Creatine intake: The most important questions and answers

Creatin Einnahme: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

Many know the problem, you train, adjust your diet and spend most of your salary on membership in a fitness center, but the muscle growth you want just doesn't happen as quickly as you'd hope.

In order to guarantee faster muscle growth, many athletes have been taking ceatin for a long time. Although creatine is an important component in the human body, it is possible to take this extraordinary substance as a supplement in order to achieve its effects even faster.

However, for some there are still some unresolved ambiguities that we will try to resolve in this post. For this reason, we will clearly deal with and answer the most important questions about creatine intake for you. In addition, you will also get useful tips and alternatives, so that there are no more concerns about taking creatine.

the essentials in brief

  • Creatine is naturally produced in the human body and is primarily found in skeletal muscle. The positive effects of creatine include more energy during exercise, faster muscle building, rapid recovery and effective injury prevention.
  • Taking creatine supplements can increase creatine levels in the body by about tenfold. The dosage is around 20-25g per day. (depending on body weight) These should be divided into 5g doses per 4 hours per day in order to achieve maximum effect.
  • Basically, taking creatine is particularly beneficial for short extreme sports. The first results are usually visible within 10 weeks.

Creatine intake: what you should know about it

Creatine is probably the most popular and most studied compound for athletes to significantly improve their performance in extreme sports. There are several reasons for this, as we will discuss in detail below. One reason creatine is so popular is that it comes in a variety of forms. So you can take creatine as a powder, energy drinks, energy bars and pills.

With hundreds of studies and explanations about creatine and creatine intake, it's easy to lose track. That's why you get a concrete summary of the questions about creatine in this amount.

Definition: What is Creatine?

This part might be interesting not only for chemists but also for anyone who wants to know exactly what they are consuming before taking it. Creatine is one of the so-called endogenous amino acids, which play an essential role in the conversion of adenosine triphosphate into energy. (1)

Creatine is produced in the liver, pancreas and kidneys and is mainly found in skeletal muscle. There it mainly contributes as a source of energy for the final endurance of the muscles. As a reserve, there is about 120-140 grams in the body of an adult weighing 70 kilograms. It is estimated that you excrete as much creatine every day as you took in per day. (1)

Why do you take creatine?

Since creatine is 95% found in skeletal muscle, this largely researched chemical is a major contributor to the maintenance of human muscle. Skeletal muscle is the muscle that takes care of moving arms and legs, for example. In other words, the muscle that gives you a bicep. (2)

In the human body, 95% of creatine is found in skeletal muscle.

In addition, creatine promotes muscle growth and muscle supply in the human body. For this reason, taking creatine supplements is often used by athletes to improve endurance during intense workouts. (1)

Creatine is currently one of the most important supplements for bodybuilders and anyone who wants to gain muscle mass. This is because when you take creatine supplements, your intramuscular creatine inventory increases significantly. In addition, some scientific studies have shown that taking creatine has a positive effect on rapid recovery after intense exercise. (2)

What is the effect of taking creatine?

We have already partially addressed the effect. In this part we will go into more detail about the effectiveness and discuss the multiple effects of creatine on the human body and especially on the muscles. There are many indications that taking creatine leads to increased resilience in primarily short-term extreme sports. (3)

man in the gym

Taking creatine promotes muscle growth and muscle regeneration after extreme sports. In addition, injuries are prevented so that you can start training again more quickly. (Image source: Anastase Maragos/unsplash)

Due to the increased adenosine triphosphate, which is released by taking creatine, the human body receives an additional energy boost, which is very useful in extreme sports. (4) As mentioned above, taking creatine will help you recover more quickly from exercise because injuries recover faster, allowing the body to be active again sooner. (2)

In addition, creatine is used in the body to act as a bridge for metabolic function between the brain and muscles. When taking creatine through supplements, for example, the creatine in the body can increase tenfold. (5) As a result, the effects of taking creatine in the human body are greatly enhanced and accelerated.

What Kind of Creatine Should You Take?

The most well-known and most tested type of creatine is called creatine monohydrate. With creatine monohydrate being the most widely studied in studies, most of the above effects are credited to this type of creatine.

