When To Take Creatine
When is the best time to take creatine? On the bottle it says 1 hour before working out. Also, should I be taking creatine every day even if I don't work out. Right now I'm working out about 3-4 times a week. (from Dom
You can find all sorts of questionable advice on the packaging of supplements. Mostly the "directions" are there to help create sales. It isn't uncommon to find the packaging telling you to use more than the research has demonstrated is necessary to get maximum results (the more you take, the quicker you come back for more).
While increased sales isn't the reason your creatine's bottle suggests taking your dose pre-workout, it serves to illustrate that the directions on the packaging aren't always based on scientific fact, they aren't always going to be telling you the best way to use that product.
There is debate over when to take creatine because there isn't enough research to sufficiently demonstrate that one time is significantly more advantageous than another. In this event, all you have to rely on is theory. In the case of taking creatine, the more educated theory seems to lean towards taking your dosage immediately following a workout. Right after a workout is when the body is thought to be most receptive to creatine uptake.
For further information on the subject, check out Dr. Franco-Obregón's article, When Is The Right Time To Take Creatine
You absolutely should be taking creatine everyday, regardless of whether or not you workout. The effects you are after are based on building up the levels of creatine within your muscle tissue. There is a limit to the creatine your body will be able to utilize on a daily basis. The maximum benefits occur when the muscles have been sufficiently saturated.
Assuming you do not do a loading phase, only after about 28 straight days of supplementing will you achieve the maximum levels and therefore benefits. If you load, you can achieve these levels in about a week. Taking creatine only 3 or 4 days a week will not allow the build-up necessary for optimal results.
On non-workout days, the common practice is supplementing first thing in the morning for the same reason as supplementing immediately post-workout. This is the time the muscles are most hungry for nutrition and therefore likely to assimilate the most creatine.
The Guide's Creatine Section
Taking Creatine for Maximum Effect