What exactly does creatine do to your body? How does creatine work? And where does it go? What creatine benefits should you expect to feel, and how soon? Is it safe? And are there any creatine side effects you should know about? Today we’ll cover all that by doing a deep dive into what to expect throughout your first 30 days of taking creatine.
So, first things first: what does creatine do to your body? Creatine is a substance we naturally produce and use up as an indirect energy source to power our muscles through high intensity activities. For this reason, we store most of our creatine in our muscles (95%). But, about 5% of creatine is also stored in the brain. Supplementing with creatine can increase our baseline levels by about 30%. As a result, our muscles have more creatine to power our muscles with, leading to more strength and muscle mass overtime. But approximately 20-30% of individuals naturally walk around with just about fully saturated muscle creatine levels. As a result, they experience little to no benefit from creatine supplementation.
When you first start taking creatine, it takes time for your muscles to become fully saturated with that additional creatine. How long this takes depends on how much creatine you take every day. Using the loading method, it’ll take about 7 days to fully saturate your muscles. The other method is to take a baseline dose of creatine every day and to slowly increase your creatine levels overtime, often taking about 2-3 weeks to reach full saturation.
Both methods get you to the same end destination, but will differ in some of the creatine side effects you may experience. For example, one of the side effects most people experience during this saturation phase is water retention and a small spike in your bodyweight. Another often reported side effect is stomach discomfort. If you experience this, or want to avoid experiencing it in the first place, try splitting up your creatine dose into multiple smaller doses throughout the day if you’re on the loading protocol. If it doesn’t work, stick with the non-loading protocol. In addition to this, avoid taking creatine on an empty stomach or with caffeine as those both scenarios seem to increase the likelihood of an upset stomach. Lastly, when you take your creatine, you can try mixing it with hot water to get it fully dissolved and see if that helps.
Alright so the last side effect you and your doctor should know about has to do with your creatinine levels. Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine. Since you’re taking more creatine, your creatinine levels will also slightly increase. And since high creatinine levels can indicate impaired kidney function, this can be alarming to see on a blood test if you’re not aware of it. However, creatine has been consistently proven to be a safe supplement for healthy individuals and your health professional should be aware of its effect on creatinine.
Alright so our muscles are now locked and loaded with creatine! What happens now? What creatine benefits can you expect? First off, your strength should start increasing across most of your movements. Note that even just a slight increase in your strength or reps is a very solid return as far as supplements go and can lead to significantly greater muscle mass overtime. In addition to just improving performance however, a study that surveyed 52 NCAA athletes found that 81% of them reported faster recovery from their training as one of the benefits they noticed after taking creatine. So after you reach saturation, pay attention to how fast you recover between your workouts as you may notice an improvement. Lastly, creatine supplementation could consistently improve performance on short-term memory and tests of intelligence, with the benefits becoming even more apparent under stressed states such as sleep deprivation.
So that should give you a very good idea as to how does creatine work, exactly, and what to expect once you start taking creatine. That said guys, creatine or any supplement for that matter, is just the icing on the cake. If you want to truly transform your body and see incredible results then you need to prioritize your training and your nutrition. If you need help in these areas and are looking for a simple yet highly effective science-based program you can trust, that shows you exactly how to train and how to eat to transform your body as efficiently as possible, then simply take our analysis quiz to find the best program for you and your body below:
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