Creatine supplements are amongst the most widely used supplements in the industry.
Years and years of testing and research have proved that supplementing with creatine has great benefits, for everyone.
Men, women, high, mid, and even low-level athletes can all benefit from taking creatine.
Creatine helps to:
- Optimize Training
- Improve High-Intensity Workouts
- Increase ATP Production
- Reduce Fatigue
- Reduce Lactic Build Up
- Improve Endurance and Anaerobic Performance
- Increase Lean Muscle Mass
Moving on, the real questions of this article are...
"What is creatine loading?"
"Do I need to creatine load?"
"Is creatine loading safe?"
We get it, with all the information out there, creatine loading can be confusing.
Let's break it down...
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is a natural compound found in your muscles.
Scientifically speaking, creatine is obtained from endogenous production and can also be consumed through our diets.
95% of the creatine in your body is stored in the form of phosphocreatine - in your muscles.
The remainder of creatine is stored in your liver, brain, and kidneys.
It holds the responsibility of supplying energy to your cells, specifically to your muscles during times of intense exercise.
CREATINE IN YOUR DIET
On a regular diet, creatine muscle stores are 60-80% fulfilled.
The average 70 kg man has 120 grams of intramuscular creatine stores. When taking creatine supplements, this number can increase to 170 grams.
How to keep your creatine stores saturated...
EAT CREATINE RICH FOODS
- Red Meat
TAKE CREATINE SUPPLEMENTS
- Creatine Powder
- Creatine Tablets
To elevate your creatine levels at a faster rate, we suggest taking a creatine supplement on top of your natural diet.
Let's dive into creatine loading and how it can help you.
WHAT IS A CREATINE LOADING PHASE?
In simple terms: a loading phase is the fastest way to reap the benefits of Creatine.
Let's break it down...
Is a creatine loading phase necessary? No.
Is a loading phase beneficial? Yes.
Loading phases consist of consuming 20-25 grams of creatine per day.
You read that right, 20-25 grams a day for a period of 5-7 days.
Creatine loading phases:
- Optimize Creatine Stores
- Saturate Muscles
- Increase Creatine Stores by 10-40%
The goal of a loading phase is to saturate your muscles' creatine stores, in a short period of time, so that your body can use the elevated levels of creatine quicker than it would if you were to supplement with 5 grams a day.
Once you finish a loading phase, you can lower your dosage to 5 grams of creatine per day.
DO YOU NEED TO CREATINE LOAD?
A loading phase isn't necessary, but it will take longer for your muscles to fully saturate.
Loading phases are recommended for individuals new to creatine or coming off of a creatine break.
The main reason for the loading phase is to saturate those muscles!
But if you don't want to incorporate loading creatine into your routine, supplement with 5 grams of creatine daily to gradually increase your muscle creatine levels.
If you want to reap the benefits of creatine quickly...incorporate a loading phase.
SATURATE YOUR CREATINE STORES WITH A LOADING PHASE
Still on the fence about incorporating a loading phase?
Check out these benefits:
INCREASED MUSCLE MASS, STRENGTH, AND POWER
Effective for short and long-term muscle health, studies have linked creatine loading to increased muscle mass.
After a loading phase, strength and power can increase by up to 15%.
Also noteworthy, in a 12-week study, weightlifters who supplemented with creatine increased their muscle growth 2-3 times higher than those who didn't supplement with creatine.
Creatine can also improve exercise and athletic performance during high-intensity activities.
When muscle stores are fully saturated, performance can increase by 10-20%.
One review showed that adding creatine supplementation to a weight training program:
- Increased Strength by 8%
- Improved Weightlifting Performance by 14%
- Increased Bench Press One-Rep Max by 43%
- Increased Cycling Performance by 15%
REDUCED CHANCE OF INJURY
Athletes had fewer muscle strains and sport-related injuries after creatine loading
Athletes took longer to get tired during exercises compared to those not on supplements.
CREATINE LOADING SIDE EFFECTS
One of the most studied supplements in the industry, long-term studies show that supplementing with creatine is safe, one of the safest supplements on the market.
Let's debunk some of the creatine myths that are lingering around:
MYTH #1 - CREATINE CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN
True...but let's get specific.
Short-term weight gain is due to water retention in your muscles. If you choose to do a loading phase, expect to see an increase in your scale. (Don't freak out, trust the process).
Long-term weight gain is due to increased muscle mass, not body fat.
To be clear, changes in weight are typical when loading creatine, it's part of the process, not a side effect.
Myth #1 Debunked
MYTH #2 - CREATINE CAUSES HEADACHES
Not quite. Dehydration is the main culprit of headaches.
