People ask me about supplements all the time, but the one I may see the most questions about is creatine.
This makes perfect sense of course, because creatine is one of the VERY few muscle building supplements on the market with actual proven benefits. The fact that it also appears to be perfectly safe (when taken correctly) only increases its popularity.
For these reasons, many people are interested in taking it. But that’s when the confusion sets in:
- How do I take it?
- How much should I take?
- When is the best time to take it?
- What kind should I take?
- What about loading it? Or cycling it?
There are just so many complex questions, and it’s so damn hard to find the answers!
That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to create an ultimate guide to taking this extremely popular yet highly confusing supplement. A guide that would answer the most common questions people have about it. A guide that could serve as the best and most comprehensive resource you can link to whenever someone starts a new thread on a forum asking the same creatine questions over and over again.
So after WEEKS of thinking, researching and writing, I’m finally ready to share it with the world. Enjoy.
How To Take Creatine: The Guide Starts Now…
Take 3-5 grams of plain creatine monohydrate powder per day, every day.
I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide, and I hope all of your questions were answered. Be sure to pass it along to anyone else who has any questions about taking creatine.
Frequently Asked Questions
I realize that the comprehensive nature of this guide can be a lot to take in at once, so you may have missed a few things. Just in case, here’s a FAQ that will hopefully cover all of it…
1. Your guide mentions taking 3-5 grams every day. What does “every day” mean exactly?
You know how there’s 7 days in a week (e.g. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday)? Take it on all 7 of those days.
2. You also discussed taking a certain amount on these days. If I remember correctly, you said 3-5 grams per day. Is that total for the day, or should I put 3-5g in my pre workout shake, my post workout shake, my during workout shake, my before-bed shake, my pre before-bed shake, my weight gain shake, my middle-of-the-night protein shake, and the shake I drink while asking questions about creatine?
I mean a single 3-5 gram serving for the day. That’s how much you should take. I really should have been clearer about this in the guide.
3. There’s a section in this ultimate guide where you touch on the type of creatine to take. In fact, I’ll quote you directly… “plain creatine monohydrate powder.” I was a bit confused by that. Does this mean I should take the chewable or capsule form of Creatine Ethyl Ester, Kre-Alkalyn, Malate, HCL or Magnesium Chelate?
That’s a really great question, and I’m just overjoyed that you asked. The answer however is no. It means you should take plain creatine monohydrate powder. It’s the best and most proven form of it.
4. You mention taking 3-5 total grams per day. Does that mean I should do the high dose loading phase and take 10-20 grams per day?
It means you should skip the loading phase and just take 3-5g per day. I probably should have mentioned this in the guide.
5. I’m a little confused about whether or not I need to cycle creatine. You say to take 3-5 grams of it every day. How am I supposed to cycle it if I’m taking it every day? What does that mean exactly?
I can definitely see how you’d be confused by this. But it means cycling it is unnecessary and you should just take 3-5g per day.
6. Where’s the affiliate link bro? You know, there’s supposed to be a link somewhere to a specific creatine product that you want me to buy, and when I click that link and buy that product, you get like 12 cents from that sale. Where’s it at?
Ohhh right, my bad. I knew I forgot something. Here ya go: Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine
(Full disclosure: Unlike 99% of the affiliate links and product recommendations you’ll see which tend to be more about what will make the writer the most money rather than what they honestly and truthfully recommend, this is legitimately the creatine monohydrate I’ve personally used since like 2006. And yes, if you click that link and buy it, I’ll make like 12 cents. Hell yeah!)
7. But what if I want to know more about creatine itself? What it does? How it works? The proven science behind it? Can you tell me about this kind of stuff?
I sure can. But there just so happens to be a group of guys who have already done a better job of this than I ever would. In fact, they’ve already covered every single aspect of every single supplement you’ll ever consider taking. Seriously.
It’s called the The Supplement-Goals Reference Guide, and I highly recommend it. It literally contains the answer to every question you have or will ever have about any supplement. It gets my full approval.
