If you’ve ever been athletically involved, then chances are you’ve heard of creatine — one of the world’s most popular supplements.
It works to increase the phosphocreatine levels that are already naturally found in your muscles and brain cells so that you can produce more energy as you work out. Research not only shows that creatine can improve upon your athletic performance and help you achieve noticeable gains, but also work as an effective nootropic to aid your brain health.
Thanks to how widely studied creatine is, it can no doubt be a benefit to your active lifestyle. However, in order to use it to the fullest, you might need to follow a process that’s called creatine loading. There’s research out there that suggests that undergoing a creatine loading phase can help you build those stores of energy faster for better results.
But how exactly do you creatine load? What dosage should you consume and how often? Is it even safe to regularly take in a lot of creatine? We’ll answer all those questions and more here at Bear Balanced. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the basics of creatine loading and how you can achieve maximum gains.
What is the creatine loading phase?
All humans have naturally occurring stores of creatine that help out produce enough energy to do our daily activities. That amount isn’t nearly enough for the athletes who engage in a very active lifestyle. Because they usually perform a variety of high-intensity exercises, their natural stores of creatine get depleted very quickly.
Luckily, eating a consistent diet of meats like beef and fish can help replenish your creatine levels. To boost your stores even further, you’ll want to load a creatine supplement.
This essentially means that you’ll have to take a large amount of creatine in a relatively short time frame to allow the supplement to be completely absorbed in your muscles. This bulking up of creatine helps to increase your muscle stores rapidly so that you can work out at your peak levels. Once you’re done with the loading phase, you’ll be able to reduce how much creatine you take to just maintain the high levels you’ve already reached.
One of the most common ways athletes creatine load is to take 20 grams of the supplement daily from anywhere between 5-7 days. Instead of consuming the whole dose at once, they’ll divide it into four 5-gram servings throughout the day.
Research about the effects of this nutritional routine has shown that it can boost creatine stores by nearly 10-40%.  This result usually accompanies many other positive benefits, like muscle strength, better performance, and even injury prevention.
Following their creatine loading phase, they’ll then lower their dosage to about 2-10 grams daily to continually maintain their high levels of creatine.
Do I need to load up on creatine?
Creatine loading is meant to maximize your creatine stores. This means that you don’t necessarily need to creatine load if you feel like you don’t have to reach peak creatine levels right away. Lower dosages taken daily can also help you reach that point even though its benefits may take more time to appear.
One study alone found that people who took just 0.03 grams of creatine per kilogram of bodyweight every day for about 28 days also eventually gained muscles that were well saturated.  All it takes is simply more time and patience.
In determining whether or not you should load, you also need to evaluate your own goals. Loading in general will help you see the benefits of creatine at a more rapid pace. If you’re a power weightlifter that’s preparing for an upcoming competition, then a creatine loading phase might be recommended to help you gain muscle and strength faster.
However, if you’re not exactly aiming to participate in any competitions or are in it for the long-haul, you might not need to load up on creatine at all. In fact, you could end up avoiding some of the side effects that come up most when people heavily load on creatine.
What are the side effects of a creatine loading phase?
Science can objectively say that taking creatine over short and long-term periods is safe. Even if you take up to 30 grams every day for nearly five years, your healthy body will still be able to safely tolerate and digest the supplement. 
However, some people have reported slight gastrointestinal discomfort issues ranging from nausea all the way to diarrhea. Because creatine also allows your muscles to hold onto water better, you might experience a slight increase in water weight or bloating.
In general, anyone can take advantage of the benefits that creatine loading at the right doses can offer without any serious health risks. One of the only exceptions would involve individuals with impaired kidney function, as creatine might worsen the function of kidneys that have renal disease. If you have any doubts about whether you can take creatine, then it’s always best to talk with your physician.
Your optimal creatine loading dosage
For the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), they recommend a general dose of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate taken four times per day for about 5-7 days. That’s about 20 grams of supplement consumed in total every day.
To get a more personalized dosage amount based on your weight, the rule of thumb is to multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.03. In other words, if you weighed 65 kg (143 pounds), you’d need to consume about 1.95 grams of creatine per day in the loading phase. This is also very dependent on your current diet, more importantly the amount of creatine ingested via food. The average omnivore diet contains roughly 1 gram of creatine but for those consuming above average quantities of meat, even less creatine may need to be supplemented in addition.
As soon as the loading phase is over, you’ll need to maintain the personalized dosage equated above. This will help your creatine levels stay continuously afloat until you stop using the supplements.
Loading on creatine is something that should ultimately be decided by your goals. Do you want to see your results arrive faster despite the side effects or would you be comfortable waiting a while longer? Regardless of what you decide, taking creatine in the end will still help you maximize your stores in a safe way.
Rather than loading up on creatine in the powder form, you can also try the gummy form! Here at Bear Balanced, we’ve designed the world’s first daily essential creatine gummies for the mind and body. Loading up on creatine has never been tastier or more effective! If you’re curious about trying out a delicious Bear Balanced supplement, then don’t hesitate to check out our Creatine Gummies today!
1. Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z#citeas
2. Cooper, Robert et al. “Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 9,1 33. 20 Jul. 2012, doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788
3. Hultman E, Söderlund K, Timmons JA, Cederblad G, Greenhaff PL. Muscle creatine loading in men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 Jul;81(1):232-7. doi: 10.1152/jappl.19184.108.40.206. PMID: 8828669. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8828669/