Creatine Pre Or Post Workout? When to Take Creatine Supplements

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
October 26th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
111.4K Reads
Creatine Pre Or Post Workout? When to take Creatine Supplements
Creatine is found in a lot of pre-workout supplements, but is that the best time to take it? Learn how timing and dosage can affect your results in the gym.

Creatine supplements are like the Kardashians. They aren’t going away any time soon.

But unlike the Kardashians, creatine works.

As one of the most clinically studied supplements on the market, its effectiveness is unmatched. With more discoveries about this wonder supplement surfacing, it’s no surprise gym-goers have more questions than answers.

The most common questions relate to supplement timing. Is it better to take a dose before or after training? Let's tackle this question and others to make sure you make the most of your creatine intake.

What Can Creatine do for You?

Creatine is an integral piece to the energy production, expenditure, and recovery process. Since the body primarily uses ATP (adenosine triphosphate) during resistance training sessions, it breaks this compound down to ADP (adenosine diphosphate). It’s creatine’s job to replenish ADP back to ATP to support repeated work.

Since the body can only do so much with what it has naturally, supplementing with creatine monohydrate makes sense. You will be able to replenish ATP stores quicker with a ready supply.

Additionally, creatine “superhydrates” muscle cells, allowing it to easily and efficiently carry out vital processes involving cell organelles, protein synthesis, and other important jobs at the microscopic level.

The result? Hydrated and restored muscle cells enabling you to work longer, harder, and more often. In turn, you get stronger and bigger faster.

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Creatine Pre- or Post-Workout?

So, when should you take a dose of creatine? The short answer is both pre and post workout. Before training it would be wise to load your muscle cells with this super supplement to reap the advantages early on.

But let’s not forget about the critical post-workout recovery opportunity. While the old concept of the vital “window” has been shot down, you can’t argue the importance of timing. It still matters when it comes to gaining the most muscle possible while staying lean.

After training, your muscles have undergone a brutal session of being torn down, ripped up, and beaten blindly. Now is the time to shove some good stuff into them to help kick-start your recovery process. You'll want to load in another dose of creatine so it can have first dibs on those starving muscle cells.

Why after? The work has already been done, you say? Taking creatine after training is preparing you for your next training session. There is an old saying that after training you should eat for your next workout, not the one you just completed. If you follow through, you will be more than ready for your next session.

How Much Creatine and When?

So, you know you need it. You know when to take it. Now the question is: How much? Total bodyweight, lean muscle composition, and other factors play a role in dosages, but start with 3 to 5 grams both pre- and post-workout.

Creatine Powder Supplement Timing

Important point of note: Don’t be one of those guys in the gym locker room downing dry creatine powder one minute before going out to the gym floor and lifting. That’s dumb and here’s why. It takes your body time to initially digest any food source, process it, and then distribute it to where it needs to go (even on an empty stomach).

Be sure to give any small pre-workout meal and/or supplement at least 30 minutes to properly digest to reap the full benefits.

Should you "load"?

Loading creatine was a practice that was highly recommended when it first came to market. The theory was that you could saturate your muscles with creatine to create a primed effect. The thought was that this would kick-start initial gains in strength and size.

But research has proved that this practice isn’t necessary. Several studies have concluded that through short and long-term supplementation, both maintenance and loading protocols had similar end results. In short, you can simply start with a maintenance dose if loading isn’t your thing.

Dosing on Off Days

Here’s another common question when it comes to creatine. What do you do leading up to or after rest days? On off or low intensity days (maybe you perform cardio on off days), take only one maintenance dose of creatine. A morning dose would be best when your body is primed for nutrient absorption.

What Type of Creatine is Best?

Monohydrate, creatine ethyl-ester, liquid, powder, dicreatine malate, micronized, kre-alkalyn, and effervescent. There are many forms of creatine on the market with each promising to be better than the one before it.

Time and time again research has proven that good ole fashioned creatine monohydrate (in powdered form) is still the most effective way to get the benefits. Creatine monohydrate is also the cheapest around so your wallet will thank you too.

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Key Takeaways

Supplementing with possibly the world’s most popular legal performance substance is a no-brainer! If your goals include a bigger, stronger physique, choose wisely. Take a simple creatine monohydrate at the right times of day and, as with any supplement protocol, be patient. Building muscle the natural way takes time and serious work in and out of the gym.

Posted on: Mon, 04/24/2023 - 14:43

Can you take a pre workout with creatine in it before workout and then take creatine after workout? The pre work out has 5 grams in it already?

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Posted on: Mon, 04/24/2023 - 21:58

Hey Steve, you can, but you don't have to. 10 grams total (5 pre and 5 post) may add some benefit, but if you want to skip the post-workout creatine, you should be ok.

Posted on: Sat, 04/20/2019 - 19:41

Would taking creatine before walking up on stage be a intelligent idea to fill the muscles up with water?

naga bala krishna
Posted on: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 00:41

Which is the correct time to take creatine and protein powder. Pre or post workout

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Posted on: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 08:57

Hi Naga,

Whenever you can get it down during the day. So long as you're taking it consistently every day, you'll see the benefits associated from taking creatine.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 08/29/2017 - 23:33

Dear Sir
I am a beginner.I am 37 years old.I want to ask can i take creatine mono as pre workout and bcaa immediately after workout.

Bhanu Prasad
Posted on: Tue, 07/04/2017 - 10:58

Can we take Creatine as an Intra workout, or should it be taken only on pre and post workout?

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Posted on: Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:09

Hi Bhanu,

A: As mentioned above timing of creatine is not a critically important aspect to supplementing with it. Consistent use over time is the most important aspect. The studies that have examined timing of creatine seem to indicate that post-workout might be just a tad be bitter than pre-workout."


So long as you take it consistently, when you take it has a marginal effect at best.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 19:31

I've read that you should also be taking glutamine pre and post. But another article I read also said that by taking them both at the same time I wouldn't be getting the full benefits of either. T/F? Or should I be taking them at different times. Just looking to get the most out of my supplements for my body and workouts.

Posted on: Sun, 01/22/2017 - 13:19

Does the creatine need to be taken on its own or can it be mixed with pre workout or whey protein?

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Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2017 - 14:07

Hey Mike,

It can be taken with your preworkout or whey.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 11/27/2015 - 11:01

That was the greatest opening line I've ever read

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Posted on: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 11:51

Hi Jake. Ha! Thanks so much!

Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2015 - 21:42

Is taking a capsule of creatine monohydrate 3-5g still as effective as the powder?

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Posted on: Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:17

Yes, as long as they are the same amounts.

Posted on: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 04:43

But if I take say 5 grams pre and 5 grams post workout that will be more than the daily recommended intake of creatine cause I read an article on creatine saying taking more than 5 gms wont be effective and surplus taken goes wasted is it true ?

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Posted on: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 13:13

Usman. If you feel 5 grams is too much simply reduce it down to 3 grams pre and post.

Posted on: Sat, 11/21/2015 - 10:48

Thanx Brad