Creatine monohydrate has proven its superiority as a muscle gain supplement repeatedly and has become a staple when it comes to making drastic strength and muscle mass gains and even more so when ingested while lifting weights. The main reason is within its ability to take on the role of the main molecule for energy storage and being able to quickly reverse the process of energy depletion in your muscle cells while you are exercising. This restores energy levels in muscle cells, making them stronger and able to perform at a higher level. Creatine is also known to increase the uptake of calcium in the muscle cells.
This is important since calcium acts as a facilitator of the interaction between the two proteins found in muscle cells, myosin, and actin, and it’s this very interaction that is generating contraction within the muscles. The greater the calcium content within your muscle cells, the greater the interaction between actin and myosin, which ultimately increases the force of the contractions leading to increased strength.
Creatine’s ability to increase muscular hypertrophy is derived largely from the fact that it is able to trigger creation of new muscle cells, increase protein synthesis in the muscles and decrease the production of myostatin which depletes muscle tissue, while at the same time increase the release of particular hormones that promote muscle building like IGF-1 (Insulin Growth-like Factor) and testosterone.
Timing your doses is vital
Timing creatine doses when it is combined with lifting weights has proven to be an essential factor that increases the aforementioned ergogenic effects. Several studies have confirmed that a dose of 5 grams of creatine taken every day for 12 weeks straight, both pre and after workout has led to a drastic increase in muscle tissue in comparison to the second group of subjects which took creatine only in the morning and in the evening, without using it relatively close to the time before starting training or after finishing.
Additionally, another study tried to investigate the different effect a dose of 5 grams of creatine would have on muscle gains taken right before or right after exercising, within a duration of 5 weeks. The study produced an interesting result in which researchers noticed an increased gain in muscle tissue and strength in the participants’ group which took creatine immediately after exercising in comparison to the second group which took creatine immediately before exercising.
Intake of protein after workout has a greater impact on increasing muscle mass
Even though both of the aforementioned studies pose a strong indication that creatine dose timing is important, neither one of them had a control group that participated in lifting weights while at the same time taking a placebo dose which logically did not have creatine monohydrate. The lack of a control group makes the task of determining the effect of creatine on muscle strength and mass in regards to taking it before or after exercising a lot more difficult.
Another study which wanted to eliminate this particular limitation examined the impact that 8 grams of creatine had on muscle size and strength taken immediately after or before workout sessions, while at the same time adding a control group which took a placebo lacking creatine. This provided a chance to examine whether timing creatine doses alone has an impact on increasing physical performance.
The study produced results which were very similar to the previous study where participants that took creatine right after exercising had a much bigger increase in muscle tissue in comparison to those who were exercising and taking creatine beforehand, or those in the control group that were exercising but weren’t using any creatine.
However, this study also produced different results since it didn’t notice any significant reduction of strength between consuming creatine before and after exercising, which indicates that timing creatine doses only has an influence on muscle hypertrophy while taking creatine before and after exercising has the same effect on increasing strength.
The researchers conducting the study further speculated that the bigger muscle mass increase when creatine is taken after exercising could be because of the simultaneous creatine level increase in the blood, because the same levels have a tendency to reach a peak approximately 1-2 hours after consumption, as well as the increase in blood flow to the muscles brought on by mechanical stress, since contraction of the muscles increases the blood flow to the muscles for approximately 1-2 hours.
That’s why the parallel increase of creatine levels in the blood, as well as blood flow to the muscles, increase the transport of blood filled with creatine to the trained muscles, which increases the uptake of creatine in said muscles and ultimately stimulating bigger muscle mass gains.
Diminishes muscle breakdown at the appropriate time intervals
Even though the mechanisms inside the muscle cells responsible for the muscle gain increase from post-training creatine intake aren’t understood in detail, the increased amount of creatine in the muscles caused by post-training intake seems to have a superior impact on muscle growth stimulation by a more efficient increase in the muscle cell’s hydration levels, thus increasing protein synthesis.
The capability of post-training creatine intake to increase intramuscular creatine levels exactly 1-2 hours after lifting weights, improve the cells’ hydration as well as protein synthesis in the muscles, has a direct effect on the ability to put on muscle mass more rapidly, taking into account the fact that lifting weights has a tendency to stimulate breakdown (catabolism) of muscle tissue for a prolonged period of time after exercising. That is why intake of creatine after exercising can prevent the catabolism brought upon by lifting weights by increasing protein synthesis in the muscles at the right time, which will ultimately lead to a buildup of protein in the muscles and muscle growth.
In summary, research has shown that consumption of creatine right after lifting weights has a tendency to increase muscle mass gain. However, the data collected from numerous studies does not show any drastic difference in gains of strength when comparing the usage of creatine before and after exercising, since participants that take around 5-10 grams of creatine monohydrate daily have shown similar strength levels improvement, no matter what time they took their creatine.
Taking into consideration that creatine supplements are very cheap, proven to be safe for your health and the majority of people are looking to increase muscle strength and size, we suggest that you use around 3-5 grams of creatine before and after going to the gym, so that you fully optimize the ability to put on slabs of meat on your frame and make yourselves stronger. If you are striving to gain eve more muscle mass, go for a higher amount of creatine after exercising to increase the body’s capability of gaining more lean muscle mass.