Do You Need A Creatine Loading Phase?

Does Creatine Work?

Creatine supplementation in conjunction with resistance training (RT) augments gains in lean tissue mass and strength in aging adults; however, there is a large amount of heterogeneity between individual studies that may be related to creatine ingestion strategies. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to perform updated meta-analyses comparing creatine vs. placebo (independent of dosage and frequency of ingestion) during a resistance training program on measures of lean tissue mass and strength, perform meta-analyses examining the effects of different creatine dosing strategies (lower: ≤5 g/day and higher: >5 g/day), with and without a creatine-loading phase (≥20 g/day for 5–7 days), and perform meta-analyses determining whether creatine supplementation only on resistance training days influences measures of lean tissue mass and strength. Overall, creatine (independent of dosing strategy) augments lean tissue mass and strength increase from RT vs. placebo. Subanalyses showed that creatine-loading followed by lower-dose creatine (≤5 g/day) increased chest press strength vs. placebo. Higher-dose creatine (>5 g/day), with and without a creatine-loading phase, produced significant gains in leg press strength vs. placebo. However, when studies involving a creatine-loading phase were excluded from the analyses, creatine had no greater effect on chest press or leg press strength vs. placebo. Finally, creatine supplementation only on resistance training days significantly increased measures of lean tissue mass and strength vs. placebo (source).

Do You Need To Load Creatine?

A creatine “loading phase” is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of taking the standard five-gram dosage or creatine monohydrate per day (whether mixed into your protein shake or ingested on its own), the idea behind loading aims at rapidly accumulating sufficient amounts of creatine in your muscles to aid performance.

What the Science Says
Most loading protocols last between five and seven days and require you to ingest 20 to 25 grams of creatine in total, broken up across several servings. After you’ve “caught up”, you’d return to a standard five-to-seven-gram single-serving dosage.

Alternatively, bulk dosing can be based on your body’s weight, with a loading phase dosage set around 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day and reduced to 0.1 gram per kilogram of body weight per day.

Most literature agrees that loading your creatine in bulk isn’t strictly necessary for it to take effect long-term. That said, it could be useful in certain conditions, such as if your baseline creatine levels are extremely low, or you take too little on a daily basis.

Creatine Before or After Workout?

Contrary to popular belief, there are no clear advantages to taking creatine at any specific time, whether it be prior to, during, or after a workout. Caffeine intake might reduce the ergogenic effects of creatine, so if you caffeinate before you hit the gym, it might be best to take your creatine after your workout (and you could reap the added benefit of enhanced glycogen replenishment.)

On the other hand, taking creatine about two hours before your workout could potentially enhance its uptake rate. When it comes to performance and gains, however, the results are far more similar than they are different regardless of timing, so it’s probably best to simply take your creatine at whatever time is convenient and consistent.


The Best Creatine Supplement for Building Muscle in 2022

Creatine is one of the most popular nutritional ergogenic aids for athletes. Studies have consistently shown that creatine supplementation increases intramuscular creatine concentrations which may help explain the observed improvements in high intensity exercise performance leading to greater training adaptations.

In addition to athletic and exercise improvement, research has shown that creatine supplementation may enhance post-exercise recovery, injury prevention, thermoregulation, rehabilitation, and concussion and/or spinal cord neuroprotection.

Creatine for Health and Exercise

Creatine can improve health and athletic performance in several ways.

In high intensity exercise, its primary role is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles.

The additional stores can then be used to produce more ATP, which is the key energy source for heavy lifting and high intensity exercise.

Creatine also helps you gain muscle in the following ways:

  • Boosted workload. It enables more total work or volume in a single training session, a key factor in long-term muscle growth.
  • Improved cell signaling. It can increase satellite cell signaling, which aids muscle repair and new muscle growth.
  • Raised anabolic hormones. Studies note a rise in hormones, such as IGF-1, after taking creatine.
  • Increased cell hydration. Creatine lifts water content within your muscle cells, which causes a cell volumization effect that may play a role in muscle growth.
  • Reduced protein breakdown. It may increase total muscle mass by reducing muscle breakdown.
  • Safe Supplementation. Creatine is safe for the vast majority of people, which can’t be said of all supplements.
  • Lower myostatin levels. Elevated levels of the protein myostatin can slow or inhibit new muscle growth. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, increasing growth potential.