This also means that the safety and risk of taking creatine has been studied primarily for creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate has been proven to have hardly any side effects for healthy people, on the contrary, creatine monohydrate contributes significantly to recovery after exercise. (12)

There are also numerous other types of creatine such as creatine ethyl ester or creatine HCL. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you should rely on creatine monohydrate. While there are some promising alternatives, the research isn't very mature compared to monohydrate.

In addition, creatine monohydrate is cheaper and far more effective. Also, taking monohydrate carries minimal risk. (13) In general, creatine monohydrate is one of the safest options if you want to use supplements in sports.

When and how much creatine should be taken?

In order to build muscle as quickly as possible, it is advisable to take creatine after and not before strength training in order to build up less fat and more muscle. This is because more blood flows to the muscles immediately after training and the effect can therefore unfold better. (8th)

The most effective dosage is 20-25 grams per day for 5-7 days. In order to get maximum efficiency of the effects of creatine intake, you should take the dosage every 4 hours per day. Depending on body weight, the dosage of creatine varies somewhat.

Basically, 0.3g/kg per day for 5-7 days and then 0.03g/kg per day as a kind of maintenance dose. In principle, it is very advisable to follow the suggested dosage exactly so that the body can break down the excess creatine as quickly as possible. This avoids side effects. (8th)

In which sport should creatine be taken?

Basically, creatine should be taken primarily to increase effectiveness and muscle building during and after extreme sports or weight training.(1)

The creatine intake is mainly useful for extreme weight training.

Therefore, creatine is rather unsuitable for pure fat burning . When taking creatine, the maximum physical capacity and stamina is extended and expanded.

trained male back

Taking creatine is very effective, especially in short-term extreme sports or weight training. (Image source: Gorilla Freak/ unsplash)

That's why many experts emphasize that taking creatine during prolonged endurance training has a rather less useful and ineffective effect. (4) Instead, creatine helps, especially after weight training, so that the muscles are expanded to get the most out of the training.

How long does it take for creatine to start working after ingestion?

The first results of taking creatine should be visible within about 10 weeks.(9) However, this time frame is different for every person. When you can admire the exact effect of taking creatine depends, among other things, on your body type, dosage, training regimen and diet.

Generally speaking, you should take a break from creatine after 12-16 weeks. This gives your body the opportunity to get used to a regulated normal state again and to adjust the creatine level back to a regular level. It takes about 4-6 weeks for creatine levels in the body to return to normal. (2)

What should be considered when taking creatine and what are possible side effects?

In general, an exact dosage should be followed based on your body weight and BMI . In addition, you usually gain weight in the first few days after taking creatine. However, this weight does not represent an increase in fat, but results from what is known as water retention, i.e. water accumulation in muscle tissue.(8)

This water retention ultimately leads to tighter muscles and an increased number of nerve endings surrounding the muscle tissue. The side effects of creatine are still being analyzed by different studies. In general, as long as the correct dose of creatine is taken and the duration of the intake is not forever, there will be no major side effects. (11)

Incidentally, if you have pre-existing kidney disease or are at risk of not fully functioning creatine, you should not take creatine. This is because the kidneys have to work harder than normal after taking creatine. Unless you have an impaired kidney, there is usually no risk. (10)

What alternatives are there to creatine?

A real alternative for creatine actually does not exist. However, for those who are generally averse to supplements, there are alternative foods to absorb creatine in a different way.

For this reason, in this section we have listed some foods that are good for increasing the amount of creatine in your body. However, creatine levels are not increased as drastically with alternatives as with supplements.


In general, creatine can be taken primarily within the diet . Most creatine is found in fish and meat. This is because, as mentioned above, creatine is predominantly found in and on the muscle tissue.

Creatine is naturally found primarily in raw meat and fish.

However, the proportion of creatine found in the following foods is significantly lower than, for example, in supplements. In addition, creatine is lost when the food is cooked. The table below shows the foods that contain the most creatine. The main source of creatine comes from eating raw meat. Interestingly, trace amounts of creatine have also been found in cranberries.

