Updated: Aug 24
Creatine is a hugely popular supplement worldwide. Athletes rely on creatine to turbo-charge their workouts, help them build lean muscle faster and recover from tough training sessions quicker. These all sound like great effects, but how long does it take to see the benefits of creatine? Understandably, people looking to up their performance often want these shifts to happen as fast as possible. In this article, we’ll discuss the wide variet of benefits of creatine, and how long it might take for each of these to show up.
Quick recap — what is creatine?
Creatine is a compound that occurs naturally in our bodies, and is found in small amounts in foods like meat and fish. It’s stored in our muscles until we need it for high-intensity exercise. Creatine works by restoring adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our bodies’ main source of energy for muscle contractions. ATP gets broken down fast during intense workouts, and creatine is able to donate a phosphate molecule to restore ATP levels. This means that muscles can keep contracting and you can keep working harder for longer.
Curious about creatine? Learn a little more here.
Which benefits are we talking about?
With more energy available for your muscles to use, you can keep going in the gym (or on the pitch, in the ring, on the track) and maintain performance levels over a longer period of time when you take creatine.
Not only can you keep going for longer, you can also push harder for short bursts and crush those PBs.
Upping your gains
Research shows that people who take creatine to enhance their workouts boost their muscle mass faster than people who train without it. By training harder and for longer, you can build lean muscle much more quickly than when you train without creatine.
Creatine also helps to promote protein synthesis, which is the process by which the body builds more muscle tissue. This means that creatine can actively support muscle growth.
Creatine’s ability to enhance protein synthesis means that alongside increasing muscle growth, it improves recovery times. The body recovers from intense exercise by rebuilding muscle tissue and creatine helps it to do that faster.
Creatine also helps to reduce inflammation, meaning that it can potentially lower inflammation markers and encourage quicker muscle recovery from workouts.
Learn more about the benefits of creatine here.
So — how long does it take to see the benefits of creatine supplementation?
The short answer? It takes two to four weeks to see the benefits of creatine supplementation. This is based on the average creatine dose of 2.5-5g per day, and depends on how you respond to the supplement.
Most people have a diet with low levels of creatine, and so the idea behind supplementation is that your creatine levels are restored to their optimum. Basically, you’re recovering from a mild deficiency and it can take a few weeks for your body to catch up and become more efficient! This means that the rapid changes slow down after about six weeks, because at that point you’re not addressing a deficiency any more — you’re maintaining creatine levels at a healthy, optimal state.
How does your body become more efficient? As with any nutrient, your body can take a while to adapt if it’s used to working off lower levels of creatine. When it starts receiving higher levels through diet or through supplementation, there’s an adjustment process where it learns what to do with all this new creatine. To begin with, you might be urinating some of the extra creatine out. Over time, your body becomes more efficient at absorbing and storing creatine, leading to a gradual rise in creatine levels.
Is there a short-cut to speed things up?
Yes, there is a short-cut, and it’s called front-loading. This is a process where athletes take a large dose of creatine for the first few days of supplementation, to quickly restore creatine levels in the body. This means shifting from the regular 2.5-5g dose per day, to 20-25g per day. Creatine loading takes place over the first five to seven days of supplementing.
Benefits of front-loading
Front-loading results in a huge increase in the levels of creatine entering your body. It rapidly improves creatine stores in your muscles and means you can start to see the results you want pretty quickly, often within the first two weeks.
Potential side effects
For some people (although it still safe), supplementing with creatine can cause cramping, diarrhoea and digestive discomfort. The risk of these side effects actually goes up when you’re front-loading, so t’s always recommended to speak to a healthcare professional before taking new supplements, and especially before starting a high-dosage programme like loading.
Additionally, water retention is one of the main effects that is hugely increased with front loading. Your muscles hold on to more water when you load and your overall body weight goes up.
This may be an effect that some athletes want, but as well as increasing your body weight, it can give muscles that slightly unnatural “balloon-like” appearance. Also, once you stop taking creatine, any increase in muscle size caused by water retention will fade away.
The good news? Taking CreGAAtine results in much less water retention than standard creatine.
Looking to up your workout game?
For a more efficient creatine supplement that can supercharge your training, check out CreGAAtine.
CreGAAtine is a novel scientifically proven dietary supplement, made of Creatine and Guanidinoacetic Acid (GAA), which is a natural organic compound that acts as a direct precursor of Creatine. Learn more about creatine here.