What Exactly Is the Creatine Loading Phase?

Creatine Loading Phase

You don’t have to be in a bodybuilder’s club to know about creatine. Just like protein powder, it’s something that most people are aware of, even if they’ve never stepped foot in a gym before. However, what you might not have heard about is the creatine loading phase. It’s a highly popular method of taking creatine dietary supplements that many avid fitness enthusiasts believe is the key to maximizing results. 

However, it’s important to note that not all types of creatine are created equal when in a creatine loading phase.

We’re going to be discussing the creatine loading phase in detail. We’ll tell you what it is, how to do it, why you should do it, and a few potential side effects to be on the lookout for so that you can safely and effectively load creatine. 

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that’s produced in our bodies by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Once it’s produced or consumed, it’s converted to phosphocreatine and stored in the skeletal muscles. Here, it stays, waiting until it’s needed to fulfill its primary purpose: Producing energy. 

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the primary energy source for your muscle cells. Whenever you engage in high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting or sprinting, it requires a lot of ATP energy, and you can quickly burn through it. Here is where the stores of creatine in your muscles come into the picture.

The phosphocreatine in your muscles lends a high-energy phosphate molecule to the depleted ATP. As a result, the ATP is recharged and can provide your muscles with more energy to help power you through the final reps of your resistance training routine, the last mile of your marathon, or an extra boost during whatever athletic activity you’re performing.

Once the phosphocreatine has donated its phosphorus, it’s converted into a waste product known as creatinine. The blood stream then transports it down to the kidneys, where it will be filtered out and expelled from your body through urine.

What Are the Benefits of Creatine Supplementation?

There’s a reason why so many people take creatine as a supplement. While your body can naturally produce it, the foods we eat only supply about half of the creatine our bodies need



Having a little extra when you need it the most can be very beneficial, so here is a quick breakdown of the positive effects of creatine supplementation

  • Muscle Strength Support: By helping to replenish ATP stores in your muscles, creatine can support the intensity of your workouts. You can go faster, harder, and longer, which can encourage strength in our muscles.

  • Athletic Performance Support: Having an extra supply of energy on hand can help to support your exercise performance. ATP can be used up very quickly during high-intensity sports or exercise and creatine can provide more energy and power.

  • Encourage Muscle Recovery: During intense exercise, you’re tearing your muscles and inflicting damage, which is a key part of muscle growth. Creatine can help to encourage the recovery process, allowing you to achieve muscle gains while soothing your body. 

  • Brain Function Support: Just like your muscles, the brain also uses ATP as a source of energy. More creatine means more ATP, which can support brain function, including memory, focus, learning, and cognition. 

  • Cellular Energy Support: Creatine supplementation provides cellular energy support by increasing the availability of phosphocreatine, a key molecule in ATP regeneration during high-intensity activities. This supports various cellular functions including immune response, heart health, and overall metabolic efficiency.

What Is the Creatine Loading Phase? 

Now that we’ve covered the basics of creatine, we can start talking about creatine loading. The creatine loading phase is a short-term period of roughly five to seven days, where you dramatically increase your daily creatine intake. 

Each day, you’ll be taking high doses to flood your system with creatine. The saturation of these doses helps rapidly increase your muscle creatine stores, jumpstarting your supplementation routine and priming your body to reap its maximum benefits.

After the first week of loading with higher doses, you’ll switch to the maintenance phase. During this time, you’ll be taking much lower doses than you did during the loading phase. The loading phase doses maxed out your creatine levels so a daily maintenance dose helps to keep them full.

The maintenance phase can last a few weeks or a few months, as some people prefer to repeat the loading phase periodically. However, there is a limit to how much creatine your body can store, and any excess will be excreted. If you’re frequently repeating the loading phase, then it’s most likely just being wasted.

How To Implement a Creatine Loading Phase

If you're contemplating a creatine loading phase, proceed with caution, considering the following steps:

1. Decide on the Daily Dose 

The whole point of a creatine loading phase is to take a higher daily dose of creatine than normal. Most loading phases typically involve around 20-25 grams of creatine. However, the exact amount of creatine can vary depending on your body weight, exercise frequency, and workout intensity. 

Prepare for potential drawbacks by opting for a higher daily intake of creatine, which may vary based on factors like body weight, exercise frequency, and intensity.

2. Divide the Dose

Instead of consuming the entire daily dose and overwhelming your system, dividing it into four to five smaller doses can be more beneficial. This approach can lead to better absorption, providing a steady supply of creatine to your muscles throughout the day. 

