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When & Why to Take Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is such a popular product that we believe in, that we had to do numerous videos on it to answer all the questions from customers and views. Some of the most popular questions like when to take creatine and why to take creatine are included in the video below. But we go even further and try to answer ALL the questions...I think we got close lol.

Creatine Monohydrate Q & A Video

Video Transcription

Hello again, everyone. This is John with Today I'm here to talk to you guys about creatine. We're doing this video, because we did one in the past and since we made it, we kind of summarized and gave you the cliff notes, but we get a lot of questions on creatine. There're a lot of myths out there, a lot of novel forms of it, so I just want to go through and dispel some of the myths and answer you guys questions on it. Just to give you a little background, creatine has been on the market, in terms of the supplement form, since about 1992. It's the most researched supplement on the market in terms of performance enhancing benefits. So that's one thing creatine has going for it.

Again, I'm going to go through it and I'm going to answer for you guys. So one question we get is where is creatine made and is it made in the body? Yes, it's made in the body. It's made endogenously, specifically in the liver, kidneys and a little bit is made in the pancreas. It's made from three amino acids, along with some enzymes in your body. On average, most people, it's going to be about one gram per day is about what people make. Now obviously there is some variance in there based on the size of the individual. Other questions we get is where is the creatine stored? Again, it's going to be stored mainly in muscle tissue, about 95% of it.

Other areas you're going to find it is in the brain, liver, kidneys and in the intestines, oddly enough. Not oddly I guess, but that is just a place where it's stored. I'm such a child, aren't I? Sources? And how does that pertain to your diet? Well, the thing is if you're a vegetarian, you're likely not going to get much in your diet, because the main source of it is going to be red meat. And on average, again, this is going to vary, that's one of the problems with diet studies sometimes, is its observational epidemiology. It leaves open a lot of variance, and you're relying sometimes, if the studies aren't well controlled, on the people telling you exactly what they're eating. But on average, we're talking about a gram per day from diet and that would be for non-vegetarians.

What else do we get? Why use it? What do the ingredients do? Is the evidence there? Well, specifically, we do know that creatine is going to improve performance. It's going to increase muscle strength, which leaves stronger muscles which equates to a bigger muscle if you stress it properly. You're going to have to decrease recovery time. So you're going to have to better. And there is also some evidence there that shows that it helps with neurological functions. So more and more things are coming out all of the time, and the great thing, like I said, we have a lot of evidence backing creatine.

So we can say pretty confidently what it does through date. How does it work? Well, it's not fully understood. In generally, we know that it does work with anaerobic metabolism in the sense that when you do something explosive like a lift or a sprint, your aerobic system is not fast enough for those reactions. So you use the anaerobic system and cellular energy called ATP and it's a very fast reaction. And what happens is a phosphate drops off of ATP during the reaction. Creatine can return to phosphate. It can turn ADP, adenosine diphosphate back into ATP, adenosine triphosphate. So that's how creatine is working. It's going to make you more explosive, and it's going to make you stronger as a result.

Beyond that we don't know all of the mechanisms down to the nitty-gritty, but generally we know that's how it works. Other effects that it can have is it can hyper hydrate your muscle cells, these will draw some water into your muscle cells, and we'll get to some of the myths that come along with that a little later because we do have some questions on that, too. Now another question we get, does the form of creatine matter? Well, the reality is is that the vast majority of research has been done on creatine mono hydrate. This is an example of one. The really nice thing about creatine mono hydrate is that it's cheap, and it's the most researched.

And we know that that's the one that works. Now does this mean that other forms don't work? No. All that they can say is maybe at best it works as good as creatine mono hydrate based on evidence. But when you look into those forms, and they tell you, hey, 750 milligrams a day, I look at that with a raised eyebrow, because they don't have research to demonstrate that, so we'll get into dosing, but that is not going to help anybody, because they're basing it pie in the sky. And also, those tend to cost more. So our advice is to stick with creatine mono hydrate.

