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Loading Creatine: Should You Do It? (Explained)

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

Scientifically Reviewed by Michael Sharpe, MSc.


Creatine does not need to be loaded. However, it can reduce the time until creatine stores are increased to their maximum (instead of 28 days it can be as short as 7 days), but loading is not a necessity of creatine supplementation.


The only downsides loading is more creatine will be used and you may get stomach discomfort and other minor adverse effects associated with creatine.


scoop of creatine being poured into bottle

What Actually Is Loading?

Creatine is often taken in such a way that a "loading" phase is used before moving on to a "maintenance" phase.


There are three stages to "cycling" creatine, as shown below.


  1. Loading: For 5-7 days, take 20-25g (or 0.3g/kg)

  2. Maintenance: After that, take 3-5g every day for 3-4 weeks

  3. Cycle Off: Take a week or two off of creatine before starting again


Many creatine studies utilise a loading procedure, whereas others do not.



Is It Needed?

Creatine loading is not needed. Many studies use a daily dosage of 5-10 grams, or even lower amounts in some studies, such as 2-3 grams.


In these trials, even though they did not "load" the creatine, they still experienced the same benefits that creatine provides.


Is There a Difference?

Creatine loading causes quicker creatine saturation in muscles, as well as higher acute strength and body weight gains (water retention).


creatine loading vs maintenance dosage muscle saturation graph

Loading creatine may provide some psychological benefit due to slightly enhanced strength and the "full" feeling that creatine may provide.


Taking a lower dosage over a longer length of time will ultimately reach the same saturation threshold as taking a larger dose, but it will take longer.


  • Loading creatine will reach peak muscle creatine saturation in 7 days.

  • Taking a maintenance dose of creatine will reach peak muscle creatine saturation in 28 days.



 

The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.

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