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How Much Creatine a Day Should You Take?
The Definitive Guide

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 20, 2021

While there is no serum (yet) to transform you into a superhero-like body instantly, there are supplements safe enough to consume to give you bursts of strength to perform high-intensity exercise.

Of course, I’m talking about one of the widely used supplements – creatine.

Although proven safe, too much of it can cause digestive problems.

To help you know how much creatine per day you should take, I’ve tapped into experts and several researches.

Here’s what I found out.

Creatine Supplement Right Dosage

Taking the right doses of creatine ensures the optimal results of the supplement.

However, the contrary is also true; taking too much of it can result in stomach problems and waste your money.

So, here’s how to take creatine supplements with the right dosage.

There are two phases to the supplementation: loading period and maintenance dose.

Loading Phase

man in a gym holding a drink in one hand and holding a stack of pills on the other

Creatine supplementation does not work like a serum transforming you instantly into a superhero; you need to saturate your muscle mass first to reap the benefits faster.

So, many athletes and weightlifters start with the creatine loading phase. The loading phase is when they bulk up amounts of creatine for a week to increase muscle stores.

To do the loading period, you need to take 20 grams for the next 5-7 days, 5 grams four times per day.

Creatine supplement causes water retention; it pulls water into your muscle cells, so make sure to take it with enough water. Also, keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Maintenance Dose

After taking 20 grams of creatine per day for 5-7 days, it’s time to maintain the high levels in your body.

Consume 3-5 grams of creatine per day to keep the optimal muscle creatine in your body.

During workout days, you may use creatine as a pre-workout and post-workout supplement. During rest days, you still need to take it with your balanced protein and carbohydrate meal.

If you want to skip the loading phase, you may take 3 grams of creatine for 28 days to increase your creatine stores.

You can find here fact-based information on how long it takes for creatine to start working.

Why Creatine Is Necessary

man sitting down sweaty without a shirt on

Creatine is a substance our body naturally produces from amino acids. It stores energy that powers muscle fibers to perform high-intensity exercise.

How Creatine Helps Muscles

How does creatine help our muscles perform explosive training exercises? Let us talk a bit about biochemistry.

Our bodies use ATP or adenosine triphosphate, usually called the energy currency of the cells, to perform high-intensity exercise.

The problem is that the supply of ATP for these explosive movements only lasts for a few seconds. So, our muscle cells need to produce more ATP to match the demands of high-intensity training.

And this is where creatine comes in. It turns into creatine phosphate, a high-energy chemical, to make more ATP. So, when muscle stores more creatine, there’s more energy to perform a high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting and sprinting.

Creatine Stored in Our Bodies

Our muscle stores 95% of the creatine in the body, and the brain, liver, and kidney stores the other 5%.

Creatine Sources and Needs

We can get creatine from high-protein foods such as red meat and seafood, although at low levels compared to taking creatine supplements.

Supplementing with creatine has become popular among athletes and weightlifters because it gives them bursts of speed and strength, increases muscle lean mass, and recovers quickly during exercises.

Safety and Side Effects

thirsty man reaching out for a glass of water

Creatine is one of the widely used supplements out there for a fair reason – it is generally safe to take.

However, some are afraid to use it because of certain claims of short-term and long-term side effects.

One claim says that creatine may cause dehydration and cramping because it drives more water to the muscle cells.

However, an increase in water content is minor, and there are not enough reports that link creatine to dehydration or cramping.

Others are afraid it’s going to affect their kidney and liver because it increases levels of creatinine.

However, despite the said claims, there is not yet a study to prove it affects kidney and liver function.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition, on the contrary, considers creatine one of the safest and most beneficial supplements [1].

It is also supported by one study where participants who took creatine supplement for 21 months found no adverse effects. Instead, it is used to improve brain health and prevent neurological diseases.

However, it does not mean there are no risks at all.

Taking excessive amounts may cause digestive problems. For example, one study shows that taking 10 grams increases the risk of diarrhea by 37%. But for those who take the right dosage, there is nothing to worry about.

If you are taking any supplement or medication, it is best to seek medical advice from your doctor because certain medications may interact with creatine.

Overall, creatine is one of the safest supplements when healthy individuals take it in the proper dosage.

Creatine Monohydrate

powder supplement in a scooper

There are many forms of creatine supplements, so it’s quite confusing what you should look for.

However, when it comes to the most commonly used form of creatine supplement, creatine monohydrate wins the day.

There are at least five science-backed reasons why creatine monohydrate is the best form. Creatine monohydrate:

  • Is the safest form to consume
  • It has the highest number of scientific support
  • Improves overall health and exercise performance
  • Is widely available
  • Has the lowest price

The International Society of Sports Nutrition supports that creatine monohydrate has no short-term and long-term adverse effects.

So, if you’re into a creatine supplement with the cleanest record, you might want to go for creatine monohydrate.

