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Guide to creatine

Is creatine safe and effective for beginners?

Creatine is non-essential dietary compound that is found naturally in foods like meat and fish. It is also produced in small quantities (~1g) within the body (in your liver) and stored in our muscle cells, where it's used to power high intensity muscle contractions. With the limited supply available, creatine supplementation has been shown to be safe and effective and remains one of the world's most popular sports nutrition nutrients.

A perfect supplement for many training attributes’ – whether you want to increase your strength, power, muscular effort/recovery, time to exhaustion, lifting volume and performance; all in relation to short-term, high intensity, repeated exercise bouts. Although creatine is viewed more as a supplement for the strength trainer, its use offers some training benefits to an endurance exerciser, for example acute dosage (3g of creatine per day) of less than 4 weeks during a speed training phase.

How should creatine be taken if I'm a beginner or new to creatine?

Going back to the research conducted in this area supplementation durations range from 5 days – 6 months, all of which have shown positive changes, with a strength-related training and supplementation cycle typically lasting between 6-12 weeks. For this two supplementation regimes are used:

  • Loading and maintenance: used for a rapid creatine uptake in the short-term, helpful when gains are required in a short supplementation cycle, for example 4 weeks.

    Load Phase* – Take 5g, 4 times throughout the day for the first 5 days.

    Maintenance – after the loading phase, take just 5g for the remaining supplement cycle if muscle size and strength is your goal. If you are just looking for strength/power/performance gains without an increase in size take a maintenance dose of just 1 x 5g per day.

  • Maintenance – this method is often favoured for a longer term supplementation plan, for example 1-6 months. For this method supplement with 3-10g creatine daily for the total period selecting higher doses if muscle gain is also required (6-10g) and lower doses if you are just looking for performance gains (3-5g).

How quickly does creatine work and what results should I expect?

If you're using a loading dose then you will start feeling the benefits within 5-7 days, for example an increase in muscle mass. As supplementation continues the other previously mentioned attributes will be achieved.

*In the first 3 days a reduction in urine production is a normal occurrence of this type of plan.