When to take creatine? While this question is unanswered to date, since there is no ideal timing for taking creatine , a recent study of 19 male bodybuilders seems to indicate that post-workout supplementation on training days is the one with the greatest benefit . On rest days, timing is less important and the taking can be done when it is more convenient for the person [1, 2].
It also appears that creatine ingested in combination with large amounts of simple carbohydrates (80-100 g of glucose) or a mixture with 30-50 g of protein and 50-80 g of carbohydrates substantially increases the buildup of muscle creatine compared to the intake of creatine alone. In fact, some studies indicate that supplementing 5 grams of creatine with 93 grams of plain carbohydrate 4 times a day for 5 days seems to increase muscle creatine levels by 60% more than creatine alone. [3-6].
The reason for this is the occurrence of a peak insulin which, in turn, will help increase glycogen in muscles , and consequently increase cell volume. However, it is also important to note that this is probably only more effective on the first or first days of supplementation – read on to understand why!
There are also several studies suggesting that sodium (salt!) May be important for the transport of creatine and in fact there are several athletes who take creatine along with sodium bicarbonate, since sodium levels are lower in post training . However, considering these timings, it also seems to have no significant effect on when to take creatine [7, 8] – again, read on, you’ll find out why.
The saturation level of the cells matter more than the timing
The truth is, more important than when taking creatine, is the saturation level of the cells and as long as the muscles and cells are full of creatine, the gains will appear! There are some potential drug interactions , especially with nephrotoxic drugs (which are toxic to the kidneys) and in these cases the risk of kidney damage increases. Some examples are: cyclosporine, aminoglycosides and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen and piroxicam – the latter being medicines that are often used to help with muscle pain. [9-11]
When you take creatine along with caffeine (an ergogenic substance that increases workability and performance, especially by eliminating fatigue), the latter does not appear to significantly affect the absorption or amount of muscle creatine. In fact, studies show that muscle performance and resistance to aerobic exercise do not increase with taking caffeine + creatine versus creatine. Since caffeine is naturally vasoconstricting and has a diuretic effect on our body, reducing or even cutting caffeine intake during the loading phase of creatine may be a good strategy to maintain the hydration required to volumize the cells. [12-14]
Myths about the adverse effects of creatine
For several years, creatine supplementation was considered toxic and harmful to the body , especially for kidney function. Fortunately, more and more scientific studies, especially since 2000, have helped to discredit these claims. Potential effects of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity have not been demonstrated in studies lasting several months and years, both in young populations and in older populations. [15-18].
Even though there are some changes (within the normal range) of urinary excretion of some substances after a high dose of creatine (20 g / day), it has been found that this will have no effect on renal function, showing that creatine is actually a safe substance that can be used without problems in healthy individuals. [15, 16, 19-27].
However, in subjects with pre-existing renal disease or reduced glomerular filtration rate due to a renal problem secondary to another disease, such as diabetes or hypertension, creatine supplementation should not be given in high doses (> 3-5 g / day ), as the risk of potential adverse effects increases.
Thus, in such cases, an investigation of renal function may be advised when taking creatine, preferably prior to initiation of supplementation , for safety reasons, as well as regular monitoring to avoid potential abnormal reactions. [17, 18, 28]. Likewise, there is no known influence of creatine on liver enzymes or on lung function in healthy people.
Excessive Creatine: What Causes Health?
However, it is clear that, like in any other substance, there are potential adverse effects that can happen when taking creatine in large quantities . Some fluid retention after creatine supplementationappears to be evident because of increased levels of hydration in skeletal muscle tissue. [29-31]. There is still some controversy regarding a greater likelihood of gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, colic and diarrhea when taking creatine with little water or taking it in a single dose in one go.
When to take creatine to minimize side effects?
Distributing the doses throughout the day and taking creatine along with a meal can minimize these effects. [15,32] Finally, it is noteworthy that there are no scientific studies that refer to creatine as a causal factor in any form of cancer and any claims to the contrary are not based on any scientific basis! In fact, as we saw in part 1, creatine protects our body from reactive oxygen species and toxic substances . [15,33,34]