I’m really excited about sharing this new way of taking creatine monohydrate with you today! 🙂
It comes from Paul Cribb of ast-ss.com who has done tireless research on the subject.
According to Cribb, the traditional approach could be destroying
“70-80% of the potential gains that could be obtained“,
because the traditional dosage pattern fails to maintain high muscle creatine concentrations over a longer period of time (6 to 12 weeks) ( Volek et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 31: 1147-1156, 1999.)
Also, the traditional loading period (20 grams per day for 5 days) may cause creatine saturation outside the cell which prevents effective muscle uptake for weeks or maybe even months! Bad news! 🙁 (Guerrero-Ontivers, M.L. and Wallimann, T. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 184: 427-437, 1998)
Apparently a small maintenance dose (2-5 grams per day) is next to useless for maintaining high muscle creatine concentrations. Using a small dose after loading ensures that high muscle creatine concentrations virtually disappear within 6 weeks. (Van Loon et al. Clinical Science 104:153–162. 2003)
So what is it that we want from our creatine anyway?
The goal is to:
Maximize the uptake of creatine by muscle cells to create and maintain the maximum muscle creatine concentrations possible
Cribb suggests we do this by way of ‘creatine cycling‘ but not in the usual sense.
How to Cycle Creatine
The principle is simple. We do short term ‘creatine loading‘ following by ‘creatine abstinence’ over and over again. The pattern goes like this:
- Load for 3 Days
- Abstain For 3 Days
- Repeat Steps 1 and 2
The daily dose of creatine will range from 15-25 grams/day depending upon the size of the individual. If you weigh over Over 180 pounds, go for 25 grams per day. The are no further details unfortunately from Cribb on this but I think the following is a pretty good dosing strategy:
- > 180 pounds – 25 grams
- 150 – 180 pounds – 20 – 25 grams
- 140 – 150 pounds – 15 – 20 pounds
- < 140 pounds – 15 grams
This is a sliding scale so someone weighing 146 pounds might go for 18 grams of creatine per day. This is my guess at dosage for different weights so feel free to experiment.
How To Use Creatine Monohydrate
- Take 1 serving 10 mins before your workout
- Take 1 serving 10 mins after your workout with your post workout shake
- Take 1 more serving within 3 hours of working out
- Take 1 or 2 more (if necessary depending on your dosage) throughout the day, morning and/or night.
So theoretically this strategy accomplishes the goal of maintaining high muscle creatine concentrations and preventing what’s known as ‘creatine receptor down-regulation’. Down-regulation refers to creatine receptors in muscle cells becoming desensitized. The frequent ‘off-periods’ should prevent this.
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3 days on and off can be tricky to implement as it’s not a nice weekly cycle. You’ll need to mark out your days in advance. It’s also important to know that this cycle continues regardless of whether or not it is a training or non-training day.
Now the (slightly) bad news. If you are currently a creatine taker, I would advise an off-period before starting this. For the past 2.5 weeks I have been off creatine in preparation for this new method. Start to cycle off creatine for about 2 – 3 weeks to allow muscle creatine concentrations to lower in order to allow a re-sensitization for loading.
Note: Creatine needs water to work effectively. So along with every 5 gram dose of Micronized creatine, take 15 to 20 oz of water.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t already see good gains with creatine, this maybe this is the answer to your prayers. If you do however, then this could really help accelerate those gains.
My method has always been to first understand the theory, then try it out on myself to test for merit. If it’s true that I am destroying 70%-80% of potential gains from creatine supplementation, I want to know about it!
What Is The Best Creatine Supplement?
I am a big fan of micronized creatine monohydrate. Kre-Alkalyn and creatine ethyl ester have come along with great marketing campaigns designed to take your money. As far as I am aware there are no comparative studies that can be validated by anyone outside the companies that actually make these supplements. There’s a sucker born every minute they say, I hope you’re not one of them.
Let’s face it, if there was a supplement that worked 70%-80% better than creatine, we’d all rush after it and happily pay that little bit extra. Well, you may get these results by simply taking a great supplement, micronized creatine monohydrate, and executing a more effective cycling strategy.
I personally like AST ‘s Micronized Creatine Monohydrate but any creatine monohydrate in micronized form should do the trick!
Tell all your friends and let’s get some decent feedback on this new strategy!
Enjoy Experimenting. To Amazing Gains! 🙂
Update: To see the results of this experiment, read this post
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Mark, do we still count our number of carbs per day when doing this new creatine cycle. Or is it a low carb and low suger creatine. i’ m a little confused.
Oh by the way, i have been on your program for 8 weeks and I am seeing results, i still have a little belly fat, but not much, just that little bit extra that is hard to get off…….
