If you invest in a supplement like creatine, you want to get the best bang for your buck when finding the best time to take the product.
There is no evidence that one time is better than the other to take creatine; the most important thing is to take it daily to saturate muscle creatine stores.
Of course, there can be practical aspects that can make certain times better for you as an individual than others, so let’s unpack the science behind creatine timing.
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Is There A Best Time To Take Creatine For Muscle Gain?
Several theoretical mechanisms exist that may explain the potential benefits of creatine timing. However, it’s crucial to highlight that these hypotheses lack validation from intervention studies , and there’s not enough evidence that these theoretical mechanisms translate to an improved body composition .
However, it is important to take creatine every day, and to make that happen, you need to set yourself and your environment up for success.
If you have a pre-workout or post-workout shake, it may be easier to take your creatine within these time windows.
If you want to take creatine in the morning or the evening, you can add it to something you do in your morning or evening routine, like brushing your teeth. The important thing is to choose a time when you are most likely to remember to take the creatine.
Does Taking Creatine Before Or After A Workout Matter?
When looking at the total body of evidence on creatine timing, the consensus is that there is no advantage to taking creatine before or after a workout.
In a meta-analysis  of three studies, it was suggested that providing creatine supplementation after exercise might result in a greater increase in muscle mass, although not necessarily in strength, compared to taking creatine before exercising .
This has been used as an argument in favor of post-workout creatine intake . However, it’s important to note that while these studies examined creatine timing around workouts and one showed potential benefits of post-workout creatine, there were flaws in the study designs, and diverse population groups were involved.
Additionally, relying on just three studies, even in a meta-analysis (regarded as the highest quality of evidence), is insufficient to make conclusive recommendations about creatine timing.
The first study  focused on nineteen healthy recreational bodybuilders, randomly assigning them to two groups: one consumed 5 g of creatine just before their workout, while the other took 5 g of creatine right after.
Despite the authors’ conclusion that post-workout creatine intake leads to improved body composition and strength, the analysis method faced criticism [4, 5], and the significance of these results remained unclear .
In the second study , the largest to date, 39 healthy older adults participated in a 32-week study. They were divided into three groups: one took creatine before training, one after training, and one took a placebo.
Both creatine groups showed similar strength improvements, surpassing the placebo group. Therefore, this study did not prove that taking creatine before or after training is more beneficial .
As there was no comparison to taking creatine at other times of the day, conclusions about the superiority of creatine timing close to training couldn’t be drawn from this study.
The third study  involved 22 healthy, non-exercising older adults (50–64 years). Participants were divided into two groups: one taking creatine before training and one taking creatine after training.
Similar muscle and strength gains were observed regardless of the timing of creatine. A limitation of this study is the absence of a placebo group to compare the effects of resistance training alone versus resistance training with creatine.
Does Creatine Timing Matter Between Men And Women?
No studies show differences in how men vs women respond to creatine timing. All the studies mentioned in the previous section [3, 6, 7] had both men and women in the sample, and none of these studies could unequivocally prove that there is an advantage to taking creatine at a specific time.
In a recent investigation  regarding creatine timing, 14 female athletes received creatine supplements following morning (8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) or evening (6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) resistance training sessions over 12 weeks.
The initial creatine dosage was higher for the first 5 days (0.3 grams/kg/d) and reduced afterward (0.03 grams/kg/d).
On non-training days, creatine intake was flexible. Following the study, the morning and evening groups exhibited increased upper-body power and lower-body strength, with no notable difference based on creatine timing.
In conclusion, creatine timing does not matter for both men and women.
When To Take Creatine On Rest Days
Your creatine intake on rest days should be the same as on workout days.
The majority of your body’s creatine, around 95%, is stored in the muscles, with 2/3 of it in the form of phosphorylcreatine .
To illustrate how creatine functions, imagine your muscle creatine stores as a sponge that needs water (creatine) to be filled.
A regular diet typically provides 1 to 2 grams of creatine per day, filling your muscle creatine stores to about 60 to 80% of their capacity (slightly less for vegetarians) .
This process is known as ‘saturating’ your creatine stores, akin to saturating a sponge with water until it can’t absorb more.
To achieve saturation, it’s essential to take creatine daily, whether or not you’re exercising. The impact of creatine on performance requires consistent intake for optimal effectiveness. This means that you should always take creatine on rest days to get optimum results.
Although there is no “best” time to take creatine, it is essential to take it daily. You should take it when you remember and when it is convenient – this can coincide with your pre- or post-workout shake, with breakfast, or before bed.
- Ribeiro, F., Longobardi, I., Perim, P., Duarte, B., Ferreira, P., Gualano, B., Roschel, H., & Saunders, B. (2021). Timing of Creatine Supplementation around Exercise: A Real Concern?. Nutrients, 13(8), 2844. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082844
- Forbes, S. C., Krentz, J. R., & Candow, D. G. (2021). Timing of creatine supplementation does not influence gains in unilateral muscle hypertrophy or strength from resistance training in young adults: a within-subject design. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 61(9), 1219–1225. https://doi.org/10.23736/S0022-4707.20.11668-2
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- Sainani, K. L., Lohse, K. R., Jones, P. R., & Vickers, A. (2019). Magnitude-based Inference is not Bayesian and is not a valid method of inference. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 29, 1428–1436. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13491.
- Candow, D. G., Zello, G. A., Ling, B., Farthing, J. P., Chilibeck, P. D., McLeod, K., Harris, J., & Johnson, S. (2014). Comparison of creatine supplementation before versus after supervised resistance training in healthy older adults. Research in sports medicine (Print), 22(1), 61–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/15438627.2013.852088
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