And should you be doing it?
We already know that creatine is not just one of the most widely used (and researched) supplements. We also know that it works. But there’s still one question creatine users can’t agree on: should you load it, or just take a steady dose?
In case this is the first time you’re reading about creatine, here’s a quick look at how it works. Creatine is a natural compound which is found in red meat (and in our own muscle tissue). Taken as a supplement, it increases the energy your body can use for short bursts of intense exercise. Like lifting! Creatine can also boost cell fullness (aka “the pump”), help with recovery, and lead to increased strength and muscle size over time.
What Is Creatine Loading?
People are split on the topic of creatine loading. This involves taking a higher dose of creatine for an initial 7-10 day period and then reverting to a normal daily dose. There is logic behind creatine loading. Its fans think it’ll saturate your muscle’s phosphocreatine stores and you will see the benefits. Some people feel that loading creatine makes them look bigger, particularly whilst training. This gives them a physiological boost to push on with hard training sessions.
Is A Loading Phase Necessary?
The jury is still out. There isn’t any research to prove that loading creatine is more beneficial than letting our body’s stores build up from a steady daily dose. But creatine is safe and cost-effective, so a loading strategy won’t risk your physique or your wallet. Some people respond better than others to creatine supplementation. You won’t know until you try.
How To Load Your Creatine
Creatine loading only works if you are new to taking creatine or if you’ve taken a break from your daily dose. If your maintenance dose is 5g a day, you could try loading on 5g, 4-5 times a day for 7 days. Spread those doses throughout the day, and take them with carbohydrate meals or snacks. You should also increase your water intake slightly during this phase. After this loading week, move to a regular daily dose (5g/day). If 20-25g sounds too much, calculate your loading intake by bodyweight. 0.3g creatine per kilo of bodyweight is a good guide.
About the Author:
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.