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Making Gains: The Role of Creatine Supplements

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD
February 17, 2024
March 7, 2024

Are you into strength training? If you are, chances are you've had those moments of wondering, "Should I be taking creatine supplement? Can I really make gains without them?" Well, let's turn to science for some answers in this article.

How Does Creatine Promote Muscle Growth?

Before we delve into the significant impact of creatine on our energy, let's familiarize ourselves with the function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is like the body's energy currency. It powers essential functions such as keeping our heart beating, healing our skin, and supporting activities we need to survive. However, ATP isn't an infinite resource; it depletes rapidly, especially during more demanding exercises.

So, how does creatine fit into the picture? Stored in our muscles, creatine helps to facilitate more energy release when it senses ATP is running low. Imagine creatine as the lubricant that keeps your bicycle going when it's a bit dull. Having a good amount of creatine in your body might enable you to do more reps and lift heavier during your workouts. That's how creatine promotes muscle growth.

A lot of research has been conducted on the effectiveness of creatine. A meta-analysis in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition highlights creatine's effectiveness in increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training. Another meta-analysis, published in Nutrients in May 2023, also supports this, suggesting that creatine, when combined with a structured strength training program, leads to better muscle growth.

Can I Reduce Workout Intensity While Taking Creatine?

Now, here's a frequently asked question: “Can I reduce workout intensity while taking creatine?” The simple answer is no. Taking creatine doesn't mean you can skip workouts and still expect muscle growth. Creatine is a catalyst, not a magic powder. So, even with creatine on your side, it is still up to you to stay committed to your workouts to achieve the muscle gains you desire.

Is Creatine Safe for Everyone?

Creatine is generally safe, but if you are experiencing kidney-related health issues, please discuss with your Care Team or doctor to make sure that it's right for you

What's the Recommended Creatine Intake?

Our muscle stores of creatine levels are typically around 60% to 80% full. In order to fill up the stores quickly and see results sooner, some may use a 'loading protocol.' This protocol suggests taking 5 grams of creatine four times a day for 5 to 7 days. After that, move on to a lower maintenance dose of 5 grams per day. However, you don’t have to follow this regimen if it sounds too intense. You can start straight into taking 5 grams of creatine daily to gradually boost your levels in a more tapered manner. Both methods work.

When Should I Take Creatine?

Some research suggests that the best time to take creatine is post-workout because it can boost muscle recovery. However, current research is not sufficient to prove this conclusively. So, if you ask me, taking it close to workout time is good enough. It's also important to note that on rest days, don’t skip taking creatine to ensure sufficient stores.


Remember, creatine isn't a shortcut to muscle gains. You still need to pair creatine intake with routine strength training and maintain a balanced diet. Work hard and stay consistent. It's through discipline that you'll truly begin to see noteworthy gains and achieve your dream body!

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