Specifically what you want to look for, if you want to be real technical is Creapure, not to say that the other ones that are not Creapure are not effective. It's just that Creapure is a company that makes it in Germany. It's tested. It's patented, so that's going to be your safest bet, if you want to technical. I know everybody is always after the next novel, the sexy form of creatine, if you will. But the creatine mono hydrate works, and that's what we know works based on evidence. So hopefully you can save some money. And we can go into some of the other details; too, about these other forms, too, because I have some specific questions from you guys on it.

Another question that we get is can creatine be taken with other stuff? Yes. There doesn't seem to be any contra indications with creatine in terms of it having antagonistic effects to other things. So if you are otherwise healthy. There should be no issue. The whole thing with creatine and caffeine, you can't take it together, that's a myth. It's a poorly designed study, and it's been disproven since. Who can take creatine? Well, again, if you're otherwise healthy, you can take creatine. Technically, we'd like to recommend that you're at least 18 years old, not that it would be so bad for you if you're younger and took it. It's more that you haven't maximized what you can do without supplements at that point.

And also, there are some other factors that weigh into whether or not you're going to respond to creatine, because we know about 30% to 35% of the population are non-responders to creatine, and what's going to determine that is these characteristics of an outline by research of people who do respond to creatine. Number one. They tend to have a lower initial quantity of intra muscular creatine, so they were then able to absorb it through supplementation. So, that just makes sense if you supplemented it, and took your levels up higher from where they were initially if you started it a lower baseline. It makes sense that you're going to feel it more, because you started with less.

Two, you tend to have a greater percentage of fast-twitch, the explosive muscle fibers. So a marathon runner, for instance, may not feel creatine as well, because they might have a little trouble increasing their levels. Now they are going to. Everybody knows your supplementation increases their levels, but the question is do they reach that critical mass to where they get the benefits from it, so having more fast-twitch muscle fiber. Number three, greater fiber a cross sectional area. That has to do with the muscle tissue. Four, possess more fat-free mass. So in general, the more muscular you are, the more you're going to benefit from creatine.

So if you're somebody who's taking creatine, but you're not really feeling it, things didn't happen, I didn't gain strength, even if that antidotal, give it time, maybe try to do some other things, build some more muscle and then try it again. Come back to it. That would be my advice. You're not forever a non-responder. Other questions we get is can I benefit from it from aerobic exercise? Yes and no. Most of the research shows that once you exceed 150 seconds of exercise, the effects start to wane. They start to dimension, because then you're starting to get into other energy systems that are not requiring recycling of ATP very fast.

I'm actually I had a gentleman post something where he said he would assume that creatine would help aerobic, athletes specifically marathon runners because of the hyper-hydration of muscle cells. And I know it won't actually, because what it comes down to, that's assuming that hyper-hydration is the rate limiting factor for somebody to be able to run their best running marathon. And the problem is you're going to weigh a little bit more, because you're going to gain a little bit of weight. And I got a feeling that's going to put a little bit more stress on you. It's like throwing on a ten-pound backpack or a five pound backpack, depending on how much weight you gain from it.

At the beginning of your race, well you sweat it all out, but at some point of that race, you have that extra weight, which in theory, could slow you down. So there is just not evidence to demonstrate that. If hydration were the limiting factor, then maybe that would be the case. Even then, I would question it. Other questions we get, about side effects. Again, it's completely safe from what we know. Research has shown that. Assuming you're otherwise healthy, there's not going to be any issues. Now one thing to consider is, and the question is what about my natural production, my endogenous production of creatine? Yes, that will come down when you supplement creatine. We know that.

But it's not like it doesn't come back. It does come back. We know it does. It's not like taking steroids year over year and people are constantly on them, and then all of a sudden they have low testosterone. Because of the down regulation, you're not able to bounce back. With creatine, we don't see those effects. Now that being said, we do recommend about 12 weeks is what we recommend for the psychological benefit. Go on for about 12 weeks; give yourself 4 to 6 weeks off of it at least just to kind of give your mind a break so to speak. So when you go back to creatine, you get that benefit of jumping back on it. You feel full again and things like that.

