Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular performance-enhancing dietary supplements . It is particularly popular among strength athletes and bodybuilders. In fact, I hardly know anyone who has been doing weight training for a long time who hasn’t done it at least once for a while.
The spread of creatine in fitness and weight training is mainly due to the fact that it is one of the few really useful supplements that, when used correctly, have a clear, proven benefit for athletes without side effects. Both increases in strength and the building of muscle mass are proven to be promoted by the correct intake. This is of course absolutely in the interests of the user.
However, there are still some widespread rumors, misconceptions and prejudices against creatine monohydrate. For this reason, I decided to write this comprehensive article that aims to educate you about the extremely popular supplement. I have taken up the most frequently asked questions on the topic and tried to answer them as understandably and easily as possible.
I have divided the article into the following sections along with common questions for a better overview. If you are particularly interested in something, you can go directly to the relevant section using the link provided:
If you have read this article, you should know enough that no one can fool you in this area in the future. You then know everything that is necessary to use creatine yourself to support your training or to be able to consciously decide against it.
At the very end of the article, I have also linked a few studies that support my statements.
What creatine monohydrate is and how it works
Creatine monohydrate is a non-protein-forming, non- essential amino acid , which plays an important role in the energy supply process in the muscles of all vertebrates.
The conversion of ATP to ADP (ATP is the fastest energy store in the muscles) and vice versa always takes place with the participation of creatine or creatine phosphate. Above all, the short-term energy available to the muscle can be increased by adequately filled creatine stores.
Your body is able to produce creatine itself. This happens in the liver or kidney, where it is synthesized from various amino acids, i.e. converted. Of course, this only works if you consume enough protein and don’t have a protein deficiency . In the body, the creatine is mostly stored and used in the skeletal muscles. Accordingly, it can also be added naturally only through meat and fish.
If creatine and creatine monohydrate are mentioned here, it must be said that they are the same thing. Creatine monohydrate is just the (more correct) chemical name for pure creatine.
Why should you take creatine monohydrate? What effect can be expected?
Put simply, a correct intake of creatine monohydrate, for the reasons outlined above, potentially improves the energy supply of your muscles.
Creatine is not an essential amino acid, so it can be produced by your body, but not in infinitely large quantities. Your body manages to produce about 1-2 grams of creatine a day. This, too, is only possible if he has enough protein available; So you should always have enough protein-rich foods to take to you. In principle, this amount is also sufficient for all basic body functions. With 1-2 grams a day, your creatine stores in the muscles are anything but overfilled. With this amount you are not optimally prepared for top athletic performance.
I’ll try to describe it briefly and simply: For the rapid movement of your muscles, energy from the aforementioned ATP is required. There is always a dynamic equilibrium between ATP and creatine in the muscle. If a lot of creatine is stored in the muscle, there is also more ATP. This means that more energy is available at short notice.
By additionally taking creatine monohydrate, the creatine storage in the muscle can be increased or filled in a targeted manner and thereby the performance level during short-term intensive training loads (e.g. during IK training or hypertrophy / muscle building training ) can be increased. This means that you can train more intensively and make faster progress accordingly.
In addition, your muscles also draw more water due to the greater creatine storage. This leads to a plumper look, which is definitely desirable for muscle building training. At least that also has psychological effects.
With endurance training, the direct positive effect of creatine on performance is limited. There are studies that suggest that the regular intake of creatine monohydrate reduces cell damage in various endurance sports, which can also have positive effects on the training result, but I am not aware of any direct reference to performance. The situation is different for short-haul performance.
What is the correct creatine intake? (Amount / duration / frequency)
As one of the most frequently examined dietary supplements, the positive effects of an additional intake of creatine have been proven in several hundred studies. In fact, a meta-analysis is linked at the end of this article, in which the results of 100 studies were consolidated. I have also had very positive experiences with creatine monohydrate myself. For the best results, however, the right creatine intake is also very important.
