What do I need to know about creatine?
August 8, 2008 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I bought a bottle of creatine powder and I want to know how to use it properly. I'd like to hear your advice/experiences.

I'm doing weights 2-3 times a week, full-body workouts each time. After my workout I have a protein shake with milk, and my only supplement is fish oil for Omega3.
  • Should I just take the creatine on days that I work out? Can I take it afterwards with my protein shake?
  • I'm 5'10" and ~145lbs. (and slowly rising), how much should I be taking at a time?
  • Do I take a certain amount per day/week forever, or do I do "cycles"?
  • I'm a vegetarian, do I need to take that into account?
  • I know I need to drink "a lot" of water, how much is a lot? I drink about 1 liter a day right now, as well as a few cups of tea.
  • I've seen a few people say that they suffered permanent kidney damage from using this stuff(!), are they mis-attributing their problem or overdosing, or is this a real risk for a normal user? I recently had a physical, all my functions (kidney etc.) and levels are in normal ranges.
  • Is there anything else I should be aware of? Side affects? Dangers?
    • Thanks!
posted by Who_Am_I to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Two things from my experience come to mind...one is to mix it with juice, I think it absorbs best that way. I'd pick a juice you don't really love, because mixing it with creatine can spoil the flavor of that juice forever. I use apple juice because I'm not all that fond of it. I think grape juice is supposed to be a good combo. Second is that if your experience is like mine you might want to take some Immodium AD with it for the first week, because I definitely found myself running to the boy's room with increased frequency for the first week or two of usage.
posted by vito90 at 10:40 AM on August 8, 2008


I second mixing it with juice, but look for ones that have only natural sugars and not corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. I used white grape juice from frozen concentrate that was 100% juice, because it has the most "flavor-cover" without being syrupy like orange juice. Creatine tastes totally disgusting, but it will work if you are willing to work with it by working out as much as possible.

On the bathroom front, I agree that it can get you going more, but remember that you will be drinking one and a half gallons of fluids a day in the loading cycle. Stop drinking all caffeine during the loading period, or go to as little as you possibly need to be 'regular'. I have found that best results in loading came with drinking one ounce of water for every pound of body fat. So me now: 210 pounds = 210 ounces of water = 1 3/8 gallons of water per day.

Yes, that is a lot. But I also do an hour of cardio a day. The worst periods are after I leave the house and I'm not at work or near a public restroom and the way home. But it's manageable and worth it. I've lost eight pounds in the last three weeks.
posted by parmanparman at 10:57 AM on August 8, 2008


While this isn't a direct answer to your creatine question, I wanted to throw this out there: at 5'10'' 145 lbs you are small enough that you are still in the "newbie gains" phase of training. Just by eating a lot of calories you should be able to make the biggest gains you will ever make training. I would recommend that once you start to plateau is when you should look into ways to notch up your lifting gains with things like supplements, protein drinks, and creatine.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 11:09 AM on August 8, 2008


Best answer:
# Should I just take the creatine on days that I work out? Can I take it afterwards with my protein shake?

Take it daily postworkout (shake is fine) or on an empty stomach (in a high glucose solution or with fruit, etc) when you don't work out.

# I'm 5'10" and ~145lbs. (and slowly rising), how much should I be taking at a time?

Take 5 grams a day. Many people "load" on creatine, which elevates the creatine levels in your body through an initially high dosage for a week or so, but taking 5 grams a day will have you at that level within 30 days.

Any more than 5 grams a day after (potential) loading is okay, but probably won't do you any good. Creatine is water soluble though, so any that your body doesn't use will be excreted (in other words, it won't build up as a toxin in your body)

If you load, take 15-25 grams a day for a week, separated into 5 gram doses


# Do I take a certain amount per day/week forever, or do I do "cycles"?

You can cycle or not. A lot of people don't. Don't worry about cycling until at least 12 weeks in and then you will be able to judge for yourself.

Most people who cycle don't do it for their liver or kidneys though, they do it for gains/plateau busting.


# I'm a vegetarian, do I need to take that into account?

No. Aside from the fact that creatine occurs naturally in meat, so supplementation is even more important for you than a non-vegetarian

# I know I need to drink "a lot" of water, how much is a lot? I drink about 1 liter a day right now, as well as a few cups of tea.

Divide your bodyweight by 1.5 and drink that many ounces per day. Water is very important.

# I've seen a few people say that they suffered permanent kidney damage from using this stuff(!), are they mis-attributing their problem or overdosing, or is this a real risk for a normal user? I recently had a physical, all my functions (kidney etc.) and levels are in normal ranges.

There are plenty of studies on pubmed that show little to no proof of this when taken at normal doses. I can't find the study right now, but if I remember correctly, kidney damage was reported after giving rodents doses 100 times that a human would normally. (Don't take my word on the last study)

# Is there anything else I should be aware of? Side affects? Dangers?

No side effects to be really worried about.. if you take too much you will likely have runny bathroom visits for a little while.

There is a recurring rumor that creatine causes acne, but this has been debunked over and over.

posted by bradly at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh,

and on non-workout days you can mix it with your tea (provided it isn't over 170' F).

there is some evidence to support that a small amount of caffeine and warm temperature increases the solubility and absorption of creatine.

creatine was originally given to racehorses in tea form.
posted by bradly at 11:27 AM on August 8, 2008


whoops! One ounce of water for every pound of mass.
posted by parmanparman at 11:33 AM on August 8, 2008


I'll just note that I prefer the capsules to the powder. That gritty taste is not pleasant or required.
posted by Slenny at 12:32 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


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