Pre- vs post-workout for creatine? Post exercise leads to greater strength gains, says new study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

"This is the first investigation to demonstrate that the timing of creatine intake affects the adaptive response to exercise" - Jose Antonio and Victoria Ciccone
"This is the first investigation to demonstrate that the timing of creatine intake affects the adaptive response to exercise" - Jose Antonio and Victoria Ciccone

Related tags: Obesity, Mass

The timing of creatine supplements can influence gains in strength and lean body mass, with post-workout supplementation yielding better results, says a new study from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Consuming creatine monohydrate supplements post-workout produced a 1.1 kg greater increase in fat-free mass, and better performance in the bench press, compared to pre-workout, according to findings published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​.

Lead researcher, Jose Antonio, PhD, assistant professor of exercise science at NSU, and CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, told NutraIngredients-USA: The main findings of our creatine study indeed showed that timing (i.e. supplement timing) can have an important effect on the adaptive response to exercise.  Meaning, in well trained recreational bodybuilders, consuming creatine monohydrate immediately post exercise promotes greater gains in strength and lean body mass than consuming it prior to training. 

“Whether this is important over the course of taking creatine for months or years isn't known.  Nonetheless, this investigation adds to the growing body of evidence that when you eat or take supplements does critically affect lean body mass and exercise performance. 

“You can't just cram all your food/calories/protein/nutrients etc in one sitting.”

The study used the commercial creatine monohydrate product Creatine Plasma, provided by VPX Sports (Davie, FL). Dr Antonio is a former sports science consultant to VPX Sports.


Creatine is one of, if not the, most popular sports supplements in the world. Over 40% of athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are reported to use creatine, according to survey data.

In addition, regular creatine supplements use in aging adults can greatly reduce muscle loss due to sarcopenia.

The effects of timing on exercise results have been studied for several nutrients, most notably protein, no previous study has examined the effect of timing of creatine intake on the adaptive response to exercise.

Dr Antonio and Victoria Ciccone recruited 19 healthy recreational male bodybuilders (average age of 23.1, and average weight of 80.2 kg) to participate in their study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive creatine supplements (five grams) immediately before or after workouts for four weeks. During that time, the participants trained an average of five days per week, and supplementation during the two off-days was at the subjects convenience.

Results showed that there was a significant time effect for fat-free mass and the bench press, but fat mass and body weight did not change significantly.

“Post workout supplementation with creatine for a period of 4 weeks in recreational bodybuilders may produce superior gains in fat-free mass and strength in comparison to pre workout supplementation,” ​they wrote.

“The use of recreational bodybuilders in the current investigation is advantageous because it is difficult for highly trained individuals to experience an increase in fat-free mass or muscular strength in the time frame allotted for this study,” ​they added.

Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
2013, 10​:36
“The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength”
Authors: J. Antonio and V. Ciccone 

Related topics: Research, Energy

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