How Long Does It Take For Creatine To Work?

Written By Michael Hall

Proud father of two beautiful daughters and a seasoned ISSA certified personal trainer with over 15 years of experience in the industry. 

How long does it take for Creatine to work? If you are someone who uses sports supplements, you may have heard of Creatine since it is one of the most popular muscle-building sports supplements for improving training performance. However, there is a lot of confusion about Creatine and how to utilize it for maximum impact. Some critics even argue that it is unsafe and can damage one’s internal organs, among other accusations.

If you would like to add Creatine to your list of supplements, you should sit back, relax and read this information-packed article till the end, as it will answer all your queries. Here we break down what Creatine is all about, how to use it with and without loading, and what benefits it has to offer. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What Is Creatine?

How long does it take for Creatine to work, and what does it do? Creatine is a natural substance found in human muscle cells. This substance is a natural trigger that boosts muscle energy production when lifting heavy weights or engaging in high-intensity exercises. Despite being a natural substance produced by the human body, sports scientists have been able to replicate it by producing a synthetic version that is safe and effective for athletes and muscle builders. 

The synthetic version (creatine monohydrate) works like the natural Creatine in the body, boosting exercise performance and enhancing strength. The chemical components of lab-formulated Creatine are similar to natural amino acids that trigger protein production.

It is also important to note that the human body creates and stores half of its Creatine from the food we consume, especially from seafood and red meat, while the kidneys and liver produce the other half from amino acids. So, by replicating Creatine in chemical form, sports scientists have helped athletes boost their performance significantly and in ways that may have been impossible without it.

Users of Creatine experience a significant increase in muscle mass, increase strength and recover much faster after rigorous training sessions.

How Long Does It Take For Creatine To Kick In

In the previous paragraph, we explained Creatine in detail and differentiated between the natural version created by the human body and the chemical versions doctored in the lab, but we are sure you would want to know how long it takes before this energy-boosting substance takes effect when taken.

We have the answer.

First, you should know that Creatine is like any supplement, so it takes some time before it kicks in. Taking Creatine before hitting the gym and expecting a tremendous energy surge will disappoint you; that is not how Creatine works.

Furthermore, people react to the effect of the substance differently, so the time required for it to kick in is not the same for everybody. Factors like sex, diet, and age determine how quickly Creatine works. This is where loading comes in.

Do you load, or do you not load Creatine? That is the fundamental question for many users. Some users load theirs by taking 5 grams of this supplement 4-5 times daily for the first week before their muscles begin to respond positively to it, and after then, they may start taking smaller doses, as small as three grams. For others, it may take longer for their muscles to react.

So suffice it to say that the time it takes for the supplement to kick in will depend on the volume taken, how much is taken within the shortest possible time, and other factors. Another factor that will determine how fast it works is also down to whether you take it without loading or with loading.

How Long Does It Take For Creatine To Work Without Loading?

Taking Creatine without loading is a popular option for many, but how long will you have to wait before you start seeing results?

Before answering the question, we must explain what “loading” means.

Loading simply means taking small doses of creating over an extended period of time. When taken in smaller doses, it is referred to as taking Creatine without loading. So back to the question; how long does it take to work?

If you take Creatine without loading (small doses), you may have to wait 10 days or more before seeing the results, but it may happen sooner for some users. Kindly note that creatine supplements have varying dosage limitations, so the results may vary from user to user.

Also, age, diet, sex, and other external factors may influence the impact. Many creatine supplement manufacturers recommend a slight loading face of 15-25 grams daily for a start, while others do not recommend loading at all but fewer grams to sustain the maintenance phase.

If you want to use Creatine without loading, take it 1-3 times daily to build your muscles gradually but surely, or take it three times on the days you work out and once when you don’t. This will shore up your muscles and ensure that the supplement is always present in your muscles.

How Long Does It Take For Creatine To Work With Loading?

So how long will it take for Creatine to work with loading? And if you want faster results by taking higher doses of the supplement (loading), how long would you wait to witness muscle mass growth?

Although several factors will determine effectiveness, most users begin seeing results 5-7 days after taking Creatine with loading. The standard creatine loading phase consists of taking 20-30 grams of the creatine monohydrate supplement daily for 5-7 days to form maximum muscle saturation.

After the first week, they drop their intake to 3-5 grams daily to maintain the already elevated creatine levels in the muscles. 

The idea behind loading Creatine is to maximize the effect by ensuring sustenance in the muscles. After the loading phase, switching to the maintenance phase by reducing dosage will not lead to a drop in creatine levels; instead, the user will sustain the quantity already in the bloodstream.

Is it necessary to load Creatine?

The answer is no. You don’t have to load Creatine to enjoy its benefits. The only benefit of loading is that you get to see results a lot faster than usual, but if you don’t load, you will still enjoy the same benefits, but it will take longer. Loading is like taking a shortcut to muscle building as it raises the creatine levels in the human muscles.

Safest Methods Of Taking Creatine

There are different methods of taking Creatine, but unfortunately, not all are safe. 

We understand that you probably want faster results, but the last thing you want is to jeopardize your health in any way; that is why we recommend using safe and trusted methods. So what are the ways to take Creatine?

