Just got yourself a brand new bottle of creatine and it arrived yesterday through USPS? Good job. All statistical variance aside, you should be on your way to gain some strenght and mass. Woohoo! By the way, check out does creatine help you become stronger?
But before you get ahead of yourself, be aware that very small amounts of it are just enough to produce the desired effects. While it is an amino acid, it’s not like your protein shake. No studies prove there’s a danger to consuming too much of that supplement, but a little gastro-intestinal jihad is never pleasant either!
”But yo Karl, the indications are all on the bottle! I don’t need you to tell me what the recommended dosage is”. Well if you’ve got even half a brain, then you’re no stranger to the fact that supplement companies are biased towards selling you more product. I’ve read labels on protein supplement bottles recommending 60 grams of protein daily. This is ridiculous! The supplement industry is about making money. Yes some companies think long-term and rely on client trust, but they’re not all like that.
So let’s cut the bullcrap and lemme give you some unbiased information about optimum creatine dosage :
The initial creatine loading phase : should I do it?
If you’ve been off creatine for a while (3 weeks to a month) of if you’ve never taken creatine at all, then creatine levels in your body should be in the natural range. By the way, creatine is naturally found in the human body in case you didn’t know. But let’s reserve this topic for another post. Check out : creatine and caffeine, good or bad?
If your creatine levels are currently in their normal range, it is commonly suggested that you get into a ”loading phase” of the supplement, by taking higher than the recommended dose for a period of time in the beginning, which lasts usually about a week. The goal is to quickly raise creatine top optimal (maximum) levels in the muscles, allowing you to take advantage of the benefits of the supplement as quickly as possible. Also read : creatine and dht (dihydrotestosterone).
Recommended doses for the loading phase
There is some debate as to how much is the optimal amount for the loading phase, but generally we’re talking about 20 to 25g/day, for a period of 7 consecutive days (one week). As a reference point is suggested daily dosage is around 5 grams.
My position on the loading phase
25g/day for 7 days straight is fine. Just make sure you split that 25 grams into separate doses of no more than 5 grams each (5 doses for a day). That ensures maximal absorption and minimal impact to the digestive system (creatine supplementing can cause diarrhea in some people, especially during the loading part.
So far no scientific studies have shown that taking high amounts of creatine such as in the range of 25 grams/day could be harmful to your health. Like I said earlier, the only negative side effect in possibly diarrhea, depending on the individual. If you get diarrhea during the loading phase, you should seriously consider reducing the amount per dose or the number of doses. Otherwise you might as well be shooting yourself in the foot because impairing digestive function is totally counterproductive to musce gain. Read also does creatine make you look too bulky?
I personally don’t go super hard on the loading stuff (maybe twice the daily dosage, instead of 4-5 times). That’s because I’m shooting for the long term and I know I’ll be training in the gym or doing some form of exercise for the rest of my while. For that reason I don’t bother loading up to gain barely a couple weeks head start. But if you want results fast, or you football season is starting in a month, science says you can go ahead!
The maintenance dose
While the recommended maintenance dose (the amount/day you should be taking after the loading phase) is 5 grams/day, studies have shown no gains in strength or muscle mass beyond 3.2 grams of creatine per day. Taking more than that won’t be harmful for you, but it’s certainly harmful for your wallet. Guys in the 200+ pound club should take 5 grams/day to compensate for their size.