Absolute Best Time to Take Creatine

The Post-Workout Advantage

While there’s really no bad time to take it, there is a best time. Check out this creatine research.

Creatine works for size and strength gains. It works when you load it, and it works when you don’t load it but take it consistently. It even seems to boost longevity and help with heart function.

Thousands of studies show that it’s perfectly safe, despite all those ninnies in the 1990s who told us we were going to blow out our kidneys and get all roid rage-y. Yeah, didn’t happen.

You’d think science would be “done” with creatine by now, but the studies keep pouring in. For example, we’re still looking at dosing protocols. Is there a best time to take it?

Well, for years, we assumed the best time was before training. It makes intuitive sense. Take the magical muscle powder before you apply resistance to said muscles, right? Sure, that works fine, but taking creatine AFTER training turns out to be even better.

The Meta-Analysis

In You’re Taking Creatine at the Wrong Time, TC Luoma summarized a 2013 study showing that taking creatine monohydrate leads to twice the lean muscle mass gains in those using it right after training compared to those using creatine pre-training. The same group of lifters who took their creatine post-workout also lost more fat than the pre-workout group doing the same workout.

Now, researchers Forbes and Candow have looked at three newer studies. In a nutshell, they show that post-workout creatine ingestion is slightly more effective than pre when it comes to size gains (but not so much strength gains).

Why? As TC noted, it could be because the workout itself somehow sensitized the cells to creatine uptake. Based on the meta-analysis, it could be because you have a pump going after lifting (increased blood flow, better delivery).

How To Use This Info

It’s really hard to take creatine “wrong.” But for best results, take it after training if hypertrophy is your main goal. You can also take it before and after if you’d like. Five grams is the standard dose, but try 3 grams before and 3 grams after.

If you’re having a pulse of Mag-10 post-workout, just add creatine to the mix. I suspect you’d also get better results from creatine by adding it to your Plazma or Surge Workout Fuel, supplements used, in part, during the workout. Your muscle should be pumped and your cells should be sensitized to uptake after a couple of sets.

For best results, use micronized creatine monohydrate.





Forbes SC et al. Timing of Creatine Supplementation and Resistance Training: A Brief Review. Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, 2018.


I take it intra-workout. Was there any information for intra or was it strictly pre and post workout?


This is my plan as well - I know the old “grape juice” insulin response protocol is likely outdated (but, oh man, the blowouts from 5 glasses of grape juice per day during the loading phase! :grinning:)

It’s quite convenient to mix in the Surge Workout Fuel to sip before, during and after training.

Which brings me to another question for @Chris_Shugart - does the micronized creatine “expire” once it’s been opened? I found a jar of the old 800g container in the back of my supplement cabinet with a mfr date of 04/2021. I guess I opened it sometime in 2021 or 2022 but it got shoved to the back and forgotten.

Do you think it’s still full potency and ok to take? It’s been sealed and stored away from light/heat for the duration. Powder is still powdery and shows no sign of moisture infiltration/clumping.



The studies in the article just looked at pre and post, but since the effects seem to be related to the pump and sensitized cells, I think intra would work well too since we usually have a pump midway through a workout anyway. Based on 4 studies, after does seem to be best.

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If I don’t take my creatine post-workout, I’ll drop it into Surge Workout Fuel. As I wrote in the article, it all works (even pre), so I wouldn’t sweat it too much if it doesn’t jibe with your schedule, but if it can work even better post and it’s no hassle, then why not?

As for an expiration date, I’m not aware of it. Sometimes powders can get clumpy but most don’t “lose potency”, probably not creatine at least. Heck, I’d use it.

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Ha! Yeah, I think part of the reason the gains from creatine were so great back then was that we were delivering our creatine with 200g of extra carbs and a boatload of extra calories during those loading phases.

For sure - it’s worth noting that my first experience with creatine was in 1996 via a product that @TC_Luoma will remember quite well called “Phosphagain” developed at EAS (not to be confused with a contemporary EAS product called “Phosphagen” and later “Phosphagen HP”).

Phosphagain, was an MRP (similar to Myoplex perhaps?) + creatine designed for us “hardgainers” that was some protein and carbs. I couldn’t find an image of the old nutrition label on the web, but lo-and-behold, I found my old copy of the EAS 1996 Supplement Review by Bill Phillips sitting on the shelf.

Let me tell you - 5 servings of that stuff per day during the loading phase produced absolutely zero-warning, gut-wrenching blowouts. And that was at age nineteen - I couldn’t even imagine today! It was also quite expensive in its day!

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I think I had a can or two of that, although I under-dosed all my supplements back then (teacher’s salary).

For a period of time, supplement makers added creatine and ephedra to everything, even adding ephedra to protein powder. They knew that customers, young ones especially, needed to FEEL IT. So, creatine for the pump, ephedra for the kick. You felt it, especially if you screwed up and had some “protein powder” at night, forgetting about the ephedra.

I recall some company or another even secretly added creatine to their el cheapo soy/maltodextrin gainer blend and not listing it on the label. Young customers thought the “weight gainer” worked especially well because of creatine’s quickly noticable effects, like intramuscular fluid retention. Creatine does work, of course, but this was a sneaky way of using it.

I take creatine now more for the heart and brain health benefits; the gains are just a nice side benefit.

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Agreed, this is exactly the reason I’ve added it back after abstaining for a number of years - funny how your priorities change when you’re closer to 60 than you are to 30.


Does this mean we should only use PWO, or daily but PWO on training days?

Post-workout on training days (ideally), any time on off days.

I just started adding ~3g micronized creatine to my Surge and drinking it during my morning workout, then adding another ~3g to my post workout smoothie. I’ll probably stick with this protocol awhile and see how it goes. Seems to make sense, and it’s easy to do.

What are the thoughts on adding HMB with the creatine? I’ve been doing this (1000 mg of HMB) the last few days based on studies showing they have a synergistic effect.

Recent (good) studies seem to show that HMB doesn’t do much, unless you’re very old or sick – it may help with wasting diseases. But that’s about it. It won’t hurt you, but probably not doing much either.

Using creatine along with leucine looks like it has a much greater synergistic effect than mixing creatine with HMB. Surge Workout Fuel already contains a big hit of leucine, so you’re probably covered without the HMB.

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I am still on the Chin Up project Chris. I am using creatine pre and post workout and the Biotest micronized creatine works the best for me. A supplement that works and is good value : I
t almost sounds too good to be true.

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Awesome! I was thinking of doing another round of he Chin-Up Project myself. We’ll see if these now-older elbows will hold up!