A beginner's guide to creatine

Whether you’re just starting out in the gym or you’re an experienced athlete, creatine is one of the best and most well-researched supplements for improving strength, increasing muscle mass and supporting recovery. 

Despite being one of the most well-researched supplements, there is often still a lot of confusion and scepticism when it comes to creatine. 

We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions on creatine below.

What is creatine? 

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound which can boost physical performance during short-term, high-intensity exercise by increasing the body’s ability to rapidly produce energy. It’s especially helpful in situations where there is a high energy demand such as a high intensity workout, heavy weight lifting session or when exercising in the heat. 

About half of our daily need for creatine is obtained from our diet and the other half is synthesised in the liver and kidneys from amino acids and stored in the skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine.

How much creatine should you consume a day?

Depending on muscle mass, the body needs to replenish between 1-3g of creatine a day. Athletes who do a lot of intense training may need to consume 5-10g of creatine a day.  General recommendations for creatine supplementation are between 3-5g per day or 0.1g/kg of body mass per day. 

Can you get creatine from food or do you have to supplement?

Because creatine is a naturally occurring molecule stored in muscle tissue, you can mainly find it in red meat and seafood. If you’re active, it can be difficult to get enough creatine through diet alone, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. 

What are the benefits of taking creatine?

Research has suggested several benefits of supplementing with creatine for performance including:

  • Increases physical performance during short-term, high-intensity exercise
  • Increased muscle strength and recovery
  • Increased muscle mass when combined with resistance training
  • Aids the body's natural stores of creatine

Does creatine cause water retention? 

Whilst there is some evidence that supplementing with creatine may increase water retention in the short term, most studies have found it doesn’t increase water retention over longer periods of time .

Is creatine a steroid?

Whilst the physiological and performance outcomes of creatine and anabolic steroids can be similar in terms of increases in muscle strength, power and size, creatine has a completely different chemical structure to anabolic steroids.

Does creatine cause kidney damage?

Research suggests that creatine supplementation, when ingested at the recommended doses doesn’t result in kidney damage in healthy adults. This is general information so please seek advice from medical professionals if you are concerned about supplementing with creatine. 

Does creatine increase fat mass?

Research has found that creatine supplementation doesn’t increase fat mass in individuals engaging in various kinds of exercise including swimming, rugby, bodybuilding and weight training. 

Is a creatine loading phase required?

Accumulating evidence suggests that you don’t have to load creatine and daily doses of creatine supplementation (3-5g) are effective for increasing intramuscular creatine stores so support performance and recovery.

Is creatine only helpful in strength and power-based forms of exercise?

Creatine can be helpful for a variety of athletes and exercisers because of its role in glycogen replenishment which can promote recovery and prevent overtraining. Some studies have also found creatine supplementation could reduce muscle damage, inflammation and muscle soreness after endurance exercise, as well as helping athletes to adjust to training in the heat.

What type of creatine is best?

Creatine monohydrate has been the most extensively studied form of creatine supplement and research shows it is the optimal choice for health, performance and recovery. Creapure® Creatine is a branded source of creatine monohydrate, made by German manufacturers AlzChem. We offer both