Timing of Creatine Supplementation around Exercise: A Real Concern?

Nutrients. 2021 Aug 19;13(8):2844. doi: 10.3390/nu13082844.


Creatine has been considered an effective ergogenic aid for several decades; it can help athletes engaged in a variety of sports and obtain performance gains. Creatine supplementation increases muscle creatine stores; several factors have been identified that may modify the intramuscular increase and subsequent performance benefits, including baseline muscle Cr content, type II muscle fibre content and size, habitual dietary intake of Cr, aging, and exercise. Timing of creatine supplementation in relation to exercise has recently been proposed as an important consideration to optimise muscle loading and performance gains, although current consensus is lacking regarding the ideal ingestion time. Research has shifted towards comparing creatine supplementation strategies pre-, during-, or post-exercise. Emerging evidence suggests greater benefits when creatine is consumed after exercise compared to pre-exercise, although methodological limitations currently preclude solid conclusions. Furthermore, physiological and mechanistic data are lacking, in regard to claims that the timing of creatine supplementation around exercise moderates gains in muscle creatine and exercise performance. This review discusses novel scientific evidence on the timing of creatine intake, the possible mechanisms that may be involved, and whether the timing of creatine supplementation around exercise is truly a real concern.

Keywords: dietary supplements; ergogenic aid; hypertrophy; resistance training; sports nutrition; strength; supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Creatine / administration & dosage*
  • Creatine / adverse effects
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / administration & dosage*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / adverse effects
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Creatine