Know How, When, and
How Much Creatine To Take
Author’s note: When I began my journey to learn about creatine I began the same way that most of you did, with Google. The next thing I did was visit a local gym. I asked around and several people suggested that I speak with Ben Anderson. Ben is an amature bodybuilder and a source of all kinds of fitness information. These are my notes from my send interview with Ben where I ask him about how to take creatine. I previously interviewed Ben about what creating is and how it works. -- Bobby
Bobby: Ben, the last time we talked you gave me all kinds of information about creatine. Like what it does and who should use it. Now I would like to turn to more of the how-to of using creatine.
Ben: Okay, let’s do it.
Bobby: Good. Let’s start with the basics. Tell me how to take creatine and also how to use creatine as part of my overall workout.
Ben: First, you make a good point. Creatine needs to be part of your workout plan. If you aren’t working out hard, then creatine supplements aren't going to do anything for you. If you are working out hard, then creatine can help you work out harder. That is what leads to the increased muscle mass that creatine users get.
To answer your question though. Actually taking creatine is really easy. Just take your pill or powder. Personally, I use a powder just because it costs less. You can mix the powder with water or juice. I usually take mine with a juice that I make with fruits and vegetables and all that kind of good stuff.
Bobby: I have been reading all kinds of articles on the internet about how much creatine to take. They seem varied and contradictory. So, how much creatine should I take.
Ben: The reason it is so confusing is that how much you should take depends on a lot of things like your body size and chemistry and what kind of creatine you are taking. For creatine monohydrate, which is the most common, most people should take about 5 grams per day. You should probably take 10.
Bobby: How much creatine per day?
Ben: When you take creatine it spreads through your bloodstream. So the more of you there is the more creatine you need. Don’t take this wrong, but you look like you are about 350 pounds. So, my experience is that you should take double the normal dose for a total of 10 grams per day. Once you are using it for a while you can try to reduce that gradually until you find the amount that is right for you. But, for most people 5 grams of creatine monohydrate is enough.
Bobby: Thanks, that’s helpful. What about other types of creatine supplements.
Ben: There are too many types and blends to get into. For the most part people can take the recommended dose on the bottle.
Bobby: What is loading and is there a creatine loading phase that I need to go through?
Ben: Loading is when you take an increased dosage when you start taking a supplement. It helps increase the amount of creatine, in this case, in your body more quickly. Many people see an immediate benefit from taking creatine, but the most benefits don’t show up until 2-3 weeks after you start. That time can be shortened a little by taking two to three times the normal dosage for a short time. With creatine if you are going to load then you should spread the extra dose over the day or it can upset your stomach.
Bobby: That leads nicely into my next question. When should I take creatine?
Ben: The most effective time to take creatine is with your workout. That will help your muscles get the extra boost that you want. Taking it at other times helps build or maintain the levels in your body, but doesn’t have any immediate benefit. In fact, you should be taking creatine in the mornings on days that you don’t work out to keep it in your system.
Bobby: It’s interesting that you said in the morning. I have seen people online mentioning taking creatine before bed, is that a bad idea?
Ben: Creatine will work just as well if you take it any time of day on your non-workout days. There are two reasons that I suggest taking it in the morning. First, the few people who get stomach discomfort when they take creatine may notice it more if they take it a bedtime. For the rest of us it is okay to take at bedtime as long as your creatine supplement is pure creatine. Some blends, including the one I take, may also include carbs or stimulants that you definitely don’t want to take when you are going to bed.
Bobby: That helps. When I am working out, should I take creatine before or after my workout?
Ben: For the most part it doesn’t matter. If you are just starting to take creatine then you may get more benefit from taking it before the workout to give it a chance to get processed to your cells. It also can depend on what other ingredients are in your creatine supplement. If you are taking a lot of you are prone to stomach discomfort then it may help to take half of your creatine before and after your workout.
Bobby: I have just two more questions here in my notes. First, the supplement that I chose after our previous talk contains creatine monohydrate. Is there anything special that I need to know about how to take creatine monohydrate?
Ben: No, nothing special. Everything we have been discussing applies to creatine monohydrate.
Bobby: What about creatine and alcohol? Is there a problem with taking them together.
Ben: There are two problems with drinking while you are taking creatine. Creatine draws water into your muscle cells. Alcohol causes you to urinate more. The combination can make you severely dehydrated. So, if you do drink then you also need to take lots of extra water.
The second problem is that alcohol interferes with your bodies ability to process proteins. It does the opposite of what your creatine supplement is doing. So, when you have a drink with supper you have basically just undone the benefit of taking creatine that day. If you drink regularly, then there is really no point in taking creatine, because it isn’t doing anything for you anyway.
Bobby: Thanks again for all of the great information.
Ben: No problem. Let me know if you have any more questions in the future.