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How Long Does Creatine Take To Work?

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We can tell you first hand that creatine is one heck of a supplement when it comes to strength training and power based sports. Why do we rate it so highly? With consistent creatine use and patience, the muscle cells of the body are likely to become saturated. 

Once this process has taken place, a creatine user can maximize the capacity for energy (ATP) through the creatine phosphate system. Without a doubt, we can safely rank creatine among the top 3 supplements, along with whey protein and caffeine.

Now the question you may be asking could be something along the lines of “how long does creatine take to work?” We have put together a short article to explore this question.

How long does creatine take to work? – it takes approximately a week if you load on creatine. The other option is the “non loading” protocol, where you would ingest a smaller and regular dose of creatine, which takes on average just under a month to work.

How Long Does Creatine Take To Work

How Long Does Creatine Take To Work?

As a fitness professional, a couple of the most frequently asked questions that we get is “how long does it take for creatine to kick in before workout” or “does creatine work right away?”

The answer is, unlike supplements like caffeine, creatine does NOT give you an instant hit before your workouts or training sessions. 

For a matter of fact, it can take weeks of consistent creatine use for it to take any effect for the purpose of exercise performance and aesthetics.

On one side, we have the “loading phase”, which takes approximately 5-7 days for a performance modification. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the regular “non loading” protocol, which can take on average 28 days to take its effect. 

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1. With Loading Phase

When you load on creatine, the simple method is to take 20-25g of creatine per day, split into 4-5 servings. The more calculated approach is to 0.3 x bodyweight in kg, for example 0.3 x 80kg = 24g, then split it into 4-5 servings. 

With the loading phase, you must be consistent and consume the required creatine on a daily basis. Over the course of 5-7 days. 

At this point, you should notice the difference in power based exercise performance and the appearance of muscle size due an increase in intracellular fluid. 

But remember to take the maintenance dose of 3-5g of creatine to maintain muscle saturation performance. 

athlete work in the gym

2. Without Loading Phase 

When does creatine start working if you do not load creatine? If you decide to go the route of “without loading” you would essentially take 3-5g of creatine on a daily basis. 

On average, the muscles of the body would be saturated with creatine within 28 days. But keep in mind that this figure will vary from athlete to athlete, depending on factors such as body weight, muscle mass, diet (for example, vegetarians don’t get creatine from food and may take longer to fully saturate their muscles), etc.

A key point is to take the creatine consistently, for as long as you still participate in your chosen activity or sport. 

squatiing with dumbbells

How Do I Know If Creatine Is Working?

How quickly does creatine work? There are a few indicators that show how quickly creatine is taking its effect. These indicators include performance modifications and mass gain, which have been mentioned in detail below. 

1. Performance Modification

Creatine responders would likely experience muscle creatine saturation. Thereafter, you could expect a 10-20% increase in performance (strength and power). 

A study in the international journal of exercise science found that taking 20g dose of creatine monohydrate, followed by 10g dose for 3 weeks. The researchers found that creatine improved maximal bench press performance by over 11 lbs in men and over 5 lbs women. 

2. Mass Gain 

We need to understand that there is a difference between lean muscle and lean mass gain. Lean mass refers to anything other than fat mass, which could include water, creatine and glycogen stores. 

Creatine use tends to draw water into the muscle, which not only increases weight by ~2-4 lbs (1-2 kg), but increases the appearance of size without putting on muscle. 

Creatine does not directly influence lean muscle mass, increases strength, power and training intensity, which may then increase muscle over the long term.

athlete lifting

Responders vs. Non-Responders To Creatine 

Another completely untrue statement. Creatine is not a performance-enhancing drug. There’s a huge difference between creatine, which is a supplement, and anabolic steroids, which are drugs. Creatine is a natural substance found in food and it enhances energy production, without any hormonal effects that steroids have.

CriteriaRespondersNon-Responders
Diet ModeGets <1 gram of creatine from low levels of meat and fish productsGets 3+ grams of creatine from diet rich in meat and fish products

What we need to understand is that creatine is not limited to supplementation. Diets high in fish and meat may provide the required creatine of lets say 3g per day (you have to eat a lot of meat and fish to get that much creatine from the diet, e.g. 1-2 lbs of beef or fish everyday). Additional creatine from supplementation would not be advantageous. So you could refer to such individuals as non-responders. 

On the other hand, certain diet models like the vegan diet, are very low in food products that contain creatine.

It would only make sense that those who observe such diets would respond really well to a creatine supplementation.

Creatine Supplement We Recommend

Transparent Labs CREATINE HMB

Transparent Labs CREATINE HMB
  • Item form: Powder mix
  • Best for: Power output, muscle/strength gains, recovery, nutrient absorption, contribute to bone health 
  • Type: Creatine monohydrate 
  • Servings per container: 30 
  • Suitable for vegans: Yes 
  • Other ingredients: HMB, Vitamin D, Bioperine, Tartaric acid, Malic acid, Natural flavors, Stevia extract, grapefruit powder
  • Price per serving (9.9g): ~$1.6
  • Companyfounded: 2015 
  • Recommended by athletesHafthor Jullius BjornssKelsey HensonPaul Sclar

It is in the name “transparent labs”. Without a doubt, one of the most transparent supplement brands on the market and for good reasons. 

