How Long For Creatine to Work? (1-Week & 1-Month Results)

Before you can experience the performance-enhancing benefits of creatine, you have to build up the creatine stores in your muscles. Which begs the question… how long does creatine take to work?

Creatine kicks in once you reach muscle creatine saturation. It can take seven days to reach this point, with a loading phase of 20g of creatine per day, or up to 28 days with a maintenance phase of 5g of creatine per day.

Supplementation with creatine can benefit strength, power production, and your ability to produce more muscle mass over time, and in this article we'll go over:

  • How much time it takes creatine to kick in
  • Timing and dosage of your creatine supplement
  • 1-week, 1-month, and 3-month results

And much more. Let's get started.

How does creatine help you?

Man picking up dumbbells to train

We will keep this simple.

When we lift weights, the main energy source for our muscles is ATP - adenosine triphosphate. Creatine enables a faster regeneration of ATP, which allows us to get an increase in strength, power output, and ultimately increase our muscle mass over time.

In the simplest form, supplementing with creatine allows us to get those one or two extra reps when we are lifting weights.

Your body naturally produces 1-2g of creatine per day.

If you are consuming meat, you are also getting 1-2g of creatine per day from your food.

However, that is only enough to have your muscles stores of creatine 60-80% full at any given time.

Here is where supplementation with creatine comes into play. You can take supplements to increase your creatine muscle stores to 100% and use that energy to aid your training.

However, that is only enough to have your muscles stores of creatine 60-80% full at any given time.

How long does creatine take to work?

Tired man wondering how much time it takes creatine to work

As mentioned above, it takes seven to 28 days on average for creatine to work.

The good news is that the timeframe is entirely in your control.

For creatine to work, you have to reach a state called muscle creatine saturation. In other words, you have to take creatine until your muscles are at 100% creatine capacity.

How fast you reach that threshold depends on whether you are using a loading phase or not.

You have a choice between:

  • Starting with a maintenance phase
  • Starting with a loading phase

Below we will discuss each phase in particular, as well as the dosage required in each one of them.

Maintenance phase

To get your maintenance dosage, use the following formula:

  • 0.020g of creatine/lb of bodyweight
  • 0.045g of creatine/kg of bodyweight

Therefore, someone who weighs 155lb (70kg) will take around 5g of creatine per day, every day.

Now, once you start the maintenance phase you will reach muscle creatine saturation within 28 days, according to research. From here on out, you don't need to cycle off creatine, you don't need to increase or decrease the amount, none of that.

All you have to do is keep taking the same dose every day, indefinitely.

But is it safe?

Yes. Numerous studies concluded that there is no short term or long term risk associated with creatine supplementation in otherwise healthy individuals.

Loading phase

A loading phase consists of a short period of time where you are consuming relatively large quantities of creatine, so that you can reach muscle creatine saturation faster.

According to research, ingesting 20g of creatine for 6 days will achieve the desired effect.

Once the loading phase is complete, you will follow it with a maintenance phase indefinitely.

Ideally, you will spread the 20g in four 5g-servings throughout the day.

Although there are no particular side effects of creatine for healthy individuals, ingesting too much in one serving can lead to gastrointestinal upset. To avoid this issue, simply split your dose into several servings throughout the day.

How to time your creatine intake?

Now that you know how long creatine takes to work, the difference between phases, and how much you should take, you may have another question: does it matter when you take your creatine?

The answer to this question is both yes and no.

If you have been taking creatine chronically (for an extended period of time), it doesn't matter whether you take it pre or post-workout, in the morning or at night, before or after a meal. Just take it.

However, if you are just getting started with taking creatine…

There is some suggestive data that shows it may be a bit better to take creatine post workout, instead of pre-workout.

However, we wouldn't stress it much.

As a last suggestion in regards to timing creatine…

We found that it is especially easy to forget to take your creatine dose.

For this reason, we recommend you to "time" it at the exact same time every single day. This has nothing to do with its effectiveness but to you building the habit of always taking your creatine.

What results can you expect from creatine use?

Man on creatine doing a bench press with a spotter behind him

Before you decide to start taking creatine, you may be wondering what you should be expecting in terms of results over time.

The timeline below should help you manage your expectations.

1-Week creatine use results

How much change you see in the first week of taking creatine depends on two factors:

  • Your initial muscle creatine levels
  • Whether you are using a loading phase or not

If you usually eat a lot of red meat or sea food, then you may not see much of a difference in your first week of creatine supplementation. Whereas, if you are following a vegan diet and you don't get much creatine from your food, there is a chance you will see some significant performance improvements.

It also depends on whether you are using a loading phase or not.

If you start filling your muscle creatine stores with a loading phase, results will show quicker.

For example, one study performed around high intensity cycling found that a 4-day creatine loading phase improved the subject's cycling power by 3.7%.

Aside from performance improvements, you may also notice slight physical changes:

  • Muscle fullness. Creatine makes your muscles store more water, making them look fuller.
  • Increase in scale weight. Since you are storing more water, your scale may show you are gaining weight. In reality, you are not putting on weight but just holding on to more water.

If you decided to build your creatine reserves through a maintenance phase, instead of a loading phase, you may not notice any differences in your first week of supplementation.

With that being the case, don't get discouraged.

Creatine starts to shine only when your muscles are fully saturated, which can take up to 4 weeks.

1-Month creatine use results

If you have been taking your creatine dose consistently for the past month, your muscles should be fully saturated - whether you've done it through loading or maintenance.

At this point you should see some performance improvements:

  • Increased strength
  • Added reps to your sets
  • Better power output

Research shows that people who consistently take creatine can see, on average, an 8% increase in strength and power output in high intensity exercise like weight lifting, sprinting, etc.

As far as the weight scale is concerned, your weight should start to level out.

