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How Long Does It Take for Creatine to Work? (4 Key Factors)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: August 6, 2023
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As one of the most popular supplements in the fitness industry, many trainers recommend creatine to their clients to help them achieve lots of different health benefits and goals in the gym.

However, a common question usually left unanswered is: how long does it take to show results? Does creatine loading impact effectiveness?

Since I’m a trainer whose clients wondered the same, I’ve done thorough research to find individual experiences backed up with scientific evidence and fact-based information on how long it takes for creatine to start working.

This content piece also provides tips on how to make it work more quickly, especially with the loading phase.

Quick Summary

  • Scientifically, creatine takes roughly two weeks to one month for it to work and for some results to be visible. However, individual variations can influence this timeline significantly.
  • To increase the effectiveness of creatine, go for the highest quality creatine, eat a healthy diet, and engage in high-intensity workouts.
  • Consistency in workouts while taking creatine is the best way of getting the best out of this supplement.

How Long Does It Take for Creatine to Work?

It can take one to two weeks or a month for creatine to work. Creatine stores in your muscles must rise to the degree of muscle saturation before you can experience the effects of creatine supplementation.

It’s different for everyone and depends on various factors, as explained below, including the supplementation type, quality, purity, ways of taking it, workouts you do, etc.

4 Key Aspects

Scoop of creatine and supplements surrounding it

The following key aspects usually determine whether you’ll start noticing the results and creatine benefits supplementation you’re taking in a couple of days, weeks, months, or never.

1. The Type of Creatine You Take

After the creation of pre-workout, and the subsequent boom in the supplement industry, there are different types of creatine available on the market nowadays. Most of the supplements have turned out to be ineffective despite promising revolutionary results.

According to scientific research, powdered creatine supplements have been proven to produce the best results.

Some supplement companies claim that creatine HCL, creatine ethyl ester, liquid, or other forms are superior to powdered creatine monohydrate and better absorbed, but studies have shown that’s not true. [1] [2] [3]

Such products often contain creatinine instead of creatine supplements. That’s a compound made when your body breaks down creatine, and it doesn’t enhance your high-intensity exercise performance at all.

Related Article: What is Buffered Creatine?

2. The Quality and Purity

Now that you’re aware of the best tried and tested creatine supplements to use when choosing a specific product, make sure it’s not only highly effective but also guaranteed to be 100% pure and safe.

In short, carefully check the label for the following information:

  • The product’s been tested for impurities before or after packaging, and the findings are displayed.
  • It’s made in the USA, ensuring top quality control (no lead or other harmful ingredients or impurities).
  • Choose an extra-fine micronized powder so that it easily dissolves without sticking to your glass.

3. The Way You’re Taking It

Studies find that taking creatine with food, especially fruit juice or other sources of carbs that rapidly raise your insulin level, can more effectively maximize creatine in your muscles. This is due to the role insulin plays in nutrient uptake.

People following Keto or any other low-carb diet can take it with a post-workout protein shake for similar effects.

Also, research shows that timing isn’t so critical, but some indications taking your supplement after a workout may increase your muscle stores more effectively.

There are two safe and tested methods of taking creatine supplements:

  1. Creatine loading - take 20 grams of creatine daily in 2-4 servings for 5-7 days; then, take a maintenance dose of 5 grams daily in a single serving to keep your muscles filled up - preferred when athletes want to maximize their greater muscle mass stores to see results fast (typically within a few days);
  2. A single serving per day -  take lower doses of 3-5 grams of creatine every day - instead of 3-5 days, this method takes at least 2-4 weeks to get noticeable muscle growth, strength, and other results.

Luckily, any method you choose will provide results, regardless of creatine levels, the body's creatine stores, and maintenance dose habits.

However, the way you take creatine supplementation directly influences how fast you’ll see the results of a specific product. [4]

4. The Type of Your Workouts

Individuals who work out harder, pushing their muscles to the limit, are more likely to experience the creatine benefitse supplementation faster.

In other words, lifting weights, sprinting, playing football, or doing any other high-intensity exercise routines will enable you to increase muscle strength, gain muscle mass, and notice other positive effects sooner than if you participate in endurance activities such as long-distance running. [5]

That’s because creatine supplements provide a source of instant energy increase and power output required for resistance training, strength training, and other high-intensity activities for muscle growth.

How to Take Creatine Most Effectively?

Powdered creatine on a container

The of taking creatine most effectively is by doing the creatine loading method for your creatine stores.