Groceries Creatine content (in grams/kg)
herring 6.5-10g/kg
pork meat 5.0g/kg
beef 4.5g/kg
tuna 4.0g/kg
Chicken 3.4g/kg
cod 3.0g/kg
milk 0.1g/kg
cranberries 0.002g/kg

The above foods are the most suitable sources to get creatine naturally. The general consensus of studies available to date underscores that there is far less creatine in the human body on a vegetarian or vegan diet than on a meat eater.(7)

As you can easily see from the table above, most of the naturally-occurring creatine is found in herring. For this reason, you could switch to fish in your diet in general to increase the amount of creatine in your body.

woman in gym

With a vegan diet, creatine supplements can be helpful to easily induce rapid muscle growth. Since most natural creatine is found in herring, consuming fish would also be beneficial. (Image source: John Arano/ unsplash)

For this reason, taking creatine supplements is particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans to effectively compensate for a creatine deficiency. (6) As a result, even non-meat eaters have nothing to stop them building muscle quickly.


Creatine should be present in the body at all times during training, as it is one of the most important substances for muscle building. To get a stronger effect from creatine, taking creatine supplements might help. Taking creatine supplements is particularly effective in weight training to generate the muscle mass you dream of as quickly as possible, but also to allow your muscles to regenerate quickly after exercise.

In order to bring about the maximum effectiveness of creatine and at the same time take a minimum risk when taking it, we recommend that you adjust the dosage to your body weight. It is best taken at intervals throughout the day. It is also important to take a break after 12-16 weeks so that your body can relax again in its normal state. The safest, most effective, and most commonly used type of creatine is creatine monohydrate.

Individual proofs(13)

  1. Riesberg LA, Weed SA, McDonald TL, Eckerson JM, Drescher KM. Beyond muscles: The untapped potential of creatine. Int Immunopharmacol. 2016 Aug;37:31-42. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2015.12.034. Epub 2016 Jan 8. PMID: 26778152; PMCID: PMC4915971. Source
  2. Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;14:18. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. PMID: 28615996; PMCID: PMC5469049. Source
  3. Butts J, Jacobs B, Silvis M. Creatine Use in Sports. Sports Health. 2018 Jan/Feb;10(1):31-34. doi: 10.1177/1941738117737248. Epub 2017 Oct 23. PMID: 29059531; PMCID: PMC5753968. Source
  4. Graham AS, Hatton RC. Creatine: a review of efficacy and safety. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 1999 Nov-Dec;39(6):803-10; quiz 875-7. PMID: 10609446. Source
  5. Kalhan SC, Gruca L, Marczewski S, Bennett C, Kummitha C. Whole body creatine and protein kinetics in healthy men and women: effects of creatine and amino acid supplementation. Amino Acids. 2016 Mar;48(3):677-687. doi: 10.1007/s00726-015-2111-1. Epub 2015 Oct 19. PMID: 26480831; PMCID: PMC4754151. Source
  6. Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Parise G, Candow DG, Mahoney D, Tarnopolsky M. Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Nov;35(11):1946-55. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000093614.17517.79. PMID: 14600563. Source
  7. Rogerson, D. Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 36 (2017). Source
  8. Naderi A, de Oliveira EP, Ziegenfuss TN, Willems MT. Timing, Optimal Dose and Intake Duration of Dietary Supplements with Evidence-Based Use in Sports Nutrition. J Exercise Nutrition Biochem. 2016 Dec 31;20(4):1-12. doi: 10.20463/jenb.2016.0031. PMID: 28150472; PMCID: PMC5545206. Source
  9. Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 10, 5 (2013). Source
  10. Davani-Davari D, Karimzadeh I, Ezzatzadegan- Jahromi S, Sagheb MM. Potential Adverse Effects of Creatine Supplement on the Kidney in Athletes and Bodybuilders. Iran J Kidney Dis. 2018 Oct;12(5):253-260. PMID: 30367015. Source
  11. Wallimann, T., Tokarska-Schlattner, M. & Schlattner, U. The creatine kinase system and pleiotropic effects of creatine. Amino Acids 40, 1271-1296 (2011). Source
  12. Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Aug 30;4:6. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-4-6. PMID: 17908288; PMCID: PMC2048496. Source
  13. Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Feb 19;6:6. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-6-6. PMID: 19228401; PMCID: PMC2649889. Source
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