The Optimal Time to Take Creatine and Protein Together

Supplements are often used to prep for a workout, help prevent injury and speed up recovery after training. 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.

When Is the Best Time to Take Creatine & Protein Together? Credit: PredragImages/E+/GettyImages

Tips

Drink creatine and protein immediately following a workout when your muscles are most receptive.

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 or sprinting. Supplementation with creatine 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.

Creatine and Protein Serving Suggestions

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. Fluid retention from creatine supplementation can also cause weight gain. According to Medline Plus, creatine supplementation can lead to negative side effects including nausea, muscle cramps, diarrhea or stomach pain. Creatine can make symptoms of some medical conditions worse, including bipolar and kidney disorders. People with Parkinson's disease might have worsening symptoms if creatine is combined with caffeine. Combining creatine and caffeine might also decrease benefits that creatine alone has on athletic performance.

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. Too much protein can have negative effects. According to Human Kinetics, people with renal disease, on fluid restriction or have low calcium intake should not exceed more than 4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

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