To build muscle, improve your performance, and enhance your recovery, consider adding creatine to your supplement regime. However, to know what to expect, consider how creatine works and how long it may take to see results.
It takes 5 – 7 days to saturate muscle creatine stores when doing a creatine load and 28 days (4 weeks) when doing a maintenance dose of 3 – 5 grams daily. Short-term results can be seen within these timeframes, whereas longer-term results, such as muscle mass gains, can be seen after 6 – 12 weeks.
There are different dosing protocols you can look at when taking creatine, and the one you choose can determine how long it takes to reap the benefits of taking creatine.
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How Long Does It Take Creatine To Work?
To discuss the exact timeline for expected results, we first need to define what we mean when we say that the creatine is “working.” There are some key things we need to consider:
The time it takes to “saturate” or fill up muscle creatine stores, and then the time it takes to yield specific results – there will be long-term positive results from taking creatine, as well as short-term results from taking creatine, and each will have their own timeframe from the point of saturation.
In a typical diet with 1–2 grams of creatine per day, muscle creatine stores are usually filled to approximately 60–80% capacity.
The time it takes to boost muscle creatine levels depends on whether or not you do a creatine load, which is 5g of creatine monohydrate (or about 0.3 g/kg body weight) four times a day for 5 – 7 days [1, 3].
Alternatively, you can take in 3 – 5 g/day for 28 days , which will have similar effects on performance and muscle gains in the long term but have less of an effect on performance and training adaptations until muscle creatine stores are fully saturated [1, 2].
Longer-term results when using creatine include body composition changes like muscle mass gains and loss of body fat. Studies looking at these outcomes range between 6 weeks [7, 8], 10 weeks  and 12 weeks .
This is because it takes time to build muscle, and you must follow a well-planned, periodized training program.
How Long Does It Take Creatine To Wear Off?
If you only took creatine for a short time and your muscle creatine levels were not saturated, this timeframe may be shorter.
Do I Need To Take Creatine Before Or During My Sessions To Work Faster?
Because creatine is a supplement that needs to be taken every day to see results, you won’t see better results by taking creatine in sessions vs before or after sessions or elsewhere in the day .
However, it is easier to remember to take creatine by adding it to your pre- or in-workout nutrition regime. Read my creatine before or after a workout article for an in-depth breakdown.
Does Creatine HCl Improve Results Faster Than Creatine Monohydrate?
Studies have not shown that creatine HCl is more effective in improving muscle creatine stores or that creatine HCl leads to faster results . I broke down the creatine HCl vs monohydrate debate here.
Creatine is a fantastic tool in the toolbox to improve performance, strength, muscle mass, and recovery. The dosing protocol you choose – whether it is loading for 5 – 7 days or a dose of 3 – 5 grams for 28 days – does determine how long it will take for creatine to work.
You can expect short-term results like performance and recovery as soon as your muscle creatine stores are saturated, while muscle gains and body composition changes may take a bit longer (a couple of weeks) to achieve.
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