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Is Creatine Loading Necessary?

Posted Jan 04 2012 5:00am

This is a guest post by John McKierna, the owner of Supplementhelper.com

Is Creatine Loading Necessary?

When supplementing creatine, one option is to complete what is known as a loading phase at the beginning of the cycle, to increase creatine-muscle saturation. Creatine cycles are commonly done in 4-8 week periods. The loading phase, of the creatine cycle, is done during the first week of the cycle, usually lasting 5 to 7 days.

During this first week (A.K.A. the loading phase) 20 to 30 g of creatine per day are taken. After the loading phase, the dosage is decreased to 2 to 5 g per day, for the remainder of the cycle. The creatine loading phase is an optional part of the creatine cycle. It is not necessary to get good results with creatine, however it may provide certain benefits. 

What Type of Creatine do I use in a Loading Phase?

Loading phases are pretty much exclusive to creatine monohydrate. If you are using another type of creatine like Kre alkalyn or Creatine Hydrochloride, you don’t need to complete a loading phase. In fact, in many cases the manufacturer’s instructions specifically say not to. 

How to Load Creatine Properly

20 grams/day is more than enough to satisfy a loading phase. This amount needs to be split up into 4 daily doses of 5 grams each. You can determine your exact creatine dosage according to your body weight (you should take around 0.3 grams of creatine/kilogram of your body weight). The body can only absorb so much creatine at once. Taking 20 grams in one serving won’t help you because the majority of it will be converted into the by product creatinine, which may actually hurt you.

Taking creatine before and after workouts, during a loading phase, will benefit you the most. Taking creatine before workouts increases muscle carnosine, which delays fatigue and thus helps your muscle do more work. Taking creatine after workouts can aid in recovery.

After The 5-7 day loading Phase is complete, supplement 2-5 grams per day for the remainder of the cycle, on both training and non-training days.

Without a loading Phase

Without a loading Phase you’ll want to supplement approximately 5 grams/per day from start the start to the end of your cycle. You can either split the dose into 2 (I would recommend before and after training) or take one 5 gram serving per day. Keep this serving consistent from start to finish on both training and non-training days.

Benefits of Creatine Loading 

The main argument for creatine loading is that I will help you reach your goals faster. By saturating your muscles with creatine in the first week you will begin to see results almost immediately. Without a loading phase it may take a little longer to see results however the results will be just as good. There haven’t been a lot quality studies specifically on creatine loading. However, there have been high quality studies on the use of creatine monohydrate in general and they prove that its effective for increasing muscle strength and size. Wheather or not you are complete a loading phase, most will see results with creatine monohydrate

Possible Risks/Side Effects of Creatine Loading

Some of the possible side effects of creatine loading include upset stomach and muscle cramping. The most serious possible side effect that may be associated with taking large doses of creatine is kidney damage. Although kidney damage from creatine use is uncommon, increasing the dosage increases this possibility. That is why I always recommend using the smallest effective dose.

“Creatine appears to be generally safe, although when it is taken at high doses there is the potential for serious side effects, such as kidney damage. High doses may also stop the body from making its own creatine.” ~ University of Maryland Medical Center

Should I do a Loading Phase?

Some people may benefit more from the loading phase than others. In all, the benefits of a loading phase, in my opinion, are limited, however, Some people may still want to experiment with the loading phase for themselves. If you are eager to see results almost immediately, completing a loading phase can accomplish this. If you are someone who is more concerned with possible side effects and is not concerned with getting quick results you may want to skip it.

John McKiernan is a personal trainer who enjoys researching information on bodybuilding, supplements, diets, health tips and more. He is the owner of Supplementhelper.com where he shares knowledge and advice about popular bodybuilding and health supplements.

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