The Age Old Question: When to Take Creatine
I don’t really know if the question is age old or not, but I couldn’t think of anything better.
Before I just plain tell you the answer I’ll first tell you what creatine is. Creatine is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that is found primarily in meat and fish, AND it is also made in your body by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
Why do so Many People Take Creatine if you Make it in Your Body?
Your body stores a molecule called ATP, which is the body’s form of energy. But you can only store enough ATP (energy) for a short burst (like 3 seconds) and then you start using this high-energy compound called creatine phosphate. When the phosphate and creatine split apart energy is released that helps create more ATP. The phosphocreatine system provides energy for short high-intensity work but it lasts less than 10 seconds and then it begins using a different system to make energy. So, if you supplement your diet with creatine it may increase the amount of creatine that your body stores, which would provide a
Photo credit: banana.mufu
little more energy to sustain those high-intensity workouts for longer periods. It may also help with strength gains and a faster recovery between repeated bouts. I want to emphasize that creatine is only helpful for short-term high-intensity workouts – if you aren’t lifting weights or doing repeated high-intensity work (like sprints) then there is no need to take creatine supplements.
How Much Should I Take
To increase the storage amount of creatine in your body you should take 20 grams per day for 5 days. This would mean that you should take about 1 teaspoon of creatine supplement at a time, 3-4 times per day (1 teaspoon is about 5 grams). Then to maintain the elevated creatine stores take 3 grams per day (which would be less than 1 teaspoon per day); however, creatine levels will stay elevated for several weeks even after you stop taking the supplement because leakage from your muscle tissue happens very slowly, so you may not even need to incorporate a maintenance period.
The Answer to The Age Old Question: When Do You Take Creatine
For the loading phase you need to take the 1 teaspoon dose 3-4 times per day. The easiest is to take it with a meal plus you can then take advantage of insulin. Insulin is secreted when you eat carbs and it helps drive the nutrients from the blood into our cells. During your maintenance period you should take creatine with your post-workout meal for optimal uptake and recovery.
It is also common to cycle your creatine. There are many different methods to do this but it means that you load for a week, maintain for 4-6 weeks, take a week or two off, and then start the cycle over. Or you can use creatine in conjunction with your heavy workouts so it coincides with recovery from workouts that involved the greatest muscle mass. Some athletes don’t discontinue use.
Whichever method you choose is up to you. But extra creatine that your body doesn’t need or use is just excreted – meaning you pee it out. Taking too much creatine to try to have even greater effects will just result in expensive pee.