All of the products and supplements at transparent labs go through third-party testing, which increases their authenticity and ensures safety for human ingestion. Transparent labs have stated that none of their products contain any food additives, colors, and preservatives.

There are a variety of products sold by transparent labs but we are going to be covering their Creatine HMB as it is relevant to this article.

1. Supplement Facts

Creatine HMB is a combination of different performance boosting ingredients including creatine monohydrate, vitamin D, HMB, and bioperine. 

2. Nutrition Label Transparency

There are a few outstanding variables that really display the transparency of creatine HMB. Firstly, creatine HMB is clinically dosed and third-party tested which boosts its authenticity and safety.

Secondly, creatine HMB does not contain any perceived harmful additives i.e, sweeteners and colors.

Transparent labs have shown Creatine+HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) to be better for the development of lean muscle compared to creatine and/or HMB consumed solely. This illustrates that the nutrition label of creatine HMB is very transparent.

Another variable that really highlights the transparency of the creatine HMB product is the fact that it undergoes batch testing through “informed choice” thereby reducing the risk of any banned substances through cross contamination.

For this reason, creatine HMB is an option for those who participate in elite and professional sports. For that extra edge in transparency, we must note that creatine HMB is suitable for vegans.

3. Solubility

Creatine monohydrate dissolved greatly but the creatine HMB product includes other ingredients like HMB, vitamin D, and bioperine which may reduce solubility to some extent. 

4. Value for Money

Creatine HMB has so many high quality ingredients, therefore the price of ~$1.6 per serving is great value for money.

athlete deadlift disc

FAQ

Can Creatine Work in 5 Days?

If you go the route of loading your creatine, then most certainly you may begin the feel the effects within 5 days.

Is 5G of Creatine Safe?

5g of creatine is perfectly safe and in fact is the recommended dose to maintain saturation after “loading” or used throughout “non loading.

Is 10 Grams of Creatine at Once Bad?

Absolutely not! You could split your loading dose of ~20g into two doses. However, if you are not loading, 10g of creatine may not be required once the muscle cells are already saturated, as 3-5g has shown to work.

How Long Until You See Results From Creatine?

Depends! for muscle gains it may take months! For muscle saturation and some improvements in power, it could take either 1-4 weeks depending on the protocol you decide to use.

Conclusion

All in all, creatine is a great supplement for improving strength and power based exercise performance. Unlike many supplements, creatine has to be taken over a period of time for it to be effective. 

So “how long until you see results with creatine?” This really depends on if you decide to go with the “loading” or “non loading”. 

Loading with 20-25g of creatine (or 0.3 x each kg bodyweight) would likely saturate the muscle cells within 5-7 days where you will begin to see the effects. This is followed by a 3-5g maintenance dose.

The other option is to take a regular dose of 3-5g of creatine per, which can take up to 28 days to take effect. 

The indicators of creatine being at effect is an improved strength/power exercise performance, mass gain (weight + size). 

You have to remember that those who observe a diet with animal products high in creatine may not respond to creatine, whereas others who observe diet models low in creatine would. 

So now the next time someone asks you “how long does it take for creatine to work” you will have an informative answer. 

We hope that you enjoyed the article, please feel free to leave a question, comment or query and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Also read:

References:

  1. Hultman, E., Soderlund, K., Cederblad, G., et al. Muscle Creatine Loading In Men Journal Of Applied Physiology 81(2): 232–237, 1996
  2. Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J., et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine Journal Of International Society Of Sport Nutrition, 14 (18), 2017
  3. Thompson, J.S., Watson, P.E., Rowland, D.S., et al. Effects of nine weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta- methylbutyrate supplementation on strength and body composition in resistance trained men Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(3): 827-835, 2009
  4. Powers, M.E., Arnold, B.L., Weltman, A.L., et al., Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution Journal Of Athletic Training, 38 (1): 44-50
  5. Vollmer, C.C., &., Sanches, B.K. Effect of 4-week Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Absolute Strength in Trained and Untrained Healthy Adults International Journal Of Exercise Science, 14 (1)

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Oleksandr Maksymenko

Author: Oleksandr Maksymenko
Certified Sports Nutritionist,
MSc Sports Dietetics

Experience: 7 years
Specializing in: Weight management, Fitness / Sports nutrition

Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist certified by the Fitness Professional Association (FPA). He follows the principles of evidence-based dietetics and fosters a healthy relationship with food in his clients, ensuring there are no strict prohibitions on their favorite foods or frequent lapses. His primary goal is not only to achieve results for you but also to sustain them over the long term, all while enjoying tasty and delicious food.

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