Creatine supplements also increase phosphocreatine stores in your brain, which may promote brain health and improve symptoms of neurological disease.

Top 3 Creatine Monohydrate Supplements of 2022

The Highest Quality Creatine is Muscle Boost by Vitaliboost

Being the most pure creatine on the market is reason enough to choose Muscle Boost, but it goes beyond purity. Muscle Boost Creatine is NSF certified.

Results: What to Expect From Muscle Boost Creatine Monohydrate Supplement

Reduced Muscle Fatigue

Muscle fatigue is reduced during and after weight lifting. This is mostly due to the hydrating effect creatine has on muscles, by allowing muscle to retain more water. When muscles can more efficiently be used to exercise, they’re less likely to be injured or overworked.

Increased Weight in Compound Lifts

Creatine ensures that your muscles are at their peak hydration levels. Muscle cells need water to function properly, so a healthy amount of creatine in your system insures maximum effectiveness of muscles in heavy lifts.

Bigger pump

Many people using creatine are looking to get bigger and stronger. Creatine allows your muscles to retain more water, which makes them appear larger. This means that the “pump” you get from a lift will be extra large compared to when your creatine levels were lower.

What is NSF Certification?

NSF certification is your key to making sure that the products you use meet strict standards for public health protection.

Choosing a product certified by NSF lets you know the company complies with strict standards and procedures imposed by NSF. From extensive product testing and material analyses to unannounced plant inspections, every aspect of a product’s development is thoroughly evaluated before it can earn our certification.

Most importantly, NSF certification is not a one-time event, but involves regular on-site inspections of manufacturing facilities and regular re-testing of products to ensure that they continue to meet the same high standards required to maintain certification over time. If for any reason a product fails to meet one or more certification criteria, NSF will take enforcement actions to protect you, including product recall, public notification or de-certification.

Products that earn NSF certification are said to be “NSF certified” or “NSF listed” and display the applicable NSF certification mark to show that they have been tested by one of today’s most respected independent product testing organizations.

Scientific Sources:

Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021 –

Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance –

What is NSF Certification –


How Safe is Creatine for Building Muscle Mass?

Whether you’re new to the world of fitness or have been in it for some time, chances are you’ve heard of Creatine Monohydrate. Personal trainers and athletes use and speak about this effective supplement often, and for good reason. What exactly is it, and why do you need it? Well, we’re here to help break that down nice and simple for you. Creatine monohydrate is a commonly used dietary supplement. Its benefits include increased “muscle performance in short-duration, high-intensity resistance exercises,” according to the Cleveland Clinic [source]

Is Creatine Safe?

Yes, creatine monohydrate is safe and natural. Your body already produces it for a source of energy within your liver and kidneys. When you strain your muscles, such as during a lifting session or working out, your body sends creatine monohydrate to your skeletal muscles for energy and power. We typically keep our own levels up through our daily diet. However, you can also opt to buy the substance for a little extra boost both pre and post workout. Creatine has been shown to be safe when taken in the long-term, in doses of up to 10mg per day for an extended use of five or more years according to WebMd.

Who Should Use Creatine?

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or professional athlete to incorporate creatine monohydrate into your supplement and workout regime. The supplement is popular amongst professional athletes and bodybuilders for good reason, and it’s popular amongst non-athletes and non-bodybuilders as well. It’s important to note that “creatine is not a steroid…this couldn’t be further from the truth”. Creatine works to make muscles more hydrated, which can also help muscles to “look bigger and fuller,” which is a desired effect for many[source]

How Creatine Builds Muscle

Creatine works to increase muscle strength and size by working with your “body’s stores of phosphocreatine,” a naturally occurring substance that is “used to produce new ATP during high-intensity exercise”. According to the study, something as minor as a week of loading creatine up to “2 gram/day” can “drastically elevate your muscle stores” [source]. Other studies show that it may take weeks to notice a difference. 

When to Take Creatine

Creatine monohydrate can be purchased at most in-person supplement retailers and online. It usually comes with a scoop and will dissolve in water. Creatine doesn’t take immediate effect. It takes some time to work its way into the system and muscles. Due to this, research and studies have shown that it’s more beneficial to take it for a few weeks on end before you decide whether or not it’s for you as it may take that long for your body to assimilate and show its effectiveness. 

