When Should Creatine Be Taken?

Creatine is a widely used supplement known for enhancing muscle strength and performance. But what many people wonder is, “When is the right time to take it?” 

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In this article, we’ll explore the optimal timing for creatine consumption. We’ll explain the reasons behind timing, explore its benefits, and understand how it can affect your workout and overall fitness.

What are creatine supplements?

Creatine is a popular dietary supplement used to enhance athletic performance and muscle growth. It’s a substance naturally found in muscle cells, where it helps produce energy during high-intensity exercise or heavy lifting.

In muscles, creatine is used to regenerate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s primary energy carrier. This regeneration is especially important during short, intense sprinting or weight lifting.

By increasing the availability of ATP, creatine can improve strength, power, and high-intensity exercise performance. It also aids muscle growth by drawing more water into the muscle cells and increasing muscle mass over time.

What are the benefits of using creatine supplements?

Creatine offers several advantages in improving your physical performance and overall well-being. It helps your muscles work better, making you stronger during exercises and activities. This added strength can lead to lifting heavier weights, doing more reps, or performing better in sports.

Taking creatine before workouts can boost your energy levels, allowing you to train harder and longer. This can lead to better results and progress in your fitness goals.

Some studies suggest that creatine may have positive effects on brain function, including memory and thinking skills. This benefit extends beyond physical performance.

Creatine can also aid muscle recovery, reducing the soreness you feel after intense workouts. It also supports muscle growth, helping you achieve a more sculpted physique.

These advantages make it a valuable supplement for improving their fitness and well-being.

When should you consume creatine?

Creatine supplements

When taking creatine, timing can make a difference in how effective it is to the body. Here’s when you should take creatine for optimal results: 


Taking creatine before you start your workout gives your muscles extra fuel, helping you push harder during your exercises. Studies have shown that pre-workout creatine can improve your strength and performance.

To make the most of it, take about 3-5 grams of creatine 30 minutes before your workout.


Creatine after exercise can help your muscles recover faster from your hard work. Taking 3-5 grams of creatine after your workout can be beneficial.

Studies have shown that post-workout creatine can aid muscle recovery and growth.

On rest days

If you want to maintain muscle and strength, taking creatine even on rest days is advisable. A smaller dose of 3-5 grams is usually sufficient on rest days.

Loading phase vs. maintenance phase

A man in the gym taking creatine

When starting creatine, you might come across the terms “loading phase” and “maintenance phase.” The loading phase is a way to saturate your muscles with creatine quickly. It can help you experience the benefits of creatine faster.

During the loading phase, you typically take around 20 grams of creatine per day, divided into 4 doses, for 5-7 days.

Note: Some people may experience stomach discomfort during this phase.

The next phase after the loading phase is the maintenance phase. This phase keeps your muscles supplied with creatine but at a lower dose. In the maintenance phase, taking 3-5 grams of creatine per day is common.

Note: It may take longer to see the full effects compared to the loading phase, but it’s easier on your stomach.

Possible side effects of creatine supplements

While creatine is generally safe, being aware of potential side effects is essential. Some people may experience stomach discomfort when taking creatine, especially during the loading phase. 

Taking creatine with food or splitting the daily dose can help reduce stomach problems.

Taking creatine might also make you retain more water, which could lead to temporary weight gain.

While creatine is generally safe, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects like stomach discomfort and water retention. How and when you take creatine can play a role in minimizing these effects and ensuring your safety.

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Creatine is a well-researched supplement known for increasing muscle strength and power, improving high-intensity exercise performance, and enhancing cognitive functions. Its role extends beyond sports and fitness, offering potential cardiovascular and bone health benefits.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I take creatine for best results?

The timing of creatine intake depends on your preference and goals. Some take it before workouts to boost energy, while others take it after for recovery. You can also take it on rest days to maintain levels. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Is it better to take creatine before or after a workout?

Both can be effective. Taking creatine before a workout may provide an energy boost, and taking it afterward can aid recovery. Choose the timing that aligns with your fitness goals and what feels most comfortable.

Can I take creatine on an empty stomach?

Yes, you can take creatine on an empty stomach. It’s generally well-tolerated. However, some people prefer taking it with food to minimize stomach discomfort, especially during loading.

What’s the best way to take creatine?

The most common way to take creatine is by mixing it with water or a beverage. You can also find it in capsules or tablets. The key is to ensure you get the recommended dosage, whether you take it before, after, or during a meal. Staying hydrated is also important to maximize its benefits.

About Eric Barnett

Avatar photoEric is a personal trainer and avid outdoor enthusiast who strives to always be on the forefront of health innovation. A father of two who recognized early on that as he aged, he needed to keep his body and nutrition in check to keep living life to the fullest.

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