How Do I Use Creatine

Emily Thomas

If you’ve been curious about the benefits of incorporating creatine into your fitness routine, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to effectively use creatine to enhance your performance and achieve your fitness goals. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve strength and power or simply aiming to build lean muscle mass, you’ll find all the tips and tricks you need to know to make the most out of this popular supplement. So, let’s dive in and discover how to maximize the benefits of creatine for your body.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a popular supplement used among athletes and fitness enthusiasts to enhance performance and support muscle growth. It is a naturally occurring compound found in the body, primarily in the muscles. Creatine is derived from essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. It is also obtained through dietary sources such as meat and fish.

Definition of Creatine

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that helps supply energy to cells in the body, primarily muscle cells. It is stored in the form of phosphocreatine, which is then converted to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) during intense physical activity. ATP is the primary source of energy for muscle contractions.

How does Creatine work?

Creatine works by increasing the formation of phosphocreatine in the muscles. When phosphocreatine levels increase, it leads to a greater production of ATP. This increased availability of ATP provides the muscles with more energy, enabling them to perform better during high-intensity exercise or strength training.

Benefits of Creatine

Creatine has several benefits for individuals who engage in intense physical activity or strength training. Some of the key benefits include improved strength and power output, increased muscle mass, enhanced exercise performance, and faster recovery between workouts. Additionally, creatine has also been shown to have neuroprotective properties and may improve cognitive function.

Types of Creatine

There are several different types of creatine supplements available on the market. It’s important to understand the differences between them to make an informed decision about which type may be best for you.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is the most widely researched and commonly used form of creatine. It is a white, crystalline powder that is easily mixed with water or other liquids. Creatine monohydrate is known for its effectiveness and affordability, making it a popular choice among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

Creatine ethyl ester is a modified form of creatine that is believed to have better absorption and utilization by the body. However, scientific studies have shown conflicting results regarding its effectiveness compared to creatine monohydrate. Consequently, it is not as commonly used as creatine monohydrate.

Creatine Hydrochloride

Creatine hydrochloride is another form of creatine that is claimed to have better solubility and absorption in the body. However, there is limited research available to support these claims. More studies are needed to determine its effectiveness compared to other forms of creatine.

Buffered Creatine

Buffered creatine is a form of creatine that is combined with alkaline elements to increase its pH level. This is believed to improve its stability and reduce the potential for conversion to creatinine, a waste product. Buffered creatine is marketed as a more pH-neutral and less likely to cause digestive issues. However, research on its efficacy compared to other forms of creatine is limited.

How Do I Use Creatine

This image is property of

Dosage of Creatine

To maximize the benefits of creatine and minimize the risk of side effects, it is important to follow proper dosage guidelines. There are three commonly used approaches for taking creatine: loading phase, maintenance phase, and cycling.

Loading Phase

During the loading phase, individuals typically take a higher dosage of creatine for a short period of time to saturate the muscles with creatine. This phase typically lasts for five to seven days and involves consuming 15-25 grams of creatine per day, divided into multiple doses. This loading phase helps to rapidly increase muscle creatine stores.

Maintenance Phase

Once the loading phase is complete, the maintenance phase begins. In the maintenance phase, individuals typically consume a lower dosage of creatine to maintain elevated muscle creatine levels. The typical maintenance dosage is 2-5 grams of creatine per day. This phase can last several weeks to several months, depending on individual preferences and goals.

Creatine Cycling

Creatine cycling involves taking breaks from creatine supplementation after a certain period of usage. Cycling can help prevent the body from becoming dependent on exogenous creatine and maintain natural creatine production. A common cycle is 8-12 weeks of continuous use, followed by 4-6 weeks of abstaining from creatine supplementation. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support the need for cycling.

Timing of Creatine Consumption

The timing of creatine consumption can impact its effectiveness. It is typically recommended to divide the daily creatine dosage into smaller doses throughout the day to ensure better absorption and utilization.

Pre-workout Creatine

Taking creatine before a workout can help increase muscle stores of phosphocreatine, providing a readily available energy source during intense exercise. Consuming creatine 30-60 minutes before a workout is a common practice.

Post-workout Creatine

Taking creatine immediately after a workout can help replenish depleted muscle stores and support muscle recovery. Consuming creatine within 30 minutes to one hour after exercise is often recommended.

Non-workout Days

On rest days or days when you are not engaging in intense physical activity, it is recommended to continue taking creatine with a meal to maintain consistent levels in your body.

