What you do after a workout can significantly impact your energy, muscle recovery, and how long your body remains in fat-burning mode. And post-exercise nutrition is a key component of an effective workout routine. In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about taking creatine post workout.
Let’s start with what creatine is.
Creatine is an amino acid found naturally in the body’s muscle cells and the brain. It helps your body produce energy during a workout. While creatine is found in fish, red meat, pork, and chicken, it is not at the levels found in most creatine supplements. Using creatine enhances protein synthesis. The body stores creatine as phosphocreatine primarily in your muscles, where it is used for energy.
As a fitness enthusiast, it’s important to focus on quality nutrition consistently, whether it’s a rest day or an exercise day. Supplements can enhance workouts, but nothing replaces wise nourishment throughout each day.
Creatine is a popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements, but it is not a pre-workout supplement on its own as it doesn’t provide the same burst of energy. That’s why these supplements also include caffeine. However, while creatine plus caffeine can result in greater workout performance and power output, beware of potential GI distress.
You can use creatine before, during, and/or after a workout. For example, taking creatine 30-60 minutes before a workout allows the body sufficient time to digest and utilize the creatine during the workout to help prevent depletion.
However, consuming creatine immediately after a workout provides superior results compared to taking it beforehand. This is because creatine increases blood flow, so more creatine is stored in the muscles; this blood circulation, plus the loss of glycogen during workouts, translates to cells being more primed to replace what is lost during exercise.
Benefits of Creatine As A Post-Workout Supplement
There are many benefits to incorporating creatine into your workout routine. Creatine:
- Improves muscle recovery - especially when combined with a post-workout meal that is high carb or high protein and high carb
- Promotes muscle mass and lean body mass, muscle fiber size, muscular strength, and power
- Enhances protein synthesis and performance when doing resistance or high-intensity exercises
- Combats aging
- Supports memory, cell protection, injury prevention, cognitive health, and bone health!
And both men and women can safely use creatine supplements (though males have a greater increase in lean tissue mass than females).
Ignore the myths of cramping, dehydration, organ damage, or bloat. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently found that creatine supplementation is safe in otherwise healthy adults. That said, it’s important to consult with a doctor before using because creatine can interact with other medications you are taking.
How to Incorporate Creatine Into A Post-Workout Routine
First, it is important to understand your personal needs and goals before incorporating creatine into your workout routine. You only need 5 grams total, whether using before, during, and/or after exercise. Supplements are exactly that – they supplement a well-balanced diet. Be sure to focus on protein and carbs after finishing a workout.
Here’s a quick recap.
- Creatine has many benefits, including enhanced protein synthesis, muscle recovery, muscle mass, strength, and power.
- When combined with caffeine, you may experience GI upset.
- It’s important to make an informed decision regarding supplements, so continue your own research and consult with a physician before starting any new supplement regimen.