Fortunately, the correct intake with regard to the amount, duration and frequency has already been examined many times and it is possible to make well verifiable recommendations here.
How often should you take creatine?
A reasonable frequency for creatine intake can easily be determined. As soon as the supply is interrupted, your creatine stores empty again quite quickly after a day. If you choose to take creatine monohydrate, then you should take it every day. If you interrupt the intake again and again, then you will have significantly less or no effect from your intake.
Don’t get me wrong, you will not lose your progress if you forget to take your creatine dose once every few weeks. But if this happens more often or for several days in a row, you will have to accept significant performance losses. Depending on the structure of your muscle building training plan , the planned progression can be made more difficult by the resulting fluctuations.
This is also due to the fact that creatine needs a certain warm-up phase of a few days before it can develop its full effectiveness. For this reason, many athletes take a higher dose at the beginning to shorten this phase. After a few days of non-use, however, the memory is already shut down too far for the warm-up phase to start all over again.
How much creatine monohydrate should you take?
If you want to take creatine for a longer period of time, which I can only recommend, I recommend a dose of about 5 grams a day. Most of the conclusive study results are based on an added creatine monohydrate amount of 3-5 grams per day. From practical experience, a dose of approx. 5 grams has proven to be very effective.
At the beginning of the intake, a so-called loading phase can be carried out in order to get into the optimal effect phase more quickly. In this phase, a significantly higher dose of up to 0.3 grams per kilo of body weight per day is taken for about a week in order to quickly get the creatine stores to the maximum level. However, such a charging phase is not necessary. Especially with long-term use, the possible short-term advantage is put into perspective and possible complaints from the high doses can be avoided.
Be sure to stick to the given dosages. An approach based on the motto “more helps more” will not get you any further and will only lead to problems because of the excessive dosage.
How long should you take creatine monohydrate?
Let me answer this question with another question: How long do you want to keep your muscles and their performance?
I think the answer is clear: basically forever. This is exactly the right time for creatine monohydrate supplementation. Taking creatine is one of the easiest ever. You just take 5 grams a day until the day you die.
Some time ago it was handled differently. Until a few years ago it was much more common to do so-called creatine cures . With such a cyclical intake, a loading phase (approx. 25 grams for one week) is always followed by a maintenance phase (approx. 3-5 grams for 3-4 weeks) and then a break of several weeks. However, this approach is outdated and there are numerous studies in favor of continuous use.
In addition, there are many practical reasons for long-term use. E.g. Symptoms usually do not occur with a continuous intake of 5 grams. Regularity is also helpful for creating habits . Sometimes when I take a break I forget that I should start again. But if I go through my creatine, I’ll take it through.
Possible weight fluctuations of up to 2 kilos due to water retention are not necessarily for everyone. This is due to the high dosages in the loading phase.
When is the best time to take creatine?
Since creatine is stored in your muscles and is not immediately broken down there, you do not have to be so specific about when to take it. If you make sure that you take it daily, then you are on the safe side. If you take it one day in the morning and another day in the evening it shouldn’t have any (major) effects.
For the sake of completeness, I want to mention that there is a relatively small study that found that taking it immediately after a workout can offer minimal benefit. So if that fits into your daily routine, you can do it that way. However, since I don’t have a daily exercise on my schedule, I prefer to make my daily food supplements a part of my morning ritual .
However, as already mentioned, you should make sure that you really take it every day if you want to get the maximum benefit from it .
More tips for taking creatine monohydrate
There are a few more things you can and should be aware of if you want to get the best possible results from your creatine intake. I would therefore like to give you the following tips on how to take it correctly:
- Take your creatine monohydrate with plenty of water and make sure to drink enough otherwise, this is the only way it can be completely absorbed and free of symptoms.
- Drink creatine dissolved in water as quickly as possible, as it shifts in the water over time. This is especially true at higher temperatures.
- It makes sense to take creatine monohydrate in combination with a source of sugar (e.g. in juice), as it can reach the muscles even faster due to an increasing insulin level.