3 Main Uses

man showing his back muscles while raising a dumbbell, woman using a yoga ball

Creatine supplements are commonly used for bodybuilding goals but are also used in a variety of ways.

1. Improve athletic performance

Creatine supplementation helps increase the body’s creatine stores so that athletes don’t easily run out of energy. Therefore, it may help athletes sprint further, jump higher, and outlast competitions.

“Athletes looking for a competitive edge may find creatine beneficial.” [2] — Autumn Bates, Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Sports Nutritionist

Not only does creatine help improve athletic performance, research finds that it also leads to faster regeneration of ATP levels. It means that athletes recover faster after intensive exercise.

2. Enhance Gym Experience

couple working out in a gym

Gym persons found creatine supplements as one of the best supplements for improving gym experience.

When your muscle stores creatine, it helps you perform more heavy work in training sessions which is the foundation for long-term muscle growth.

Since it helps regenerate the energy you lose during exercise quickly, you also recover faster and resist fatigue, making your exercise performance better.

3. Boost Brain Health

It is not only our muscles that need the energy to function; our brains require it, too. More than the energy supply, creatine is also found to keep our brains healthy.

The research found that our brain needs a large amount of energy for complicated mental tasks.

Creatine supplementation increases the amount of creatine in our brain to help produce more energy for cognitive function.

Interestingly, research further shows that it also helps keep our thinking sharp, improves our memory, and reduces mental fatigue.

4 Main Benefits

shirtless man working out in a gym, woman showing her back while lifting a barbell

Creatine is known to provide many benefits for all fitness levels.

1. Boost Muscle Strength

A study found that taking creatine shows an 8% increase in muscle strength than others who don't [3].

Having strong muscles help you perform physical activities such as lifting weights with ease. It also helps lowers the risk of injury and maintains healthy body weight.

2. Increase Lean Muscle Mass

If you want to experience weight gain with no fear of an increase in body fat, increasing your creatine stores coupled with weight training may do the job.

A report shows that individuals who take creatine show a 2.2% increase in muscle mass and a 3.2% decrease in body fat. Increasing lean body mass helps you burn more calories and avoid fat accumulation and obesity.

3. Speed Up Muscle Recovery

person placing kinesio tapes on a man's back

We experience body soreness and exhaustion when we stress our muscle fibers too much, causing them to break.

The damaged fibers then need time to recover to come back stronger.

This is what makes the recovery period super important.

Using creatine shows faster muscle recovery; it helps the muscle fibers rebuild faster, making them grow stronger and bulkier.

4. Improve Gym Performance

Research shows that creatine increases gym performance up to 15%, which means muscles have 15% more capacity to do more work.

With that effect, we can perform a high-intensity exercise at maximum for an extended period.

It also helps you increase the weight in heavy resistance training; for example, you can double the weight you can bench press in a single repetition.

Having strength, power, and endurance improves your overall health and makes going to the gym a better experience!

FAQs

How Many Grams of Creatine To Take?

During your creatine loading phase, you need to take 20 grams per day for 5-7 days, that is 5 grams four times daily. After that, you need to take 3-5 grams daily to keep your creatine levels high for your maintenance dose.

Can Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

There is yet enough research that links creatine with hair loss. However, one report shows that it increases the levels of DHT or Dihydrotestosterone, which is a chemical that contributes to hair loss.

It is advised to seek medical advice before taking the supplement if you are susceptible to hair loss.

How Does Creatine Help Build Muscle?

One of the benefits of creatine is that it gives your muscles more strength and endurance to perform heavy resistance training at maximum, making it stronger and bulkier. It also helps increase lean body mass, which means more weight without the body fat.

When Should I Take Creatine?

You should take creatine during a workout, as your pre-workout and post-workout supplement, and during your resting days, too. The research found that you may reap the maximum results when you take it not long before and after a workout.

You can check out how long

Does Creatine Affect You Mentally?

There is not enough research to prove that creatine negatively affects our mental health, causing anxiety or depression. On the contrary, it is found to help boost our mental function.

However, it is important for those taking medications for mental illnesses to ask their doctors first before taking creatine supplements.

Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain?

Creatine may cause weight gain because it increases your lean tissue, but it does not cause gain in stored fat. Instead, it helps you lose weight from stored fat, and it also helps you burn more calories keeping the risk of obesity at bay.

Get the Right Amount of Creatine

Creatine is a game-changer for many gym enthusiasts and athletes as it gives them more energy to perform high-intensity exercise.

So, more than the benefits it provides to our muscles, it also improves our overall health, including boosting our mental activities.

Creatine is also known as one of the safest and most beneficial supplements there is in the market.

So, taken in the right amounts, it does not cause any harm to one’s health.

If you do creatine supplementation for weeks, you will surely see improvements in your muscle strength and mass and recovery period.

Make sure to come back to us and tell us about how it worked for you.


References:

  1. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
  2. https://www.autumnellenutrition.com/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14636102/

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