When creatine first hit the market in the 90s, the standard dosing protocol was 20 grams in divided doses for 3-5 days followed by 5-10 grams daily thereafter. Thatâ??s still an effective dosing regimen. However, recently coaches have been recommending a slightly more individualized dosing regimen similar to how most prescription antibiotics are dosed. They suggest 0.3mg/kg/day for 3-5 days, followed by 3-5 grams daily thereafter. So for a 200lb male, thatâ??d be around 27 grams (in divided doses) of creatine for the initial 3-5 days, followed by 3-5 grams daily thereafter.
The new dosing regimen makes sense. Creatine is stored primarily within your muscles. The more muscle you have, the more creatine storage capacity you have. A 120lb beginner should not be using the same amount of creatine as a 260lb professional bodybuilder. The difference in muscle mass is huge. Itâ??s like the difference in the amount of water used to fill up a water balloon and a pool. Also, if we calculate our daily protein intake in a similar fashion, why shouldnâ??t that apply to creatine? But the real question is: does it matter? Yes and no. Will, in the end, both dosing regimens give you the same result? Yes. However, the original dosing regimen is just going to take a little longer so the results will not seem as dramatic.
As far as when to take it, thatâ??s a little more un-scientific. In fact, itâ??s largely my opinion. During the initial 3-5 days, I take 5 grams in the morning, at lunch, at dinner, and before bed. I always try to take it with my meals because there have been several studies that have shown that carbohydrates and protein actually increase the amount of creatine that gets inside your muscles. After the initial loading dose, I take 3 grams before my workout, and 3 grams immediately after. By taking 3 grams 30-45 minutes before my workout, I get assurance that my muscles are going to have a supply of creatine waiting for them. After my workout, my muscles are usually begging for nutrients. With the proper postworkout nutrition, I can get more creatine back into my muscles than at any other time.
I also recommend not cycling creatine. The theory behind cycling makes sense. For creatine to enter the cell, it must move through a transporter that scientists have conveniently named the creatine transporter. Scientists theorized that if the transporter is constantly bombarded with creatine, it will develop a level of resistance to the suppement, similar to how Type II diabetes begins. When it develops this resistance, creatine becomes less effective. To circumvent this, they recommended avoiding creatine intake for â??xâ?? amount of days to refresh the creatine transporter. There was one study (that I know of) that supported this theory. However, it was done in rats, and the dosage, if extrapolated to a human dosage, would have been astronomical. Thereâ??s just never been any human data supporting this theory, and itâ??s fallen out of favor within the last 5 years. Bottom line: donâ??t cycle your creatine.