Should you rather take creatine monohydrate or Kre-Alkalyn?
In the vast majority of cases, creatine is taken in the form of creatine monohydrate. The vast majority of creatine studies were carried out with this form. So it is by far the best researched.
However, there are now several other, more advanced types of creatine. The so-called Kre-Alkalyn is particularly popular here. This is a buffered creatine monohydrate, which should be able to reach the muscles faster and more undamaged due to an increased pH value. In theory, that makes perfect sense. In studies, however, no clear advantage of Kre-Alkalyn over the classic creatine monohydrate has been proven.
In addition, the Kre-Alkalyn is significantly more expensive, which in my opinion does not really justify a possibly minimal advantage.
The same is true for other popular creatine creations. Creatine hydrochloride, creatine ethyl ester (CEE), creatine malate or creatine liquid, to name just a few. The dietary supplement industry has been very creative here over the years when it comes to product creations. However, none of these creations was able to demonstrate a significantly better effect compared to the classic monohydrate. Some variants even do worse in comparison. Nevertheless, they are significantly more expensive.
However, there is probably a small number of so-called non-responders (assumption:> 1%) who do not respond to classic creatine monohydrate. In these people, the “normal” creatine has hardly any effect. According to the statements of those affected, better results were achieved in individual cases with alternative connections.
Which is better? Creatine capsules or creatine powder?
If you have decided to buy a Creation product due to the many positive effects of taking creatine, you will find that the supplement is available as a powder, in capsule form and sometimes even as tablets. Opinions differ a little about what the right variant is for whom. However, the fact is that with creatine monohydrate it makes no difference for your body with the same dosage whether you take it as a powder or in the form of pills.
Some of the special forms of creatine are only available in pill form. This could be because the powder would be inedible. Pure creatine powder is tasteless and can easily be added to other supplements.
In the following I have briefly summarized the most important advantages of creatine monohydrate powder and creatine in pill form
Benefits of creatine monohydrate in powder form:
My tendency is clearly towards creatine monohydrate as a powder. The price here is by far lower than the product in pill form. The powder can be wonderfully mixed with other supplements and, for example, can be drunk with a protein shake . It can also be wonderfully taken together before training with a training booster and / or together with a few BCAAs . Personally, I take it in the morning with my Athletic Greens *.
If you should opt for creatine monohydrate in powder form, I can only advise you to buy a micronized version, which scores with better solubility. I only use products made from the raw material Creapure from German manufacture. A very cheap creatine with this seal of approval is, for example, the Creapure at Bodybuilding-Depot *. There you get Fitvolution5 with my code Another five percent discount on all products.
If you prefer to order from Amazon, I recommend the Creapure monohydrate from Olimp, which I used to use:
Benefits of creatine monohydrate in pill form:
In certain situations, the pill form can of course also be beneficial. Some people just find it more convenient to pop a few pills than to shake (or stir) a shake. On the go, it can also be more convenient to carry a few pills than a can or sachet of white powder. Of course, this also applies to the correct dosage on the go. I can say from experience that when traveling it is neither advantageous to have a large bag of white powder and a precision balance with you, nor to have small 5 gram bags that have been weighed beforehand. 😉
I also rely on quality from Trostberg for the pill form. It is important to always rinse with enough water or juice when taking pills so that the absorption works as well as possible. The manufacturers with the corresponding seal of quality keep within limits. The premium manufacturer Weider offers such a product with its Pure Creatine Capsules * .
What side effects are to be expected from taking creatine?
First of all, creatine monohydrate is a very well-tolerated dietary supplement that can be taken without hesitation. This has now been proven in numerous studies.
Nevertheless, warnings are repeatedly issued against the ingestion and its side effects. Especially the kidneys and the liver should be able to be damaged by the creatine intake. However, I can reassure you: So far, no side effects have been detected in healthy people if the basic rules of use were observed.
One of these rules is to always drink enough water and not to take too much creatine monohydrate over a long period of time. If you do not stick to it, it can actually lead to unpleasant complaints. These include primarily digestive problems, especially in the form of gas and stomach cramps.
