How to take creatine and when?

Wie Creatin einnehmen und zu welchem Zeitpunkt?

What is creatine?

Before we address our question of intake, we should first state what creatine actually is. Creatine is a natural substance that the body can produce itself. It is used to generate energy in the muscle cells.

Creatine is primarily ingested through food and is found in abundance in fish or meat. Our body itself can only produce a small amount. 90% of the creatine absorbed by the body or produced by the body is stored in the skeletal muscles.

You can find everything about creatine in our large technical article.

In the body, creatine is mainly formed in the liver. The body needs the following amino acids for the formation of this carbon-nitrogen compound: L-glycine, L-methionine and L-arginine. Stored in skeletal muscle, it serves as the primary source of energy.

Athletin hält Beyond Creatine Dose in der Hand

How should I take creatine?

Creatine can generally be taken as a cure, i.e. in a certain period of time or permanently.

"Both short- and long-term creatine supplementation improved performance during repeated supramaximal sprints on a cycle ergometer."  Effects of creatine loading and prolonged creatine supplementation on body composition, fuel selection, sprint and endurance performance in humans

We have examined both approaches below. It is important to know that the natural maximum storage capacity, i.e. the maximum amount of creatine phosphate that your muscles can store, cannot be increased. This is independent of the intake amount or method. So everyone has their own individual storage capacity, which is largely genetically predetermined.

The creatine long-term intake

Creatine supplementation is now a popular form of creatine supplementation. On the one hand, it is considered safe to take it over a longer period of time, provided there are no other previous illnesses. On the other hand, the creatine phosphate levels in the muscles are permanently increased.

For long-term use, you should take about 3g of creatine monohydrate daily. It is best taken in the morning immediately after getting up with water or fruit juice or immediately after training. After training, it can be taken with the post-workout shake, which often contains fast-digesting carbohydrates that can promote the absorption of creatine.

According to the study "Muscle creatine loading in men" Reached after about 4 weeks.

The 6 weeks Creatine When

The regimen used to be the most popular form of creatine supplementation. This was certainly because creatine was very expensive to begin with. However, there is also scientific evidence for taking it as a cure.

"Muscle total creatine concentration increased by approximately 20% after 6 days of creatine supplementation at a rate of 20 g/day."Muscle creatine loading in men

Studies have clearly shown that the daily intake of up to 20g of creatine leads to a significant increase in creatine phosphate levels in the muscles after exactly 6 days. The income is also here with water or fruit juice. This is also referred to as the so-called creatine loading phase.

This loading phase is followed by a 4-6 week intake of 3g daily to keep muscle creatine stores at a high level. After completing the cure, you often take a longer break, which can last from several weeks to months. The creatine stores in the muscles remain increased for a long time even after stopping the creatine.

The perfect creatine dose time?

When to take creatine is a hotly debated topic. A few studies have addressed this issue with no concrete results. But the fact is that creatine, like other nutrients, is absorbed in the intestine. However, it takes some time to get there because the other stages of digestion have to be gone through first. In order to smuggle the creatine relatively quickly through the acidic stomach, it should be taken on an empty stomach. Here is also our tip to take it in the morning after getting up, or 15-20 minutes before the first meal.

Creatine immediately upon waking and post-workout (on workout days) is the easiest approach.

On training days, the creatine can be taken in the morning or immediately after training. The muscle cells are more receptive, especially after training (i.e., more receptive) to absorbing nutrients, which include creatine. Creatine is often added to the post-workout shake here, which is particularly popular with strength athletes. This usually consists of a mixture of quickly digestible carbohydrates and protein powder. The Study "The effect of combined supplementation of carbohydrates and creatine on anaerobic performance" found no difference in terms of the effectiveness of creatine whether it was taken with or without carbohydrates.

Summary of creatine intake

 The long-term intake

The creatine cycle

3g daily 10g-20g daily divided into several servings of 5g
Take with water or fruit juice after getting up Take with water or fruit juice
Creatine stores filled after 4 weeks Creatine stores filled after 6 days
Creatine stores remain permanently increased Creatine phosphate stores begin to empty again after a few weeks.

 Our tips for taking creatine:

  • No matter which strategy you choose, follow through with it consistently.
  • Pay attention to the quality of yours creatine, avoid contaminated creatine and pay attention to its origin and the transparency of the manufacturer.
  • Have your creatinine levels (a waste product from creatine synthesis) checked by a doctor.
  • NEVER take creatine with caffeinated drinks, these have been shown to inhibit absorption into muscle cells. (see Study 1) 
  • Drink enough water. 
  • Creatine is suitable for all sports in which maximum strength and explosiveness are the focus.
  • High-performance athletes and strength athletes usually already have increased creatine stores due to their training and diet.

Creatine studies and other sources:

Effect of exogenous creatine supplementation on muscle PCr metabolism

Muscle creatine loading in men

Effects of creatine loading and prolonged creatine supplementation on body composition, fuel selection, sprint and endurance performance in humans

Phosphocreatine resynthesis is not affected by creatine loading

(1) Caffeine counteracts the ergogenic action of muscle creatine loading

The effect of combined supplementation of carbohydrates and creatine on anaerobic performance

Photo: Joanne Lepine