139 thoughts on “How To Take Creatine: The Best Time, How Much, Loading and More”
haha! that was great.
Thanks, although I’m still doubtful it will reduce the amount of “do I need to cycle creatine” questions I get a week.
Lol nice! but actually i do have a legit question regarding this. I take exactly what u say to take and the same brand(which has worked wonders) but i noticed some of my preworkouts i have taken have some form of creatine in them. Example would be jacked, blitz, hemovex… granted the only with creatine mono is jacked and the others is the companys “brand made creatine”so is me taking my 3-5 post workout like i always do putting way too much creatine in me?
That depends. What’s the total amount of creatine you end up taking per day from all of those supplements combined?
Thats what makes it so complicating. They dont ever put exactly how much they put in per scoop/serving. I take just one serving of whatever preworkout i have for the month at the time. The only one high up on the ingredient list is jacked. I believe its the second ingredient listed so assuming has more in it. Only take one serving of whichever pre workout. I slam through 100+ ounces of water though so assuming that helps. Just not wanting to go too far over the creatine limit.
Well that’s certainly annoying. Drinking a nice amount of water every day is a good idea regardless, but I personally wouldn’t want to take some unknown amount of unnecessary creatine on a daily basis.
That’s why I don’t take or really recommend any product that’s a mixture of a bunch of supplements. Or, a supplement that just happens to have a bunch of extra crap thrown in to make it more marketable.
Gotcha. Yea its a pain. I know its the one faulter in my diet but after long days of work nothing seems to hit the spot pre workout like a mixture of 30 diff chemicals running through my body at once 😐 do you even take any preworkout? or are u balls to the wall off green tea packs or straight black coffee? fyi been doing the muscle building routine for 4 months now and that combined with following every aspect of the nutrition plan has transformed me. Always been in good shape but this has sent my results through the roof. Glad i found your site when i was tired of the whole break apart every muscle group overtraining thing i was doing. Love the site.
Awesome dude, glad everything has been working well. Keep these updates coming!
As for what I do pre workout, just a normal solid food protein/carb meal 1-2 hours before training. No supps, no coffee. I’m boring like that. 😉
Lmao! Very informative.
I’ve read that it is better to take creatine with fruit juice – do you find that to be true?
Nope. I just throw it in my post workout shake on training days, and take it with whatever meal I remember to on off days. No fruit juice is involved at any point.
Very nice. I was going to go buy some creatine but just ordered it so you can get the 12 cents.
Thanks for that, lol.
I’ve read recently that creatine can increase hair loss in men already susceptible (and losing hair) as it increases DHT, but there are two schools of thought on it and some swear it does have an effect and others don’t. Do you know anything about this?
btw I’m almost 31 and haven’t experienced any hair loss as yet so I’m not too worried right now.
As best as I remember, there was only 1 study that showed any connection, and it had quite a few annoying flaws (like most studies do) that at this point at least makes it hard to put much stock in.
Combine that with the fact that there are likely millions of people who have been taking creatine for years and years, yet you don’t see an overwhelming amount of complaints about hair loss.
Based on all of the above, I’m leaning towards it not being an issue.
Yeah cool. I’m a bit unsure either side but again I haven’t looked into it much. Thanks.
I’ve taken one gram before, during, and after my workouts for many years and I’m doing fine.
Lol this must be trolling. btw @aworkoutroutine great info and highly entertaining. like your humour 😀
Actually i wouldnt mind getting yours or others experiences with creatine. For you, does creatine make a noticeable difference? The reason i ask is that i recently stopped taking creative, like about 4-5 months ago after taking 5 g every day for a few years. I stopped because I wanted to see what difference it was making. Having stopped, I can honestly say that I cannot notice any difference at all in my workouts. Im still progressing and feeling strong. If it does make a difference, it must be really micro. I know all the studies, including well credentialed ones, say it helps but I just cannot notice it. So I stopped. But that’s just me and my approach. Unless it definitely does something for me or my workouts, I won’t take it. I’m now down to fish oil and a multi vitamin, and I really only take the multi cos it’s a tradition my dad passed on to me. Maybe I get enough creatine in my diet from eating red meat every day? I don’t know, but supplementing creatine does seem to make a difference to me.