Are you still supposed to make sure you don’t take the creatine within 30 minutes of a meal? 5 doses a day would be hard to do if you are eating 5 meals a day. Also, I’m planning on doing 4 days of loading and 3 days off. I’ll be more consistent if I’m loading M-R and taking F-Sun off. Hopefully, that won’t mess up the effectiveness to much.
I’m going to try your method of loading creatine. Today is my first day. I enjoyed the article, but you’re not specific on what do we mix the creatine with. For example, what kind of juice is best for the one before the workout. I use apple juice because I don’t like grape juice; it’s too sweet. Thanks
I am curious if you know anyone that has tried the Kre-Alkalyn Creatine as when I went to get my creatine, my friend that has grown up around lifting as his dad owns a health store here in our town, recommended the Kre-Alkalyn Creatine. So far I have had great results with it, as has he and several of his other clients. Do you have any sites or anything with informative information as to why it wouldnt work. Thanks in advance.
@ Jake. Yes you still count carbs. I’m not sure what you mean by “low carb and low suger creatine”, creatine doesn’t count towards carbs or calories in any way.
@ biggunks. Take your creatine between or after meals, you don’t have to wait 30 mins. I thought of the 4/3 cycle but want to do it by the book.
@ Leonor. As a low carber I take my creatine with water or in a protein shake always. If you’re on a high-carb diet, fruit juices are usually taken but even a dextrose/water solution will work.
@ Chas. Well the burden of proof is on those who suggest it works or even works more effectively than creatine monohydrate. There needs to be a ‘CM V KA V Control Group’ type study, done openly – not by a supplement company, to put the issue to rest. If KA is more effective, I’d buy it – but I’m not a believer at this point in time.
I really wish someone would do that study, as I have been looking around for a while now to find any such evidence that goes either way and there seems to be so much confusion about whether or not Creatine Monohydrate is better than the KA, or what the time frame is for Creatine turning into Creatinine. If you have any good reference sites as far as any of this I would love to read about it.
Thanks for your answer. I’m currently taking Mironized Creatine from “Wellements”. I feel the gritty and sandy feeling when I take it, even when mixed with my shake. Does the AST Micronized Creatine have the same feeling?
You say that you’ve been off creatine for 2.5 weeks before transitioning to this new method, but is that what you recommend for “off-time” or should it be longer?
Yes 2-3 weeks off creatine would suffice.
I’m in the over 180 range, so if I understand correctly, I should take 25 grams “total” for the day? So I should take approx 6 grams per serving for each of the 4 servings mentioned above?
I just want to be clear.
BTW, I’ve been seeing a nice gradual change from flabby to fit in the last couple of months using your suggestions.
Just reread the article and see it is obvious that I should take 25g total in 5g doses. Please ignore previous foolish question. 🙂
No probs Greg. Great to hear about your results man.
All the best,
ive heard about olimps massacra creatine,what do you know about this and is it any good
I never got an answer to my question about AST Micronized Creatine. What actually is the texture of this product when it’s mixed with juice? Does it have that sandy feeling? Since you already tried this product, you can actually tell the truth. Thanks
Hi Mark. I know that dehydration is a potential side effect of taking CM. If I’m intaking 4-5x as much CM as I have been (5 g), will I need to intake 4-5x more water? I’m currently drinking 4-5 liters of water. 16-20 liters is pretty ridiculous.
Hi, i weigh 250 pounds should i be doing more than 20grams. I’ve just been putting a heaped teaspoon of creatine in my morning pre-work out shake, 3 days a week when i go to the gym. Should i have some creatine after my work out, i dont have a post work out shake as i’m trying to keep the weight down.
@ Leonor. No, AST’s micronized creatine is like fine powder, not gritty at all. I highly recommend it.
@ Luay. No, certainly not. Your current water intake is enough.
@ Paul. Go for 25 grams. If all you’re having before your morning workout is a shake, your performance may be suffering. I would advise a solid meal pre and a shake afterwards with your creatine.
How are you finding this way of taking your creatine, or too early to say? rgds A
Interesting…I’ve never heard of this type of a creatine cycle, but it sounds like it actually makes sense. I was never a big believer in the load and then maintain idea. I’ll have to try this sometime.
Hi Mike I weigh 112 pounds, do I take creatine on non-workout days? and if so when? Also do i Also take 15 grams of creatine?
Also I do the 3day workout thing so how should I cycle it?
Mark do you take creatine even on the weekend and non workout days?
With this method you take creatine 3 days on, 3 days off no matter what. Weekends and non-workout days are included.
