Creatine is a molecule found naturally in muscle cells that helps your muscles produce energy during exercise. Many athletes take creatine as a supplement in order to help gain muscle, enhance strength, and improve performance.
In high-intensity exercise, creatine appears to increases the protein stores in your muscles, resulting in more energy, an increased workload, improved cell signaling, and reduced protein breakdown, among other benefits. While many athletes benefit from creatine, it’s also been proven helpful in non-athletes.
Creatine may provide several other health benefits, such as protecting against neurological disease. One study in children with traumatic brain injury observed a 70% reduction in fatigue and a 50% reduction in dizziness. In vegetarian adults, taking a creatine supplement showed a 50% improvement in a memory test and a 20% improvement in intelligence test scores.
If you’re considering adding a creatine supplement to your diet, consider first speaking to your doctor about dosage. Many people start with a loading phase, which can lead to a rapid increase of muscle stores of creatine. For the loading phase, you can take 20 grams per day for five to seven days. This can be split into four, five-gram servings.
Following this period, you can take three to five grams per day to help maintain high levels within your muscles. You can stick with this dosage for a long period of time.
If you choose to skip the loading phase, you can simply start by consuming three to five grams of creatine per day; however, it may take 3–4 weeks to maximize your muscle stores.
Since creatine pulls water into your muscle cells, it’s a good idea to take your supplement with a glass of water and stay well hydrated throughout the day.