Background: Chronic supplementation with creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote increases in total intramuscular creatine, phosphocreatine, skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass and muscle fiber size. Furthermore, there is robust evidence that muscular strength and power will also increase after supplementing with creatine. However, it is not known if the timing of creatine supplementation will affect the adaptive response to exercise. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to determine the difference between pre versus post exercise supplementation of creatine on measures of body composition and strength.
Methods: Nineteen healthy recreational male bodybuilders (mean ± SD; age: 23.1 ± 2.9; height: 166.0 ± 23.2 cm; weight: 80.18 ± 10.43 kg) participated in this study. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: PRE-SUPP or POST-SUPP workout supplementation of creatine (5 grams). The PRE-SUPP group consumed 5 grams of creatine immediately before exercise. On the other hand, the POST-SUPP group consumed 5 grams immediately after exercise. Subjects trained on average five days per week for four weeks. Subjects consumed the supplement on the two non-training days at their convenience. Subjects performed a periodized, split-routine, bodybuilding workout five days per week (Chest-shoulders-triceps; Back-biceps, Legs, etc.). Body composition (Bod Pod®) and 1-RM bench press (BP) were determined. Diet logs were collected and analyzed (one random day per week; four total days analyzed).
Results: 2x2 ANOVA results - There was a significant time effect for fat-free mass (FFM) (F = 19.9; p = 0.001) and BP (F = 18.9; p < 0.001), however, fat mass (FM) and body weight did not reach significance. While there were trends, no significant interactions were found. However, using magnitude-based inference, supplementation with creatine post workout is possibly more beneficial in comparison to pre workout supplementation with regards to FFM, FM and 1-RM BP. The mean change in the PRE-SUPP and POST-SUPP groups for body weight (BW kg), FFM (kg), FM (kg) and 1-RM bench press (kg) were as follows, respectively: Mean ± SD; BW: 0.4 ± 2.2 vs. 0.8 ± 0.9; FFM: 0.9 ± 1.8 vs. 2.0 ± 1.2; FM: -0.1 ± 2.0 vs. -1.2 ± 1.6; Bench Press 1-RM: 6.6 ± 8.2 vs. 7.6 ± 6.1. Qualitative inference represents the likelihood that the true value will have the observed magnitude. Furthermore, there were no differences in caloric or macronutrient intake between the groups.
Conclusions: Creatine supplementation plus resistance exercise increases fat-free mass and strength. Based on the magnitude inferences it appears that consuming creatine immediately post-workout is superior to pre-workout vis a vis body composition and strength.
Keywords: Body composition; Creatine; Dietary supplement; Fat free mass; Supplement timing.