Hey mark do I need to buy L-Glutamine supplement if I take 100% Whey Protein Optimum Nutrition (which already has 4 grams of glutamine per serving) ?
I’m approximately 210lbs (6ft 1″), so obviously in the 25 grams category. I haven’t been a big creatine user previously and have just started a new workout/nutrition plan. Will taking creatine for the average joe working out at least 3 X a week create bigger muscle gains and in return burn more calories/melt away fat faster? Or is this something that’s better to do when at a certain BF % to “bulk up”? Thanks!
Could you possibly provide a link to the proof that this is effective
There is no proof Jarrod, that’s why I stated I would experiment with it myself to test it. My findings are that a regular load and maintenance is just as effective.
Hey Mark great stuff on this website, have a question concerning supplements. I have been hearing of this FDA approved supplement called Muscle Synergy by Beverly Hills nutrition, would you advise taking it or how do you feel about it? thanx
Mark, any updates on the new creatine-taking method? Any benefits seen or felt with the 3 on/3off schedule?
tried massacra by olimp,bloated,scutters,not worth the 55euro,nice fancy tub though.
Im taking the KA creatine (Pride-Retaliate) which works fine for me right now. But i noticed that the creatine that im taking comes with some sort of enzyme which suppost to make creatine more absorbant and therefor better, giving more results etc. Do you think this could make KA creatine better then Monohydrate?
hi mark. should we take creatine dose on resting days also? if yes then is there any need to reduce the dose? also tell me abt soy protein powder intake. as there is so much controversy, most dreadful one is its estrogenic side effect. bcuz.. i was willing to add on soy powder with whey protein
i just finished my first 3 days loading 20g a day, guna give this a go for a while, sounds a good idea.
Hey man, I’ve been using this method for around 6 weeks, and seen some great results, which I thank you for.
Reading up about creatine, I’ve heard mixed views about the effects of coffee when using creatine. Could you enlighten me on the effects, and tell me if it would at all be detrimental to my results, either during the 3 days on, and 3 days of abstaining.
@Ed – no I don’t believe there’s any conflict here. Just ensure you drink adequate water.
I could spend an hour rattling on about how incredibly awesome and overwhelmingly useful your site, honesty, and knowledge is to so many of us. Over the past year, I have completely transformed my body, from stick-thin to ripped, lean and muscular. The progress has been so fantastic that I am regularly asked if I am “on something”. I take that as a compliment…lol.
Thanks to a fantastic trainer that I work with 5x a week and a fellow bodybuilder (who has over 30 years experience in the sport) who assisted me in tailoring my high protein, carb-manipulation diet (which is much like yours, though I have 3 strict days followed by a carb-up day on the 4th, then repeat…works wonders….he is aware of your site and praises your research and advice as proven truth), I have come so incredibly far this past year and I am thrilled to continue this highly-rewarding personal journey.
Anyhow, in trying to keep this to the point, when it comes to creatine (I use AST’s Micronized as you suggest….along with Nature’s Best Isopure, which is HANDS DOWN the very best protein on the market…thank you Mark!), but I feel am a bit off in my consumption of the creatine. Since I started using it (months ago) I was told to only use the maintenance phase. So, for months, I included 5 grams in my morning shake, and 5 grams in my post-workout shake. Now though, I want to change the usage for the maximum effect. Should I just start a loading phase now, or come off creatine completely for 2.5-3 weeks then start again?
Also, is this your recommended timing for consumption?:
How To Use Creatine Monohydrate
1. Take 1 serving 10 mins before your workout
2. Take 1 serving 10 mins after your workout with your post workout shake
3. Take 1 more serving within 3 hours of working out
4. Take 1 or 2 more (if necessary depending on your dosage) throughout the day, morning and/or night.
Thank you in advance for EVERYTHING!
@Craig. Thanks for the great comments Craig.
Yes, that is my dosage when using this particular 3-on, 3-off cycle.
As far as loading or just maintenance is concerned – my take on it is that the idea of loading is to create maximal muscle creatine concentrations as quickly as possible. However, JUST using the maintenance dose alone will also achieve this, though over a much longer period of time.
It’s possible that you already have attained this concentration and therefore a loading phase would be counterproductive.
If you want to load, stay off creatine for 3 weeks and then cycle back on it.
Hope that helps.
I just started this method, but I’m unsure of something..
On my workout days I have 20 g/per day
And on my non work out days I take 20g also?
Hey mark, I’m turning 15 in 2 months and i am trying to bulk up for high school baseball. I’m about 5’10 and weigh 150 pounds.Would doing this program be recommended and if not not what would.