Sports dietitians say that consuming 5,000 milligrams of creatine every day will super-charge your workouts with strength and power. That’s a lofty goal—unless you know the shortcut.
Here’s how you can ramp up your creatine intake without taking drastic measures so that you can pump up your gains.
Why Creatine Matters
“Creatine serves as a fuel source for short-duration, high-burst-type activity,”says Jose Antonio, Ph.D., an associate professor of exercise and sport science at Nova Southeastern University. If you sprint, lift, or do HIIT, creatine can likely help you do those things better.
How Much Creatine the USDA Recommends
None, but that’s only because creatine isn’t an essential nutrient, meaning you don’t need to consume it to live healthily.
How Much Creatine We Recommend
About 5,000 milligrams daily over the course of a month for long-term performance goals. This amount will increase the levels of phosphocreatine inside your muscles and allow for optimal energy production, says Chad Kerksick, Ph.D., director of the Exercise and Performance Nutrition Laboratory at Lindenwood University.
How Much Do I Have to Eat to Get Enough Creatine?
“You’d have to eat an ungodly amount of meat,” says Antonio, to hit that number. More specifically, you’d have to eat 39 ounces of beef or salmon a day—more than eight times the amount of protein from meat suggested by the USDA. Repeat: Do not eat 39 ounces of beef or salmon in a day.
How to Get the Target Amount of Creatine
Take a supplement—and make sure it’s the right kind. “There have been no well-controlled clinical trials to show any other form of creatine is better than creatine monohydrate, and usually other forms are more expensive,” Kerksick says. Seek out a product with third-party credentials like the NSF International “Certified for Sport,” which ensures the product contains what the label says it does and that it has been tested for contaminants and banned substances.
A few brands we like: Bodylogix, CytoSport.
Bodylogix Micronized Creatine Monohydrate
Cytosport Monster Creatine
Is the Creatine “Loading Phase” Safe?
Yes, the loading phase—or taking a super dose of 20,000 milligrams of creatine for four or five days—is safe. But “it isn’t necessary,” says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., a Men’s Health nutrition advisor.
“Research suggests that after 30 days, results from using creatine end up the same for strength gains.”
So if you need faster results (e.g., five days vs. 30 days), then loading could work. Up to you.
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