A Complete Guide To Creatine – Muscle Gains, Endurance, Benefits, & More

Creatine is trending as the best supplement for working out and building strength. Many claim it gives them more endurance, and energy, and helps them lift more for longer. It sounds like an amazing supplement that is a must for anyone looking to improve fitness and wellbeing. Is there any science to back this up though?

person about to drink creatine in water before a workout
Use creatine before a workout – source

Learn everything you need to know about creatine, including its benefits, risks, how to use it, and if it actually works to improve performance and muscle growth! 

What is Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring organic substance in the body, similar to an amino acid. It acts as fuel for your cells and allows them to regenerate energy.

It is made by the pancreas, liver, and kidneys, and is converted into creatine phosphate and used during exercise as a main source of energy. Over 90% of the creatine in the body is stored in the muscles to be used as fuel. Much of this compound in the body comes from the foods you eat, including seafood and red meat, while another portion is made by the body using amino acids.

Potential Benefits of Creatine

Often, athletes, bodybuilders, or endurance trainers use a creatine supplement to improve performance. Some claim it allows them to work out for longer. Others find that they can lift heavier weights, having more energy to do so. Due to some of this compound being stored in the brain, some claim creatine may help reduce neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It may also boost memory and brain function in older individuals.

This makes the supplement useful in gaining muscle, increasing strength, and improving performance during a workout on top of being good for brain health. Now, let’s see if there’s any research to back up these claims.

Science-Based Information

Creatine is involved in muscle strength, recovery, and growth, as well as in brain processes, that is a fact, but will using creatine as a supplement help?

The good news is, supplementation has been found to increase muscle growth, improve strength, and reduce muscle damage.

Creatine is widely studied, so there is research focusing on exercise and sports performance with the supplement. One study indicated that while not every individual responds the same, the overall trend was that supplementing increases the body’s creatine and promotes energy recovery during a workout. It also noted that recent research does find that resistance training performance (aka weight lifting) is improved at a cellular level.

However, the potential benefits of creatine in brain improvement have been limited to animal research, therefore more studies must be done to see if it affects people. One study did find that memory and intelligence were improved in vegetarians, which may be due to vegetarians having low creatine stores due to not eating meat.

How to Use Creatine for a Workout

Usually, it is recommended to take creatine supplements daily about 15 minutes before a workout. In the first 5 to 7 days of use, a larger dose is typically taken, up to 20 grams. After this, a maintenance dose of 2 to 5 grams is then consumed daily.

Another option is to simply consume 2-5 grams daily without doing a larger dose, which is recommended for individuals with a sensitive stomach.


Creatine can be found naturally in meat and seafood, but it can also be supplemented. If supplementing, make sure you get it from a credible source, as supplements are not held up to FDA standards. The most common type is in a creatine monohydrate powder form. It can also be consumed in capsules or can be found in pre-workout drinks.


As a heavily studied supplement, there was concern in some cases. One investigation found that common symptoms of creatine supplementation were nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and muscle cramps. However, there was little evidence to link it to sole creatine. However, cramps may be caused by the fact that creatine pulls water from the muscles, meaning you need to be well-hydrated to take it.

This is why it is important to start on low doses of creatine, about 1 tsp (5 grams) or less, and work your way up to reduce discomfort.

Research indicates no negative change to liver and kidney function in healthy individuals supplementing in people of any age. In healthy individuals, creatine should be safe at low dosages, even when taken long-term. Doses up to 10 grams were studied to be safe. Remember to always consult your doctor though if you have concerns or questions.

The Takeaway

Creatine is a widely studied compound that offers many benefits. It may improve brain function and protect the brain from damage, as well as affect the muscles of the body. It has been found to improve performance, endurance, and recovery greatly.

Know the risks, start on a low dose, and remember to consult your doctor with any additional questions and concerns. Make sure you get your supplement from a credible source, as supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

Remember that health starts from within. Creatine, as well as the nutrient-dense meals you eat, act as building blocks for your body to grow, repair, and thrive. Exercise daily, take care of mental health, and eat well to allow overall wellbeing to flourish. Fitness is about the mental, physical, and emotional parts of you.

Take care of gut health too! An unbalance gut microbiome may reduce muscle growth, lower the immune system health, reduce skin health, cause mental illness, reduce energy levels, and damage metabolism. Learn everything you need to know about gut microbiota today for free here!

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