Creatine Q&A: Top 17 Creatine Questions Answered
There have been questions about creatine since 1832, the year a crazy French chemist named Michel Cheveul discovered the acid in skeletal muscle.
Fast-forward 160 years … Creatine monohydrate hit the supplement shelves in 1992. Since then, people have clamored for creatine and the questions have proliferated: Parents wonder if it's safe; curious consumers wonder how it works; and lifters wonder how much to take at what times and with what liquids.
As the author of the Creatine Report - a free, unbiased, detailed review of creatine literature - I've taken the time to analyze the scientific studies on creatine and speak with many of the world's leading supplement experts to answer every creatine question you've ever had. I did the same with my Protein Report, which is also a 100% free resource.
If you're ready to have your creatine questions answered in a simple, straightforward, no BS manner, you're in the right place. I'm about to tell you everything you need to know (and nothing you don't) about creatine: what it is, how to use it, safety, loading, side effects and more. Just listen, learn and apply!
1 What Is Creatine?
2 How Does Creatine Work?
According to David Sandler, the Senior Director of Education for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), "Creatine allows you to have a longer and larger work volume. It helps you get one more rep. Supplementation can increase phosphocreatine and creatine stores by 10-to-40%."
3 Why Does Creatine Work?
According to Jose Antonio, Ph.D., a professor at Nova Southeastern University and CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, "Creatine serves as a fuel source for rapid exercise through increased phosocreatine (PCr) stores."
4 Who Should Use Creatine?
Quite simply, anyone looking to increase lean body mass, boost strength, and increase anaerobic performance should supplement with creatine.
Dr. Antonio explains, "To date, creatine is clearly the single most effective dietary supplement for enhancing gains in anaerobic performance as well as increasing lean body mass and muscle fiber size."
5 Does Creatine Help You Build Muscle?
Yes! Specifically, research suggests that creatine offers these benefits:
- Increases fat-free mass
- Improves maximal strength (as measured by 1RM bench press)
- Improve muscular endurance
- Increases anaerobic power and performance (shown in many activities, including continuous jumping, jump squats, knee extensions, and repeated sprints by soccer players)
6 Does Creatine Help You Lose Fat?
Yes! Creatine helps you gain and retain metabolically-active lean muscle tissue, which makes it an indirect fat burner.
Put simply, the more muscle you have on your body, the harder you can work in the weight room, and the more calories you can burn both during and after your training sessions.
Plus, creatine also helps elevate your metabolism more directly, through its hydration properties. "A well-hydrated cell tends to be more metabolic," said Dr. Antonio.
7 How Much Creatine Should I Take?
Take 3-6 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for maintenance.
8 What Is Creatine Loading?
For the fastest possible benefits, take 10-to-20 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for 7-to-14 days. This is known as the "loading" phase and will shorten the time necessary to see results from creatine.
After the loading phase, move onto the maintenance phase discussed above.
9 When And Why Should I Load Creatine?
You don't necessarily need to load creatine. It will work just as well after taking a maintenance dose consistently for about 4 weeks. However, when you want a shortcut, creatine loading can produce benefits within 2 weeks.
10 How To Cycle Creatine?
Most people don't have to worry about this issue. Continual use offers continual performance benefits.
11 Does Creatine Make You Retain Water?
Creatine does help your cells retain water, which is good for performance. This can, however, give you a higher body weight.
So fighters and other weight-class athletes may need to cycle off creatine from time to time - especially 6 weeks before a weigh-in.
12 How Much Water Should You Drink with Creatine?
According to Dr. Antonio, "The literature shows 4 ounces of water for every 3 g of creatine."
13 What Is The Best Type Of Creatine?
Alan Aragon, MS, and nutritional contributor to Men's Health and consultant to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks, notes: "Creatine monohydrate is definitely the way to go. Not only is it less expensive than other forms, but it's actually been shown to have better bioavailability."
14 Is Creatine Safe?
According to Dr. Antonio: "Creatine is perhaps THE most studied ergogenic aid in history. And the science clearly suggests that there are no harmful side effects of creatine supplementation. There is no evidence that it causes muscle tears, harms the kidneys, causes dehydration or myriad other silly myths. If these side effects occur, show me the science!"