If you haven't undergone a loading phase and have built up to this point through a maintenance dosage only, the results you are experiencing at the 1-month mark are similar to the results you'd be getting in the first week through a loading phase.

3-Month creatine use results

By the time you reach the 3-month mark of creatine supplementation, your muscles will be fully saturated, regardless of your starting levels and whether a loading phase was used or not.

You should see more strength and power output compared to your starting point.

Research shows that creatine combined with weight training is more effective at increasing strength and performance than resistance training alone.

To be more precise, a review of 22 studies concluded that athletes taking creatine had an increase in bench strength ranging from three to 45%, with the improvement in overall weightlifting performance ranging from 16 to 43%, as compared to athletes who ingested a placebo.

What now?

  • You continue taking creatine at maintenance levels indefinitely. Multiple studies have proven that creatine is safe for long term use and that there is no reason to cycle on and off.
  • You stop taking creatine and take a break. Studies show that any performance improvements as a result of creatine supplementation will not be lost with supplementation cessation, provided you keep your training intensity the same.

That being said, if you do decide to stop taking creatine, you may experience some weight loss.

Creatine stores will stay high for two weeks following cessation, after which your levels will start to fall back to the baseline prior to supplementation. Your muscles will lose some of the water content, meaning that your scale will show weight loss, and your muscles will look less full.

How to make creatine work faster?

Picture of a scoop of creatine

If you want to make creatine work faster, we recommend you to use a loading phase.

A loading phase consists of taking relatively high doses of creatine (20g per day) for 5-7 days. This helps you achieve muscle creatine saturation faster. Once the stores are filled, we recommend you to follow up with a maintenance phase of 5g per day for as long as you want.

We recommend you to split the 20g into 5g servings across the day.

But why four servings of 5g?

  • Digestion. If you ingest creatine in doses larger than 10g it may lead to gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and nausea.
  • Convenience. Since it is not recommended to take two doses of 10g as it may lead to stomach upset, the most convenient way to ingest the 20g is through four doses of 5g.

Interestingly enough, the more you can split the 20g, the better your body will absorb the creatine. One research paper found that ingesting 20 doses of one gram of creatine per day in a loading phase resulted in less urinary excretion of creatine. Meaning that, there was a better absorption of creatine into our muscles.

That being said, remembering to take your creatine 20 times a day can truly become a hassle.

Therefore, the best way to take creatine for faster results is:

  • Start with a loading phase of 20g of creatine for 5-7 days
  • Split your dosage into 5g servings throughout the day
  • Follow the loading phase with a maintenance phase

If you train with high intensity exercises and have your nutrition on point you should see creatine kick in with its benefits within a week.

Does the type affect how fast creatine works?


There are multiple types and brands of creatine on the market.

Nowadays, every creatine manufacturer and their uncle talk about how their product is better, works faster, has more benefits, and so on and so forth.

Aside from that, you will stumble upon the occasional "new and revolutionary" type of creatine which does wonders. Only to never hear of it ever again.

Creatine monohydrate is the most researched and reliable type of creatine. No other type of creatine gives better results, and no other type of creatine works faster. If you plan on taking creatine, then you should get creatine monohydrate.

With that out of the way, there are some things you have to keep in mind:

  • Purity. When you get your supplement, make sure you get 100% creatine monohydrate. You don't need extra ingredients, flavoring, or sweeteners. Also, make sure the product has been tested for chemicals, information which should be available on the label.
  • Powder over pills or liquid. This is not a hard rule and comes down to preference but it's more convenient to consume creatine in powdered form than as a liquid or pills.

Thus, there is no need to overcomplicate creatine.

Just take 100% creatine monohydrate in powdered form, with no other additives.

What benefits can you expect from creatine?

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, creatine enables your ATP energy sources to recover faster. To be more specific, creatine helps form ATP during the first ~10s of a maximal muscular effort.

From this you can draw a conclusion: creatine is only effective for high intensity exercise.

With that out of the way, let's see some of the benefits you can expect from taking creatine:

Just take 100% creatine monohydrate in powdered form, with no other additives.

  • Increases strength
  • Improves power output
  • Increases muscle mass over time
  • Decreases the risk of injury

What happens if you stop taking creatine?

Picture of a skinny man in front of a wall with a drawing of two flexing arms

Once you stop taking creatine, your muscles will start to decline to their usual level over a period of four to five weeks.

The best thing about creatine is that, once you stop supplementing, the strength gains will NOT subside, as long as you keep your training intensity high.

The only strength difference is that you will no longer see improvements as fast.

You can think of it as having a new baseline. And once you start taking creatine again, you will see improvements starting from this new baseline.

Aside from that, you will also notice two physical differences:

  • Your muscles will look less full since you are no longer retaining as much water
  • The scale may show that you are losing weight since, again, you are no longer retaining as much water

As a last point we should note that cycling off creatine will not desensitize your body, so that you can subsequently force new adaptations. Therefore, there is no benefit to ceasing creatine supplementation without good reason.

Who responds to creatine the fastest?

If you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or you don't include much meat in your diet, then you will see the benefits of creatine faster than your counterpart.

People who eat a lot of meat have higher levels of creatine in their muscles. Since their creatine stores are higher, they can experience some of the benefits creatine has to offer - at least partly.

The bottom line

So how long does creatine take to work?

As with a lot of things, it depends. Those who are using a loading phase - 20g of creatine for 5-6 days - can reap the benefits as fast as one week in. If you don't want to use a loading phase and take creatine at maintenance levels - 5g per day - then it may take up to 28 days to see the results.

With that said, creatine works wonders paired with high intensity exercise and good nutrition. If you want to maximize the benefits of this supplement, you should consider optimizing those two factors too.

Over to you.