I have been lifting for many years, and I have used several of the most popular sports supplements such as creatine and CoQ10, sports drinks, antioxidants, whey protein drinks, and many other less known supplements. I have spoken with other athletes and sports trainers about how and when to use creatine, and have gotten a lot of mixed responses, so I decided to do some more in depth research.
I spoke with a college professor who teaches upper-division biochemistry, and found shocking information though, about WHEN to use creatine.
First off, I will let you know that, although you can contact me through my site for sports supplements, I am not a creatine dealer. I do not sell, nor do I recommend a certain name brand or creatine here in this article or on my site. You will just want to do your research. I have seen creatine advertised for maximized strength and quicker recovery. I don’t agree with the validity of that statement. I do not see how either of these statements are true. Rather, it seems that added creatine could help improve the length of time before muscle failure, while working out. I am just trying to point out that you cannot always trust everything that you read online.
The worse thing that you could do, would be to consume the supplements right before exercise! You will actually NOT want to take creatine during or right before a workout. This would cause the creatine to pull phosphates OFF of the ATP, resulting in ADP, resulting in faster muscle fatigue. What you want, is for the creatine to pull phosphate off of some food that you eat (instead of from your own body’s ATP), and to then use those phosphates to create new ATP. Allow me to reveal to you a simple way to do it right.
How Creatine Works:
I have been weight lifting for years. I workout almost daily, but just to stay fit, not to be ranked in any competitions. You are probably already aware that in order for any muscle to contract, energy has to be released through the breakdown of ATP. While doing heavy weight-training, you are in doing anaerobic exercise. Once you run out of ATP and you reach muscle failure.
ATP stands for Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (3 phosphates)
ADP stands for Adenosine Di-Phosphate (2 phosphates)
The body creates ATP through chemical reactions that take many steps, such as glycolisis and other reactions. These reactions are often just forcing the bi-products of ATP breakdown (ADP), back together in order to make ATP again. Here is where the creatine comes into play. Your body needs phosphate in order to force the ADP back into ATP for muscle use. In order for creatine phosphate to be created, a chemical reaction must take place, in which the creatine monohydrate, a natural dietary substance found in meats (or in supplements in this case), is converted to the creatine phosphate form.
Red meat is the best source of creatine, however, there is only about 1 gram per pound of meat. Your body naturally produces creatine in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, but they only excrete about 1 to 2 grams of creatine per day. Thus, the reason why many choose to use creatine supplementation.
Many sites will tell you about the suggested amounts to take, and about the loading phase for the first week, and the first month, but they do not all seem to agree on when to take it. You can find more about creatine in general, at this page:
When should you use creatine?
Should you use it before your workout, during your workout, or after? In learning the biochemistry and how creatine supplementation works, I found out that the information that I had gotten from everyone else was slightly misinformed.
So when do you take it? Make certain that you consume your creatine supplement WITH food, and WELL before (maybe 45 minutes to 1 hour or more) any exercise. This is how you will maximize your benefits.