When you purchase your first tub of creatine, there may be dozens of questions popping up in your head. One of the most common questions that arise is: how much water to drink with creatine?
You can take creatine with a glass of water. How much water you drink with your creatine scoop isn't important, as long as you hydrate properly throughout the day. Aim for 8-10 cups of water daily without creatine supplementation, and around 15 cups when being on creatine.
This is the answer in a nutshell.
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Quick summary of our key findings
How much water should you take with creatine?
The answer to this question is, it depends.
Some people may be wondering how much water to mix with a serving of creatine, while others want to know if their daily recommended amount of water increases once they start taking creatine.
With that said, there are a lot of myths surrounding creatine.
One of those myths is that taking creatine can lead to dehydration and cramping. While we cannot precisely say it doesn't have these side effects, there is some interesting body of research that suggests quite the opposite.
As we will see next, creatine may actually lower your chances of dehydration and cramps.
Should you drink more water when taking creatine?
Yes, you should be drinking more water when taking creatine.
But not for the reasons you believe.
As mentioned before, there is this myth going around that, unless you drink enough water, taking creatine can lead to dehydration and muscle cramps (also due to dehydration).
So as you can see from these studies, there is no evidence that creatine causes dehydration or cramps.
On the contrary, it looks like creatine has the opposite effect.
Why increase the amount of water you drink with creatine, then?
Creatine gets absorbed into muscle through the help of water. That is why you also gain some water weight when you start taking creatine - because your muscles fill up with water to support the creatine.
And the more water you drink, the more creatine you ingest can be absorbed.
Obviously, this works up to the point where your muscles are 100% saturated with creatine.
But if you want to get the full benefits of creatine, then you should increase your daily water intake.
How to take your creatine with water?
A lot of people skip taking creatine days on end because they simply don't like mixing it with water and chugging it. Its chalky taste gets boring very quickly.
And if you want to avoid artificial sweeteners in flavored creatine, then you are left in a standstill.
Here are my best tips for taking creatine:
What else to drink with creatine?
I could not drink water with creatine mixed in to save my life.
What worked for me was dry scooping creatine and then chasing it with water.
However, since this trick will most likely not work for everyone, here is a list of other possible liquids you can drink with creatine.
Creatine and apple juice
If you are not dieting, drinking creatine with apple juice can be a good idea.
The research is not 100% conclusive. However, it is believed that mixing creatine with a carb-rich drink, like apple juice, can actually help it absorb faster into the liver and skeletal muscle. The thought process goes that a carb-rich beverage stimulates the production of insulin, which in turn helps creatine absorb better.
However, if you are dieting it may not be such a good idea.
The calories you get from the apple juice can be put to better use - like eating actual food - when you are on a low calorie diet.
Furthermore, drinking something sweet could lead to more cravings.
We do not recommend you mixing creatine with orange juice though, as discussed in the next section.
Creatine and a protein shake
If you don't want to drink water or apple juice with your creatine, consider a protein shake.
A few studies have been conducted, where researchers have looked at whether there are certain benefits or, quite the opposite, side effects to taking creatine and whey protein together.
The research is clear that there is no added benefit nor side effect to mixing the two supplements.
Therefore, since it is convenient and it also does a great job at masking the chalky taste or creatine, it can be a good idea to mix it in your protein shake.
What NOT to drink with creatine
There are some liquids that we don't recommend to mix with creatine.
When you mix creatine supplements with the following liquids, you may experience stomach upset or you may hinder your body's ability to absorb the creatine.
Creatine and coffee
Some studies have been performed, where participants drink a mix of creatine and coffee.
In small quantities, it seems that mixing the two can increase your gym performance. Together they may support muscle growth, strength, and power.
However, when mixed in larger quantities, you run the risk of stomach upset and dehydration.
Creatine and orange juice
If you don't like drinking creatine with water, your first instinct might be to mix it with orange juice.
Unfortunately, mixing this supplement with citric acid will degrade its qualities, turning it into unusable compounds by your body. That is, avoid mixing creatine with orange juice, grapefruit juice, lemonade, or other drinks that contain citric acid.
Creatine dosage and timing
Dosage of creatine is pretty simple.
We have written at length about this topic in our article about creatine loading.
There are two avenues you can take, and this is the gist of them:
So what is the difference between the two?
With a loading phase you will experience the full benefits of creatine within a week. Whereas, if you start with the maintenance dosage, you will experience the full benefits of creatine within 28-30 days.
This is it. No other difference. Choose whichever one you feel is better for you.
Some people say it's better to take creatine before a workout. Others say it's better to take it after.
There are those who say it's better to take it close to the workout.
Then there are those who say it's better to take it a long time before or after the workout.
According to what the available research shows, it doesn't matter whether you take creatine before or after a workout. However, the proximity to the workout seems to be important.
In other words, it doesn't matter if you take creatine before or after a workout, as long as you take it closely before or after the workout.
In the end, the most important aspect is to take it daily and not skip your intake.
The bottom line
So how much water to drink with creatine?
As much as you want with a serving, and around 15 glasses (or 3.5L) throughout the day.
Dehydration is a serious problem, and people who actively train are at a higher risk of reaching that point than those who don't train. Creatine doesn't increase the risk of dehydration though.
On the contrary, it helps you retain more water in your body, decreasing the risk of dehydration.
All in all, it's up to you. If you feel like you need more water, drink more. If you feel like you are drinking too much, cut back on it. It all boils down to that old adage: listen to your body.
Over to you.