Sports supplements make up a multibillion-dollar industry and many of them have little research behind their efficacy, including those $70 per bottle supplements! There are a few that have a lot of evidence to support them, and not many supplements have been as widely studied as creatine. It is, to date, the most studied legal supplement and probably the most effective.
When it comes to creatine, the majority of people have two primary questions. 1) How much should I take? 2) Is it safe to take?
How much to take? Take 3-5g per day. There is no need to cycle on or off of it. While some supplement manufactures may recommend “creatine loading”, there is no need for this.
Is it Safe? There are good safety data showing that for almost everyone, supplementation is indeed safe. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, consult with a doctor before beginning supplementation with any supplement, including creatine.
As mentioned above, creatine is one of the, if not the most researched & effective supplements in the world. Creatine supplementation allows you to perform high-intensity work for longer durations.
For those with a very keen interest in metabolism, creatine works by increasing the amount of creatine phosphate stored in the human body. This molecule is critical in creating ATP (the energy currency in the body) during periods of high-intensity exercise. Specifically, it works in phosphocreatine system, which is one of the forms of anaerobic metabolism and provides most of the energy to the body during sprinting, max effort lifting, or other high-intensity forms of exercise.
A common method to start creatine supplementation is to “load” with a dose of 20g spread throughout the day for 7-5 days.  Hultman et al. found that loading may not even be needed and that supplementation with as little as 0.029g/kg caused muscle saturation after 28 days. This means that you don’t really need a fancy loading schedule. Just start taking 3 to 5 grams per day, and you will get the full effect in about 2-4 weeks.
Want to know about other supplements like BCAAs or protein powders? Check out our NutriWiki for more!
- Smith-Ryan, Abbie E.; Antonio, Jose (2013). Sports Nutrition & Performance Enhancing Supplements. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Learning. p. 172, 188. ISBN 978-1-60797-339-3.
- Kreider, Richard (2008). Sports Applications of Creatine. In Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Totowa, NJ: Springer. p. 417-439. ISBN 978-1-58829-611-5.
- International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise