What Is Creatine? | Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

New To Creatine?

Creatine supplementation boosts the natural creatine stores in your body. Your muscle tissue stores creatine as phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine synthesizes during high-intensity exercises, such as lifting weights, to provide your muscles with extra energy. Creatine pulls water into your muscle cells, increasing protein synthesis.

Creatine can be utilised by your body as a quick form of energy during high intensity, short-burst activities such as lifting a heavy weight or breaking into a sprint. If you’re new to creatine, many lifters suggest a loading phase, meaning that you load your cells with creatine so that your muscles are saturated for when it’s needed. This means taking an extra 6 grams or so for the first 10 days, before lowering to around 12 grams. A loading phase will help to see quicker results. This will mean a few pounds in water weight at first, and then from after the first week, you will see improvements in your strength. If you’re looking for instant results, it is not a pre-workout supplement that you will get quick results from, but a longer game in which you saturate your muscles with reserves to help your lifts and workouts going forwards. This means taking it every day.

How does Creatine help?


Creatine allows you to work harder. For more energy, it does not work the same as caffeine supplementation, and for mass, it is not the same as protein and carbs. Creatine is not a magic formula that you can take to get ripped, it is a supplement that helps you work harder. It is not an answer for bigger muscles, but it can certainly help you get there.

If you can complete more reps and lift heavier weights then you will get stronger and your muscles will get bigger. That is where creatine comes in. For this reason, it’s wise to master the fundamentals of lifting, along with focusing on nutrition from natural food sources and protein shakes.

What happens when you drink caffeine and alcohol?


Caffeine can lessen the effects of creatine. The fact is that caffeine is a diuretic but it won’t have a negative effect on your short-term creatine use. The negative effect of the combination is to do with hydration so whenever you drink caffeine you should consume water. There are also advantages to the combination when used on training days. Each boost your energy in their own ways – see a good pre-workout blend for an example of this.

Alcohol doesn’t directly interfere with your creatine plans. They are say to consume on the same day, but alcohol will negatively affects the anabolic effects of taking creatine. The issue is that alcohol impacts on the muscle-building process after you’ve worked out.

Does Creatine make you tired?


While it is widely said that creatine does not make you tired and in fact should see a positive change in your strength and endurance levels, some people have found creatine has left them feeling lazy and a little sleepy. There can be several reasons for this. Creatine means that your body will retain more water and if you’re loading for the first time, the increase may leave you feeling slower. Most commonly, it is dehydration that is the issue and this isn’t something you’re always made aware of by just being thirsty. Make sure you increase the amount of water that you drink and take a look at your nutritional intake. Creatine should not replace any other part of your diet so if you thought ‘getting bigger’ from creatine meant you didn’t need to consume food, think again.

The same applies for anyone thinking there is a link between creatine and cramps. No clinical evidence proves this and many do not experience this, yet if you’re suffering cramps that is most likely as a result of dehydration or overworking a muscle.

When to take Creatine?


The jury’s out on this one. As mentioned, it’s not necessarily a pre-workout supplement and there is no evidence to suggest it works best before or after your workout. Others advise that you take it first thing in the morning with fruit juice before you day begins.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Alice Pearson

Alice Pearson

Writer and expert

Alice Pearson is a UKVRN Registered Associate Nutritionist and UK Anti‐Doping accredited advisor, having obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and a Master’s of Science in Sport Nutrition. She has a specialist interest in the use of sports supplements for improving health, fitness, and sport performance.

Alice has experience working with both amateur and elite athletes, including providing nutritional support to Tranmere Rovers FC and Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club. Her nutritional guidance is always supported by evidence‐based research, which she keeps up to date through continuing professional development and independent learning.

In her spare time, Alice loves travelling, hitting the gym, and getting stuck into a good book. Find out more about Alice's story here.

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