This entails ingesting 20 grams of creatine daily for 5–7 days to rapidly saturate your muscles, then 2–10 grams daily to sustain high levels.

Although you cannot expect to experience significant changes in your body composition, muscle-building, training volume, quality improvements, creatine levels, or any other effect instantaneously, following the steps below can help you see results faster.

Use High-Quality Creatine Supplementation

We’ve already learned that not all creatine is created equal.

Some brands add electrolytes and other content to their products, claiming they can kick in immediately and improve your sports performance faster, which is often untrue.

“If you’re going to add a supplement in, make sure it’s creatine monohydrate. A lot of other supplements out there will have a lot of junk that you don’t need, and they’ll be much more expensive.”

- Carolyn Brown, Registered Dietitian

If you don’t want to pee your hard-earned money away, make sure you stick to 100% pure creatine monohydrate powder because experts say it’s the most researched, effective, and affordable, with a lower risk of side effects than any other available creatine form.

Pay Special Attention to Your Nutrition

Creatine supplements have a different effect on every person. Besides genetics, metabolism, exercise, etc., one critical factor determining how your lean body mass may respond to creatine is your diet.

For example, vegetarians and individuals who don’t regularly eat meat and other foods rich in creatine may notice a greater change in natural creatine production.

Also, quality food is critical for fueling up your high-intensity workouts and supporting your post-workout muscle recovery process, i.e., your body needs an adequate intake of carbs to get energy and muscle strength, plus protein replenishment to repair damaged muscle tissue.

That’s how you’ll take advantage of a healthy creatine intake.

To speed up the whole process, here’s another expert advice:

“Save money and buy creatine powder and [mix it with] fruit juice. [...] If your diet is junk, there’s no point in adding creatine. It’s better to eat good sources of carbohydrates and lean protein.”

- Chad Kerksick, Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology, University of Oklahoma

Reason:  The sugar from fruit juice or other sports beverages increases your insulin levels, helping increase creatine uptake into your muscles.

Engage in High-Intensity Activities

shirtless man working out outdoors

Keep in mind that you won’t build muscle or benefit from creatine if you don’t work out hard.

Creatine influences the ATP production in your muscle cells, increasing your energy and power output during intense exercises such as weightlifting or sprinting, which results in more muscle strength and better performance.

That’s why it’s a good idea to increase your exercise intensity when you use creatine.

Start with the Creatine Loading Phase to Boost Your Creatine Stores

Although it’s not necessary, it’s recommendable to start with creatine loading to reach higher levels of muscle saturation and speed up the process for quicker results.

It means taking higher amounts of creatine, e.g., 20 grams per day for 7 days (as previously explained).

Follow Up with the Maintenance Phase

After creatine loading, there comes the maintenance phase, in which you take a lower maintenance dose of 5 grams daily to keep adequate creatine levels [6] and avoid depleting creatine stores in your muscle mass.

No Need for Running a Creatine Cycle

Many people stop taking creatine for a while after taking a high dosage for several months. Then, they resume creatine loading.

Besides being a good marketing strategy for selling more creatine, there’s no research evidence to support the effectiveness of this process.


How Do You Know Creatine Is Working?

You know creatine is working when you notice that your training volume and quality have increased, i.e., you can perform a few more reps or your last set gets easier to complete, especially when lifting weights.


How Much Creatine Should I Take a Day?

You should take 5 grams or 20 grams of creatine per day during the creatine-loading phase (as explained above). Taking 0.03 grams of creatine per 1 kg of your body weight is recommended.

Read more: How much creatine should I take per day?

How Long Does Creatine Stay in Your Bloodstream?

Creatine stays in your bloodstream for around one and a half hours. This could affect how much creatine you can take in the long run.

Does It Matter When You Take Creatine?

It doesn’t matter much when you take your creatine as long as you take it daily.

So, How Long Does It Take for Creatine to Work?

In summary, you may benefit from creatine within a week, a month, or more, depending mainly on the supplementation type, purity, quality, amount, ways of taking it, and your workout regimen. It also depends on how much creatine your body can take.

So, for a faster result, it would be best to choose a high-quality creatine supplement, fuel up your muscles with clean foods, boost your workout intensity and consider starting with creatine loading to counter any initial weight gain.

Besides these general guidelines and questions answered, it’s advisable to consult your physician to determine the best approach for you.


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2 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take for Creatine to Work?
The Definitive Answer

  1. Very helpful article on how long to see creatine results. Thank you, Isaac!

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