Creatine: Pre or Post Exercise?
Chronic supplementation with creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote increases in skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass, and muscle fiber size. For years athletes have been in a state of confusion on the best time to take creatine: before or after training? Some studies have suggested that it doesn’t matter when you take creatine, which further confuses things. A new study published this month put the pre- vs. post-workout creatine debate to the test. The pre-supp group consumed five grams of creatine monohydrate immediately prior to training. The post-supp group consumed the same amount of creatine immediately after training. All subjects participated in the split-routine bodybuilding-training regimen designed for skeletal muscle hypertrophy. At the end of the study, both groups had increases in muscle mass and bench press strength, however, fat mass and body weight did not change. There were some minor trends toward greatest increases in muscle mass and bench press strength when the consumption of creatine was consumed after exercise, but the increases were very small. The authors rationalized that the differences were small due to the high training level of the individuals in the study and the short duration of the study. It’s very difficult for well-trained athletes to make consistent improvements in size and strength. Also, because these recreational bodybuilders were already consuming large quantities of protein, this could have affected the results (i.e., they could already have a high amount of creatine stored intramuscularly, possibly blunting the results). The bottom line is just to make sure you take creatine, it makes little difference if you take it before or after exercise.
-Antonio J, Ciccone V. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 6;10:36.