How to Take Creatine

There are a number of theories as to the best way of supplementing with creatine, some say take in fruit juice; some say take with a hot beverage so it dissolves and is absorbed more easily; some advocate a loading and maintenance phase; some say only five grams a day. Studying all the data, and from experience, it appears the following may be optimal:

A creatine serving should be in a hot drink (tea / coffee) with a teaspoon of sugar with some fruit or fruit juice. Take it with a loading and maintenance phase, as clinical studies have clearly shown more benefit here (Greenhaff, et al 1993).

Loading phase: 10g per day, as 2 x 5g servings for 5 days

Maintenance phase: 2g per day, for 5 weeks.

".creatine is even more effective when taken with simple carbohydrates."

This may be followed by a period of rest from using creatine, or back on the loading phase. If you want to have some time off, have at least 2 weeks. Many companies who sell creatine claim the dosages need to be higher for optimum effects, but all they are trying to do is sell more, and I know I couldn't tolerate more than this without an intolerable upset stomach! There is no hard evidence that cycling creatine (i.e. periods without using it) is any better than using is constantly. Anecdotally, there are mixed reports about cycling.

Some 'experts' claim that creatine shouldn't be served in a caffeinated beverage, like tea or coffee. They say that caffeine inhibits optimal absorption of creatine due to its effect on carbohydrate take up by muscle, and there is sub-optimal hydration of muscle too. There is no evidence to substantiate these claims, and I really fail to see that caffeine with creatine is a problem. I enjoy a couple of caffeinated drinks a day to perk me up, but if you are still concerned that caffeine has a negative effect on creatine uptake, take it in decaffeinated tea or coffee.

I would not recommend the use of creatine four weeks before a bodybuilding competition, as, despite the fact that creatine is supposed to draw water from around the muscle to within it, it has been reported to give a smooth stage appearance. Again supplement companies claim it can be used pre-contest for its cell volumising effect. I wouldn't risk it.

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