Just how much is too much?
When it comes to bodybuilding supplements, there’s no doubt that creatine should be in your stack alongside things like your proteins and pre-workouts. It is one of the best for putting on muscle mass, and is hailed as the universal king, being endorsed by athletes from all different walks of life. Creatine is a great muscle building supplement that can have you making some awesome gains in the gym and can even energize you to push some seriously heavy weight, but many people often wonder just how much creatine they should be taking.
There are also negative stigmas associated with the supplement that we will address, but let’s discuss exactly how much creatine you should be taking.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid located mostly in the muscles of the body, but also can be found in the brain, and most people can get creatine through seafood and red meat; and the body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also can make about 1 gram of creatine per day. However it is not always enough, which is why people supplement it.
Your body stores creatine as phosphocreatine primarily in your muscles, this is where it is used for energy. That is why you will see athletes supplementing creatine orally via capsules or powders, to increase their energy output and get better results out of their training.
It also has been found that some people will treat brain disorders and neuromuscular conditions with the supplement.
Benefits Of Creatine
Aside from the brief list of benefits above, what other benefits does this supplement bring. Let’s take a look.
- Increase in strength: The supplement helps to increase blood flow through overworked muscles, which helps to provide for better muscle pumps and increase an athlete’s strength.
- Improve metabolism: The supplement also helps to control insulin sensitivity and glycemic control for fat loss and providing fuel. This helps to accomplish weight loss goals.
- Boost athletic performance: It also helps to enhance power output and refuel energy stores to support recovery and growth as well as to boost any performance goals you seek to accomplish.
- Promote better mental capacity: It also increases oxygen utilization in the brain to boost memory and processing speed when enduring grueling workouts while enhancing focus so you stay locked into each exercise.
Types Of Creatine Supplements
Another thing definitely worth mentioning is that there are multiple different types of creatine on the market, each with their own respective benefits. You are going to want to look for one that is best suited for your gains.
- Creatine Monohydrate: Probably the most common and also a pure form of creatine, this can work to increase endurance by removing lactate faster out of the muscles.
- Creatine HCL: Creatine bound to hydrochloric acid for increased bioavailability and limits side effects so you get an effective dose of this supplement, this is the second most common variant you will see of the supplement.
- Tri-Creatine Malate: This variant combines creatine and malic acid that helps your body absorb more creatine. In turn, this will lead to higher ATP levels!
- Creatine Anhydrous: Perhaps the most potent form of the supplement, this will increase muscle mass and enhance sports performance by directly hitting your body.
- Creatine Pyruvate: A combination of creatine and pyruvic acid, this is great for muscle recovery and gains and has good absorption properties.
The Loading Phase
It goes much deeper than just taking the supplement and expecting it to work as well, as it needs time to kick in. There are also things to consider, such as the “loading phase”, which is where athletes will take a much higher dose, sometimes around 20 grams per day, for the first week or two once they start utilizing the supplement to get it in their system. The thought process is this maximizes the muscle stores quickly, and you will start to notice gains quicker.
How Much do You Need?
When it comes to how much creatine you actually need to consume, and how much is too much, obviously there are a number of factors to consider the most obvious being the individual’s size. On average, many people consume anywhere between 1-5 grams of creatine a day, and the typical scoop of the supplement is right around 5 grams. However, there are some people out there with the notion that the 1-5 gram range just isn’t enough to make some drastic improvement.
You also have to think about people that are legitimate, competitive bodybuilders that are taking the supplement. Someone who is pushing 260 lbs of pure muscle more than likely will need a bit more of the supplement than someone who is 180 lbs.
Another factor to consider is diet, people that eat a lot of foods that contain creatine may not need to supplement as much of it.
While 5 grams of creatine per day seems to be the industry standard and there has been a lot of success from that dosage, many times people will take up to 10 grams per day, safely. This has helped with progression, both size and strength gains, and has not had too many side effects. However, some people will experience some side effects with higher dosages of the supplement, though they vary from person to person, it is still worth discussing.
What Happens With Too Much Creatine?
There are side effects of just about everything, as too much of anything is bad, and creatine is no different. Taking too much of the supplement can lead to a few undesirable effects such as:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle cramps
Now there is also a stigma that you will go bald, get acne, and your testosterone production will shut off, but this is not true of creatine, these are side effects associated with anabolic steroids. Creatine is a non-hormonal supplement, and the main issues involve not drinking enough water to push it through your system. Staying hydrated is key.
Creatine Consumption Wrap Up
*All images courtesy of Envato Elements