Now that's somewhat antidotal, but it's also based on those endogenous levels coming down would be a down regulation, so that would be our recommendation. When to take it? Now here is the thing, timing is not entirely essential. It' more about how much you take. Now in general, if you load on creatine, let's say for the three to five days. The first three to five days you take about 15 to 20 grams a day. It varies a little bit by body weight when you take that in separate dosages. That's going to lead to saturating your muscle tissues faster. Do you have to lower it? No you don't. You can simply go to the maintenance dose from the start. And for most people, that's going to be about five grams per day. Again, it's going to vary a little bit by body weight.

So three to five grams I guess is going to be a good range to say. So if you get into that range, and you're taking creating every day from the start, three to five grams, you're going to feel it. It's going to take a little bit longer to saturate your muscles. So you may want to low with it, so that you can start to realize the effects of it faster. And again, that's about 15 to 20 grams for the first three to five days. In terms of your maintenance dose, the other question is when should I take it post workout. Yeah, we tend to recommend that just because it keeps you consistent. On your non-training days, just take it in the morning.

Now another question that comes up is what should I take it with? Should I take it with grape juice or blah, blah, blah. No, you don't have to. In fact, there's a study that shows that it doesn't increase creatine retention to take creatine with insulinogenic compounds, that could be carbohydrates, simple carbs, any carb basically, and proteins. Proteins do elevate insulin levels contrary to popular belief, especially whey protein actually is quite insulinogenic. And upon full administration of insulinogenic nutrients, these are in vitro studies, have shown that insulin has no direct effect on muscle creatine update, unless we're talking about like super, super high doses.

So we don't fully understand the way creatine is transferred at this point in terms of science or some theories out there, and it's being researched, so you don't have to take it with carbs or protein, you know. Generally like I said, it's not going to hurt you to do it that way. So it's doesn't make that much of a difference in other words, if you mix it with water, which brings us to myths. Now there are some myths out there that, for instance, the creatine caffeine, what we already went through, it's been debunked. Another myth is that creatine is easily degraded. It's not very stable due to the pH in your stomach. That's nonsense. It's nothing more than nonsense to sell some novel form of creatine, specifically, Kre-Alkalyn, which is just creatine and baking soda.

It's based on a pH story which is that creatine, it starts off from the standpoint of hey, creatine is not stable, specifically creatine monohydrate. So we have to put in these buffers, and so on and so forth, to make it work. Here is the reality, at 25 hours in solution with a pH of only one various egg; only 2% of creatine would have degraded into its dehydration product creatinine which is a byproduct of creatine, okay? And it's completely, completely exaggerated. So 25 hours of sitting in a various acidic solution, we're talking about 1% or 2%. Now that doesn't qualify as unstable to me. I don't know about anybody else. So that's nonsense.

Other things is do I have to make sure my creatine is completely mixed up before I can drink it? You know, the solubility of creatine in water at 68 Fahrenheit is 14 grams per liter at a neutral pH of 7. So we're talking about a lower pH and a higher temperature in your stomach. Don't buy that notion. Make sure you stir it up and mix it good. I don't buy this notion that somehow your body can't absorb it. If it makes you feel better to see it all disappear or most of it, that's okay. But the evidence is lacking to show oh that must be how it's done otherwise your body is not going to absorb it. It's just not there. So that's one and another one is will creatine destroy my kidneys? That's a common one. There're a lot of old wives and tales myths out there. Well, that's because when you go to get your blood work done, one of the markers that they test for kidney functions is creatinine levels, specifically plasma creatinine levels.

That does elevate when you're on creatine. However, they've done studies that follow up to see if see we get good creatine clearance in urine via GFR. They want to make sure that your kidneys are going to be able to handle it. And yes, we have found that that's the case. There's not extra stress on the kidneys. They're able to handle it just fine. Now something to consider is that usually your low creatinine clearance is going to be pretty equivalent between plasma and urine. But when you take creatine supplement, you're taking in more, and there's evidence to show that your kidney is actually recycled, just like it would on any other silos.

If you notice, when you're not very well hydrated, your urine volume goes down. It's darker in color. Well, that's because your kidney's job is basically to take waste products out and put it into a very concentrated form so as to reabsorb what you don't need, and not get rid of extra water. So basically, the long and short end of it, your kidneys are going to be able to recycle it and there is no added stress. So if you're otherwise healthy, you don't have a pre-existing condition, your kidneys aren't going to liquefy. Almost biweekly I would say, we get an idiot who posts something stupid and uninformed on there about how creatine liquefies your kidneys or something stupid that doesn't make any sense.

