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   Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine 1 - Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine 2 - Creatine Effects
Creatine 3 - Types of Creatine
Creatine 4 - Using Creatine
Best Creatine Supplements - 1
Best Creatine Supplements - 2
Best Creatine Supplements - 3
Cellucor M5 Extreme
Creatine monohydrate info.
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Creatine side effects
Creatine use and cycling
Creatine serum vs. powder
Creatine Monohydrate FAQ
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Using Creatine and Potential Side Effects

How to Use Creatine - Creatine Loading (4)

Creatine use is pretty straight forward - take 5 grams per serving twice a day. However, there is always the debate to load or not to load creatine during the first week of a creatine cycle. For me, I think it really comes down to a personal preference. Talk to anyone and they'll have their opinion and ideas about creatine loading and use. Dig through some studies, and you'll see that even studies have different ideas on whether one should load creatine or not.

One of the main issues some creatine users face when loading creatine is gastrointestinal distress - or upset stomachs due to the high amount of creatine ingested. So if creatine loading causes stomach problems for you, it is not necessary to go through the loading phase for the first week. Simply taking 10 grams per day is sufficient.

On the other hand, if stomach problems is not an issue for you, then there are some benefits of creatine loading. For me, I've done countless creatine cycles - some with loading, some without - and I can't really say if there was any noticeable added benefit of loading or not. Although I do get some stomach issues when I load. Nowadays, I just stick with 10grams per day using the bracketing method through the entire cycle without loading.

So, should you start off your creatine cycle with loading? There are conflicting results from many studies that we've looked at. While most studies reported benefits of loading and recommends creatine loading, there are a few others that did not find any benefits of creatine loading. A singapore study found that a 5 day creatine loading with resistance training resulted in significant improvements in anaerobic power. [1] Studies also suggest that creatine loading could increase total creatine store and improve phosphocreatine replenishment rate. [2]

Creatine Cycle - Loading Creatine   

One of the benefits of creatine loading is that you can quickly increase muscle creatine concentration. One UK study had 31 male subjects consume different quantity of creatine over varying time periods. The study found the total muscle creatine concentration increased by 20% after 6 days of creatine loading (20g/day), and the muscle creatine concentration was maintained with just 2 g/day for 30 days. Without the 2g/day creatine supplementation, muscle creatine concentration declined to normal levels. Comparatively, when subjects consumed 3g per day without loading phase, there was a gradual increase in muscle creatine concentration. After 28 days of ingesting 3g per day, the total muscle creatine concentration was increased by 20% as well. The study concludes that loading creatine with 20g per day is a rapid way to increase muscle creatine concentration; however, consuming 3g creatine per day over a longer period is just as effective at raising creatine concentration levels. [3]

So what can we surmise from the above study? Two key points: 1) Creatine loading rapidly increases your total muscle creatine concentration - increasing it by 20% in just 6 days of loading, and 2) this same level of 20% increase in muscle creatine concentration can be achieved by consuming 3grams per day for 28 days without a loading phase. So, if loading does not give you stomach issues, you can follow a creatine loading phase and achieve higher total muscle creatine concentration quicker. Otherwise, taking 3g per day for about a month will let you achieve the same results; however, I would highly recommend against taking only 3 grams per day - at a minimum take 5g/day. Better yet, take 10 grams per day. Two servings of 5 grams per day seems to be a happy medium for me where I don't get upset stomach, and still allows a quick increase in total muscle creatine concentration. Granted, it will not be as fast as the loading method, but I don't believe it's far off either.

Using Creatine - the Bracketing Method

First, lets discuss using creatine if you decide to go with the loading phase. Generally, a creatine cycle lasts anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, with a similar amount of off time in between cycles. So, if you were to load creatine, do so during the first week - or the first 5 to 6 days of you cycle. This means taking 20 grams per day for the first 5 days, and then 10 grams per day for the remaining maintenance period. A typical schedule might look like this:

  • 5 grams creatine in the morning
  • 5 grams before workout
  • 5 grams after workout
  • 5 grams in the evening

On the maintenance phase, just take 5 grams creatine before workout, and 5 grams after workout with all the other goodies. Essentially this is the bracketing method, which is a method of timing your supplements that helps deliver the needed nutrients at the most optimal times. The bracketing method simply involves consuming a high carbohydrate drink typically with a serving of creatine, and sometimes with protein, glutamine, BCAA's or a few other key supplements before and after workouts.

If you choose not to have a creatine loading phase, then simply take 5 grams of creatine before your workout, and then another 5 grams right after your workout.

Side Effects of Creatine

Creatine is general free from side effects; however there are some minor side effects. The most common creatine side effect is is upset stomach, bloating, and gas. Stomach issues are more noticeable in higher doses such as 20g per day during the loading phase. I have some stomach issues when taking 20 grams per day - although bearable - I've mostly been taking 10g/day without the loading phase. At 10g per day, I have no issues at all with creatine, but of course, YMMV, and you may or may not experience stomach upsets.

Creatine will also lead to some water retention, so some of your weight gain will be a result from your body holding extra water.

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<< Part 1: Creatine Monohydrate
<< Part 2: Effects of Creatine Supplements
<< Part 3: Types of Creatine Powders

Best Creatine Supplements Compared >>


1. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 May;23(3):906-14.
Effects of two and five days of creatine loading on muscular strength and anaerobic power in trained athletes.
Law YL, Ong WS, GillianYap TL, Lim SC, Von Chia E.

2. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 May;33(5):814-21.
Effect of creatine loading on long-term sprint exercise performance and metabolism.
Preen D, Dawson B, Goodman C, Lawrence S, Beilby J, Ching S.

3. J Appl Physiol. 1996 Jul;81(1):232-7.
Muscle creatine loading in men.
Hultman E, Söderlund K, Timmons JA, Cederblad G, Greenhaff PL.


Mar 2010