The Truth – Do You Need to Do a Creatine Loading Phase?

For the longest time, everyone thought that you need to do a creatine loading phase in order to get the most out of your supplementation. Even at the cost of an upset stomach and lengthy sessions in the bathroom.

In reality, however, the truth may not be the same. In fact, many would nowadays agree you don’t need to load up on creatine. But who do you trust? Do you really need to do a creatine loading phase, or should you just stick to the regular protocol?

The answer is below!

What is a Creatine Loading Phase?

A creatine loading phase is a 5-7 days long phase during which you take 20-25 grams of creatine to quickly saturate your muscles and experience the benefits of creatine sooner. Here’s how it works.

When you first start taking creatine, your body has to build up stores of it in your muscles. This process can take a while (usually around a month), depending on your diet and activity level. 

During a loading phase, you can speed up this process by taking a higher dosage of creatine for a short while. This helps your body build up stores of creatine more quickly, so you can start seeing the benefits of supplementation sooner.

After the loading phase is over, you’ll typically switch to a 5-gram maintenance dose of creatine that’s meant to help you maintain your stores of creatine over the long term. [1]

What are the Proposed Benefits of a Creatine Loading Phase?

The proposed benefits of a creatine loading phase include a “shortcut” to increased lean muscle mass, improved strength and power, enhanced recovery, improved cognitive performance, and others. [2]

In other words, the exact benefits that you get from taking a regular 5-gram maintenance dose of creatine – but quicker.

Also, some are quite vocal about people not being able to reach peak creatine saturation without a loading phase, but that couldn’t be further away from the truth.

Do Studies Back These Benefits Up?

Yes, studies do back up these benefits. In fact, it was shown many times over that a loading phase does help saturate your muscles faster. [3]

However, what studies also show is that apart from the initial difference, the long-term, sustainable effects of creatine supplementation are pretty much the same.

That is, undergoing a loading phase or not, you can reach the same saturation levels and reap the same benefits from creatine over the long term.

Does the Type of Creatine Impact Whether You Need a Loading Phase?

Over the years, many different forms and types of creatine have hit the market, many specifically designed to bypass the loading phase, so let’s talk more about that.

Do You Need a Loading Phase for Creatine HCL or Monohydrate?

You don’t need a loading phase for creatine HCL or creatine monohydrate.

First of all, creatine HCL is often advertised as a “new and improved” creatine monohydrate, specifically due to its potency, required lower dose, and lack of need for a loading phase. It’s claimed you can get all the benefits of creatine monohydrate with only 1-3 grams of creatine HCL per day.

Truth be told, you can get the same benefits and the same results from both of these.

The only difference? The cost.

Creatine HCL is often noticeably more expensive than creatine monohydrate.

As for creatine monohydrate – you can also skip the loading phase.

It usually takes around 28 days for the creatine levels in your muscles to reach their peak, and from that point on, all you can do is maintain those levels and keep up the good work in the gym, and the results will come.

Does the Need for a Loading Phase Differ Between Creatine Powder, Pills, or Gummies?

You don’t need to change your approach or figure out a specific loading phase if you decide to start with any or switch from powder to pills or gummies. All you need is to stick with the same dosage that you were taking before – 5 grams a day.

In layman’s terms – the form of creatine you take doesn’t really matter.

Bottom Line: Should You Do a Creatine Loading Phase

No, you should not do a creatine loading phase.

The only “benefit” that comes from taking 20-25 grams of creatine for a week is reaching the peak creatine saturation levels faster, but other than that – there is no real benefit to it.

It’s all the same in the long run. Whether you were at your max after seven or twenty-seven days won’t matter in the slightest after six months or a year. In fact, it’s highly unlikely it will ever matter.

What’s more, you’re more likely to suffer from side effects associated with high doses of creatine, like upset stomach or diarrhea, which is the main reason why the market is flooded with various, often inferior yet far more expensive versions of creatine.

So, if you look at it from that perspective, not only is the loading phase unnecessary, it is actually bad for you and the supplement industry.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s easy to see how and why you should not do a loading phase with creatine.

It’s unnecessary, can cause side effects, and is bad for your wallet. And most importantly, loads of studies have shown that the same results can and will be achieved whether you go through a loading phase or not.

So, don’t do it!

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Aesthetyk

Providing you with the resources to build your best life and physique.

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