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Creatine Monohydrate Expert Guide

Creatine Monohydrate: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosages & FAQ

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Everything you want to know about creatine monohydrate: what it is, how to use it, is it right for you, what benefits come with creatine monohydrate supplementation, and more.

Table of Contents:

  1. 1. What is Creatine Monohydrate?
  2. 2. How Does Creatine Monohydrate Work?
  3. 3. Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate
  4. 4. How to Take Creatine Monohydrate
  5. 5. Creatine Monohydrate Side Effects
  6. 6. Best Creatine Monohydrate Products
  7. 7. FAQ
    1. 7.1. Is Creatine Monohydrate Loading Required?
    2. 7.2. What is Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate?
    3. 7.3. What is Micronized Creatine Monohydrate?
    4. 7.4. Does Caffeine Affect Creatine Monohydrate?

This Guide Teaches You:

  • How creatine helps to provide more workout energy, improving performance and potential gains.
  • What benefits you may receive from creatine monohydrate supplementation.
  • How much creatine monohydrate to take per day, and when.
  • About Creapure, and why it's considered the industry gold standard.

Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular supplements used by people looking to build lean muscle mass, maximize performance and increase strength. According to survey data, over 40% of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes reported that they have used creatine.

Despite being one of the most scientifically studied sports supplement ingredients available, there’s still a huge array of misinformation that exists in gyms and on the internet. This guide will give you the creatine monohydrate facts and answer any questions you have.

If you have any questions about creatine monohydrate after reading this guide please post them in the comments below.

What is Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine monohydrate is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions.

The body is able to product some creatine by itself, and can also get creatine from some foods like red meat and oily fish. However, levels of creatine in food sources may be reduced during the process of cooking.

Creatine monohydrate supplements are products that contain a very pure form of creatine and are often taken pre/post workout and/or with other supplements like whey protein.

How Does Creatine Monohydrate Work?

To understand how creatine monohydrate works you first need to know what ATP is and what it does. ATP is the immediate source of energy for muscle contraction. Muscle fibers only contain enough ATP to power a few twitches, additional ATP must be drawn from the body’s ATP “pool”. Creatine monohydrate is converted into creatine phosphate in the body to keep the ATP pool filled.

What does this mean in the real world? Having a good reservoir of ATP available may help you lift heavier weights for more reps by providing your muscles with enough the fast-converting energy it needs for maximum performance. You’ll often hear this referred to as “explosive energy”.

Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate

Now that you understand how creatine monohydrate works you can probably already see some of the benefits of using it. Here’s a list of the possible benefits of taking creatine for someone who is doing intense resistance training (weight training) or a sport which requires high amounts of instant energy (for example a sprinter).

  • Enhanced muscle mass/strength
  • Increased muscle energy availability
  • Increased power output (more sets/reps)
  • Weight gain
  • Enhanced recovery after exercise

How to Take Creatine Monohydrate

The general recommended dose of creatine monohydrate is 3-5g daily. There’s no general consensus on the best time of day to take creatine. Many people mix creatine powder with other supplements they’re already taking like whey protein. Creatine can also be mixed with warm water (improves solubility), fruit juice or caffeine-free tea. It’s important to note that creatine monohydrate should be prepared fresh when you need to take it. Do not pre-mix you creatine powder ahead of time.

No long term studies have been conducted on creatine monohydrate so it’s generally recommended that you cycle it. An example of a creatine monohydrate cycle might be 8 weeks on and 4 weeks off.

Creatine Monohydrate Side Effects

Creatine monohydrate is generally safe when used at recommended doses. Remember that “less is more” when it comes to taking creatine. Taking more doesn’t mean it’s going to work better. Once your ATP pool is full, excess creatine is excreted (wasted) by the body. As creatine draws water from the body into muscle cells it’s very important that you drink adequate fluids when taking it.

Creatine usage is generally not recommended for people under the age of 18. This is because of the lack of research of creatine supplementation in teenagers.

Best Creatine Monohydrate Products

Here's a list of ten top selling creatine monohydrate products in the Muscle & Strength Store. For a list of all creatine monohydrate supplements check out this page.

Top 10 Creatine Monohydrate

 

FAQ:

Is Creatine Monohydrate Loading Required?

When creatine monohydrate first became a popular sports supplement many manufacturers recommended that you “load” their products for 5-7 days in order to get your muscles saturated with creatine thereby speeding up the results. This theory has never been proven in any scientific research and today most manufacturers recommend that you simply take 3-5g of creatine monohydrate daily.

What is Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate?