It sounds like you may be a creatine non-responder. The number of people who fit that description are definitely in the minority, but it is real and it does exist for whatever reason.
The best way to tell would be when you first started taking it. Did you gain any weight during those first few weeks? Did you notice any benefits at all? The second best way to know would be to do what you’ve done… stop taking it and see if you notice any difference.
If your answers are no, you’re most likely a non-responder and you should probably just save your money.
I can’t remember if there was a gain in weight or strength when I first went on it. I don think so but I’ll give it another go to make sure. Diet, bodyweight and training is a lot more consistent and closely monitored these days so, if it makes a difference to me, I’ll notice it this time round. Thanks for the advice.
So would you recommend creatine for a beginner who, at this point (hopefully only a month-ish longer) is working on losing weight, but still trying to make gains in strength? Or should I just wait until I’m trying to build muscle (well, in a caloric surplus)?
Honestly, it’s mostly up to you, as it’s probably not going to matter much when you start taking it.
For me though, I’d usually tell beginners to hold off for a few months, partially to get them to focus less on supplements and more on training/eating properly, and partially because, by waiting a bit, they’ll at least be able to notice the benefits.
But again, there’s no true right or wrong answer here.
Wait a minute…so are you saying we should take 3-5g of plain creatine monohydrate powder everyday? lol Great post!
Son of a bitch, I knew I left something out!
I was thinking of taking 0.1 grams every 30 mins with a 1 hour off-cycle every 6 weeks, and loading with 0.2 grams for the first week. I’ll be double the size in 6 months
That may be the all time most effective creatine protocol in the history of the planet.
Not even $20 for 200 servings of Creatine Monohydrate. I’m not paying $40 for 20 servings of Creatine EthylEsterAlkaHydroChloriLiquiMonoHydraMalate…
Exactly… I second this.
Started using a protein powder with added creatine a couple of months ago (the amounts seem to work out well within your prescribed range ) my off days I’m getting around 3gms and workout days I’m getting around 6gms.
Must say I have noticed a difference, small but a difference none the less, getting gains more often and more consistently, and can physically see I’m gaining mass a little faster, quads are the stand out for me since using it, as have been my squats.
Yup, “small but a difference none the less” is a pretty accurate description of creatine’s benefits.
Awesome dude, I like how you tend to not complicate stuff like other sites do.
By the way, can you post an article about BCAAs. Lots of sites recommend it and I don’t know if I should take it or not.
If you’re eating a sufficient amount of protein each day from mostly high quality sources, then there’s usually no need to supplement with BCAAs unless it specifically fits into some special diet/training method (e.g Leangains recommends them before fasted training).
Otherwise, save your money.
I see but just to be sure what the difference if I’m taking whey or BCAAs to complete my daily intake of protein. BCAAs is protein, right?
Protein sources such as whey contain BCAAs, so if you’re already consuming high quality sources of protein such as whey (and your overall protein intake is sufficient), there’s likely little to no need for additional BCAA supplementation in most cases.
Would you recommend buying the pill version of the optimum nutrition creatine? I want to take less than 5g per day, and the serving size of the powder version is 5g, while in the pill version is 2.5g. Or do you have another recommendation? I’d like you to get your 12 cents!
Why not just take 1/2 serving of the powder?
I guess you’re right, thanks!
Do you recommend women to take creatine?
The same way I recommend it to men… if it fits in with your goals and you want to take it, go for it.
thank you ever so much for this!
just one quick question. should beginners use creatine? i heard a lot of people in the gym saying that beginners should not use creatine. thanks
If it fits their goals and they want to take it, they certainly can.
But generally speaking, I’d rather see beginners wait a few months and focus more (or really solely) on their diet/training rather than supplements. Plus, beginners will progress really well for quite a while. My preference would be for them to hold off a bit so they’ll at least be able to notice the benefits.
