What is CREATINE?

Creatine supplementation boosts the natural creatine stores in your body. Your muscle tissue stores creatine as phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine synthesizes during high-intensity exercises, such as lifting weights, to provide your muscles with extra energy. Creatine pulls water into your muscle cells, increasing protein synthesis.

When’s the best time to take creatine?

CAMP 1: BEFORE A WORKOUT The argument for taking creatine before a workout is usually based on this thought process: More creatine equals more ATP, the primary currency of cellular energy. More ATP means more power available to the muscles. More power means more activation of muscle fibers and more weight lifted. More weight means more muscle.

CAMP 2: AFTER A WORKOUT On the flipside, the argument for creatine after a workout often focuses on how your muscles are depleted of nutrients after a workout, and are thus "primed" for a big influx of nutrients. Throw creatine in there along with your protein and carbs, and your body will supposedly soak up the powerful supplement and receive all of its benefits.

CAMP 3: WHENEVER YOU WANT The argument for "take it at any time" is based on the hypothesis that both of the former arguments are more or less supplement superstition—there's no shortage of that, right? Basically, they say, you don't need to stress yourself about timing. Since creatine is good for you, as long as you supplement with it you'll see the benefits.

Will creatine transform me? 

Here’s one thing all the experts can agree on: It’s impossible to say. Creatine has different effects on every individual. Some people just don’t respond to creatine—it’s a genetic thing.

Diet is important. Meat, especially herring and beef, has high levels of creatine, so vegetarians usually see a greater response, while those whose diets are highly carnivorous may see less change.

Of course, a healthy diet is key to anyone’s muscle-building plan. “If your diet is junk, there’s no point in adding creatine,” Kerksick says. “It’s better to eat good sources of carbohydrates and lean protein.”