The other day, I received a question from one of the readers of building muscle101 wondering how they should take their creatine in order to get the best results.
I was going to tell him to take the creatine before and after their workouts but after giving it some thought, I decided against it.
Sure, I can sit here and tell everyone that the only effective way to take creatine is to ingest it 20 minutes before a workout and immediately after a workout.
You want to know something, this isn’t correct. This kind of schedule may work for me but it might not work for you.
We all work hard in the weight room and we all want the same thing, which is to better ourselves. Whether it’s to make next years football team or to look good in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, we want to improve on what we have. It’s because of this, we watch our diets and take our supplements.
Supplements are like the foods we eat and like those foods, they have different effects on different people. I can sit here and tell you that if you truly want to get the most from your creatine, you need to take it 20 minutes before your workout with a simple sugar like dextrose. Is this right? No, not necessarily. No two people are going to be exactly alike. Each one of us is made up differently with different genetics and body types. On top of that, we all have different schedules. Some of us are morning people, some of us are night hawks, some of us work the day shift, while some of us work the night shift. It’s these differences that make each of use unique from one another. It’s also these differences that dictates how different foods and supplements will have an affect on our bodies.
I can say that you absolutely must have a whey protein drink as soon as you get up, but really, that’s what works for me. I’ve tailored my supplement schedule from 20 odd years of weight training. Here’s what I truly come to understand about supplements. In order to get the absolute most from your supplements, you have to tailor them to your individuality. What works for someone who weights 145 pounds and going to college is not going to work for someone who weights 245 pounds and works the night shift at the local steel plant. Two totally different body size’s and work schedule.
Looking back, I’ve tailored my supplement schedule a handful of times to match my lifestyle. When I was in university, my supplement schedule was quite different than when I started to work at a steel plant. When I started to work at an office, my supplement schedule changed from working in a steel plant. Also, my weight training programs also helped dictate when I was going to take my supplements.
Here’s what you need to ask yourself:
• What is my weight training schedule like?
• What is my daily work schedule like?
• What is my family life like?
• What are my general time commitments like?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking your self in order to help you decide what and when you want to take your supplements. Are you super busy and only have certain windows of time when you can take your supplements? If this is the case, what kind of supplements would best suit your lifestyle? Maybe your lactose intolerant and can’t have certain proteins, or maybe you have a sensitive stomach and can’t eat a lot of protein at one sitting. Whatever your situation is, you need to tailor your supplement schedule.
Let me give you a personal example. When I was working at an office, my work day started at 8:30 AM and finished at 4:30 PM with 45 minutes for lunch and two 15 minute breaks. I knew that I couldn’t workout in the morning and the only possible time for me to hit the gym was at 5:00 PM - right after work. With that in mind, came up with the following schedule:
• 6:30 AM - Wake up - Have one glass of water with 5 grams of glutamine;
• 7:30 AM - Meal replacement drink on the way into work. This was my breakfast because I was too busy (or lazy depending on how you look at it) in the morning to make a full breakfast.
• 10:00 AM - Protein shake during lunch break
• 3:00 PM - Protein bar and a glass of milk;
• 4:45 PM - Creatine drink on my way to the gym;
• 6:15 PM - Protein drink on my way home from the gym;
• 9:00 PM - Small protein drink.
Now, this type of schedule worked pretty good while I was working a 9 to 5 job but when I started to work at a steel plant working a 12 hour night shift, this all changed. My meals, training schedule, sleep patterns, and supplement schedule all changed because of my shift work.
Also, I have to adjust my supplement dose to match the needs of my body. I weight about 235 pounds so, I need more than someone who weights 150 pounds. You have to keep this in mind when you are figuring how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you need in your diet. For example, I need about 240 grams of protein per day, so each meal has to have around 40 grams of protein. If I have a protein drink after my training, I will usually have to add two or three scoops to it in order to reach 40 grams of protein.
The most important thing I can say about taking supplements is to match the use of these supplements to your body type (weight), daily schedule and lifestyle. You might have to do a bit of experimenting but you’ll find your optimal dosage, and times to take sports supplements.
All the best,
As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.
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