There is only one thing I want to know about creatine and people seem to have different opinions.taking it with watter or a drink high in carbs ? I would like to drink my creatine in my 3 in 1 instant coffee in the morning but I hear people saying that caffeine and creatine don’t get along at all.Is it really that serious ?
So, how much creatine should I take during my loading phase?
I’ve heard that if you stop taking creatine you will lose muscle. Any merit to this?
Nope. You may lose some water weight, but it’s water weight… not muscle.
Dude, you are absolutely the best writer ever. The instructions couldn’t be better. No questions about creatine 🙂
…questions about weight gain: As body mass increases and weight goes up, is there a stop on gaining weight if I continue to take the powder? I mean, will I become overweight or obese per the BMI table if I continue with the daily dose indefinitely?
Hmmm, not really sure what you mean? Are you asking if taking creatine will cause you to gain so much weight that you’ll become obese?
If so, definitely not. Creatine in and of itself will only cause an initial gain of a couple of pounds of water weight no matter how long you take it. Only your diet (eating too much) can cause you to gain so much weight that you become fat/overweight/obese.
Yah, great job btw on providing real info and facts about a confusing supplement! This is my question, Im currently taking 3Grams daily in two-three divided doses of the Newer Kre-Aklyine by Sci-fit! So far it has helped me gain 5lbs in 2weeks and I notice that its not only eaisier to use, but the results seem better than plain Cre-Mono 4 me at least! My question is can I keep using the Kre-Alkalyn buffered creatine monohydrate along w/ using 3-5G’s of the Reg. Micronized Cre-mono? I ask this because I heard somewhere that if u take any other creatine while useing the KRE-ALKALYN, all the non-buffered or reg. Creatine is flushed out and doesn’t do anything or even reach ur muscles? Is this true or do I need to try and see for myself. I recently bought a Kilo(2.2lbs) of Micronized Cre-Monohydrate for only 17.99usd so I can save it if It will not be of any benifit, but if I can use it to spare out the KRE-A, then it may be worth a try? What are ur thoughts on this as I notice much better results, such as pumped up muscles, less water retention, no bloating, easier to use and remember to take, but mainly my strenth has gone up by at least 15% or more in the last 2 weeks by using the Newer Kre-Akyalyn vs. reg. mono or phosphate which is great for when I want to build strenth but w/o all the extra water weight that I will lose anyways once I stop using the supplement! Thanx 4 ur time, Sincerely, Chris Berrier- PS: I’ve tried prob. 8-10 diff. forms of Creatine and the Ph buffered one has me bigger, much faster and stronger then any other form combined! Why is this?
Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I started reading your comment and got slightly dizzy halfway through and stopped.
Take 3-5g per day of plain creatine monohydrate powder. That’s it.
Everything else is more expensive and at best equally effective.
Hey man, great read, really helpful and to the point. I had one quick question, you mention earlier that creatine will cause slight water weight gains, would you recomend stopping creatine supplimentation during cutting phases due to this? I am currently trying to put on mass and have gone up about 5 pounds in the past two weeks of starting creatine monohydrate from ON, I realize most of that is probably water weight but I am stronger and full force in the gym none the less, and am very pleased with what creatine is already doing and am hoping for more results once I reach full saturation. But should I stop once my beach trip gets a little closer? haha
Creatine remains beneficial while losing fat because it helps with performance and strength, and the better performance/strength are, the better your chances of maintaining muscle will be.
It’s not a huge difference of course, but every little bit helps, especially in a deficit.
Hi. If you’re doing a more cardio-heavy activity (I do freerunning and acrobatics) rather than weightlifting, is there any benefit to taking creatine gluconate instead of creatine monohydrate? Or should I just read the guide again for the answer to that? 🙂
Yes to the last part. 😉
If I start taking it and then leave it will i loose any strength/performance?
You’ll lose the performance benefits it provides along with a couple of pounds of water weight. Muscle you built while taking it will remain as long as you keep eating/training to maintain it.
