Creatine Loading Phase: Benefits, Safety, Side Effects, Dosage
The creatine loading phase allows the saturation of creatine stores in the body as quickly as possible. … The conventional loading strategy would be to consume 20g of creatine per day ( 5g x 4) for 5-7 days. ² This amount will be enough to saturate your creatine reserves to the maximum.
If you have heard of creatine, you have probably also heard that there is an initial loading phase, which is known as the creatine loading phase. This leads us to endless questions, such as what is the loading phase, how is it done, how much creatine to take, and for how long, but before overwhelming yourself, calm down and take a deep breath because we are going to try to solve all your doubts.
If you want to gain muscle, run faster, improve your post-workout recovery or lift more weight in your workouts, creatine is one of the most effective supplements on the market.¹ In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the loading phase of creatine.
- Creatine benefits
- Advantages of creatine loading
- What does creatine do?
- What is creatine loading?
- When should you take creatine? Is a loading phase necessary?
- Types of creatine supplements
1. Increase in muscle mass
In combination with resistance training, creatine supplementation has proven to be a very effective way to increase muscle mass. 4 So much so that there are studies showing that people who take creatine can gain twice the muscle mass compared to those who do not.
One of the main reasons for this is that keeping creatine stores at maximum capacity can help you do more sets and reps at the same weight. In the long term, this will translate into greater adaptation to training and, ultimately, increased muscle mass.
The upper body is a part of the body where creatine can help most specifically. 5 This is because the muscles of the upper body, such as the shoulders and chest, contain more type 1 muscle fibers (the type of fibers involved in fast and powerful movements such as weight lifting) than the muscles of the upper body. the lower part of the body. Therefore, creatine can increase strength and lean muscle mass in these areas to a greater extent.
2. Sports performance
There are also studies showing the benefits of creatine supplementation on strength performance.³ In short-term and long-term studies, strength performance has been reported to increase by 5% to 15% .¹
Creatine can be especially beneficial for people who want to improve upper body strength. In addition to increasing muscle mass in the upper body, creatine supplementation has been shown to significantly increase performance on the bench press, a very important exercise for increasing upper body strength. This is supported by a study that investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on bench press performance, which showed an increase of up to 45%. 7
Creatine can be especially helpful for athletes competing in sports that require quick recovery after repetitive sprints.
In a study looking at the performance of top-level soccer players, those who followed a 6-day loading phase reported better recovery after 15-meter sprints with 30 seconds of rest. 8
Creatine can help the body replenish glycogen (energy) stores. During a resistance training session, muscle glycogen stores can be depleted by up to 40%, depending on the duration and intensity of the workout. 9 The body’s ability to replenish glycogen stores is an important factor in recovery because it allows you to return to training earlier with the same intensity. 10
Creatine supplements are also helpful in maximizing glycogen stores before intense exercise such as a marathon. A study involving marathon runners showed that creatine supplementation helped reduce the level of fatigue after a 30 km run. eleven
If you are preparing for a competition and you are going through a period of overexertion, creatine can also help your body to handle all the extra workload. 12 This is particularly true if you are preparing for strength sports such as weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman.
Advantages of creatine loading
1. Immediate results
With a creatine loading phase, you can increase the volume of work in your workouts in just one week. This is important because lifting weights is what makes creatine supplementation help you gain muscle mass, strength, and power. 13
A study looking at the effect of creatine loading on bench press performance showed significant improvement after 7 days of loading. Those who took creatine did more repetitions during each of the 5 sets. 13
If you go down to a maintenance dose after a loading phase, you will preserve the muscle and strength gains achieved. The body typically uses 1-2% of creatine stores per day, so a daily maintenance dose of 3-5g will be sufficient to keep creatine stores full and gym performance high.
3. Better pumping
In addition to the extra sets and reps, keeping creatine stores full will help improve physical performance because creatine has osmotic properties. 14 This means that it draws water into the muscle cells, causing a swelling effect which, in turn, increases pumping and makes the muscles look bigger. This swelling effect may have other benefits. This process may also activate muscle protein synthesis, which is the body’s muscle-building process. fifteen
What does creatine do?
