When you're supplementing your diet to improve your workouts, you'll want to take your supplements at the time when they'll offer the most benefits. For protein and creatine supplementation, your muscles are most receptive immediately following a workout. Consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
About Creatine and Protein
Creatine is an amino acid naturally present in your body and also found in animal proteins, including meat and fish. In your muscle, creatine is used as a source of energy during short high-intensity exercises such as lifting weights. Supplementation seems to enhance energy, strength and athletic performance.
Athletes and weightlifters may take protein supplements to help meet their increased needs, which may range from 1.2 grams to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which is 82 grams to 116 grams for a 150-pound person. Protein supplementation may enhance muscle growth and recovery, as well as aid in reducing muscle soreness.
Timing Your Supplementation
To get the most benefit when supplementing with creatine and protein, take it within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise. The post-workout meal is important for muscle recovery and growth and should include protein, carbohydrate and fat. A study published in 2013 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition also found that supplementing with creatine after a workout was more beneficial than taking it before a workout.
Create a shake using creatine and protein powder to drink after your workout. Be sure to include a good source of carbohydrate in your shake, which not only helps replenish energy stores in your muscle, but also improves creatine absorption. Consider blending your powders with nonfat milk, a banana and peanut butter. Or make a shake using almond milk, raspberries and flaxseed, plus your supplements. If you take creatine in pill form, take it with your protein shake.
Things to Consider
Creatine supplementation increases fluid retention in your muscles, so drink plenty of water when supplementing your diet to prevent dehydration. Also, do not combine your creatine supplement with caffeine, says MedlinePlus, due to concerns that it may cause a stroke.
Even though your protein needs may be higher as an athlete, taking more protein than your body needs is not going to improve muscle strength or ability more than just meeting your needs. The National Strength and Conditioning Association suggests an average of 23 grams of protein with your post-workout meal to promote muscle gains and recovery.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Creatine
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: The Effects of Pre Versus Post Workout Supplementation of Creatine Monohydrate on Body Composition and Strength
- Duodecim: Whey Protein and Creatine and Nutritional Supplements
- Colorado State University Extension: Nutrition for the Athlete
- MedlinePlus: Creatine
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: Dietary Protein and Strength Athletes