If you develop symptoms despite taking it correctly, I urgently advise you to consult a doctor. If you have liver and / or kidney problems, then you should definitely get the approval of your doctor before taking it.
Which is the best creatine product?
Similar to other supplements, the same applies to creatine monohydrate that it makes sense to attach importance to the highest quality standards.
Above all, you want to have a creatine monohydrate that is as pure as possible without impurities and pollutants. Getting the product as pure as possible, however, is laborious and costs the manufacturer a lot of money. He usually has to pass this on to the customer in the price and / or cut it off from his own margin. Unfortunately, such impurities and residues of toxins can usually only be discovered through laboratory analysis. Suppliers from very cheap manufacturers from Asia should therefore be treated with caution.
Also the effect is not always guaranteed due to improper storage for too long a period with cheap manufacturers. In the event of incorrect and long storage, the active ingredient disintegrates and becomes unusable. The users then wonder why creatine monohydrate has no effect on them.
For these reasons, I can only advise everyone to buy creatine from Germany. There is a large manufacturer in Trostberg that gives products made from its raw material the right to use the Creapure label on these products. Here you know that you have creatine that has been manufactured according to the strictest quality standards. The greater security and the better quality are definitely worth the manageable additional price to me.
Ideally, the creatine monohydrate that you want to buy is also on the Cologne list and is therefore also approved for competitive athletes.
My creatine product recommendation for powder
As mentioned before, I therefore recommend the Creapure monohydrate powder from Supplement Union or Olimp for powder. These both contain the German premium raw material Creapure. I have regularly consumed the products of both manufacturers for several years and have always been satisfied with the quality.
At Supplement Union, I was always particularly enthusiastic that the products (almost) all are really made in Germany and that the manufacturer is very transparent with its products. The products are regularly examined by independent laboratories and the reports are published. You can also order there directly from the manufacturer, which translates into a great price / performance ratio. Therefore, I am pleased that we have now concluded a cooperation ( everything about my cooperation with Bodybuilding-Depot ). This gives you Fitvolution5 with my code Another five percent discount on the already very cheap products.
My creatine product recommendation for capsules
For some time now, Supplement Union has also been offering Creapure in capsules in its own online shop Bodybuilding-Depot. If you prefer this form of administration or would like to have it at hand as an alternative, you can also find a great product here with my code Fitvolution5 a little cheaper.
In addition to S.U. Weider is the only manufacturer I know who also fills the Creapure raw material in capsules and the only one who sells these capsules on Amazon. As an absolute premium manufacturer from the USA, I can unreservedly recommend the products, as well as the Weider Pure Creatine Capsules * as an alternative to ordering from Amazon.
Your conclusion on creatine monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate, along with protein powder, is one of the most and best-researched supplements in the fitness sector. Its clearly positive effect, especially on weight training, has been proven many times. Used correctly, creatine gives you more power for your toughest workouts.
Contrary to many rumors, creatine is also a very safe and well-tolerated dietary supplement that, if taken correctly, can lead to significant increases in performance. With that you are all difficult basic exercises grew even better and managed to make even better progress in building your strength and muscle. It is therefore rightly one of the most widely consumed dietary supplements among strength and fitness athletes. For these reasons, creatine is one of the few useful supplements that I regularly recommend to my readers when they do weight training.
Even if creatine is now available in the most unusual variants, the proven creatine monohydrate is the most sensible variant. Whether you take the product as a powder or in capsules, that’s up to you. The effect is the same. One can only be more practical for you than the other.
While the time of ingestion is not so important, it is all the more important that you consume creatine monohydrate consistently and regularly in the correct dose in order to benefit from the positive effects. Take it regularly and it will help you reach your fitness goals even faster.
If your goal is to build muscle mass, I have something for you that can help you even more effectively. My Muscle Building Basics program contains everything you need in a structured manner to get your muscles to grow reliably in the least possible time.