Creatine combines with the chemical phosphagen in the body to form phosphocreatine (PCR), which is used for muscle contraction. During explosive exercises, such as a series of heavy squats or a 60-meter sprint, the body uses ATP, which is the body’s main energy carrier.
Your ability to perform at a high intensity depends on your muscles receiving ATP. PCR helps generate ATP, allowing you to perform at a high intensity for longer.³
During explosive exercises, such as weight training or sprinting, the body also uses PCR for fuel. By increasing the PCR stores in the body, you will be able to perform those important extra repetitions.
In the long term, improved performance will translate into greater adaptation to training, such as increased muscle mass and strength, and better sprint marks.
What is creatine loading?
Creatine loading consists of taking a higher amount of creatine than the maintenance dose (3g) over several days, allowing you to maximize creatine stores as quickly as possible.² This leads to improved performance and results in workouts compared to the effects of a maintenance dose.²
The creatine loading phase allows the saturation of creatine stores in the body as quickly as possible. People who consume meat and fish as part of a conventional diet, have creatine reserves that range between 60-80% of their capacity.
The conventional loading strategy would be to consume 20 g of creatine per day (5 g x 4) for 5-7 days.² This amount will be enough to saturate your creatine stores to the maximum.
When should you take creatine? Is a loading phase necessary?
The creatine loading phase is not strictly necessary. Studies show that supplementation with a smaller dose will have the same effect, but it will take a little longer to maximize creatine stores, which can be achieved with a daily dose of 3-5 g.
Therefore, to get the same benefits of taking creatine without a loading phase, you will have to wait around 3 more weeks. If you are preparing for a competition or want to gain muscle mass fast, you could lose 3 very important weeks of training that, by loading creatine, you could take advantage of much better.
Types of creatine supplements
There are several types of creatine on the market. Some of them are:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Micronized creatine
- Creatine kre-alkalyn
Although they all have slightly different benefits, creatine monohydrate is the most researched.¹ There are very few studies that show any other type of creatine has more benefits and being the cheapest form, it may be the best option for most.
Creatine is available in powder and tablets, and there are no differences in efficacy between the two formats, so you should take the one that best suits your personal preferences.¹ You can mix creatine powder in your pre-workout shakes, and creatine tablets are more convenient if you are traveling.
How is creatine loaded?
Creatine loading consists of taking a higher dose of creatine for an estimated time to maximize creatine stores in the muscle. Once the loading phase is finished, the dose is reduced to maintain those levels.
Is Creatine Loading Safe?
It is safe and, in addition, it has very few side effects, which are usually stomach upsets especially. If you notice any side effects, you can reduce the dose.
How long should the creatine loading phase last?
A creatine loading phase usually lasts about 7 days.
Is Creatine Loading Necessary?
If you’ve never taken creatine before, especially if you’re on a low creatine diet (vegan or vegetarian), loading up on creatine for a week can help you maximize results.
How often should creatine be loaded?
It does not need to be repeated as long as a maintenance dose is taken after loading. If you’ve stopped taking it for a while, you may need to repeat the charge.
Creatine is a very effective supplement for gaining muscle mass and increasing strength and power. It will also help you recover and allow you to support a higher volume of training, which is essential to keep progressing.
A creatine loading phase of 20g per day for 7 days should be enough to maximize your reserves and help improve your performance in the gym.
What is the loading phase?
How is the creatine loading phase done?
To do a creatine loading phase, take 20 grams a day divided into 4 intakes of 5 grams each for 7 days. The objective of this initial phase is to saturate the cells or phosphocreatine deposits very quickly, and thus be able to advance the effects of creatine.
How long does the creatine loading phase last?
The loading phase of creatine lasts two weeks in which the goal is that athletes get to have the ‘muscular pool full’, ie deposits creatine to the maximum to start noticing their effects.
How many grams of creatine can you take a day?
The standard dose of creatine is 5 to 10 grams per day, although if we want to spin finer we can calculate it by multiplying 0.1 grams per kilo of weight. For a person weighing 70 kilos, it would be 7 grams of creatine per day.
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