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Creatine: How Much to Take and When

© Ray Sahelian MD, Dave Tuttle
 (Excerpted from Creatine: Nature's Muscle Builder, Avery Publishing Group, 1996)

Second, the amount of creatine you need for your loading phase depends on your exercise program. Even a sedentary 70 kg (155 lb) person uses up two grams of creatine each day. Rates of creatine metabolism for active individuals are much higher. Consequently, you will be "burning" part of your creatine dosage even while you are loading it. This means that not all of your loading dose goes into your muscles' storage bins. Part of it gets used up for fuel during your workouts. The amount consumed, of course, depends on the workout level of your exercise routine, which is a combination of its length, intensity and frequency. That is why the loading dosage for a 70 kg athlete varies from 12 to 16 grams and the dosage for an athlete over 100 kg (more than 225 lb) ranges from 16 to 20 grams per day.

Base your loading dosage on your present bodyweight. Don't think "I want to weigh 225, so I'll load at that level." While creatine will help you to gain muscle mass, taking too much too soon can definitely set you back, particularly if you wind up getting diarrhea from overdose. (Try putting on weight if you have the runs!) Start out with the appropriate loading dose based on your current weight, and then change your maintenance dose over time as you gain size. This approach will keep your creatine stores full at all times and will minimize the amount of nutrient (and money) you waste.

The Maintenance Phase
The maintenance phase is the period of time after your loading phase. Once you have filled your muscles with creatine to their maximum capacity, you only need to consume enough creatine to keep your storage bins full at all times. It's similar to topping off the tank of your car's gasoline supply. That way you can gain all of the benefits of creatine supplementation without placing undue stress on your kidneys.

Maintenance dosages are also related to your exercise level and bodyweight. As we noted earlier, both of these factors influence the amount of creatine you need. The higher your workout level, the more creatine you will metabolize during your physical activity. Also, the more muscle you have, the more storage capacity you have to keep full. The recommended dosages are shown in Table 3. Your dosage should ideally be divided into two or three servings. Servings should be no more than five grams, since larger doses have caused diarrhea in some athletes. You should also drink a half-liter (pint) of water with each dose. If you eat more than a half-kilo (about a pound) of meat each day, you should reduce these dosages by a gram or two depending on your consumption. If you are a vegetarian, you should increase these dosages by the same amount to account for the lack of dietary creatine.

The Best Way to Take It
Creatine monohydrate is a white powder that resembles table sugar. It is odorless and virtually tasteless. If you notice an odor when you open the container, or if you are able to taste something bitter in the liquid you drink it with, this indicates the presence of an impurity. Your creatine has either been cut with another less expensive ingredient or there has been a mistake in labeling at the supplement factory. In either case, you should return the unused container to the manufacturer and demand a replacement. Please note, however, that such impurities are quite rare. We just want you to be prepared in case the unusual happens.

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About The Author
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is a popular and respected physician who has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, Dateline NBC, and CNN, and quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek He is the bestselling author of Mind Boosters, Natural Sex Boosters, and ...more
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