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How much Creatine should I take?
The use of creatine as a dietary supplement has burgeoned over the last couple of decades, particularly within the realm of sports and exercise (Kreider et al., 2017). Its popularity stems from its proven benefits in enhancing athletic performance, increasing muscle mass, and promoting recovery (Buford et al., 2007)
The Loading Phase
Researcg suggests a loading phase of 20g/day, divided into 4 doses for 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5g/day (Hultman et al., 1996). The loading phase aims to rapidly saturate muscle creatine stores, which are then maintained with the lower dose, this has shown itself to be effective in enhancing muscle creatine concentration and athletic performance.
However, the loading phase can sometimes lead to minor side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort (Persky & Brazeau, 2001). A more recent study proposes a more gradual approach of supplementing with 3g/day for 28 days, which also achieves the saturation of muscle creatine stores but with a lower risk of side effects (Candow et al., 2011).
For those with specific athletic goals, individualized dosing may be more beneficial. According to Kreider et al. (2017), athletes might benefit from taking 5-10g/day, combined with carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein, which can enhance muscle creatine uptake.
The elderly may need higher doses due to age-related muscle loss. A study by Candow et al. (2014) has shown that in older adults, a combination of creatine supplementation and resistance training led to significant increases in lean tissue mass and leg strength. Therefore, a dose of 5g/day might be more suitable for this group.
Doses of up to 5g/day have been established as safe for long term use (Kim et al., 2011). However, peoplewith kidney disease or at risk for kidney disease should be cautious as there is limited information on the effects of creatine in these individuals (Poortmans & Francaux, 2000).
In conclusion, the ‘optimal’ creatine dosage can vary depending on individual goals, tolerance, and health status. For healthy individuals looking to enhance athletic performance or increase muscle mass, a loading phase of 20g/day for 5-7 days followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5g/day, or a steady intake of 3g/day, seems to be effective. The elderly or athletes might require a slightly higher maintenance dose of 5-10g/day.