Home | Supplements | eBooks | DVDs | Articles | Forum
Truly Huge Bodybuilding and Fitness

Click Here for Free Bodybuilding and Fitness Magazine Subscription

How Much Creatine Should You REALLY Be Taking?

how much creatine

You’ve read all about the studies linking creatine supplementation to improved performance in the weight room or on the track, and you know that creatine can be a boon to your own training and help you build bigger and stronger muscles, but you still have questions.

How much creatine should you take, and when should you take it? Should you load creatine at the beginning? Do you need to cycle your creatine usage?

Luckily, both science and a in-the-gym results have some answers to help guide you.

To Load or Not to Load?

Early creatine protocols encouraged athletes to “load” their muscles with creatine by consuming 20-30 grams of the amino acid per day, divided into 4-6 servings. The result was a quick saturation of muscle cells with creatine and, often, a significant increase in body weight due to creatine’s muscle-hydrating effects.

After two weeks, lifters would move to a maintenance does of about five grams per day.

While this blast loading regimen swelled muscles and made for great stories for supplement companies to use in their advertisements, many athletes experienced gastrointestinal issues when consuming so much creatine on a daily basis. Since only a small percentage of ingested creatine makes its way to your muscles, loading also results in a lot of creatine passing through your kidneys, which can be both expensive and stressful, from a physiologic standpoint.

In fact, many of the side effects associated with creatine use, may be the result of the sudden influx into your system during a loading phase. If your muscles suck five pounds of water from your bloodstream in the course of a week or two, for example, the chances of overall dehydration are fairly significant unless you conscientiously monitor your fluid intake.

So, while loading up on creatine can give you quick results and is still recommended by many experts, it’s not for everyone, and likely not necessary if you are in the iron game for the long haul.

What’s the Alternative?

If you aren’t going to load creatine, what options do you have for gaining the most benefit from this powerhouse supplement?

The good news is that anecdotal evidence suggests that starting off with just a maintenance dose of creatine, around five grams per day, will eventually top off your muscle stores and help create the anabolic environment in your muscle cells that leads to increased size and strength.

How long does this take? For most lifters, your muscle creatine levels will be maxed out after about 4-6 weeks of maintenance doses, as opposed to 1-2 weeks when using a more intensive loading protocol.

Since you’re in this for the long term (right?), a couple of weeks shouldn’t make much of a difference to your overall results, and a more gradual introduction of creatine can help you avoid most side effects. While creatine is not too expensive these days, skipping the loading phase will also save you a few bucks in your supplement budget.

Going Forward

Regardless of whether you load creatine in the beginning or take the more conservative approach of starting with lower doses, you will need to maintain your muscle creatine stores over the long haul if you want to keep reaping its benefits. A good baseline is five grams per day, taken either right after your workout or split up over a couple of smaller servings during the day.

If you are very lean and muscular, say over 200 pounds and 10% bodyfat or less, you may need to bump up that daily total by a gram or so. If you are very slight, then you may need a bit less.

While some trainers suggest cycling creatine, available studies have shown few if any adverse effects from maintaining consistent usage for up to five years.

Over the long term, then, creatine can deliver all of its benefits through fairly small daily doses that should not break your bank or your health.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor whenever you consider making any big diet or supplement changes, and that advice certainly applies to creatine usage.

To Get The Best Creatine Supplement Click Here

Click Here for a Chance to Win Free Bodybuilding Supplements