Creatine is an important amino acid that’s popular in the fitness world due to its muscle-strengthening benefits: It helps support short energy bursts, the power output of muscle, recovery and increases in lean body mass. Typically, people who supplement with creatine are looking for greater gains in lean muscle mass, muscle strength for their resistance, interval and strength training workouts.
However, getting the benefits of creatine requires the proper absorption of creatine.
So what is the best time of the day to take creatine for optimal absorption?
First thing’s first: What is creatine?
Creatine is an organic compound that’s made in the body primarily in the kidneys and completed in the liver by three amino acids: glycine, arginine and methionine. Although the body produces creatine naturally, it is excreted daily. You can find creatine in many foods like beef and other red meat, chicken, milk, some seafood and cheese; however, the dose in these foods is very small. Also, creatine is found mostly in animal products, so vegetarians and vegans are at risk for low creatine levels in the muscle.
Due to the consistent excretion and the lack of creatine in most foods, many people choose to supplement creatine. Most creatine supplements are created from sarcosine and cyanamide, which are combined with other catalyst compounds to form creatine crystals. The creatine crystals are vacuum-dried and milled into a fine powder so they’re easily dissolved. Gainful’s Creatine Performance Boost, for example, is sifted through a very fine sieve, which means that the particles dissolve and absorb easily, allowing the body to get and use the creatine it needs for optimal performance. People can mix fine creatine powder with their protein powder to create a drink that gives their muscles a boost and supports effective muscle gains and muscle recovery.
People who workout often know that post-workout lactic acid buildup and soreness happens, but creatine is able to counteract that effect. Creatine enhances energy production in your cells: The most basic form of energy in cells is adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what your cells use to perform their various functions. ATP depletes quickly during exercise, but creatine helps replenish the ATP that’s lost. The more creatine your body has to use, the more energy your muscle cells have for exercise and post-workout recovery.
In terms of performance, creatine helps beginner and advanced athletes alike achieve a variety of fitness goals, from building muscle and strength gains to maintaining your goal weight. A creatine-saturated muscle enhances an athlete’s performance — especially for activities involving repeated high-intensity exercise. Supplementing with creatine increases the water content of your muscles, which allows the muscle to increase in size in a short amount of time and speed up the time it takes to increase lean body weight. Creatine also gives the body energy for sprints or surges in endurance events where the athlete wants to break away from the pack. Research shows that creatine is for all types of athletes of all different levels: Female and male bodybuilders, endurance athletes, gym-goers, sprinters — all athletes can use the benefits of creatine to achieve a number of different fitness and muscle growth goals.
In addition to its performance-related benefits, other benefits of creatine include a boost in brain health protection and cognitive processing. Researchers found that creatine supplementation may help with both Huntington’s disease, which involves nerve cell breakdown in the brain, and Parkinson’s disease, which involves reduced levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain (though these findings are debated). Additional research in animals suggests that taking creatine supplements may also help treat Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, ischemic stroke, brain injuries and spinal cord injuries; however, more studies of creatine are needed.
To reap the performance benefits of creatine and increase your gains, you want to make sure your creatine is properly absorbed. According to a randomized controlled trial titled “Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy” published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the “best time” of the day to take creatine actually depends on the time you exercise.
Ideally, users should take creatine before their workout, or as close to their workout as possible (either right before or right after). A 2016 study titled “Timing, optimal dose and intake duration of dietary supplements with evidence-based use in sports nutrition” published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry suggests that creatine is best supplemented with daily intakes of 3 to 5 grams of creatine. If you are new to creatine and want to build up the level faster, 20 grams of creatine divided into 4 daily intakes of 5 grams in combination with carbohydrate and protein is recommended to “load” the muscle. The study notes that carbohydrate supplementation before exercise is essential to improve exercise performance.
Before beginning your workout, try adding a scoop of creatine to your protein drink, hydration formula or pre-workout. If you really want to load the muscles with creatine and the tendons with collagen before exercise, you should also consider taking a combination of creatine and collagen before your workout. There are many different types of creatine and collagen supplements on the market, but Gainful offers both a Creatine Performance Boost supplement and a Collagen Performance Boost supplement that are designed to pair together.
The exact timing for taking your creatine on rest days is not as important as timing on exercise days; however, you still want to supplement on rest days to keep the creatine content of muscles elevated. To really see the benefits of creatine, it needs to be taken daily.
It’s true creatine does have a bit of a bad reputation due to its common side effects, which include bloating — especially if you’re not working out that day. People who use creatine but don’t engage in regular or intense physical activity may find creatine leads to weight gain or a bloated appearance.
When it comes to avoiding side effects, the ingredients and processing used to create your creatine formula can be a game-changer. The Creatine Performance Boost’s supreme absorbency along with its vegan, keto, paleo, non-GMO, cGMP, gluten-free, no sugar added, HPLC-tested, micronized formula is what allows Gainful’s creatine to stand out among the rest. Users can get all the benefits of creatine, without those unwanted side effects.
(Keep in mind: Both the International Society of Sports Nutrition and the International Olympic Committee regard creatine as extremely safe for all types of athletes and exercise schedules. They also note that creatine is one of the most beneficial sports supplements available on the market.)
Think you could benefit from creatine supplementation? Find out by taking Gainful’s quiz. Gainful’s quiz was designed by a team of experts who can analyze and review your answers to determine a complete sports nutrition that’s right for you. From a personalized protein powder to a personalized pre-workout to a personalized hydration formula to a personalized creatine — all dosages and formulas are designed with your body and your goals in mind. Our experts have the skills and experience to figure out what nutrients will best support your lifestyle and fitness goals. We take every dietary restriction and preference into consideration, whether you’re plant-based, keto, lactose-free, etc. If you’re already a part of the Gainful family and have the basics of your nutrition system set, the Creatine Performance Boost can be conveniently added on to your order.
You’ll find that Gainful’s creatine formula is incredibly versatile. You can add it to a drink made with your personalized protein powder, your hydration formula or your pre-workout. You can also sprinkle the Gainful Creatine Performance Boost over food — it is completely tasteless.
Gainful’s Creatine Performance Boost will help support muscle protein synthesis, enhance muscle recovery and reduce soreness after resistance training or any muscle-damaging workouts you may take on. All you have to do is take the quiz to add the Creatine Performance Boost onto your next Gainful order.
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