So it's nonsense. It's not true. Supplement companies, us, plenty of other people don't have incentive for people to get their kidneys liquefied. It's not a good business model. Other things, will I get bloated? Well no. Now it is true that creatine will hyper hydrate muscle cells to make you a little more full, it's drying water into the cells, intracellular water. It's not like subcutaneous fluid beneath your skin from sodium. And even that is an acute reaction which is easily balanced out. We have another video out on the myth of sodium being so bad and constantly keeping you perpetually bloated. If your body wants to maintain homeostasis, there's ways to combat that, so it's just not true. And actually there are plenty of people we know that have competed in bodybuilding shows, and actually stay on creatine, the natural guys, especially, because they like that feeling of being fuller, because a lot of guys, they do all of this carb depleting, carb bloating. Whether or not you have to do that is a different topic, but the bottom line is it's not going to bloat you.

I'm on creatine right now, and I think I'm pretty lean right now. I'm not really holding a lot of water in my skin, and so, I don't know, I guess you may want to judge for that. I don't know. I'm not going to take my shirt off here, but there are plenty videos out there of people who do that, so maybe one of these days. Do you lose all of your muscles when you come off of creatine? No, that's silly. That's preposterous. If you continue to eat as you were before, and all other things being equal, you're training hard and stuff, your body is not just all of a sudden going to say, hey, let me breakdown all of this muscle that you were able to build. No, it's not going to happen. It's not true.

Will you lose weight, yes, slightly, because some of the water is going to be drawn out. But the muscle tissue you were able to build, and the performance enhancement benefits you get, they don't just go away from building extra muscle, it just doesn't go away. Some of the performance enhancing benefits I should say may go down if you get off of creatine, but you can always go back on. But while you were on it, those benefits would have let hopefully if you trained properly and was guided directly. You build more muscle which isn't going to melt away or disappear.

What other theories are out there? It's going to morph into fat. That's another one that's, it doesn't happen. It doesn't make any sense. Will it dehydrate you? No. it will not dehydrate you. You say, well, I should drink X amount of water. Well you should always drink plenty of water. You know, a good way is to kind of read your pee, is kind of the way that we would say it. If your pee is clear to a high yellow that means you're pretty hydrated. The volume of your urine matters, too. If you're on somebody's multi-vitamin, you're going to be pissing green, maybe more telling of your multi-vitamin. You might want to switch that up. But that's something else to consider.

So the bottom line is guys go with creatine monohydrate in general. Now whether it's with other things in it, because sometimes you add the protein powders, look for a dose of about three to five grams, ideally Creapure. If you want to load on it, load on it for three to five days. The first three to five days, take 15 to 20 grams. It's cheap. It's not like it's going to break the bank if you do that. That will speed up your saturation, and you'll start to realize the effects faster. From there, do a maintenance dose of three to five grams a day. You can do it on an empty stomach in water, that's fine. There's some evidence that shows that it's actually better, or you can do it food. I wouldn't do it with a huge meal, because there are some evidence shows that's not the best, but you'll still absorb it. It's not like you won't. But if it's just convenient for you to throw it in a post-workout shake, if that's what you do after a workout, that's fine.

So that's generally the conclusions we can draw. You know, a lot of these things, when we talk about them, there's not a one-size fits all answer. You know we get questions, hey, if I take this whey gainer, will I gain wait? Well, I can't just answer that without knowing how many calories you're taking, in. Otherwise, what else are you doing in terms of activity? So anyone who tells you that there's just this one-size fits all answer and that we're all going to react the same to everything, we know that based on research, that's not the case. We're biological organisms. We have different hormones, the way we apportion food, aka food is going to be different. You know, we're all not going to look the same obviously.

So that being said, I hope I was able to answer these questions for you guys. Again, they come up time and time again on our other creatine video. So I hope I was able to knock it all out, and I really hope I didn't forget because we answered all of those questions. If you do have others though, please don't hesitate to post them. I'm happy to answer them, just post them in the comments section. Also you can check up out at Thanks for watching.

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