Hey is it true that if you take creatine for too long it starts losing its effects? How long should I take creatine at a time? Like how many months? Or does it not matter
Not true. And you can take it indefinitely. No need to cycle it.
You say take creatine EVERY day, but what about national holidays or when you’re so drunk you can’t find your creatine?
National holidays are fine. Every Christmas I wrap 3-5g of creatine in a tiny box and give it to all my friends and family as gifts.
And when drunk, you should have a designated creatine finder to assist you.
I am actually a certified DCF (Designated Creatine Finder) and have very competitive rates. Furthermore I run a creatine truck that drives around around offering gourmet, cage-free, organic, individual creatine doses at your convenience (even on holidays).
Very good article, you’re a funny man.
That cage-free creatine is the only way to go. I like to know each granule was able to roam freely before being micronized.
Hi, i took carnivor protein and it says contain 2,5gr per scoop, i took 2-3 times daily. My question is, can i take creatine if i take carnivor protein ? If i can, how many more grams can i take since i already get 7.5gr from carnivor protein ?
I don’t recommend using a protein powder that contains creatine. These supplements should be separate.
Ive just bought some creatine and ive decided im going to do the loading phase (Not because its better, but to speed up full saturation) Considering its Saturday and the weekend is my 2 rest days (I do 5 days training a week) Am I best to wait until Monday to start taking it? or shall I start tomorrow (Sunday) Or does it really make no difference as you have probably already said?
Also, just like to point out about the comment someone made about how you should have put more in your *Ultimate* guide. I think people miss the point that this *article* is merely just pointing out how much crap info there is out there on creatine compared to how simple and basic it is to take it!
No difference whatsoever.
And yup, not everyone is fluent in sarcasm. 🙂
Hi, Thanks for the great and funny post. The question I haven’t been able to find info on is this. Most articles I’ve read recommend taking about 0.8 gm of protein per pound of body weight. If I’m taking creatine should I up that amount and if so by how much? I’m trying to put on muscle if that’s any help. Thanks.
Nope, protein requirements don’t change due to creatine supplementation.
Great thanks. I also read some of your other stuff about how and when and how much protein to take and let me tell you, it’s such a relief not to worry about all those timing and 6 meals a day crap anymore. Makes the whole process infinitely simpler. So another big thank you for that.
Happy to hear it!
I get the 3-5 grams part, but do have a question: Should I take 3 grams, or would it be better to take 4 grams (33% higher dose) or 5 grams (66% higher dose)?
Technically speaking, a larger person might take 5, a smaller person might take 3. But honestly? It’s not really going to matter either way. Some days I take 3, some days 4, some days 5… all depending on how much ends up in the spoon when I scoop it out.
I know generally it doesn’t matter what time of day you take creatine, but does it matter what you take it with. In other words, are there any compounds in any food or supplement that interferes with creatine absorption.
There is some small potential for some minor issues when taking it with caffeine, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind.
Can i mix 5g creatine with my post workout shake(mass gainner) ?
Yes. If it’s a typical “mass gainer” product… just make sure it doesn’t already contain creatine.
You didn’t mention when to have it I mean which time in a day when i should take that 3 5 grm creatine
Any time. Literally any time.
I am very happy that I got all my answers over here. Just 1 question can I take creatine in summer? Is that OK?
I hope you’re joking… but since I can’t tell for sure… yes. You can take creatine in the summer. Spring, Fall and Winter, too.
Should I take it if I’m trying to lose weight but gain muscle?
It’s useful for any goal involving gaining more strength and/or muscle.
This post had me crying u answered all questions in first line … amazeballs thanks
Can I take creatine while eating an apple and slaying a three headed dragon?
Absolutely… unless the apples are golden delicious. In that case, seek out four headed dragons only.
how much water should be added to one tablespoon of creatine powder?
Whatever amount allows you to consume the creatine without choking to death on it.
