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Unlocking the Mysteries of Creatine: Your Comprehensive Guide

A guy having creatine shake in his hand.

In the realm of sports nutrition, few supplements have garnered as much attention and acclaim as creatine. With its well-established benefits for muscle strength, power, and endurance, it’s no wonder that athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike are eager to incorporate it into their regimen. However, amidst the wealth of information available, there are still lingering questions about its usage, particularly concerning fasting, autophagy, insulin response, and compatibility with specific diets and beverages. Let’s delve into the science to demystify these queries, based on scientific research.

When to Take Creatine: Maximizing Absorption

Research suggests that timing creatine intake around workouts may optimize its absorption and utilization by muscles. A study published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that consuming creatine immediately before or after exercise resulted in greater muscle uptake compared to consumption at other times. Additionally, a review in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” recommends taking creatine with a carbohydrate or protein source to enhance uptake, as insulin secretion in response to these nutrients may facilitate creatine transport into muscle cells. Therefore, individuals aiming to maximize the benefits of creatine supplementation may consider consuming it alongside a pre- or post-workout meal or shake.

Can I have creatine while fasting?

Creatine can indeed be consumed while fasting. Fasting refers to abstaining from food and drink for a specified period, typically for religious, health, or weight management purposes. Research indicates that creatine supplementation does not break a fast, as it contains negligible calories. In fact, taking creatine during fasting may even enhance muscle retention and performance during periods of caloric restriction.

Can I take creatine on an empty stomach?

Yes, you can take creatine on an empty stomach without adverse effects. Creatine absorption is not significantly impacted by food intake, so timing it with meals is not necessary. Whether consumed with or without food, creatine is efficiently absorbed by the body and transported to muscle tissue where it exerts its effects.

Does creatine affect autophagy?

Autophagy, the cellular process of recycling damaged or dysfunctional components, is a topic of interest in health and longevity research. While the effects of creatine on autophagy are not extensively studied, there is no substantial evidence suggesting that creatine interferes with this process. In fact, some research suggests that creatine may have neuroprotective effects, potentially influencing cellular processes like autophagy in a positive manner.

Does creatine spike insulin?

Creatine does not significantly spike insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone primarily involved in regulating blood sugar levels, and while some nutrients and supplements can trigger insulin release, creatine is not among them. Therefore, individuals concerned about insulin response need not worry when supplementing with creatine.

Can I take creatine while fasting during Ramadan?

Yes, creatine supplementation is permissible during fasting periods such as Ramadan. Since creatine does not provide significant calories, it does not break the fast. However, it’s essential to ensure adequate hydration when taking creatine, especially during fasting hours, to offset potential dehydration.

Is creatine okay on keto?

Creatine is not only okay on a ketogenic diet but may also offer particular benefits. A ketogenic diet, characterized by low carbohydrate intake and high-fat consumption, can sometimes lead to performance decrements during high-intensity exercise due to limited glycogen availability. Creatine supplementation may help mitigate this issue by enhancing the body’s capacity to perform short bursts of intense activity, making it a valuable addition to a ketogenic athlete’s regimen.

Can creatine be mixed with coffee?

Yes, creatine can be mixed with coffee without diminishing its effectiveness. Coffee is a popular beverage choice due to its caffeine content, which can enhance alertness and performance. Combining creatine with coffee may offer a convenient way to consume both supplements simultaneously. There is no evidence to suggest that mixing creatine with coffee compromises its absorption or efficacy.

How much water should I drink with creatine?

Hydration is crucial when supplementing with creatine. Adequate water intake helps support creatine uptake into muscle cells and may reduce the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort. While there is no fixed rule for how much water to drink with creatine, aiming for an additional 33 ounces, or 1 liter, of water per day beyond your usual intake is advisable.

Is it good to take creatine on rest days?

Yes, taking creatine on rest days is beneficial. Creatine works by increasing the body’s stores of phosphocreatine, a high-energy compound utilized during short bursts of intense activity. Even on rest days when physical activity is reduced, maintaining elevated creatine levels ensures that muscles are primed for optimal performance during subsequent workouts. Therefore, consistent daily supplementation, including rest days, is recommended to maximize creatine’s benefits.


In conclusion, creatine stands as a stalwart in the realm of sports nutrition, offering a multitude of benefits for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Its versatility, safety, and efficacy make it a valuable addition to any training regimen, regardless of dietary preferences or fasting practices. By understanding the science behind creatine and addressing common misconceptions, individuals can confidently harness its power to enhance performance and achieve their fitness goals.

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