Here's The Answers to 7 Of The Most Common Questions About How To Take Creatine For Improved Performance And To Build More Muscle, FAST.
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in health and fitness. Despite that, unanswered questions fill your head, and you're confused. Quite simply, you don't really know how to take creatine in the first place. Trouble is, getting credible answers is not as easy you thought.
You see, the world of supplements is one full of deceit, lies, and charlatans. Worthless pills, powders, and potions are the fuel for the deep, dark heart of nutrition's murky underbelly. And conflicting information floods social media and the internet. So much so, you're not sure who's giving good advice and who's just trying to sell you something. Am I right?
But you're in luck my friend. Choose to read on and you'll discover the simple, no BS truth about how to take creatine.
Here's exactly what you're gonna find out:
- What creatine is and how it works.
- Whether or not loading creatine is essential.
- How to take creatine for improved gym performance and to build more muscle.
- If the benefits of creatine are compromised by caffeine consumption.
- What happens when you miss taking creatine for a few days / weeks.
- How to take creatine if you have to make weight (bit of a niche point).
So, if you want the answers to those questions (and a few more), it's time to scroll down.
What Is Creatine And How Does It Work?
Does creatine work? You bet your bottom Galactic Credit it does. At least for most people. You could be a non-responder who sadly sees no benefit from it. But, in the main, it works.
In fact, it's one of only a handful of supplements you should even consider taking. And no...a fat burner isn't one of the others.
So how does this wonder supplement actually work?
Firstly, it's not a wonder supplement. The only "wonder supplements" aren't ones you can easily purchase from your favourite supplement supplier, if you know what I mean?
When it comes to the science, I'm going to level with you. It's fucking dull.
Talk of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), energy systems, and the like, doesn't exactly make you shake with uncontrolled excitement. It's more like an absolute snooze-fest, right?
"Yes Simon. Skip that boring science crap. Cut to the chase. I wanna know how to take creatine to look buff, lean, and sexy AF ASAP. So make it happen my nutrition biatch!"
Jeez, so much hostility. Ok, here's what I propose...
If you want the detail, the studies, and all the geeky shit, read this. But if you want to skip straight to the juicy bits, then read on.
Is Loading Necessary?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: It's probably best.
Even Longer Answer: Loading creatine isn't an absolute necessity, but it does make sense in most cases.
You see, for creatine to have an effect, you need to saturate your body's creatine stores.
Think of it like a sponge absorbing water. To saturate that sponge you could drip water on it slowly over an extended period of time. Or you could pour more water on it, in a shorter space of time.
Essentially, you're doing exactly the same thing and the end result is identical. But one is simply faster than the other.
So by loading creatine, you benefit sooner than if you were to spread things out. More gains, sooner...sounds good. So what's the best way to load?
The best strategy for loading creatine
Here's the best and simplest approach.
Supplement with 5g of creatine 4 times a day for 5-7 days. You don't need to worry about the precise timing of those servings. Simply space them out evenly across the day.
And after 5-7 days you should have maxed out those creatine stores and be ready to switch to a maintenance dose of 5g per day.
But what about if you don't want to load?
How to take creatine if you don't want to load
Skipping the loading phase is fine. But just remember, the end goal is the same and you're simply prolonging process. A 5g per day dose would be all you need. After roughly 30 days you should be at a state of full creatine saturation.
But what about the water weight?
This is where creatine might start fucking with your head. Creatine draws water into the cells of your muscle. This is a normal, nothing to be feared, and all part of the process. And, to be clear, this isn't the same as the water retention leaving you feeling all puffy and bloated.
But that added water weight does mean one thing... Your scale weight WILL go up.
"Noooooooooo. Say it isn't so, Simon."
Don't panic. Let's be rational about this. As long as you're in a calorie deficit, you'll be losing body fat. Taking creatine and increasing weight through water doesn't affect that. So it's quite possible, in fact it's inevitable, your scale weight will go up, even though you're still losing body fat.
Now, this isn't Gandalf-esque wizardry. It's merely a reflection that the scale measures more than body fat. And the scale weight mind-fuckery should only last for the loading phase. After that, your nice, heart-warming downward trend should resume. Another reason why loading quickly is a good option. Because seeing the impact of water weight in a short space of time, rather than as a steady creep over an entire month is a marginally easier mind-fuck to handle.
Is There An Ideal Time To Take It?
Short Answer: 5g Post Workout.
Long Answer: Post Workout is optimal, but just taking it is the main thing.
Even Longer Answer: The overriding point here is to just take it. The exact timing is a small detail that is nearer the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to nutrition. Your efforts and concentration is best served elsewhere. Taking 5g of creatine at 13:05 instead of 06:34 is never going to be your difference-maker.
So throw 5g in your post workout shake and think nothing more of it.
Any guidance for how to take creatine on rest days?
