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What is creatine? 

Creatine is a substance that naturally occurs in our body and is formed from three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine. It is produced by the body itself in the liver. Your body produces about one gram of creatine per day. Food, especially meat and fish, contain creatine. If you wanted to get enough creatine from your diet to see results in performance training, you need around 5 grams and for that you’d have to eat about one kilo of beef or 1.2 kilos of chicken per day. Therefore, anyone enhancing their training regime usually supplements it. 

Creatine has become a popular supplement because it helps high-intensity muscle performance – from bodybuilder to the more casual ‘pushing their limits’ exerciser. And the great news? It’s readily available in powder or pill form and most people see and feel fast results when they start taking it. 

Why is it necessary to supplement creatine? 

If you’re looking to saturate your creatine storage, it is hard to generate enough creatine from diet alone. You would need to eat a ton of meat every day. Additionally, vegetarians will find it hard to get enough from their diet to saturate their stores. It’s popular to saturate creatine stores because it then helps muscle strength through prolonging explosive movement, replenishing the muscle’s energy source. This can help athletes get the most out of their training sessions.

How does creatine actually affect the body? 

When you exercise, your muscles need an energy source to move. After a muscle contraction, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) breaks down into adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Triphosphate becomes diphosphate, or more specifically, a phosphate part is lost because it is used as an energy source. Creatine phosphate is the phosphate part that falls away during short and powerful movements of up to 10 seconds. Your body can make ATP from ADP again by supplying creatine. The supply of phosphate to turn ADP into ATP is also called re-synthesis. Due to the supply, muscle cells are then better able to sustain explosive movements and it is this that helps increase your performance.

Does creatine make you look bigger? 

Yes. A plus for people using creatine, because it ensures fluid is drawn from the body into muscle cells, the muscle cell’s volume is increased and you get a fuller look. Bodybuilders like this, and it’s obviously a plus if you’re into the seriously sculpted look. There is a myth that it causes fluid retention, but this is different as it occurs outside the muscle cells. Voluminisation occurs inside the muscle cell itself by drawing water from the body in, and this makes the cell itself look fuller.

Does creatine make you put on weight or body fat?

A logical consequence of fluid retention, even in muscles, is increased body weight, plus when used with training muscles will get bigger. So most people do see an increase in weight of a kilo to two over a couple of weeks. Those wanting to lose weight tend not to use this supplement. However, the weight is held mostly in the muscles making them bigger and fuller, so it really depends on what effect you’re after. After that initial retention period, subsequent gains are due to the increase in the workload your muscle can handle, according to Paul Greenhaff, Ph.D., professor of muscle metabolism at the University of Nottingham in England. Some guys think that if they take creatine and don’t work out, they’ll put on fat — but this just isn’t true. “Creatine contains no calories, and has no impact on your fat metabolism,” he explains. “So taking creatine and not working out is just going to lead to nothing.”

What are the benefits of creatine?

Creatine increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly. It’s very straightforward: if you're able to lift more weight in the gym, you're able to create more of the muscle fibre tears that your body can then repair and rebuild bigger and stronger after your workout. It essentially helps you to keep going past the burn, past the maximum point you can usually get to, or push past what you achieved in your workout before.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, creatine is rated as ‘possibly effective’ when it comes to improving muscle strength.

Which athletes benefit from creatine?

As mentioned before, athletes who make short and powerful movements can benefit from creatine because they use it as a source of energy during exercise. These can be strength athletes, like weightlifters and bodybuilders, but also sprinters and high jumpers. Really anyone who is looking to do an intensive workout, up their training regimes, and push themselves can benefit.

Creatine monohydrate as nutritional supplement

The most famous form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. This is the most researched form and is considered the purest creatine worldwide. This creapure creatine monohydrate is a German quality product and is the most sold creatine supplement in the world! This is one of the most popular brands we supply, as well as many others and our own brand creapure creatine monohydrate too.

Maximise effects through combining creatine with fast carbohydrates

Creatine’s absorbability is thought to be improved by combining it with fast carbohydrates. It is therefore wise to take a creatine supplement at the same time as a carbohydrate-rich meal or carbohydrate supplement. Examples of this are Dextrose Pure and Maltodextrin. This is also called taking a creatine ‘shuttle’, it’s thought the carb source creates a big insulin spike that shuttles it into muscles most effectively.

The top ways to take creatine

There are many different recommendations on how to take creatine. It’s mostly about finding a way that works for you. You can take it with a simple sugary drink you like the taste of. Don’t take it with orange juice as the acidity is thought to negate those positive effects. But warm water is also thought to work OK if you don’t like sugary juices, and cranberry juice can be a good alternative option too. Some people like to add it to their post workout shake.

When should I drink or take creatine?

To keep your creatine storage saturated, it's important to take creatine consistently. That means taking it on training days as well as rest days. Some believe it's best to take after your workout, as your creatine levels are likely in need of replenishment at that time. But really, it's all about finding a way to fit it in your personal routine.

If you wish to take more on a training day (i.e. 5-10 gm) or you’re doing a fast loading phase, you can try dividing your dose, taking half pre-workout and the remaining half post-workout to avoid intestinal discomfort.

Should I take creatine every day?

Although the body makes only 1-2 grams per day, the odds are good that your body can handle an intake of 5 or more grams per day. Anybody over 200 pounds can take 10 grams quite safely provided that they drink sufficient fluids (to avoid cramping). Some people have been taking as much as 20-30 grams a day since it was first available in 1990. We recommend a loading phase so we recommend taking 1 scoop per day for 28 days. After this your levels will be elevated, you can keep them elevated by continuing the 1 scoop per day. If you want even faster results you can take 4 times this quantity for the first 5 days, then maintain levels by taking 3 grams a day after that. Most creatine products give you their user guidelines on the packet on how long, how often, and how much to take.

Is creatine safe?

As creatine is a compound made up of multiple amino acids already present in bodies and it’s manufactured in humans and animals, it is a totally safe supplement. The human body has 100-115 grams of creatine in the form of creatine phosphate at any one time. No negative side effects have been noted in research with the recommended levels of supplementation. It is not recommended that you take creatine if you have kidney issues though, as this is where excess is excreted out the body. Also pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, or those taking prescription medicines, or those who have any underlying health issues, should talk to a healthcare professional when starting up with new supplements.

We hope this has been useful on some of the theories around creatine usage, and why it’s a very popular supplement. If your focus is on muscle boosting, it’s a supplement everyone already talks about, and the industry is continuously learning new things about how the body works with and synthesises creatine.

And it’s also useful to know…

It’s impossible to say creatine will definitely work for you and increase strength, power and body mass. Creatine has different effects on every individual. Some people just don’t respond to it— it’s a genetic thing. If you've just started taking creatine, you should know if it works for you within a few weeks. If your training muscle volume increases, it’s working for you. If not, you’re probably a non-responder. And you need to put in the training work with a pretty heavy strengthening routine. You can’t just take it, sit back and expect to see results without the workouts to match.