Is it Bad to Take Creatine Before Bed?

Creatine, which is produced naturally in the body, consumed in our daily diets and ingested through supplementation can be taken before bed, or rather, there's no evidence to suggest the contrary.

There's no evidence pointing to the downsides of ingesting creatine before bed. (Image: Eugeniusz Dudzinski/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

There's no evidence pointing to the downsides of ingesting creatine before bed.

However, studies have pointed to one optimal time to have creatine, a time in which you can best reap creatine benefits.

What is Creatine?

Cleveland Clinic describes creatine as a natural source of energy in the body for muscle contraction. It can aid in exercise performance and recovery, and is produced — at a rate of one gram per day — within the body, namely, in the liver, kidneys and pancreas.

It can also be obtained through dietary means, by consuming meat or seafood. According to Huntington's Outreach Project For Education at Stanford (HOPES), creatine is dispersed throughout the body in areas such as the heart or brain, though 95 percent is stored in the skeletal muscles. It's then metabolized during physical activity.

Vegetarians tend to have low creatine levels as much of creatine is gotten from meat, though they can boost their diets with creatine supplements. Without added creatine from a daily diet, it would be difficult for the body to maintain normal levels of creatine. Though there have been studies on creatine and creatine supplementation, there is still much that is unknown about its effects.

Proper dosage may depend on age and whether you're taking creatine for athletic purposes. MedlinePlus recommends that those experiencing age-related muscle loss take a loading dose of 20 grams of creatine for four to seven days, then maintenance doses of two to 10 grams daily, combined with resistance training.

The Best Time to Take Creatine

As it's a source of energy, one may question the soundness of consuming creatine before bed. Though there's not much research on the effects of taking creatine at night, there's one study that points to a prime time to take creatine: after a workout.

The August 2013 study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found that consuming creatine post-workout had greater benefits for body composition than taking it pre-workout. The study was small, as only 19 male bodybuilders participated.

Subjects were assigned to pre-supplementation and post-supplementation groups. Each consumed 5 grams of protein before or after exercise. The participants then trained for an average of five days per week for four weeks.

Though the study showed post-workout benefits, researchers from the same study observed that there was no difference in pre- and post-workout supplementation during resistance training of the upper and lower body. That said, more evidence is needed to confirm that post-workout is indeed the best time to take creatine.

Creatine Benefits and Side Effects

Cleveland Clinic points out creatine benefits that include improving overall exercise performance, preventing or diminishing the severity of an injury, aiding in post-exercise recovery and helping athletes withstand heavy training loads.

It's also been shown that those who take creatine supplements experience fewer instances of cramping, dehydration, muscle tightness and muscle strains. Moreover, there's been evidence that creatine supplements may have therapeutic benefits for certain diseases, such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.

Side effects, according to HOPES, are few and far between. There have been some reports of renal dysfunction due to creatine supplementation, though there's little evidence on the effects of creatine supplementation. Cleveland Clinic reports potential weight-gain as a side effect, due to water retention in the body's muscles.

Despite the paucity of negative effects, you should consider consulting your doctor before taking creatine supplements, especially if you're taking other supplements or medicines that may trigger an adverse reaction.

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