This is the fourth post in our ongoing creatine series. Click below to read the other articles:
Everyone discusses nutrient timing, protein timing, carb timing, etc....very rarely will you read articles mentioning the timing of creatine. This is a travesty for the sports world, because creatine is one of the best supplements, if not best, to be used for peaking an athlete. So, what can we do to better our peaking with the manipulation of creatine.
First, let's keep in mind that this program is set up for a 200+lb power based athlete. This should be started 4 weeks prior to major competition.
Loading Phase: 4 times a day, for four days, the athlete should ingest 15 grams. That's 15 grams, four times a day for 60 total grams of creatine saturation.
Maintenance Phase: 8-10 grams of creatine per serving, one serving per day.
Peaking Phase: If the individual competes on a Friday at mid day, they must take their 8-10 grams the Thursday before in the morning. Then at night take 5 grams before bed. Upon waking up, eat a nice meal and 2 hours prior to competition, consume 10 grams of creatine.
This program will ensure full saturation which will in turn lead to a statistically significant increase in rate of force production.
What if you're sub-200lb? Try 4-5 grams, 4 times a day for 4 days.
What if you're 300lb+? If you're a very lean individual weighing over 300lb, try 8-10 grams, 4 times a day for 4 days. However, if you have a good bit of body fat, stick with the gram total based off the 200+ individual above.
What if you always take Creatine? The question of whether you need to load/cycle at all has been addressed by Dr. Scott Forbes in another Creatine article located here. In short, the question of whether an athlete should cycle is dependent on context.
What does this mean? Researchers saw fat mass decrease by about a half kilo in creatine athletes, they also saw lean muscle mass by about 1.5 kilos. That’s a net gain of 1-kilo bodyweight or 2.2lbs. If you are an endurance athlete, those 2.2lbs during peak season could be a detriment. It would be recommended to cycle on creatine during high volume training phases to enhance recovery, it would then come down to the athlete and coach to decide within the context of performance if they should cycle off the creatine or stay on it during the peaking phase.
Our recommendation? If you are an 800-meter runner or a 1500 meter runner and need speed to shut down a race, then stay on creatine, otherwise, it may be helpful to cycle off creatine. If you are a power-based athlete, it almost never makes sense to cycle off of this potent supplement!