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Creatine is one of the most used supplements by athletes and bodybuilders to improve performance, but many people wonder how to implement it into their daily routine when they practice intermittent fasting.
Let’s first address the most important question: Does creatine break a fast?
Taking creatine with water will not break your fast since it doesn’t contain calories and does not have an effect on blood sugar or insulin levels. However, this is only the case if your creatine supplement has no added sugars or sweeteners (which wouldn’t be the case if you’re taking a pre-workout and creatine stack).
With that said, there are some people who only consume creatine during their feeding window because there has been some animal research (not conducted on humans) pointing toward creatine having an impact on insulin.
I will discuss this research in more detail below, and will also explain:
- Is it safe to take creatine on an empty stomach?
- Should you take creatine when fasting or during a feeding window?
- How to take creatine without breaking a fast
Will Creatine Break Your Fast?
A creatine supplement that has no added sugars and is mixed in water will not break your fast, so therefore it can safely be consumed in the hours prior to your eating window.
However, if your creatine supplement contains additional ingredients there is a possibility that this could cause you to break your fast, which would be the case if you’re taking a pre-workout supplement that has creatine, rather than taking creatine on its own.
(Note: check out my other article on whether pre-workout breaks a fast, including my recommendations on which pre-workout supplements are safe for intermittent fasting).
Let’s look at some examples:
- A pure creatine supplement, such as this Microingredients Pure Creatine Monohydrate Powder from Amazon contains only one ingredient: creatine monohydrate. Taking this supplement mixed with water will not throw you out of a fast and can be safely consumed outside of your eating window.
- On the other hand, a creatine supplement such as this one from MuscleTech has a few ingredients that could affect insulin levels, such as the following sweeteners: Acesulfame-Potassium and Sucralose.
There is debate as to whether artificial sweeteners that contain 0 calories will throw you out of a fast.
Some evidence supports the notion that ingesting artificial sweeteners can result in insulin secretion as the body mistakes it for sugar due to its sweet taste.
Although other scientific evidence is available stating that artificial sweeteners do not affect insulin levels.
So at this point, it looks like the research is a bit inconclusive. If you want to be on the safe side: I’d look for creatine supplements that don’t have these ingredients.
Similarly, what you decide to mix your creatine supplement with can determine whether or not you break your fast. Mixing an unflavoured creatine supplement in water is the best way to ensure that you do not break your fast.
If you decide to mix your creatine with a liquid that contains calories and sugar such as juice (which is a common practice among bodybuilders), this will absolutely break your fast.
While there may be potential benefits to consuming your creatine with a carbohydrate if you are fasting it is best to stick with water as a mixing agent.
- Learn all the ways that you can mix creatine. We cover 8 examples, plus some liquids to avoid.
Is It Safe to Take Creatine on an Empty Stomach?
Creatine is a supplement that can be consumed on an empty stomach safely. However, for certain individuals, it could result in symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. This is not normal but has been reported by a minority of creatine users.
I dive deeper into this topic in my other article on Taking Creatine On An Empty Stomach.
Here’s how to reduce the likelihood of digestive issues while taking creatine in a fasted state:
- It is best to stick with smaller servings since research indicates that ingesting 10 grams of creatine or less per day (and breaking this amount up throughout the day) could help decrease the incidence of digestive problems.
- If you are in a creatine loading phase where you are consuming large amounts of creatine for a short time period (e.g. 20 grams per day for 5-7 days), then you might be better off scheduling your creatine supplement around a meal during your feeding window.
- It should also be noted here that certain studies have indicated that creatine loading phases are not necessary in order to maximize creatine stores in your muscles and that you can achieve the same effect by taking a small amount of creatine every day. This particular study illustrated that muscles could be fully saturated with creatine by taking 3 grams per day for 28 days.
Key Takeaway: This method of consuming smaller doses of creatine over a longer period of time will likely be a better option if your stomach is sensitive and you want to take your creatine during your fasting window.
- Related Article: Does L-Citruline Break a Fast? What the Science Says
Should You Take Creatine When Fasting or During a Feeding Window?
Whether you decide to take your creatine supplement during your fasting or feeding window will ultimately depend on personal preference along with your workout schedule and how you personally react to taking creatine in a fasted state.
Taking a creatine supplement on an empty stomach will not be for everyone, since it does have the potential to cause some negative digestive symptoms such as what I discussed in the previous section.
Not only that but there is some evidence to support taking your creatine supplement in the presence of protein and carbohydrates can increase your results.
For example, this study determined that those who took their creatine with a meal containing protein and carbs had greater improvements in strength compared to those who ingested their creatine on its own.
Whether you decide to take your creatine during your fasting or feeding window might also depend on what time of the day you work out, since research shows that consuming creatine in the hours closest to your training session (either pre or post-workout) can enhance muscle strength and increase lean body mass compared to when it is ingested in the hours away from training.
Here are some examples:
- If you normally fast between the hours of 6 pm and 10 am, and your workout is scheduled for 8 am, then you might benefit from consuming your creatine either before or after your workout on an empty stomach (as long as your stomach tolerates it).
- However, if you find that you need to eat something with your creatine consumption, then it would be best to schedule your workout during the hours of your feeding window (between 10 am and 6 pm) so that you can take your creatine with a pre or post-workout meal that contains protein and carbohydrates.
How to Take Creatine Without Breaking a Fast
In order to take a creatine supplement without breaking your fast, make sure that you are mixing your creatine powder or taking your capsules with plain water, rather than mixing with a liquid that contains calories, such as juice.
In addition to this, it is best to choose a creatine supplement that is unflavoured and only contains creatine.
There are plenty of creatine supplements on the market that are unflavoured and contain only creatine, such as:
I love this brand for a few reasons, with the first being that it is an unflavoured form of creatine monohydrate, containing no other additives or ingredients.In addition to this, Thorne supplements go through rigorous testing to make sure they are free of pesticides, heavy metals and other contaiminants.
Optimum Nutrition Creatine Capsules
Taking your creatine in a capsule is a great alternative if you prefer not to use a powder. I like this brand because of the minimal and simple ingredients, along with the fact that it is tested for banned substances. This brand also contains 2.5 g of creatine per capsule, meaning that you would only need to take 2 per day to reach a standard 5g daily serving.
Other Creatine Resources
If you want to learn more about proper creatine supplement supplementation, I invite you to explore our other articles:
- How Long For Creatine To Work (1-Week & 1-Month Results)
- Can You Take Creatine Forever? (What The Science Says)
- Can You Take Creatine Before Bed? And, Does It Affect Sleep?
- What Happens When You Stop Creatine (6 Things To Know)
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.