We recommend two methods.

Through The Mouth: Oral application is the safest method for most users. You can take up to 25 doses of Creatine for up to 14 days or more orally or 4-5 grams daily for a year or more. The caveat here is to take sufficient doses but not abuse them. You may experience dizziness, dehydration, or even cramps if you overuse them. Never abuse the use of Creatine; stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations or your doctor’s advice as the amount may vary for different individuals based on your requirements.

Skin Application:  Another method is through applications. Applying Creatine to your skin will be digested and broken down by your body, but this may lead to itching and redness. If you must use this method, we advise you to apply it on a limited skin area and watch for after-effects before expanding it to other areas of your skin.

Both options work regardless of whether you load or do not load Creatine. Have a dosage plan and stick to it. Also, ensure that you maintain the same method so you can gauge the impact instead of switching from one method to another.

Users introduce a few other methods, but we choose not to include them above because we cannot verify their safety. Misuse of Creatine can be counter productive, so we recommend you stick to safe methods that work and not experiment with your body to avoid unfavorable or injurious effects.

How Does Creatine Work?

The science behind creatine loading is relatively straightforward. When you ingest Creatine, it binds with phosphate molecules and converts them to creatine molecules. You need to know that creatine supplements regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the body’s main energy source, and this is the mineral creatine converts.

ATP is responsible for powering processes in the human body, and when active, it creates even more ATP. Furthermore, ATP produces energy by hydrolyzing the phosphate group in the form of heat, which drives body processes, as already explained.

So, in a nutshell, Creatine helps to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and boosts muscle power. Taking it as a supplement boosts the depleted natural Creatine reserves your body produces, increasing the ATP your body needs to increase muscle gains, power, and output.

Benefits Of Taking Creatine

Many trainers recommend creatine loading, and it has become a standard practice for athletes who require larger muscle masses to perform at optimal levels, especially weightlifters. So what benefits do you stand to enjoy if you start loading Creatine? Here are a few.

  • If you load Creatine, you get to enjoy an increase in muscle mass which will translate to higher strength within a short time (one week rather than one month).
  • Loading leads to faster creatine saturation levels, so the supplement remains in your bloodstream at all times.
  • Loading will help you train much faster and better since you will be able to lift heavier weights on your own due to increased muscle strength.
  • You will recover faster after every workout session and even avoid injuries and jet lag since your muscles will be stronger and under less stress when lifting weights.

As you can see, loading has benefits, but we advise caution. Before you decide to go this route, seek advice from an expert and be aware of the potential drawbacks (if any) before you start loading Creatine.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine?

If you stop taking Creatine, you will begin to notice significant changes in your body and performance levels, but how fast will the changes take effect? It will depend on how reliant you have been on the supplement and how long you go without it. Let’s review some of the changes to expect when you stop taking Creatine.

Drop In Creatine Levels

The first noticeable change is a drop in creatine levels. When you stop, Creatine will drop to its original levels, the level produced naturally. However, this drop will not occur overnight but will take time. You may experience sustained creatine levels for up to four weeks after you stop taking the supplement.

Drop-In Muscle Strength

Your muscle strength will drop, but it is hard to say by how much since several neurological factors are at play. You may begin to lose muscle strength after four weeks, and when this happens, you will discover that you can no longer lift the kind of weights you are used to with elevated creatine levels.

Decrease In Muscle Mass

As your muscle strength drops, so will your muscle mass decrease. Over time, your muscle mass will shrink and look smaller. However, we can’t say how much of the loss will be down to the depletion of creatine reserves because other factors may cause mass loss as well.

For instance, you can lose muscle mass with decreased training, low calories, or illness. If you reduce the intensity of your training, your muscles may also be affected as well. So therefore, if you plan to stop Creatine at some point, we recommend maintaining your training routine and eating healthy foods to maintain your muscles.

Weight Loss

If your creatine levels drop, you will experience weight loss partly due to a drop in water weight. Large doses of Creatine lead to higher water retention, which makes you weightier, so a drop in Creatine leads to a drop in water levels which translates to weight loss.

Drop-In Creatine Production

Continuous ingestion of Creatine leads to an increase in the production of natural Creatine, but if you stop taking the supplement, your natural creatine production may likely be adversely affected. While your body will continue to produce natural Creatine, there will be lesser doses in your bloodstream and muscles.

The effects on your body when you stop taking Creatine is not a foregone conclusion as studies are still on to determine the impact on the human body, but these five points espoused above are noticeable changes you will notice after four weeks should you stop taking Creatine.

Final Thoughts

The human body produces Creatine but only in small doses that do not help you boost strength and increase your muscle mass as much. However, when you take creatine supplements, you boost your creatine supply significantly, which can help you train better and recover faster.

You can increase muscle strength faster by taking Creatine in higher doses (loading) in the first week, or you can build strength slowly but surely by taking it in smaller doses (without loading).

 Aside from loading, how long does it take for Creatine to work will depend on other factors too. We recommend that you choose the option that works for you based on your needs, but avoid the temptation of overusing it. As with all drugs and supplements, moderation and consistency are the way to go.