Creapure® is recognized in the supplement industry as the “gold standard” of creatine monohydrate manufacturers. Creapure® brand creatine monohydrate is manufactured in Germany and can be found in hundreds of creatine products sold worldwide. To find out if your creatine monohydrate powder or capsules have Creapure® just look for “Creapure®” in the nutritional information.

What is Micronized Creatine Monohydrate?

As the name suggests, micronized creatine monohydrate is regular creatine monohydrate powder that has been micronized. Micronizing is the process of grinding the powder to an ultra-fine form, usually about 20 times finer than regular powder. What this means is the creatine will dissolve in liquid much faster, and in theory, be absorbed by the body easier. If you’ve ever tried non-micronized creatine you’ll know that there can be a fair amount of “grit” in the bottom of the glass or shaker. This is creatine that hasn’t dissolved. This is vital creatine you need in your body, not in the bottom of a cup.

Most creatine monohydrate supplements are now micronized. It’s recommended you always used a micronized product to get the best results.

Does Caffeine Affect Creatine Monohydrate?

According to Creapure, one of the most respected manufacturers of Creatine Monohydrate in Germany, large doses of caffeine may affect your performance results from taking creatine. However smaller doses of caffeine such as coffee and most pre-workout powders should be OK. Here’s a quote from their website:

“Taking large doses of caffeine (5 mg per kg body weight per day) cancels the ergogenic (performance enhancing) effect of creatine. Smaller amounts of caffeine (for example, 1–2 cups of coffee), on the other hand, do not seem to have an adverse impact on the effects of creatine.”

References:
  1. John W. Kimball. Fueling Muscle Contraction. (http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/M/Muscles.html#creatine)
  2. Balsom PD, Söderlund K, Sjödin B, Ekblom B. Skeletal muscle metabolism during short duration high-intensity exercise: influence of creatine supplementation.
  3. Balsom PD, Söderlund K, Ekblom B. Creatine in humans with special reference to creatine supplementation.
  4. Casey A, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Howell S, Hultman E, Greenhaff PL. Creatine ingestion favorably affects performance and muscle metabolism during maximal exercise in humans.
  5. Terjung RL, Clarkson P, Eichner ER, Greenhaff PL, Hespel PJ, Israel RG, Kraemer WJ, Meyer RA, Spriet LL, Tarnopolsky MA, Wagenmakers AJ, Williams MH. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable. The physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation.
  6. Effects of creatine supplementation on oxidative stress profile of athletes (http://www.jissn.com/content/9/1/56)
  7. Official Creature website http://www.creapure.com/en/creapure-in-athletics/intake-recommendations

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Comments (131)

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Joe Alaniz
Posted Sun, 03/10/2013 - 12:02

Is creatine safe for people over the age of 40 to use?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Mon, 03/11/2013 - 11:18

Absolutely.

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Rhaspun
Posted Wed, 03/13/2013 - 23:17

I've used it off and on in the past couple of years. It tends to make me cramp easier. 12-14 years ago when I first started I had no problems with it. I'm now 55. It does give you more energy to finish a workout. It's not the type of energy as if you're buzzed up on caffeine. You're just able to add in a couple of extra reps at the end of a set which is where the gains are made. I had a employee back then who was on steroids and then he switched over to creatine. He estimates that the gains from creatine are close enough to steroids. They aren't the same but he was still making good gains. That employee was about 25 at the time. I would say creatine will be effective for you. Just pay attention to your body.

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Devon
Posted Mon, 03/18/2013 - 17:19

You probably need to drink more water.

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allen scott
Posted Tue, 03/26/2013 - 11:18

I am a 18 year old male cheerleader. I've been taking it for about a year now and I've also ran into this problem but I also drink plenty of water everyday because I am an athlete. I have found a solution that helped me stop cramping, now I always mix the creatine with Gatorade powder and water with extra electrolytes help keep the cramping off.

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Charles Hansen
Posted Sat, 10/25/2014 - 14:11

what about over 80?

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Alexander Nagle
Posted Sun, 03/10/2013 - 12:38

Good article. One thing it doesn't address, why is creatine recommended in postworkout shakes, what is the benefit of creatine phosphate helping make ATP after you've done an intense workout?

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Trace
Posted Sun, 03/10/2013 - 15:12

@joe, yeah. creatine isn't unsafe for anyone. It's not recommended for people under the age of 18 but that's due to lack of research like the article says.

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Andy
Posted Sun, 03/10/2013 - 17:49

I thought mono hydrate didn't add water weight to muscles? And I see it doesn't matter what you drink it with? I've heard from someone saying to take it with just fruit juice, for myself I am trying to cut down on sugar intake so if it'll work with water, that'll be great. Also, what's the reason creating should be cycled?

