Creatine is the most common muscle building supplement used. It is also the most tried and proven supplement. I believe that creatine should be a staple is one's supplement arsenal if they undertake anaerobic or resistance training.
In saying that, many individuals - especially training newbies and those looking at using creatine for the first time - ask a lot of very common questions on creatine usage. I have compiled a list of the seven questions that I see asked most often.
Creatine for Women - 7 Common Questions
#1 What type of creatine should I use?
There are so many types of creatine out there that it can be confusing deciding which one to use. If you're just starting out with creatine, stick to creatine monohydrate - the most tried and proven of the creatine types - and use a straight creatine product, as opposed to a product that includes creatine and has other properties.
#2 How long should I cycle creatine?
Creatine cycling is a personal preference option. Many individuals cycle creatine, using for 2-3 months before taking a month or so off. Others do not cycle it and use it all the time - I am one of those people, and the only time I have off creatine is if I have run out of my creatine/product containing creatine and are waiting on another.
If you are considering creatine cycling, be aware that your muscle creatine threshold levels return to baseline after three weeks of ceasing creatine usage.
#3 Is creatine loading necessary?
No, creatine loading is not necessary - like creatine cycling, loading is individual preference. The purpose of creatine loading is to reach the muscle creatine threshold faster - this is usually done by dosing ~20 grams of creatine daily for five days. However, using ~5 grams of creatine daily for three weeks will achieve the same result.
#4 How much creatine do I need?
Once your muscle creatine threshold has been reached, 2-3 grams of creatine daily is enough to keep them saturated. You will often see ~5 grams of creatine a day recommended - this is well over the necessary creatine required to maintain saturation and more than this is definitely not needed.
Once your body has reached its muscle creatine threshold (between 150-160 mmol/kg/dw for everyone), then using more than 3-5g of creatine daily is not going to saturate them any further, so there's no point in using more than that.
#5 When should I use creatine?
Creatine should be used daily. When you dose it is entirely up to you - there are several times that creatine can be dosed, including pre-training, post-training, and pre and post-training. If dosing pre-training I recommend doing it ~60 minutes pre-training, and if post-training, immediately after finishing training for best effects.
#6 Do I use creatine on non-training days?
Yes, you can use creatine on non-training days - this helps maintain creatine muscle saturation. I recommend dosing creatine on non-training days first thing in the morning. As far as dosage, 2-3 grams is adequate.
#7 Will using creatine make me bigger, faster, stronger?
Creatine is only an energy source of the body. Therefore, it will not directly make you bigger, faster, or stronger. However, it can indirectly aid in the achievement of these factors if your nutrition and training are targeted towards them.
- Burke, L., Cort, M., Cox, G., Crawford, R., Desbrow, B., Farthing, L., Minehan, M., Shaw, N. & Warnes, O. (2006). Supplements and sports foods. In L. Burke & V. Deakin. (Eds.). Clinical sports nutrition (3rd ed.). (p. 485-579). NSW, Australia: McGraw Hill.