The box of the creatine usually says to take it with 500ml of water. I’ve noticed I’ve been peeing more (particularly at night). I’m not sure if it’s because of the water; other people keep telling me that creatine makes water retention easier, and you are supposed to take it with a lot of water or you get dehydrated/it’s less effective. Is there any truth in that?
Sorry if it’s a stupid question.
Love your guides
It’s less important that you take it “with” a lot of water, and more important that you simply consume a sufficient total amount of water each day.
I need not go any farther Googling “How to take Creatine”
This possibly the best article I have read in a long time.!!!!!! Hilarious and educational.
Glad you liked it dude.
Using creatine monohydrate for a few years as a insulin dependant diabetic, no side effects, thanks for the guide anyway , cheers!
I recently came read one of Scooby’s articles where he talks about how he wouldn’t recommend taking Creatine or any other supplement for that matter, not because of the actual product itself (which he says has minor but useful benefits and is safe just like you said), but because of how the supplements industry is largely unregulated with little quality control and product testing and so there is no way for you to know if the stuff you are taking is actually regular safe Creatine or whether is has been contaminated etc.
What are your thoughts on this?
Thx for the concise article!
This is true, it’s not regulated. There is various independent and 3rd party types of testing happening, but nothing more than that.
That’s a big part of why I only use specific supplements from specific brands.
Great article for sure. However, one thing confuses me. Say that I were to take 4 grams of creatine per day as opposed to either 3 or 5 grams; how will this affect my imposing physique? Also – is there true love?
0.00001% and yes.
In that order.
You really made me laugh out loud on that one! Also wanted to thank you for all the free quality information on your website. It has been immensely helpful.
You are quite welcome!
Thank you for all the VERY useful info posted on this blog. Bought the SMG guide and it is best by far over the other guides I read (bought a couple). Very good approach from beginner to advanced. It’s amazing how other guides recommend to beginners Deadlifts with 80+% 1RM. Sound like the perfect way to have an injury…
Anyway, one question regarding creatine: does it matter if you take it with plain water at a normal meal or it is better or even mandatory to be mixed with some insulin spiking simple carb, dextrose, for example?
Thank you again.
Very glad to hear it!
As for creatine, it makes no difference if you take it with a carb source or just water.
Should I take 3, 4, or 5MG? And is there life after death?
Exactly 4.2g, and there is indeed something after death. However, calling it “life” would not be an accurate description. I am unfortunately not at liberty to divulge more.
I bet you’ll say “still take 3-5 grams”, but should the amount taken depend at all on your muscle mass/weight/height/sex? For example, if a 250 lb man is taking 5 grams of creatine, would a 100 lb woman (me – I’m short, not anorexic, lol) also take the same amount? I’m just smaller than the majority of “body builders” and I’m wary about how my body probably has different requirements than other people’s.
2nd question: I was trying to find the article and can’t find it, but I think I read in one of your articles (or maybe it was somewhere else) where you suggested to take creatine before bed. Why would someone take it before bed vs. any other time?
Thanks, and I love your articles! The perfect blend of honest information and humor.
1. There is probably some logic/truth to the idea of a bigger person taking more creatine and a smaller person taking less, though in this case you can simply use the low end of the recommended range (3 grams) and you’ll be just fine.
2. Definitely wasn’t me, as it makes no difference whatsoever when you take creatine.
1st comment of 2017! Is it okay to take creatine powder if it’s expired? Or should I toss it
I’d toss it.
I don’t know you personally, but you’re the only person I trust. A guy at my gym recommended that I get off the creatine (that I’ve only been taking for two weeks) and start taking kre alkalyn. What say you? Is there truly any difference?
It’s shit. Stick with plain old creatine monohydrate.
Aye aye captain! Thanks, your the best.
I read this article from time to time and LMAO. Simply brilliant. I’m following your detailed instructions and I’m definitely getting results. Thanks bro!
Glad to hear it dude!
Is it okay to take creatine immediately after workout with one scoop of glucose in water then following with protein shake in milk after 20 mins?
It makes no difference whatsoever.
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