Many people opt to mix it in their protein shake along with their pre or post workout supplement, shake it up, and reap the benefits. It’s entirely tasteless and odorless, you won’t even notice it’s there. But your muscles will. Try creatine for a consistent period of at least 12-weeks before you determine whether or not it’s made a noticeable difference for you.


Creatine pills or powder, which is better?

Creatine is one of the most popular performance-enhancing supplements available to athletes looking to go the extra mile and weightlifters trying to lift greater volumes for bigger gains. But how much does the way you take your dose of creatine affect the results?

And with so many different forms of the supplement available on the market, which one is the best and which one is for you?

We’ll get into that later. First, let’s take a look at just what creatine is.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a molecule found naturally in the body, and may also be ingested from food sources including seafood, eggs and meat.

Creatine is composed of three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine. It can be considered a backup source of energy, as opposed to a super-drug that will give you instant gains.

Creatine speeds up the natural process of how our bodies produce Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP). ATP is used up and quickly depletes during high-intensity exercise.

By supplementing creatine you can increase the ability to store more, meaning that more ATP can be produced during exercise.

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. It is not a provider of extra energy in the same way as boosters like caffeine and glucose, but increases your reserves, thus allowing you to work harder for longer – therein lies the gains.

So you have done your research on this wonder supplement, but now you are uncertain whether the powder or pill form is the best. Opinions are widespread, with many suggesting there is little difference between the two.

Creatine Pills vs Powder: Advantages and Disadvantages

First, the pros and cons of creatine powder. It doesn’t transport easily. Anyone that has kept some in a shaker in their gym bag for when the time comes to train will know that the amount you measured doesn’t always end up being swallowed.

What doesn’t go up in a puff when you lift the lid can cling to the sides and corners, and can sometimes congeal in the shaker.

It doesn’t always blend with ease and can add a bitter chemical taste to your whey or whatever you mix it with when drinking.

These are all minor points, of course, in the bigger picture of creatine’s many health advantages.

In this respect, pills are the better option as you can better measure your intake with none of the mess. So what are the positives to powder?

Powder is more affordable, and we know that month on month the supplement shopping list can add up.

During the loading phase, you will be taking sometimes three to five times the recommended 3 – 5 mg dose. In pill form that means three times the pills, meaning you will see your supplies quickly diminish at the start of each cycle.

In pill form, creatine must first be digested before it can be used by your body. As a powder, it can be more readily absorbed. This is a major plus in favor of powder for anyone taking several supplements on a regular basis.

Why create another obstacle for your digestive system if an alternative is available? Add creatine pills to the vitamin tablets and any others that you take and, if shaken, you’ll rattle.

But how does the speed with which you digest creatine matter? There is much debate about the effectiveness of when to take creatine, but there is no conclusive evidence to suggest it is best when taken before or after exercise.

The unanimous opinion suggests a loading phase should be implemented, wherein you take three times the normal daily amount of creatine every day for two weeks to saturate your cells.

How quickly creatine is then absorbed into your system, subject to future studies, does not necessarily alter the results of your workout (as long as it is loaded constantly in your system).

Variety is key, and by choosing powder you will be able to create health cocktails of your own creation. Either way, it’s a good way to achieve the gains you are looking for.

More and more as you progress as an athlete and learn your body’s capabilities and your goals it is advisable to identify what you want to get out of your supplements. In doing so you can cut out blends and make your own, based on what you want.

By mixing creatine powder with other workout beverages that are sugar-loaded you can also increase your insulin levels.

Creatine in Food and Natural Sources

Creatine is made up of amino acids and is largely obtained from your diet. Creatine pulls water into your muscles and increases protein synthesis.

High protein foods like fish, eggs, and meat are rich in creatine. However, an easier way of ingesting creatine may be choosing the right supplement. For convenience, creatine pills may be the best route.

On the other hand, creatine pills are not as easily absorbed into the body as creatine powder is. Creatine powder is rapidly absorbed into the body, letting it do its job faster.

However, for somebody constantly on the move, creatine powder is not easily transported. For those types, choosing creatine pills may be the best bet.

All in all, research shows little difference between the two forms of the creatine supplement. In turn, it really comes down to preference.

So which do you prefer? Would you rather your creatine supplement work at a faster rate or would you rather get in over with quickly by taking this supplement as a pill?

There are pro’s and con’s to both forms. Either way, creatine is an essential supplement for building muscle mass. If you’re having trouble bulking up, taking creatine may be the best way to get gains fast.