Although creatine alters the way your body stores water, by sending additional water to muscle cells, there are no studies that prove creatine causes headaches.
In fact, one study shows the exact opposite.
A three year study showed that college athletes who supplemented with creatine had decreased cases of dehydration, injuries, and cramps compared to athletes who didn't take creatine.
Myth #2 Debunked
MYTH #3 - CREATINE CAUSES KIDNEY DAMAGE
Here's where the confusion starts...
Taking creatine can slightly increase levels of creatinine in your blood.
Increased creatinine levels are also used to measure kidney problems.
So, individuals assume that since creatine increases creatinine levels and increased creatinine levels are used to detect kidney problems, taking creatine will cause imminent kidney damage.
There are no scientific studies to prove that creatine causes damage to the kidneys or liver. "Studies" that have been floating around correlating the two are based purely on anecdotal evidence.
*If you're a healthy individual with no pre-existing conditions or kidney issues, slight increases of creatinine are natural when taking creatine.
*If you do have pre-existing conditions regarding kidney and liver issues, speak to your physician about supplementing with creatine.
Myth #3 Debunked
MYTH #4 - CREATINE CAUSES DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS
In recommended doses...no.
If you're taking an excess of creatine in one sitting...possibly, but the same goes for many supplements and medications. Excess may cause issues.
One study showed that taking 10 grams of Creatine in one dose increased your chances of diarrhea by 37%.
However, a review of several creatine studies show that when taken in recommended doses (5 grams), there were no increased risks of digestive issues.
During loading phases, you will still be taking the recommended 5 gram dosage, multiple times throughout the day.
PRO TIP: Supplement with a high-quality Creatine Monohydrate that is free of artificial colors, flavors, and ingredients.
Myth #4 Debunked
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW MUCH CREATINE SHOULD I TAKE?
The amount of creatine that you should be consuming depends whether you are intaking a daily serving or if you are in a loading phase. For a typical daily dosage you would take 5g per day. If you are in a loading phase, you would intake 20-25g per day for a week.
HOW TO LOAD CREATINE?
Loading phases consists of intaking 20-25g of creatine per day for a week.
HOW TO USE CREATINE?
Our Non-GMO Creatine is flavorless and can easily dissolve into your beverage of choice, including fresh juice or simply water. Our athletes are also known to add 5g of creatine to their PRE or BCAAs before training or to their POST after training.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE CREATINE?
Research has shown some evidence that supports creatine intake pre-workout, during workout, as well as post-workout. The key to creatine intake is to keep your creatine stores consistently high in order to reap the benefits.
DO YOU NEED TO CREATINE LOAD?
Long answer...loading phases are a faster way to increase the creatine stores in your muscles. Loading phases consist of intaking 20-25g of creatine per day for a week. Suggested daily intakes of creatine are 5g. Your muscles can still achieve complete saturation, however it will be a slower process of about a month.
DOES CREATINE NEED TO BE CYCLED?
No, creatine does not need to be cycled. Typically, when you cycle on and off of a supplement, you're doing so because your body is developing a tolerance to the said supplement. Since your body naturally produces creatine and will continue to produce creatine even with supplementation, your body does not create a tolerance or sensitivity to creatine, meaning a cycling period is unnecessary.
SHOULD I TAKE CREATINE ON REST DAYS?
Yes, you should still supplement with creatine even on rest days to keep the creatine stores in your muscle saturated in order to start seeing benefits. Whether you are loading or supplementing with a daily serving of 5g, consistency is key in order to maintain saturation and reap the benefits.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP TAKING CREATINE?
Once you stop supplementing with creatine your muscles' creatine stores will begin to deplete after two weeks. 4-6 weeks after you have stopped supplementing, the extra creatine stores in your muscles will be completely depleted and your body will return to producing 1-2 grams of creatine per day.
IS CREATINE FOR ME? SHOULD I BE TAKING CREATINE?
Yes! Creatine has been scientifically proven to support energy production in muscles, muscle growth, lean muscle mass, muscular endurance, as well as explosiveness and power.
DOES CREATINE CAUSE HEADACHES?
Dehydration is the key factor in individuals that are experiencing headaches, no matter what supplements are being taken. When supplementing with creatine, your body's need for water increases, however if you are not taking in adequate amounts of water, chances are you will become dehydrated, which causes the headache.
IS CREATINE SAFE?
YES! Creatine is the most widely researched supplement on the market. In a 21 month consecutive study of long-term creatine supplementation, Creatine was found to produce no ill health effects.