Frequently Asked Questions About Creatine
Creatine is one of the most well-studied exercise and sports supplements. Despite plenty of evidence supporting its benefits and safety, confusion often remains around the use of creatine. Here are the most common myths, misconceptions, and frequently asked questions about creatine.
When should you take creatine?
Creatine appears to have the greatest benefit when it’s taken shortly before or after exercise as a pre-or post-workout. Taking creatine before exercise may have a greater impact on performance, while evidence suggests taking it after exercise is more beneficial for muscle growth and recovery. More research on the timing of creatine supplements is needed.
How many grams of creatine a day should you take?
A standard dose of creatine for most adults is 3 to 5 grams per day. If you’ve been taking creatine, there’s no reason to take more than this. If you’re new to creatine, you can start with this amount or go through a loading phase.
Creatine loading involves taking 20 to 25 grams of creatine per day for 5 to 7 days. The loading dose is split into 4 or 5 servings per day. After loading, you’ll switch to a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams per day.
A registered dietitian specializing in sports nutrition can help you calculate exactly how much creatine to take based on your body weight and goals.
How long does it take for creatine to work?
Creatine works relatively quickly, but the exact timing depends on how many grams of creatine a day you take. Starting with a maintenance dose will take 3 to 4 weeks to maximize creatine stores in muscle tissue and see a difference in performance.
A loading phase will speed this up to about one week, but may increase the chance for side effects like bloating and stomach upset. Experts say creatine loading is not necessary since smaller daily doses provide the same results within about a month.
Can you dry scoop creatine?
There’s no evidence to support the effectiveness or safety of dry scooping creatine or any other supplement. Dry scooping refers to ingesting a powdered supplement dry instead of mixing it with a liquid.
Dry scooping creatine has become trendy thanks to social media, with some users claiming dry scooping makes creatine more effective. Besides being difficult and uncomfortable, swallowing a dry powder comes with safety concerns including choking, inhalation, lung and airway irritation, and digestive upset.
Creatine supplements should be used as directed, which typically involves dissolving a powder into water before consuming. Creatine should also be taken with plenty of water to minimize digestive upset and water retention. Taking creatine with liquid is proven tried and true for enhancing performance, increasing strength, and building muscle. If you don’t want to mix it into water, you could add it to a smoothie or any other liquid.
What does creatine do for women?
Women’s hormones impact creatine production and use throughout the lifespan. Some of the benefits linked to taking creatine for women include:
Enhanced strength and athletic performance during reproductive years
Counteract age-related muscle loss following menopause
Support bone mass, especially in older women
Enhanced mood and cognition
Is creatine safe for teens?
The FDA has classified creatine as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), which technically applies to teenagers and adults. Although creatine is proven safe and effective for most adults, there are fewer studies that have examined the benefits, limitations, and safety of creatine use among teens.
The studies that do exist show creatine is beneficial for improving athletic performance in teen swimmers and soccer players. The teenage participants in those studies tolerated creatine with no adverse side effects. However, more extensive research is needed to determine if creatine is safe for developing teens.
The bottom line? Creatine is likely safe for most healthy teens. However, teens and their parents should talk with a doctor before trying any supplement to assess risks and benefits. It’s also important to choose third-party tested supplements to ensure the safety and purity of ingredients.
Does creatine cause hair loss?
Taking creatine does not cause hair loss. This is a myth that originates from a single, very small study that linked creatine use to increased levels of a type of testosterone that can cause hair loss in males. The study in question did not directly observe hair loss as a result of taking creatine.
Creatine supplements are extremely well-studied. No other studies have found creatine affects testosterone levels or causes hair loss.
If you have questions about creatine for your personal use, feel free to reach out to get on our waitlist for individualized nutrition coaching.