How Long Does Creatine Take To Work? The Clear Answer

Creatine use is on the rise in the fitness community. 
But there is a timeline of its effects and storage in the body. 

This fact prompts the question: how long does creatine take to work? 

As a certified personal trainer, I’ll uncover the details that surround creatine’s timeline. You’ll discover how to optimize strategies for best use of creatine. 

Here’s what’s coming up. 

Infographic: How Long Does Creatine Take To Work?
Brief Creatine Overview 
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine In Action
Breakdown: How Long Does Creatine Take To Work? 
7 FAQs About Creatine 
Bottom Line 

How Long Does Creatine Take To Work? 

Image Not Found

Brief Creatine Overview 

Creatine is a compound made of amino acids, and creatine monohydrate is the most popular form on the market. 

Creatine is proven to be safe and effective to build muscle and strength. It can increase performance in athletics and lifting power in the gym. 

All muscles naturally contain creatine, as it is made body about 1 gram per day. Creatine can also be found in animal based proteins like beef, chicken, and fish. 

Still, there is a lot of debate surrounding the natural or “natty” status of creatine. 

How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine works as a source of energy to your muscles a quick burst of energy during intense exercise. 

Creatine is stored in the body and is used to produce ATP. ATP is the molecule that all cells, including muscle cells, use for energy. 

Although the body makes creatine and we can get it from animal-based proteins, it’s not enough to have major impact. 

Creatine is stored in the body and is used to produce ATP. ATP is the molecule that all cells, including muscle cells, use for energy. 

Although the body makes creatine and we can get it from animal-based proteins, it’s not enough to have major impact. 

The issue is that the energy from creatine is seriously quick – it lasts only 10-30 seconds.

To make it last longer, the store of creatine needs to be increased. That’s why people take creatine as a supplement. 

Taking creatine as a powder or pill helps to increase the amount of it in the muscles. That way the muscles can access the creatine for more energy, strength, and power during high intensity movements. 

There’s two approaches to taking creatine: 

  • doing a loading phase and then a maintenance phase 
  • or only doing a maintenance phase 

Let’s breakdown both the loading phase and the maintenance phase, and how they tie into the question: how long does creatine take to work?

Loading Phase Of Taking Creatine

Loading creatine helps to increase the availability of it in the muscles. 

Imagine your muscle cells like bins that are only a little full of creatine made by the body. Remember it’s about 1 gram per day. 

As you load up on creatine your “muscle bins” become more full and ready to draw from. 

The loading phase consists of taking 20 to 25 grams of creatine per day for 7 days. 

For an alternate loading dosage, multiply your weight in kg by .3. But 20 to 25 grams is a safe, proven, and effective dosage to load. 

By the end of 7 days of your muscle become completely saturated with creatine. Now the stores are full and ready! 

To maintain the stores of creatine, you take 3 to 5 grams of creatine every day after the loading phase. This is known as the maintenance phase.

Maintenance Phase Of Taking Creatine 

Some individuals may opt to skip the loading phase and instead only taking maintenance doses of 3 to 5 grams of creatine. 

There are a few reasons why someone might choose to skip the loading phase of creatine supplementation. 

1. Simplicity and Convenience

Some individuals prefer to skip this loading phase to simplify their supplementation routine and avoid the hassle of higher initial doses.

2. Minimizing Potential Side Effects

Some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or bloating when taking higher doses of creatine during the loading phase.

3. Cost-Effectiveness

Skipping the loading phase may help save money by extending the longevity of a creatine supplement supply.

4. Avoiding Unnecessary High Intake

While creatine loading is generally considered safe for most individuals, some may prefer to avoid high initial doses and opt for a steady, lower intake from the beginning.

5. Individual Response

Different factors like body composition and metabolism may influence how someone responds to creatine, so they will skip the loading phase. 

It’s essential to note that while skipping the loading phase is a choice for some, it might take longer to experience the full benefits of creatine supplementation compared to following the loading protocol.

Creatine In Action

how long does creatine take to work

There was a review done of clinical studies of creatine that showed how it effectiveness. 

A group of healthy untrained young subjects took 20 grams of creatine per day over 10 days. This was the loading phase. 

They found that muscle strength and power increased after bench press and squats. 

Then the subjects took .07 grams per kilogram of body weight from 56 days.

They did total body resistance training during this maintenance phase.

