How Long Does Creatine Take To Work?

How Long Does Creatine Take To Work?

Creatine is one of the best and safest supplements to take for beginners looking to increase performance, energy, and lean muscle mass. However, creatine does not immediately show effects. If you’re wondering how long it takes for creatine to work, it depends on how much you take. 

For creatine to start making a difference in your body, you need to take enough of it to achieve muscle saturation (which is when the creatine stores in your muscles reach the maximum point) and maintain that amount. Building these reserves can take anywhere from a week to a month, depending on your dosage. Keep reading below to learn more about this process and how to go about it.

Should You Start Taking Creatine? How Much & When?

Anyone who wants to increase energy in their muscles and make them bulkier should definitely take creatine. Overall, creatine is an excellent supplement for beginners and amateurs who want to build muscles. It is safe and has little to no side effects. Hence, if you’re new to the gym and feel intimidated by the multitude of supplements available, you can start with creatine. Keep in mind, though, that it will take a while for creatine to show results.

I recommend talking to a professional to get the appropriate dosage for your body and needs. If you can’t find the time to consult a professional, you can just stick to the recommended dosage of 3-10 grams. However, creatine is a supplement you must take with precision, or you won’t see optimum results. Here are the three things you need to look out for when taking creatine:

Loading

Creatine loading is a common technique used to build creatine reserves quickly. By taking high dosages of creatine in the early stages, you can reach muscle saturation within a week or two. 

Taking 20 grams daily is optimum for achieving muscle saturation in under a week. It is the quickest way to build reserves and also the most common. Also, it is completely discouraged to take any more creatine than this as it can lead to negative results such as bloating, stomach pains, etc. You should not take all 20 grams at once either. Instead, divide it into 4 servings throughout the day. If you’re a beginner, it is much better to pursue smaller doses to accustom your body to the supplement. 

For beginners or people who are prone to gastric issues, lowering the dose to 10 grams a day is a much better and safer option. Do note that this will increase the time it will take to max out your reserves to about 2 weeks. However, sacrificing quick results in favor of less bloating is not a bad trade-off in my opinion, especially for people who are new to loading. 

If you are in no hurry to build creatine reserves, you can further lower the dosage down to 3-5 grams a day. Keep in mind that this technique isn’t the most efficient and can take up to a month to show results. 

Taking any less will show almost no results while taking above 20 grams will cause formaldehyde to form in the urine. So it is recommended to stay within this range.

Maintenance

When you’re done with the loading phase, it is time to move on to the maintenance period. It is crucial to stay consistent with the doses during the maintenance phase. I suggest making a routine for it. For as long as you are building your muscles, you need to take regular doses of creatine to keep the reserves at their maximum point. How much you take for the maintenance phase depends on your dietary habits.

If you eat red meat regularly, you’ll get some creatine from that. For vegetarians and vegans, it is better to take more creatine to compensate for the deficiency. A standard dose of 5 grams every day should do the trick. For most people, however, 2-3 grams is more than enough if they already get creatine from other sources.

Method

Now let’s assess when and how you need to take creatine. In the loading phase, you need to divide your doses throughout the day. For a 20-gram dose, you should take 4 servings of 5 grams each in the morning, lunchtime, and after working out. If you want optimum results, taking creatine right after a full-blown workout is the best thing to do. In this state, the muscle glycogen is most receptive and sensitive to the supplement, fueling the reserves quicker. 

The best way to take creatine is with an insulin spike. This is how most bodybuilders prefer to consume it. Insulin helps with muscle repair and helps creatine infiltrate the muscles faster. I suggest mixing it with a sweet drink like fruit juice full of fructose and dextrose. You can also add it to carb and protein-fueled post-workout shakes or add it to your meals to reduce the chances of gastric issues.

Is Creatine Loading Necessary?

Creatine loading is the fastest and most efficient way to quickly max out the reserves in your muscles to achieve saturation. However, loading is not entirely necessary to pump creatine into your muscles. While daily 20-gram doses will quickly fill up the stores, taking 5-15 grams regularly is just as effective, even if it is not as fast. 

If you feel any kind of discomfort in your belly after taking a high dose of creatine, you might be sensitive to it. I suggest lowering the dose to 15 grams or less as you will still get good results without suffering any stomach pains.

When Can You Expect To See The Results Of Taking Creatine?

Does Creatine Work Instantly?

Creatine is a supplement that requires consistency and patience to show its true potential. It never shows instantaneous results as it takes time to build its reserves in your muscles. Do not go overboard trying to get it to work. Depending on your dosage and dietary habits, it can take anywhere between a week and a month to start feeling its effects on your body. Staying consistent during the maintenance phase is crucial to ensure that your creatine reserves remain maxed out and effective.

Taking Creatine After 1 Month Results

Not everyone will get the same results after taking creatine for a month. It depends on your dosage during the loading phase, your dietary habits, and your natural creatine reserves before the loading phase. If you go for the maximum recommended loading dosage (20 grams) during the loading period, you may already be benefiting from creatine’s effects. Of course, consistent intake during the maintenance period is also vital to get optimum results. Research indicates that staying consistent with creatine intake gives a considerable strength enhancement and resistance. Your body will adapt to the supplement with consistent use, causing scale weight to level out.  

In the case of smaller doses during the loading phase, you will probably only start feeling the initial effects of creatine after a month. However, this should not discourage you as the supplement works differently on different individuals. If you stay consistent with your maintenance doses, you will also start seeing results soon enough.

Taking Creatine After 3 Months’ Results

After 3 months of consistent creatine intake, you will see a substantial boost in your overall performance, regardless of your dosage in the loading phase. Due to the maintenance doses, your muscle creatine stores will stay constantly maxed out. 

At this point, you will be able to perform high-intensity and strenuous exercises. Pushing yourself harder and being capable of doing more reps and weights should be no trouble either. Of course, creatine alone won’t help you achieve this. Committing yourself to your workout routine will also play a part in increasing your resistance and enhancing the effects of creatine.

Studies suggest that prolonged use of creatine in combination with routine workouts leads to an increase in weightlifting capacity, sprinting capabilities, and overall endurance.

Is Creatine Like Steroids?

A common misconception surrounding creatine is that it is similar to steroids and should only be used by bodybuilding veterans. You may also hear claims that it is unsuitable for teenagers, women, and beginners. People new to workouts may fall for these myths but let me assure you that there is absolutely no truth to this. 

The body naturally produces and stores creatine in the muscles and partly in the brain. Moreover, creatine can also be consumed from natural foods like meat. Hence, the substance is completely legal and safe for use. Even the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) views creatine as a safe and highly beneficial supplement.

How Long Should You Be Taking Creatine For?

There is no reason to quit using creatine if you don’t want to, have no medical conditions, and aren’t experiencing any negative effects. This is only possible if you use high-quality creatine within the prescribed dose levels. Research outcomes show that there are no problems with long-term creatine use.

So far, creatine has been found to have no side effects if used responsibly for an extended period. Up to 5 years of daily creatine usage in 10-gram doses has been regarded as safe by many studies. However, not much research has been done on its effects after a 5-year duration of constant intake. 

With that in mind, it is not necessary for you to take creatine forever. Once you have achieved your desired results, it is okay to lower doses or stop taking them altogether. You will retain all the gains achieved during creatine intake. You may, however, lose endurance, become fatigued, decrease water weight, etc.

Creatine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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