Don’t get me wrong, the internet was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.
Thanks to the internet, everyday people like me and you can access high-quality information in a matter of seconds.
But like with everything in life, there are drawbacks too.
One in particular that I can’t stand about the internet is there’s simply too much information.
As a result, we suffer from information overload.
With so much information to choose from, this makes it:
- Harder to find the specific information/answer you’re looking for. (Like finding a needle in a haystack)
- Confusing – a lot of the information is contradicting, depending on which “guru” you choose to listen to.
So if you’ve ever searched “How to take creatine monohydrate” and you’ve seen 5 different answers from 5 different people, then don’t worry.
This article is all you need.
It’s a simple, no-BS guide to using Creatine Monohydrate that’s so straightforward, even beginners can follow.
So without blabbering on any longer, let’s get to the meat of this article.
Should you “load up” with Creatine Monohydrate?
The most common protocol of using Creatine Monohydrate involves a “loading up” phase, followed by a maintenance phase.
You may be thinking “what on earth does loading up mean?” so I’ll quickly address that now.
When using Creatine Monohydrate, we want to saturate (i.e. fill up) our muscles’ creatine stores.
The most effective way to do this is to “load up” with a higher than normal dose of 20 grams per day over 7 days.
When “loading up”, it’s best to split this dose into 4 servings taken throughout the day.
So a simple loading protocol will be like below:
- 8am – Breakfast with 5g of Creatine Monohydrate
- 12pm – Lunch with 5g of Creatine Monohydrate
- 3pm – Afternoon snack with 5g of Creatine Monohydrate
- 6pm – Dinner with 5g of Creatine Monohydrate
This has split our 20g loading dose into 4 equal servings spread out through the day.
After 7 days of “loading up”, your muscles’ creatine stores will be full, and then you can continue with a maintenance dose of 5g per day.
How much Creatine Monohydrate should you take per serving?
As advised above, I recommend you split your serving sizes into 5g per serving.
Most tubs of Creatine Monohydrate (including the one I use here) come with a 5g plastic spoon to help you measure it out.
But if you don’t have a 5g plastic spoon, then you can use a level tea spoon, as this is approximately 5g.
What’s the best time of day to take Creatine Monohydrate?
In the “loading” phase, it’s best to spread out your Creatine doses throughout the day so you’ve got a consistent amount of Creatine coming into your muscles.
However, once you move to the maintenance phase, it’s advisable to take your 5g serving post workout.
Studies have shown that Creatine taken post workout is more effective at improving strength and body composition, compared to pre workout.
(I’m sure you’re all aware, but just to be crystal clear, post workout implies AFTER your gym session rather than before.)
Should you take Creatine Monohydrate with Whey Protein?
During the loading phase, our main goal is to take 20g of Creatine per day for 7 days.
Assuming you’re not using whey protein 4 times a day, I wouldn’t worry about mixing Creatine with Whey.
However, in the maintenance phase, I’d 100% recommend taking Creatine with your post workout protein shake.
Studies have shown that when taken together, whey + creatine combined have a synergistic effect.
(Meaning the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.)
This could be due to the insulin spike from ingesting whey, which helps the uptake of nutrients into your muscle cells.
How long should you take Creatine Monohydrate for?
Studies have shown that long term Creatine use is safe, hence there are no apparent reasons as to why you should stop taking Creatine.
It’s dirt cheap too, so you should able to afford it all year round.
I believe that it’s always a good idea to give your body a rest from supplements, so for this reason, I like to cycle Creatine.
So my typical Creatine protocol is as below:
- Week 1: “Load up” Phase – 20g daily split into 4 doses of 5g
- Weeks 2 – 12: Maintenance Phase – 5g daily taken post workout with Whey
After week 12, I’ll stop using Creatine for 6 weeks and then start the cycle back at week 1 again.
This has worked well for me up to this day, and I’m sure it’ll work for you too.
Should you take Creatine Monohydrate in powder form or tablets?
In my opinion, this one falls down to personal preference.
Do you prefer convenience or purity?
Most Creatine powders out there are 100% Creatine Monohydrate, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Creatine tablets, however, contain a lot of additives.
As an example, here is a list of other ingredients from Bulk Supplements creatine tablets, pulled straight from their website:
- Microcrystalline Cellulose
- Magnesium Stearate
- Hydroxy Propyl Methyl Cellulose
- Stearic Acid
- Silicon Dioxide
To me that’s a lot of unwanted baggage for the convenience of a tablet.
When it comes to supplements, I’m a big believer that less is more in terms of the number of ingredients.
But hey-ho, everyone’s different so you may prefer convenience to purity.
No hard feelings if you do, we’re all friends here 😉
What happens when you stop taking Creatine?
After around 2 weeks of stopping Creatine, your muscles’ Creatine stores will start to deplete.
This is simply because you’re using them up in your workouts, and there’s no external source to replenish them.
Some people may notice a loss of water weight, since Creatine increases water retention.
Does Creatine affect you sexually?
While some people claim that Creatine lowers your sex drive, there’s currently no evidence to suggest this.
Speaking from personal experience, Creatine doesn’t seem to have any effect on my libido.
What supplements should you take with Creatine?
As mentioned earlier in the article, Whey protein is a great supplement to mix with Creatine as it produces a synergistic effect.
Apart from that, the only other thing I’d use with Creatine is something with a bit of sugar, as the following insulin spike will help your muscles absorb it better.
Should you take Creatine as a beginner?
Creatine is an excellent supplement regardless of your resistance training ability and experience.
It’s dirt cheap too, which makes it perfect for beginners who don’t want to spend much money to start off with.
Is Creatine a gimmick?
Most certainly not.
Creatine is one of the most effective and proven bodybuilding supplements there is.
What should you mix Unflavored Creatine with?
In all honesty, unflavored Creatine tastes fine with plain water.
But if it doesn’t satisfy your taste buds, then you can mix it with some fruit juice, or even better, some Whey protein.
How to dissolve Creatine
Most Creatine powders dissolve easily when stirred with a spoon, or when shaken in a protein shaker.
But if you’re having issues trying to dissolve Creatine, then I highly recommend micronized Creatine, as it dissolves A LOT better than any old Creatine powder.
As I stressed earlier, the internet is a “wild west” full of information, and it’s very easy to get lost and confused.
But hopefully this article provides you with every thing you need to know about supplementing with Creatine Monohydrate.
If you’d like something explained in more detail, or have any queries, please let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for staying until the end, and I’ll see you in the next article.