How Do I Use Creatine

This image is property of

How to Take Creatine

Creatine is available in various forms, including powder, capsules or pills, liquid, and even found naturally in some foods.

Creatine Powder

Creatine powder is a popular form of creatine due to its versatility and ease of use. It can be mixed with water, juice, or other liquids for consumption. When taking creatine powder, it is important to follow the recommended dosage and mixing instructions provided on the product label.

Creatine Capsules or Pills

Creatine capsules or pills offer a convenient option, especially for individuals on-the-go or who prefer not to mix powders. The dosage per capsule or pill may vary, so it is important to read the product label and follow the recommended dosage.

Creatine Liquid

Creatine liquid is a pre-mixed form of creatine that can be consumed directly or added to other beverages. It offers convenience and ease of use, but it is important to check the product label for dosage instructions.

Creatine in Food

Creatine is naturally found in some food sources, particularly meat and fish. Consuming creatine-rich foods like beef, pork, salmon, and tuna can contribute to your overall creatine intake. However, it is important to note that the creatine content in food is significantly lower compared to creatine supplements, so relying solely on food sources may not provide sufficient amounts.

Mixing Creatine with Other Supplements

Creatine can be taken in combination with other supplements to enhance its effects or achieve specific fitness goals. Here are some common combinations:

Protein Powder

Creatine and protein powder are often taken together to support muscle growth and recovery. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle repair and growth, while creatine enhances energy levels and strength. Combining the two can be beneficial, especially post-workout, to maximize muscle protein synthesis and optimize recovery.


Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are popular supplements used to support muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Combining creatine with BCAAs can provide a comprehensive approach to muscle repair and growth. BCAAs can be consumed pre-workout, intra-workout, or post-workout, along with creatine.

Pre-workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements often contain a combination of ingredients such as caffeine, beta-alanine, and nitric oxide boosters. Creatine is sometimes included in pre-workout formulas to provide an energy boost and enhance workout performance. If your pre-workout supplement already contains creatine, it may not be necessary to take additional creatine separately.

How Do I Use Creatine

This image is property of

Side Effects of Creatine

While creatine is generally safe for most individuals, it is important to be aware of potential side effects. It is essential to follow proper dosage guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions.

Water Retention

One common side effect of creatine supplementation is water retention. Creatine can cause the muscles to retain more water, leading to a slight increase in body weight. However, this is typically temporary and not a cause for concern.

Digestive Issues

Some individuals may experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas, or an upset stomach when taking creatine. To minimize the occurrence of digestive issues, it is important to stay hydrated and consume creatine with sufficient fluids or alongside a meal.

Kidney Damage

There have been concerns about the potential for creatine supplementation to cause kidney damage. However, multiple studies have shown no significant negative impact on kidney function in healthy individuals when taken within recommended dosages. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any pre-existing kidney conditions.

Precautions and Considerations

While creatine is generally safe, there are some precautions and considerations to keep in mind when using this supplement.

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

Before starting any creatine supplementation regimen, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions, are on medication, or have concerns about potential interactions.


Since creatine can cause water retention, it is important to stay well-hydrated when taking this supplement. Drinking sufficient fluids throughout the day can help minimize potential side effects and ensure optimal effectiveness.

Avoiding Excessive Dosages

It is crucial to follow the recommended dosages provided by the manufacturer and not exceed the recommended intake. Taking excessive amounts of creatine does not provide additional benefits and may increase the risk of side effects.

How Do I Use Creatine

FAQs about Creatine

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about creatine:

Is Creatine Safe?

Creatine is generally safe when taken within recommended dosages and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns. Additionally, it is advisable to purchase creatine supplements from reputable sources to ensure product quality.

Can Women Use Creatine?

Yes, women can use creatine. Creatine supplementation can be beneficial for both men and women who engage in high-intensity exercise or strength training. It is important to follow the recommended dosage guidelines to minimize the risk of side effects.

What Are the Long-term Effects of Creatine?

Long-term studies on creatine supplementation have not shown any significant negative health effects in healthy individuals when taken within recommended dosages. However, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of creatine supplementation.


Creatine is a widely used and well-researched supplement that can enhance athletic performance, support muscle growth, and improve recovery. Understanding the different types of creatine, proper dosage guidelines, timing of consumption, and potential side effects are important for maximizing its benefits and ensuring safety. As with any dietary supplement, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any creatine supplementation regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns. Remember to follow recommended dosages, stay hydrated, and listen to your body’s response when incorporating creatine into your fitness routine.