Smaller servings can help minimize potential side effects such as stomach discomfort, which some people might experience when taking larger amounts of creatine monohydrate at once. 

3. Schedule Your Dose

Strategic timing can maximize the effectiveness of your creatine supplementation. Aim to spread your doses at regular intervals throughout the day. Consider taking one of these doses pre-workout and another one post-workout. Remember that exercise can enhance creatine uptake into your muscles, making the time around your workout period an ideal time for a creatine dose or two.

4. Closely Monitor Your Response

Everyone's body responds differently to creatine supplementation. It's important to closely monitor how your body reacts to the increased creatine intake. If you notice any discomfort or rapid weight gain, you might need to adjust your dosage or the timing of your doses. Remember, the goal is to gain the benefits of creatine without causing any discomfort or distress.

5. Move to the Maintenance Phase

Creatine loading is only supposed to last for a week at most. After this time, it’s important to make the switch to a maintenance dose of creatine, usually around three to five grams per day for creatine monohydrate.

You probably won’t even notice the difference, as your creatine stores will stay topped off and maxed out for a while. After a few weeks or months, you can restart the process with another loading phase.

Are There Any Downsides of a Creatine Loading Phase?

Creatine loading phases, while commonly employed to expedite muscle saturation, can present several drawbacks. Primarily, the rapid increase in creatine intake during loading phases often leads to gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating, cramping, and diarrhea, which can deter adherence to supplementation regimens. 

Additionally, some individuals may experience water retention, resulting in perceived weight gain, albeit temporary. Moreover, the necessity of consuming higher doses of creatine during loading phases can strain both the digestive system and the wallet, as larger quantities of creatine supplements are required. 

However, one alternative to traditional creatine monohydrate loading phases is Creatine HCl, which boasts greater solubility and bioavailability. Unlike creatine monohydrate, Creatine HCl does not necessitate a loading phase due to its superior absorption characteristics, potentially mitigating the gastrointestinal discomfort associated with loading protocols while offering creatine supplementation's performance-supporting benefits.

Does the Type of Creatine Affect the Loading Phase?

When it comes to the different forms of creatine, not all of them are created equal. The two most common forms are creatine monohydrate and Creatine HCl, and the differences between the two can significantly impact your loading phase.

Creatine monohydrate is the most commonly consumed type of creatine supplement. While it can certainly be used during a creatine loading phase, it can lead to some undesired side effects. The water molecule in creatine monohydrate can result in water retention and bloating, especially when taken in large quantities like you would during a loading phase. 

As previously discussed, Creatine HCl is bound to a hydrochloride molecule instead. As a result, it has increased solubility in water, leading to much better absorption and utilization in the body. In other words, you can take a much smaller dose of Creatine HCl to achieve the same effects as a larger dose of creatine monohydrate while eliminating the side effects.



With this in mind, note that Creatine HCl does not require a loading phase. Creatine monohydrate’s loading phase is generally due to its inefficiency in being absorbed by the body — almost 85 percent of a five-gram dose is wasted and not used by the body, which is typically why you need a loading phase.

Understanding the Creatine Loading Phase: A Key to Enhanced Performance

The creatine loading phase is one way to unlock the full potential of creatine supplementation. It's a fast-track method to saturate your muscles with creatine, supporting performance, strength, and muscle growth.

However, it's important to approach this phase safely to avoid any undesired side effects. This includes staying hydrated, splitting your doses, and adjusting your dosage based on how your body responds. Also, the loading phase is only supposed to last a few days, and after that, it’s important to dramatically lower your daily dosage. 

As you consider entering a creatine loading phase, we encourage you to consider CON-CRĒT's Creatine HCl supplements. Our supplements are designed to give you all the benefits of creatine without the unwanted side effects, making your creatine loading phase smoother and more comfortable. 


Adenosine Triphosphate | NCBI Bookshelf

Role of the Phosphocreatine System on Energetic Homeostasis in Skeletal and Cardiac Muscles | PMC

Creatinine | National Kidney Foundation

Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Cognitive Function of Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials | PMC

Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscle Force Recovery After Eccentrically-Induced Muscle Damage in Healthy Individuals | Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations | PMC

Creatine Loading Phase: What Is It, and Is It Necessary? | Sports Illustrated

Creatine: What It Does, Benefits, Supplements & Safety | Cleveland Clinic

Older post Newer post