Creatine timing on muscle mass and strength: Appetizer or Dessert?
Resistance training is a potent stimulus to enhance skeletal muscle hypertrophy and strength. Combining creatine supplementation with resistance training may be an effective strategy to enhance the physiological adaptations from resistance training alone. Emerging evidence suggests that the timing of creatine supplementation may be an important regulator of muscle hypertrophy and strength. Creatine ingested before and after resistance training sessions appear to be an effective strategy to increase muscle mass and strength, with slightly greater benefits if creatine is consumed after exercise compared to before. This brief review will evaluate the literature pertaining to the strategic ingestion of creatine and resistance training resulting in practical creatine supplementation strategies.
It is well established that the mechanical stimuli from resistance training increases muscle protein synthesis (1). Although the machinery for stimulating muscle protein synthesis is increased after resistance training (2), the anabolic response may be delayed post-exercise (3). The combination of creatine supplementation and resistance training may lead to greater muscle benefits than resistance training alone in young and older adults (4, 5). Furthermore, the timing of creatine ingestion may be an important factor for creating an anabolic environment for muscle growth (5). Emerging evidence suggests that creatine supplementation, in close proximity to resistance training sessions, may provide superior benefits compared to creatine intake at other times of the day (6, 7). While the mechanistic actions explaining the greater benefits from timed creatine ingestion are unknown, it is possible that blood flow kinetics and creatine transport are involved (8, 9). Therefore, the purpose of this review is to 1) briefly outline the potential beneficial effects of creatine supplementation, 2) review the emerging evidence involving the timing of creat ...