They reported an increase in muscle strength in bench press, leg press, and shoulder press. 

Another group of healthy trained young subjects took 20 grams of creatine per day for 7 days. This was the loading phase.

Afterwards they took a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day for 42 days while doing total body resistance training.

They found that lean muscle tissue increased in the arms, legs, and trunk area. 

Taking creatine showed an increase in muscle strength and lifting performance. 

But it’s important to note that creatine supplementation was ineffective to grow muscle if you don’t train. So training is necessary if you take creatine and want to grow muscle. 

Another thing to note is that both group did a loading phase first, and then a maintenance phase.

This definitely takes makes a difference in how long it takes for creatine to kick in. 

Related Article: How Long Can Creatine Stay In Your Body?

Breakdown: How Long Does Creatine Take To Work?

It depends on if you do a loading phase or not. 

With a loading phase, you will do notice immediate effects within 1 week, as shown in the study above. 

  • There may be a noticeable difference in your muscle size due to water retention form creatine. For more on water retention, check out my article on an easy creatine overview.

There are short effects of creatine after the loading phase in to the maintenance phase from 2 to 4 weeks. 

  • You may see in increase in your ability to sustain high intensity workouts. That’s because your muscles are fully saturated with creatine and you can generate more energy and power. 

If you do not do a loading phase then it will take longer for creatine to work. It will take about 4 weeks for enough creatine to saturate your muscles. 

After that you will see the same results of creatine which include: 

  • Increased power and strength
  • Better muscle contractions 
  • Better sprinting performance
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Increased muscle recovery 

7 FAQs About Creatine 

Is Creatine A Steroid? 

No, creatine is not a steroid. It’s found in foods like meat and fish, and it’s also produced by the body. Steroids are synthetic compounds designed to mimic the effects of certain hormones.

Who Can Take Creatine? 

Generally, healthy individuals without preexisting medical conditions can take creatine. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regiment.

But recently research shows that creatine can benefit many different kinds of people. Athletes to inactive people and even elderly people. 

Just one example why is that saturating your muscles with creatine can positively influence bone mineral density and bone formation. This can be beneficial for people that are at a high risk of osteoporosis or recovering from an injury. 

What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine? 

When you stop taking creatine, your body gradually returns to its normal levels. 

You may experience a decrease in muscle water content and a reduction in strength and endurance over time, but any gains achieved during supplementation won’t disappear overnight.

What Factors Influence The Effectiveness Of Creatine  

Individual Response. People respond differently to creatine. Some might experience more significant effects in strength, power, or muscle gain than others.

Training Regimen. Creatine’s effects can be more pronounced during high-intensity, short-duration activities like weightlifting or sprinting rather than endurance exercises.

Diet and Hydration. Adequate hydration and a balanced diet can enhance creatine uptake and utilization in the muscles.

Duration of Use. Long-term use might yield different results compared to short-term supplementation.

Creatine Quality. The purity and quality of the creatine supplement can also impact its effectiveness. Creatine monohydrate is the best option. 

Individual Physiology. Factors like age genetics, and existing muscle mass can influence how a person responds to creatine supplementation.

Do I Need To Cycle
On/Off Creatine? 

There’s no evidence that suggests mandatory cycling of creatine, but personal preferences and goals may cause you to want to cycle. 

Continuous, consistent use of creatine maintains its benefits. Individuals might choose to cycle off periodically tif they have concerns about long-term use.

What Are Side Effects Of Creatine?  

These side effects are usually mild and not experienced by everyone.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues. Mild stomach discomfort or bloating.
  • Water Retention. Some people retain water temporarily, leading to weight gain. Creatine can also make you pee more.
  • Muscle Cramps. Occasional muscle cramps might occur.

Related Article: Dry Scooping Creatine: Is It Safe?

Does Creatine Increase Testosterone?  

Creatine doesn’t directly increase testosterone levels. Some studies suggest a potential slight elevation in resting testosterone levels, but the effect big enough as a reason to start taking creatine. 

Bottom Line 

There is some speculation that creatine works immediately, but its effectiveness is not instantaneous. 

While the query, “how long does creatine take to work,” doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer, there is a general understanding. 

Creatine can take 1-2 weeks to work if you do a loading phase, and 4 weeks to work if you take maintenance doses. 

Hope this post was helpful to you! Happy lifting. 

AUTHOR

Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!

Leave a Comment