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Trace
Posted Mon, 03/11/2013 - 12:41

I think you're thinking of kre alkalyn creatine andy. i don't think that adds water weight. i also don't think it matters what you drink creatine with. and this is just what i've heard but i don't think creatine really needs to be cycled. i can't remember why.

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Justin
Posted Fri, 03/15/2013 - 05:56

Because then ur body tends to adapt to it n ur body starts to flush moat of it away in the sense that ur pretty much waisting money so its recommended to cycle. Yet there for most pre-work outs or different creatines should be cycled so the body doesn't adapt

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Magnus
Posted Mon, 03/18/2013 - 14:59

I'm 17 years old and have worked out for over a year now. Started taking Whey protein half a year ago and considering buying creatine monohydrate now. Yes or no?

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Amber
Posted Wed, 12/04/2013 - 21:13

Magnus, I wouldn't be taking it until you are over 18. I study sport science and you really shouldn't be taking that many supplements at your age as it hasn't been properly tested on teens and you haven't stopped growing. A bit of protein is OK though :)

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Naveen
Posted Tue, 03/19/2013 - 07:50

I am on a fat loss routine , would you recommend whey islolate and creatine monohydrate for me..

Navz

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Joey
Posted Tue, 03/19/2013 - 15:02

Absolutely -- An isolate would be a very lean source of protein, and I recommend creatine whether bulking or cutting.

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Ramy
Posted Wed, 03/20/2013 - 22:19

I had 3 years ago a blood clot in my calves below the knee,and they said to stay away of too much iron in food,such as broccoli,is creatine considered iron? Or can I take it ? I' m ok now,but I started it last week, and I'm having stomach cramps also,is that normal?
Thank you for your reply.
I'm 40 y old.

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SANDEEP KUMAR SAINI
Posted Sat, 03/23/2013 - 01:23

i will use creatine in 30 days. is right please answer

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SANDEEP KUMAR SAINI
Posted Sat, 03/23/2013 - 01:24

i will use creatine 30 days.is right? please tell me

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phe
Posted Sat, 09/27/2014 - 13:41

did this help you gain weight cause that's what I am looking for

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harvey
Posted Mon, 03/25/2013 - 20:37

Your body can also be enhanced if you take creatine monohydrate in, if you do not have enough fat (lean)?

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Marius
Posted Tue, 03/26/2013 - 05:20

Can I take creatine with milk

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mnsjason
Posted Fri, 04/05/2013 - 19:31

Yes

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Dave
Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 16:45

I read that caffine can reduce the effectiveness of creatine. I drink 2 -3 cups of coffee a day in the morning and a few diet cokes. Would moving my intake of creatine to late evening help me with the morning coffee issue?

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Austen
Posted Wed, 11/13/2013 - 14:13

No taking small amounts of caffeine, like 1-2 or 3 cups of coffee will not effect the product.

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Graza Shaw
Posted Wed, 04/03/2013 - 08:46

Im a type 1 diabetic and only just started using creatine, will it have any effect on my condition? I tend to only take it every second work-out with a protein shake.

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Dave
Posted Thu, 04/04/2013 - 11:28

I am a morning coffee drinker, 2 -3 cups in the morning. If I shift my creatine intake until the evening will that improve its effectiveness?

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Bryant
Posted Wed, 04/10/2013 - 19:54

Im 115lb and I have a high motabalisume, I bought some "iss" brand of creatine. It says that it has creapure in it so I was wondering how much I need to work-out in order to weigh at least 135 by the end of this summer. I am trying to play football for highschool, that is the main resson i am asking. Dose anyone have any solution to my problem?

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John
Posted Wed, 11/13/2013 - 04:05

Hi Bryant. Just my 2 cents. haha. I played football when i was in high school too. I'll tell you this. Protein and a good nutrition plan will get you bigger than creatine. If you want to gain weight, up your calories, and you'll be big. If you do it right, after 1 month you'll see results in weights. Just stick with Protein, lifting, and eat alot for now. Eating a lot in one meal won't cut it. Count your calories. If you want, i think the website called Scooby workshop has a calorie counter that you'll need in your diet in order to gain weight. Hope it helps, and good luck in football and school :)

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Bryant
Posted Wed, 04/10/2013 - 19:54

Im 115lb and I have a high motabalisume, I bought some "iss" brand of creatine. It says that it has creapure in it so I was wondering how much I need to work-out in order to weigh at least 135 by the end of this summer. I am trying to play football for highschool, that is the main resson i am asking. Dose anyone have any solution to my problem?

