Question:

Do you recommend taking a protein drink after working out or before? I’m also taking creatine with my protein shake. Should I take creatine before work out or after? I am a woman body builder 62 years old.

– Yvonne B.

Answer:

You are right to take your protein and creatine supplement in close timing of your workout for the most benefit. This is because of increased blood flow and therefore increased transport of amino acids and creatine to skeletal muscle1. There is a window of opportunity surrounding a workout for maximum impact of nutrients, but the overall intake during the day also matters.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position stand on protein and exercise2 in 2007 mentions that the timing of protein ingestion should be before, during and after exercise. Their latest 2017 position stand on creatine did not mention timing of supplementation, only daily dose.

Protein consumed during recovery helps recovery. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Evidence Analysis Library for Athletic Performance Nutrition3 from 2014 summarized that “Ingesting protein during the recovery period (post-exercise) led to accelerated recovery of static force and dynamic power production during the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) period and more repetitions performed subsequent to intense resistance training.” The International Sports Sciences Association website’s article Nutrient Timing for Bigger Muscle4 indicates protein timing depends on previous meals. Protein shakes are suitable before training in lieu of a recent meal, and protein can be consumed right after a workout to boost gains within an anabolic window of 3-4 hours.

Specifically looking at creatine, a small 2013 study examining the timing of creatine use among recreational male bodybuilders over a month-long period suggested that creatine monohydrate is more effective immediately post-workout5.

As you have no doubt found, depending on the body building source, recommendations for protein and creatine timing vary. I’d say it depends on when you are exercising and when your meals are. Fill in the gaps so that you are consuming protein every 3-4 hours.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Sources

  1. Timing of creatine or protein supplementation and resistance training in the elderly. Candow DG, Chilibeck PD. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2008. 33(1): 184-190
  2. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8
  3. https://www.andeal.org/topic.cfm?cat=5053&evidence_summary_id=251754&highlight=protein%20recovery&home=1
  4. https://www.issaonline.edu/blog/index.cfm/nutrient-timing-for-bigger-muscles
  5. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Jose Antonio, Victoria Ciccone.  Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2013, 10:36

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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