15 Does Creatine Cause Cramps?
No! Jose Antonio describes another study performed during one season of NCAA Division I-A (FBS) football training and competition:
"It was discovered that creatine users had significantly less cramping; heat illness or dehydration; muscle tightness; muscle strains; and total injuries than non-users. Thus, even for athletes who are well-trained, it is clear that regular creatine consumption does not cause harm, and in fact may have a protective effect against certain exercise-related issues."
16 Is Creatine Safe For Teenagers?
Yes, and it's also effective. Research suggests that creatine improves strength and performance in teenagers who were already in shape and highly-trained for their sport. Of course, users should always look at label directions and follow manufacturer's suggestions when considering creatine.
17 Is Creatine Safe For Women?
Yes, women looking to get stronger and build a leaner, more athletic body can safely take creatine.
If you want more detail or would like to see the studies referenced above, I invite you to check out my free Creatine Report.
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I was hoping this article would answer one question. How far in your training should you take creatine? I've heard to wait til you've been training for 6 months to a year to start taking it.
You can take creatine whenever in your training doesn't matter how long you have trained.
i would recommend that you wait at least 1 full year. most people dont develop a good work out routine and then they stop taking creatine which causes them to gain water weight which is not good. its best to develop some basic strength and muscle before boosting your workout with creatine supplements
I havn't herd of any scientific articles that say to wait or not, but personally, it could be a waste of money if someone buys some creatine and then not use half of the container because they were too lazy to stick to their workouts.
That sounds a bit weird. Why not take creatine right away? I mean if your gonna work out today whats the difference in taking it today as a pose to taking it later. It Provides the same benefits. If anything you would wnt to take it sooner.
If youre a beginner, you will more than likely see significant gains in strength and body composition sooner than later without creatine supplementation. I would recommend waiting until you see yourself level off and then start taking it.
Like jem2043 said. There is no scientific or health related reason to not take it right away and to wait. Just a way to help you break through the plateau you will hit after working out for a while. You're going to get all sorts of gains right off the bat, then when you plateau, might get in your head and discourage you from working out, but if you then start taking creatine, it will help you break through and keep going.
Doesn't make too much sense for me to take something if it won't really work for a beginner that doesn't know how to perform the exercise. Won't get the real benefit. The firsts 3 or 4 month, your body is still adapting to the exercise (ligaments, tendoms, joints, etc). It, won't do nothing bad, but not real improvement at all.
I started taking creatine after maybe a month after working out, but that is because of I didnt have the money to buy it right away. It worked perfectly for me. I dont think it matters how long you have to wait to start taking it. Hope this helps.
DerekStauffer - can you give me a advise please !! i got a supplement called APTONIA PURE WHEY PROTEIN ..... so i want to know how should i take that and is it good ?? thank you
@shanawicky It depends on what your goals are. If you're packing on mass, you might want to add more than usual (5-6 scoops a day) and also take casein protein before you sleep. If you're trying to get lean take the average amount suggested on the product's container.
5-6 scoops a day, in my "naive" opinion is too much. Protein shakes are just supplements, so a couple of scoops after workout and that's it. The rest of your protein should come from eggs, meat, chicken (turkey) breast, fish. A mid day (or morning) snack can include a shake too. Cheers guys!
@Vinnynaps - Thanks. This is my 4th month training. I'm still trying to lose weight so I guess waiting til I'm at a lower body fat percentage would be a good time to start taking it and that's going to be a while....I think. I'm going to start doing some intense cardio next week to help with that goal.
Best thing to do when taking creatine to build muscle is to combine it with beta alanine because creatine increases strenght but decreases endurance. Beta Alanine reduces the amount of Lactaid Acid (burning sensation when doing last reps) produced in your body so that you can preform more reps and your muscles wont get fatigued as fast
depends how long you stop working out for while taking creatine (when you start to lose muscle mass, so about 2 weeks, you will put on this water fat as you call it) but up to two weeks you are probably good. if you just take creatine without working out, you will appear to be more fat because the extra water intake into the muscles isnt doing much for you then. That is what creatine does is create more water intake into the muscles. so you also need to be working them at the same time. if you stop working out and stop using creatine at the same time you will lose muscle mass, and water weight. (in about two weeks of no creatine use i lost about 5 to 7 pounds) but it varies from person to person.