance and promotes greater training adaptations (2012). However CrM effects diminish as the length of exercise increases.
Aside exercise, Cr has been shown to improve brain function and enhance the brains ability to survive metabolic damage caused by Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals caused from intense training, a study in 2003 showed CrM increased short term memory and problem solve under stress (Rae et al., 2003; Robson, 2016).
Due to water retention, most athletes tend to suffer from dehydration, therefore water consumption is necessary.
Conclusively ingestion of creatine timing depends on individual goals.