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Austin
Posted Tue, 04/16/2013 - 18:40

I am a junior in highschool and am going to try out creatine. I would defideantly recommend whey protein often bought at Costco in large quantities. I used that my eighth grade year going into freshmen year and starting at your weight gained 15 pounds. now after using it for 3 years I weigh 155 and play football. I also grew 4 inches not sure if it was related but I would defideantly invest in whey. my maxes in all lifts(bench) went up about 30 pounds. I did work out every day during the summer so if you condition and work hard the gains will be madeand will show.

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Alfredo
Posted Sat, 04/13/2013 - 15:33

Hey Guys!
Brief Question, planning to go on the ISO MASS XTREME GAiNER for the first time

But Im curious, is there long term effects on your body because of the creatine?

Planning on taking it solid after my workouts.

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Mark
Posted Sun, 04/14/2013 - 09:46

Where are creatine monohydrate supplements sourced from?

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Austin
Posted Tue, 04/16/2013 - 18:43

I have heard creatine has caused liver problems and kidney stones. Also have heard most of the weight you gain is just water weight. Is any of this true I heard it from my weight training coach/football coach.

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Romeo
Posted Sat, 04/20/2013 - 18:49

Can you take this everyday?

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avnish singh
Posted Thu, 04/25/2013 - 04:23

plz tell me the creatine use shadule in summer............i m first time use creatine powder .. i m joine jim befour for month and use only protine today can i use creatine ............i m 27 year old. plz suggest me

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Scott
Posted Fri, 04/26/2013 - 07:54

The article does not explain how creatine can facilitate increased muscle hypertrophy. I understand that a sufficient pool of phosphates optimises the energy output of the muscle which improves performance, but how does this translate into long term increases in muscle size and strength?

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Terry
Posted Sun, 10/20/2013 - 17:46

Its really simple... when used with exercise.. Improved energy output = performance = increased muscle size and strength

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Kevin
Posted Mon, 04/29/2013 - 14:51

I noticed that GNC did not make the top 10 list as it relates to creatine. Has anyone had any positive results from the monohydrate 5000 powder?

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Graham
Posted Thu, 05/02/2013 - 18:42

i was always against creatine use in rugby (and will always be against steroid use in sports) but i have done studies as part of my college project and have had my mind completely changed on the use of creatine and would recommend ATHLETES to take it .... it is synthesised into the muscles better with high carb intakes in case you are not seeing results ..... also no benefit from taking over 5g a day after the loading period

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matt
Posted Sat, 05/04/2013 - 09:46

is USN pure creatine monohydrate safe to use ?

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Akhgar
Posted Wed, 05/08/2013 - 01:41

am using this product just for a few days, so the problem with Creatine Monohydrate is that when I am mixing it with water after a few second all of its material is sitting at the below of the mixer, and it is really like when you are eating sand, so is this product is working like this or am using the low quality product guys?

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Joey's picture
Joey
Posted Wed, 05/08/2013 - 15:41

That's normal. Most plain creatine monohydrates won't mix well. You can throw in in your protein shake or just swirl it around and chug to help it go down easier.

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Ankesh
Posted Thu, 05/09/2013 - 01:57

I want to build muscle but my body weight is 89kg and height 5.11, at the same time i want to reduce my weight too so that i can get in very good shape. my instructor recommended me creatime to build muscle, gain stemina so that i can workout more, like more running or brisk walk, crunches and sit ups repetations, also weight training with light weights and maximum reps

What do you suggest is that ok to opt for creatine if i want to get muscles not weight.

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Earl
Posted Thu, 05/09/2013 - 13:50

I have found that if you add only about a teaspoon of water to the powder and make a paste, the powder dissolves easily and then add the rest of the water to make your drink. You will have almost no undissolved powder left over in the bottom of the glass.

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Brice Sam
Posted Sun, 05/12/2013 - 18:24

i am 19 years and i am very slim. i want to increase in size. i want to become bigger and bigger. i want to increase in all size in all parts of my body. i want to bloat and i want to become big. pls i would love to know which creatine product i should purchace that would give me the expected results i want. thank you.

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Champ
Posted Fri, 07/26/2013 - 22:01

You'll grow up top but shrink down below lmao

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amy power
Posted Tue, 05/14/2013 - 14:01

Is this product safe to take while breastfeeding?

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mnsjason
Posted Tue, 05/14/2013 - 17:17

I wouldn't think that it would pose a problem, but with any supplement, always consult your physician.

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john
Posted Sat, 06/22/2013 - 18:02

hello Amy it is not recommended to take creatine monohydrate while breastfeeding

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luke
Posted Wed, 11/13/2013 - 17:57

why on earth would you be body building whilst breast feeding

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