Absolutely... Take it. Literally, any time of the day is fine.
Should Women It? Won't It Just Make Me Bulky?
Short Answer: Take it. You won't get bulky.
Long Answer: The chances of you getting bulky, with or without creatine are pretty much zero. The fact of the matter is muscle doesn't appear overnight. It's not like you lift a dumbbell today and tomorrow you've grown a 48" chest. Waking up one morning, wondering where the fuck this body of dense, rippling muscle materialised from, is merely the product of movies and make-believe.
Building muscle is a slow process. Painfully slow in most cases.
And whether your goal is to be "well-defined and toned", "lean and strong", or "shapely" there's two common elements needed to make it happen. Build muscle and drop body fat.
For example, here's one of my online coaching clients Hannah. She followed the principles I teach in the Lean Life Method and shaped her best body ever.
And you can hear her talk about the journey right here...
So with that said, a supplement like creatine that helps you build muscle and "get toned" quicker, is only ever a good thing. So fear not, for creatine is your friend.
My Goal Is To Lose Fat. Should I Still Take It? Or Is It Just For Getting Jacked?
Short Answer: Yes. Take it.
Long Answer: Your ability to lose body fat is not affected by whether you do or do not supplement with creatine. Your ability to shed stubborn fat and get a leaner, flatter stomach is largely a direct result of how well you manage calories and other aspects of nutrition.
Think of creatine as supporting your training performance and your ability to build muscle. And given the fact you can build muscle in a deficit, at maintenance, or in a surplus, creatine supplementation makes sense. Not only that, but arguably increased training performance might help you burn a few more calories. And that's good for giving that deficit a good kick in the ass.
Don't believe me? Ask Jacques and Jamie. Both these dudes took creatine, got lean, and look pretty damn awesome.
Pssst... Go here if you want to follow in their footsteps.
What About The Effects Of Caffeine?
Short Answer: Don't worry about it.
Long Answer: Really don't worry about it. Plus, if you're taking creatine with your post-workout nutrition you're unlikely to be taking it with caffeine anyway.
What Happens If You Don't Take It For A Few Days/Weeks?
Short Answer: Not a lot.
Long Answer: In the short term a few days, or weeks not taking creatine isn't an issue.
For example, if you go on holiday for a couple of weeks and decide not to take your supplements with you (is that normal?) simply hop straight back on to the 5g maintenance dose ASAP. Nothing noticeable will have changed in that relatively short period of time.
It takes roughly a month of not taking creatine to reach a point where contemplating another loading phase might be wise. So, don't sweat it if you miss 1-2 days or even 1-2 weeks.
Should I cycle creatine? Is it safe?
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements out there and no evidence exists to suggest it's harmful for healthy individuals to take year round. So whether you're trying to lose fat, build muscle, or simply maintain what you have, creatine should probably be on your supplement list.
After all, why wouldn't you take every opportunity available to sculpt that leaner, healthier physique as fast as possible?
How To Take Creatine If You're Making Weight
Short Answer: It depends.
Long Answer: This is an interesting one. And granted, it's not a question you may have ever had, or ever will have. But hey, sometimes it's just good to know shit, right? Like, did you know the word "Ewok" was never spoken during the entire Return Of The Jedi movie? Seriously, go check it out if you don't believe me.
Anyway, back to weight-making.
This all boils down to a trade off between weight management and strength. Ultimately, managing creatine supplementation in the weeks leading up to a weigh in can help reduce total body weight. However, the performance benefits are likely to be lost, or at least diminished. Ideally, if you don't have to, don't cycle off it to make weight. Get close to goal weight through body fat reduction, glycogen depletion, and other means.
Alternatively, stop taking it 1-2 weeks out, then take several servings post-weigh in, as there's some additional benefit linked to glycogen replenishment.
But, as I said, the likelihood of you needing to know this is small. Smaller than Yoda, who was almost played by an adorable monkey holding a cane. Another fact for you to take away...
The Bottom Line On How To Take Creatine
If your goal is to build muscle (which it should be) creatine is a proven supplement that will help. There are optimal ways to load and times to take it, but overall the focus should be on simply taking it. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Creatine supplementation doesn't need to be overcomplicated. Seriously, if you just have 5g per day and never thought about anything else, you'd get 99% of the benefits. So don't tie yourself up in knots with over-thinking all the what-if's.
Keep it simple and focus on what matters most, like calories, protein, and training, which I can help you with for free if you scroll down a little more.
Your Next Step To Mastering Nutrition And Shaping A Leaner, Healthier, Stronger Body
Here’s what to do next to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body. Simply click the link below and I’ll send you my Lean Life Kickstarter Pack. In it you’ll find a free 4 week beginner’s training programme (complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker), a guide on calculating your calories, plus so much more.
If you want it, grab it here.
But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.