The Right Creatine Dose – Best Timing and Dosage

The Right Creatine Dose – Best Timing and Dosage

Most creatine products recommend 5 grams of creatine per day. However, finding the right dose is often much more nuanced. According to the journal Amino Acids, the average person needs 1–3 grams of creatine per day to maintain bodily functions.

Athletes need more creatine than the average person to maintain their energy levels, while non-athletes with small frames require less creatine. Your creatine needs also go down over time as your muscles build up their creatine stores. 

Ultimately, the amount of creatine you should take each day depends on your weight. Someone who weighs 200 pounds (90 kilograms) needs more creatine to get the same results as someone who weighs 125 pounds (56 kilograms).

There are two ways you can approach a creatine supplementation program. The first is to multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.3 and take that amount of creatine per day for a week (broken up into four doses).

After the first week, you can reduce to a maintenance program of 2–5 grams of creatine per day. Another gentler option is to take 3 grams of creatine per day for one month (a larger dose if you’re a large or active person). With both of these options, if you stop taking creating, your creatine levels will go back to normal.

Creatine Absorption and Dehydration

Your body can only absorb so much creatine at once. Once your muscles reach the point where they can no longer absorb any more creatine, your body will expel excess creatine as waste.

If you take too much creatine, you will put unnecessary stress on your organs. A notable exception is people whose bodies cannot synthesize creatine from food. These people might need to take anywhere from 10–30 grams of creatine per day to maintain their health and creatine stores.

There is a common misconception that when you take creatine, you need to drink more water because creatine will dehydrate you. However, research by The University of Connecticut found that creatine isn’t a dehydrating supplement. In fact, taking creatine can improve your body’s ability to retain fluids. 

Best Creatine Dosage for Exercise

Given creatine’s effectiveness and scientific validity, the question hundreds of people are now asking isn’t should I take creatine? It’s when is the best time to take creatine?

In general, there are three times when people should consider taking creatine: before working out, after working out, and at any time.

1) Creatine Before Working Out

Some people prefer to take creatine before they exercise. Research suggests that loading the cells of your muscles with creatine before your workout will provide you with the full benefits of creatine, leading to enhanced performance, power, and muscle growth.

2) Creatine After Working Out 

After you finish exercising, your muscles need time to repair and recover; this is even more important after intense exercise. In many cases, taking a creatine supplement once you finish working out is a great way to support your muscles and aid muscle recovery.  

When taking creatine supplements in combination with protein and carbohydrates, muscle cells that are tired and starved are better able to absorb nutrients. Many people take creatine after working out to prepare for the next day’s round of exercise and recover from the workout they just completed.

3) Creatine At Any Time 

The best time to take creatine comes down to a little experimentation and personal preference. But what do the experts think, and what does science say about the best time to take creatine? 

One 10-week study, conducted by Victoria University, provided a dietary supplement (made up of protein, carbs, and creatine) to weightlifters undergoing resistance training.

At the start of the study, the researchers split the weightlifters into two groups. One group took creatine either right before or right after exercise; the other group took creatine long before or long after exercise. 

After the study, the researchers noticed that the weightlifters who took creatine right before or right after exercise gained more overall muscle and strength than weightlifters who took creatine long before or long after exercise.

Based on this research, if you want to get the most benefits out of creatine, you should take creatine close to the time you exercise, rather than first thing in the morning or before you go to bed. 

Another study by Nova Southeastern University took this research a step further and tried to determine whether taking creatine before exercise or after exercise was more beneficial.

The 4-week study examined adult men who weight trained five times a week and consumed 5 grams of creatine either before or after their weight training session.

After 4-weeks, the study confirmed that the men who took creatine after they worked out saw a significant increase in muscle mass and a greater decrease in fat mass compared to the men who took creatine before they worked out. While both of these studies seem promising, like a lot of research involving creatine, results are often contradictory.

For example, a Canadian study reported no difference between taking creatine before or after exercise. Since there has been no definitive research, it’s unclear whether there’s any discernible difference between taking creatine before or after a workout.

However, creatine appears to be most beneficial when consumed right before or right after exercise, rather than taking creatine long before or long after a workout.

Taking Creatine on Rest Days

It’s good to take a dose of creatine every day, whether you workout or not. The purpose of this is to maintain adequate amounts of creatine, so when you workout, you’ll continue to experience the benefits of creatine without depleting your creatine stores.

On rest days, timing is less critical. However, it’s still a good idea to consume creatine, and studies show that it’s best to take creatine alongside a meal. 

Maximizing Creatine’s Benefits

Many researchers are curious to know how to maximize creatine’s benefits. Researchers have conducted experiments by combining creatine with various foods and supplements to see whether creatine’s effectiveness can be enhanced.

These foods include various plant-based compounds such as cinnamon, amino acids, carbohydrates, and protein. The theory is that different ingredients elicit different effects. 

Several studies indicate that consuming creatine alongside carbs can increase the muscles’ ability to absorb creatine. However, research by the European Journal of Sport Science discovered that adding carbs to creatine has no significant impact or benefit on exercise performance.

In contrast, another study published in the Journal of Sports Science notes that amino acids and protein can increase the body’s ability to absorb and retain creatine. Ideally, a meal that contains a mix of protein and carbs alongside creatine is most beneficial, although these results are far from 100% conclusive.

The Best Creatine Dosage

  • Multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.3, then creatine load by taking that amount of creatine every day for one week.
  • After one week, reduce creatine intake to a maintenance dose of 3–5 grams per day.
  • Another gentler option is to take 3 grams of creatine per day for one month (or a higher dose if you’re a large or active person). 
  • It’s best to take creatine soon before or soon after a workout. 
  • On rest days, it’s still important to take creatine. While timing doesn’t matter so much, you still need to maintain sufficient levels of creatine in your body.