How Much Creatine Do I Need?

creatine dosage

One of the most popular as well as most highly studied dietary supplements available today is creatine. It’s highly sought after for multiple reasons, especially among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. And there’s growing interest in its benefits for healthy aging, cognitive functioning, and overall health. A common question, then, is on creatine dosage. How much do you need? And does it differ depending on what you’re supplementing with creatine for?

Why Use Creatine?

Creatine originally gained popularity as it has been shown in hundreds of research studies to be both safe and effective. It may help enhance athletic performance by supporting the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy carrier in cells. Enhanced levels of energy in muscle cells can improve performance, especially during high-intensity exercise. For instance, athletes supplement with creatine to enhance short bursts of speed and power during sprinting, athletic events, or heavy lifting.

It’s also been shown to help increase muscle size by shuttling water into muscle cells. It may also help mitigate muscle cell damage by supporting the body’s ability to fight excess inflammation. This could lead to faster recovery and decrease muscle fatigue during workouts. Longer, more intense workouts can make your training sessions more effective and help promote muscle growth over time. Creatine may also help alleviate muscle soreness, so you’re able to work out more often and more intensely, leading to greater gains.

Other research suggests creatine may also increase the activity in bone cells. And stronger muscles also help protect bones, which could be beneficial as we age.

More recent research has found that creatine may help improve brain function and cognitive performance, especially for tasks that require short-term memory or fast thinking. In addition, some research suggests that creatine may have neuro- (i.e., brain) protective effects.

There are more than 1,000 studies on creatine and its potential benefits, making it one of the most well-studied supplements available. Research that also demonstrates its strong safety profile.

Creatine Dosage: How Much Do I Need?

Choosing the right creatine dosage for you depends on several factors, including your goals, your body weight, and how often you work out.

Standard creatine dosage guidelines start with an optional loading phase. While not strictly necessary, some experts suggest loading with creatine can saturate the muscles with creatine quickly, usually within a week. This could lead to quicker results and is a popular option for athletes looking to enhance their performance in the gym or on the field. The loading phase typically takes five to seven days with 20 grams of creatine per day, divided into four doses of five grams each.

Again, the loading phase is optional. You can still reach full muscle saturation with creatine at a lower dosage of three to five grams per day. It may just take about three or four weeks before your muscles are fully saturated with creatine.

Today, many experts suggest skipping the loading phase and instead opting for the steady, lower maintenance creatine dose from the beginning. This approach helps most people avoid the potential gastrointestinal discomfort that can come with higher levels of creatine supplementation. In the long run, you’ll still enjoy the same benefits from creatine.

Other factors that can affect your creatine dosage include your body weight. For standard maintenance, some research suggests 0.03 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, if you weigh 130 pounds to 150, you’d supplement with just 2 grams per day. If you’re closer to 180 or 200 pounds, you’d supplement with closer to 2.5 to 3 grams per day.

Other research suggests that if you have an intense training regimen, especially if you’re training for strength, power, or muscle gains, you may also find increasing the dosage (to up to 5 grams per day) may be beneficial. If you’re an endurance athlete, on the other hand, you may need a lower dosage of 3 grams per day to help aid recovery and fight fatigue.

For general health and cognitive functioning, 5 grams per day is the standard recommendation.

Regardless of your goals and body weight, to get the greatest benefits of creatine, one consistent recommendation is to supplement daily, even if you aren’t working out that day. The timing of your supplementation is less important. However, if it is a training day, taking it with your post-workout meal may enhance uptake.

In addition, when using creatine supplements, you’ll want to drink plenty of water to support your muscle hydration. And getting enough water is good for overall health and athletic performance.

Creatine Dosage Summary

To break it down:

  • If you choose to load, take 20 grams per day for five to seven days. (This is optional.)
  • To maintain creatine levels, take 3 to 5 grams every day.
  • If you’re basing your creatine dosage on body weight, take ~0.03 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.
  • You may also want to tailor your dosage depending on your goals and how hard and how often you train.
  • Remember to supplement daily, whether it’s a training day or not, and drink plenty of water.

These guidelines can help you optimize your creatine supplementation for your goals and your body.