Many guys use creatine as a way to help them build muscle. But there are still tons of questions surrounding it. How much should you take? What should you take it with? What are its effects?
We asked Carolyn Brown, R.D., a nutrition counselor at Foodtrainers to explain six things you should know before you start taking it.
1. “I’m always about diet first,” she says. “Don’t add creatine if your food is a hot mess.” This means eating as many whole, unprocessed foods as you can, focusing on protein (like grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild-caught salmon, and yogurt), unrefined grains, and fruits and vegetables.
2. Creatine isn’t just found in supplements. Foods like beef, pork, and salmon are all natural sources of it.
3. Creatine is a quick way to add muscle, but not without some water weight, Brown warns. Sometimes you’ll see up to 1 to 2 kg of water retention in the first week.
4. If you take creatine but don’t work out, you will still gain water weight. Often people feel super puffy when taking it, Brown says.
5. According to Brown, taking creatine with a source of carbohydrates—even something like a small amount of juice—increases its absorption.
6. If you are going to add a supplement, make sure it’s creatine monohydrate. Other forms have things in them that you don’t need, and they’ll be more expensive.
By Danielle Zickl