Find out what happens to a beginner that takes creatine for 30 days, the benefits and side effects.
Creatine is one of the most researched and used supplements in the bodybuilding community to build muscle. Therefore it is regarded as safe if taken within normal parameters.
Jeremy Ethier, a renowned fitness trainer and Kinesiology graduate, is the co-founder of Built With Science. His YouTube channel has over 4 million subscribers and he delivers clear information with sound background research
Ethier is the man behind the project of taking a beginner and getting him creatine for 30 days to see the progress and pitfalls, if any.
See below how it all went down.
What Happens to a Beginner that Takes Creatine for 30 Days? (Plus Results and Side Effects)
Ethier did the experiment with Raza, a beginner who never took creatine in his life and for the following 30 days, Ethier measured his body weight, muscle size and strength to see how much the supplement helped (or hurt).
When you begin taking creatine, it won’t provide immediate results. The benefits only become apparent once your muscles reach full saturation, meaning their creatine stores are completely filled. Typically, this occurs in about 3 weeks if you take one 5-gram scoop of creatine per day. However, you can achieve the benefits faster, potentially within a week, by following a loading protocol of 20 grams of creatine daily. Keep in mind that some individuals might experience stomach discomfort with this approach.
To alleviate stomach pains, Raza adjusted his creatine intake. Instead of taking the full amount at once, he spread the servings throughout the day and fully dissolved each dose in water. Additionally, he refrained from taking it with pre-workout or any caffeine, as there is some evidence suggesting that caffeine may reduce creatine’s effectiveness and increase the likelihood of stomach discomfort. These adjustments seemed to work for him.
After the 7-day loading phase, the creatine in your muscles should be fully saturated, and that’s when it begins to take effect. At this point, you can reduce the dose to 5 grams per day to maintain your elevated creatine levels. However, it’s worth noting that not everyone responds to creatine, with approximately 20-30% of people being non-responders. Therefore, it’s essential to watch for certain signs to determine if it’s working for you.
When creatine enters a muscle cell, it draws water into the cell, causing a temporary increase in bodyweight, typically around 1-3 pounds. This water retention can give your muscles a fuller appearance and is a positive sign that the supplement is effective.
Concerns about creatine and hair loss stem from a study in 2010, where rugby players showed increased DHT levels during the loading phase, a hormone linked to male pattern baldness. However, the increase was still within normal levels, and no other study has confirmed these results. While it may not be a major concern, it’s essential to monitor any changes in hair growth.
If you respond well to creatine, you should notice a slight boost in strength across your exercises. Research indicates that trained lifters can expect an average 8% increase in strength and a 14% increase in the number of reps performed. Less experienced lifters may experience even more substantial benefits. Raza, for example, saw improvements in his exercises, aligning with these findings.
Apart from strength gains, a study with NCAA athletes showed that 81% reported faster recovery from their training when taking creatine.
While 95% of supplements might not live up to their claims, creatine is an exception. It is a natural and safe supplement that can make a noticeable difference if you respond well to it. However, always remember that proper nutrition and consistent training will have a much greater impact on your progress than any supplement alone.
So, at the end of 30 days, here is how his measurements changed:
- Biceps – from 36 cm to 38 cm
- Shoulders – from 120cm to 125cm
To see how Raza trained, his nutrition and more information about it, watch the full video below.
Is Creatine Loading Necessary?
Honestly, no. You do not have to go through a creatine-loading phase to reap its benefits. The only difference is that it may take you longer to achieve the results compared to someone going through the process.
As creatine is considered harmless, most people who are serious about gaining muscle mass will utilise the creatine loading phase to see results faster without compromising health or recovery.
Creatine is not considered a PEDs by any sports industry. Check out this comprehensible guide for athletes regarding protein and creatine intake.
Progressive overload is a fundamental principle in strength training and exercise that involves gradually increasing the demands placed on the body over time. It is the process of continually challenging the muscles and body systems to adapt and grow stronger by increasing the resistance, intensity, volume, or complexity of the exercises performed.
The concept of progressive overload is based on the understanding that the body will only change and improve if it faces a stimulus that exceeds its current capabilities. By regularly subjecting the body to increased demands, it will adapt to meet those demands, resulting in improvements in strength, muscle size, endurance, and overall performance.
There are several reasons why people should incorporate progressive overload into their workout routines:
- Muscle Growth (Hypertrophy): Progressive overload is essential for building muscle. When muscles are repeatedly challenged with heavier loads or higher intensity, they experience microtears. In response to this stress, the body repairs and rebuilds the muscle fibers, leading to muscle hypertrophy or growth.
- Strength Gains: By progressively increasing the resistance or load lifted during exercises, the muscles become stronger and more efficient in handling heavier weights. This leads to noticeable improvements in overall strength and functional abilities.
- Performance Improvement: Whether it’s lifting heavier weights, running faster, or increasing endurance, progressive overload allows individuals to continually push their boundaries and achieve new personal bests.
- Preventing Plateaus: When the body becomes accustomed to a certain exercise routine without any increases in demand, progress can stagnate. Implementing progressive overload prevents plateaus and ensures consistent advancements.
- Injury Prevention: Gradually increasing the intensity and difficulty of exercises helps the body adapt to the demands and reduces the risk of injuries. A gradual approach allows tendons, ligaments, and other supportive structures to strengthen and adapt alongside muscle growth.
- Adaptation to Stress: Progressive overload challenges not only muscles but also cardiovascular and nervous systems. Over time, these systems become more efficient at handling the increased demands, leading to improved overall fitness.
- Long-Term Progress: Consistently incorporating progressive overload ensures that individuals continue to make progress in their fitness journey over the long term. It keeps the workouts challenging and engaging, reducing the risk of losing motivation.
- CrossFit Open beginner: Bastien Plu / Unsplash