Creatine Before And After: What Really Happens If You Take It


Time to read 6 min

Ever seen a “creatine before and after” photo and thought it was magic? Spoiler alert: It's not magic, but science. This article dives deep into the world of creatine supplementation and what you can expect in terms of results. Let's dive into the world of creatine before and after its supplementation. Stick around to uncover the reality behind those muscle-boosting transformations and whether your gym bag needs a sprinkle of science-backed sorcery.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound predominantly found in our muscles and brain. This amino acid derivative is found in small amounts in certain foods, especially meat, and fish, and is also synthesized within our bodies. It plays a pivotal role in facilitating the production of energy, especially during high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, or jumping. The body's capacity to produce and use creatine becomes particularly crucial for athletes, bodybuilders, and those embarking on regular physical training.

Before we delve into the "before and after" of creatine, it's essential to understand creatine muscle saturation. This refers to the accumulation of creatine stores in the muscles. The effects of creatine aren't immediate; it takes time for muscles to become saturated with creatine. Starting with a loading phase generally takes about 7 days to saturate your muscles, while starting with a maintenance phase takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

Creatine Before and After: What Can You Expect?

Before we delve into the "before and after" of creatine, it's essential to understand creatine muscle saturation. This refers to the accumulation of creatine stores in the muscles. The effects of creatine aren't immediate; it takes time for muscles to become saturated with creatine. Starting with a loading phase generally takes about 7 days to saturate your muscles, while starting with a maintenance phase takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

Before Taking Creatine

Even before supplementing with creatine, our bodies are already storing some naturally. Most of it is stored in our muscles, and about 5% of it is in the brain. The creatine in your body acts as a stored form of energy, and when taking creatine supplements we can increase those creatine stores to have more energy to spend - leading to improved performance and strength.

One Week Into Creatine

When you first start taking creatine, don't expect to see instant results. It takes a while to build up your body's creatine stores, and performance improvements are most noticeable when your muscles are fully saturated. Within your first week, you might experience minor weight gain as creatine draws more water into your muscles or stomach discomfort, but these initial side effects are temporary and usually subside. Additionally, within the first week, you might observe:

  • Subtle performance improvements in high-intensity activities.
  • Increased muscle fullness due to water retention caused by creatine.
  • A slight increase in weight, attributed to the water held in the muscles.

One Month Into Creatine

A month into creatine supplementation, if you've transitioned from a loading to a maintenance phase, you're likely to have reached and maintained muscle saturation. If you skipped the loading phase, the results at this point might resemble those seen in the initial week of a loading phase. Physically, your weight might stabilize, and muscle fullness becomes more pronounced. This means:

  • Incremental improvements in performance and training output
  • Increased strength and power during high-intensity exercises
  • Increased muscle mass

Three Months And Beyond

As you surpass the three-month mark of consistent creatine supplementation, the benefits become even more pronounced. This period is where the compound effects of creatine truly shine. You'll likely observe:

  • A substantial enhancement in overall performance, allowing you to outdo your previous bests.
  • The ability to lift heavier weights, run faster, or perform better in high-intensity workouts becomes evident.
  • "About twice as much body mass and/or fat free mass” compared to those not taking creatine, equaling an extra 2 to 4 pounds of muscle mass during your training cycle.
  • Research has consistently shown that long-term creatine users, especially when combined with regular resistance training, experience significant strength gains, sometimes outpacing those not supplementing with creatine.

Creatine Before and After: Results

When it comes to creatine supplementation, many users have reported a series of noticeable changes in their physical and mental performance. As one of the most vetted supplements in the market, its effects, while individualized, do follow some common patterns.

Physical Improvements

  1. Muscle Fullness: One of the initial and most discernible effects of creatine is an increase in muscle volume. This isn't necessarily muscle growth in the initial stages but is attributed to creatine drawing water into muscle cells, making them appear fuller.
  2. Enhanced Workout Performance: Over time, users typically experience improved performance during high-intensity activities, such as weightlifting or sprinting. This is due to creatine's role in replenishing ATP stores, the primary energy source for such activities.
  3. Quicker Recovery: Another common feedback is reduced muscle soreness post-workout and faster recovery times. This often allows for more frequent and potentially more effective training sessions.
  4. Muscle Growth: With better workouts and improved recovery, the indirect result over extended use is muscle growth. This isn't instantaneous but becomes more pronounced over months of consistent training and creatine intake.

Cognitive Improvements

  1. Sharper Cognitive Functions: While not as frequently discussed as the physical benefits, a subset of users often observes heightened alertness and improved cognitive performance, especially in situations of sleep deprivation or mental fatigue.
  2. Protection Against Neurological Diseases: Though this research is still emerging, there's budding evidence suggesting creatine's potential protective effects against a range of neurological diseases, including Parkinson's, Huntington's, and more.

How Long Does Creatine Take to Show Results?

The timeframe for noticing results from creatine varies. Typically, when starting with a loading phase (ingesting a higher dose for a few days), results such as increased muscle volume from water retention can be observed within a week. For performance metrics like enhanced strength and endurance, it might take a couple of weeks. Remember, muscles need to reach a saturation point with creatine for optimal benefits, which can be achieved with consistent supplementation over days to weeks.

What Happens After One Month of Creatine?

One month into consistent creatine supplementation, the muscles would be fully saturated with it, maximizing the compound's potential benefits. At this stage, users often report noticeable increases in strength, enhanced recovery after workouts, and reduced muscle soreness. Any initial weight gain due to water retention would stabilize by this point, and the body will have adjusted to the supplement, reducing or eliminating early side effects like stomach discomfort.

Is Creatine Better Before or After a Workout?

The timing of creatine intake has been a topic of debate. Some research suggests that post-workout might be a slightly more beneficial time due to increased blood flow and nutrient uptake by muscles. Consuming creatine post-workout can aid in recovery and muscle growth. On the other hand, taking it pre-workout is believed to boost workout performance. Ultimately, the difference in results based on timing is minimal. Thus, personal preference, combined with observing how one's body responds, will determine the optimal time for intake.

The Bottom Line

Due to the creatine before and after benefits, creatine stands out as a time-tested and research-backed powerhouse. From amplifying physical performance and muscle volume to potentially sharpening cognitive functions, its multifaceted benefits make it a staple for many fitness enthusiasts. While the results of creatine can vary among individuals, its typical effects, when paired with a consistent fitness routine and balanced diet, are hard to ignore. Whether you're just embarking on your fitness journey or looking to fine-tune your regimen, creatine's compelling attributes make it worth considering in your toolkit.

FAQs On Creatine Before And After

How much bigger does creatine make you?

Creatine primarily causes an increase in muscle water content, leading to a fuller appearance. Typically, users can expect an initial weight gain of 1-3 pounds due to this water retention. The exact increase depends on the individual's muscle mass, diet, and workout regimen.

Is creatine weight gain permanent?

No, the weight gain from creatine, especially the initial boost, is largely due to water retention in the muscles. If one stops taking creatine, this extra water weight will gradually be lost over time. However, any muscle gains achieved through enhanced workouts can be retained with consistent training.

Is creatine OK to take everyday?

Yes, creatine can be taken daily. The standard maintenance dose is around 3-5 grams per day. This consistent intake ensures that muscle creatine stores remain saturated. However, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation.

What happens after 28 days of creatine?

After about a month of consistent creatine supplementation, muscles are usually fully saturated with it. Users often experience peak benefits like increased strength, faster recovery, and reduced muscle soreness. If combined with regular training, this period may also see noticeable muscle growth beyond just water retention.