GAIN MUSCLE

How Much Water Should I Drink While Using Creatine?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated July 27, 2023

Hydration is key if you want to make out the most of ingredients like creatine. 

The reason for this is that water is pulled into muscles when you're using creatine.

And you'd need to drink even more water if you're taking a lot of caffeine, like from pre-workouts

Creatine monohydrate increases water retention, making it more necessary to remain hydrated, especially during your workouts. 

Just how much water should you consume during the day with creatine?

Well, the answer is, you should be drinking at least 3-4 liters of water per day.  

It's not uncommon for active people to consume around 1 gallon of water per day.

And you can take creatine anytime, as the timing doesn't matter. 

How Much Water Should You Drink With Creatine?

Given creatine's role in muscle water retention and to ensure optimal hydration, consuming at least 3-4 liters of water per day is recommended, adjusting this volume to your personal needs and level of physical exertion.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is made out of 3 amino acids, glycine, methionine, and arginine. 

The body naturally makes it and it can be obtained from supplements as well as foods like red meat and seafood. 

With an abundance of creatine in the muscles and the brain, it's no wonder there are a ton of benefits from this supplement. 

Creatine works in several ways, one of the main ways is through cellular energy during high-intensity exercise. 

It increases ATP production by donating its phosphate group to ADP, adenosine diphosphate. 

By supplementing with creatine, you'll get more strength, endurance, lean mass, and better overall performance in the gym. 

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most researched and safe supplements in sports nutrition. 

Hundreds of studies have already proved its effectiveness and safety. 

How Does Creatine Work?

Let's dive into the world of creatine, a natural superstar in our bodies.

This power player is born in the liver and kidneys, with a little help from three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine.

Once it's all grown up, creatine hits the road, traveling through the bloodstream to our muscles.

Here, it steps into the spotlight, playing a key role in energy production.

Inside our muscle cells, creatine undergoes a makeover, transforming into a molecule called phosphocreatine. This high-energy molecule is like a secret stash of energy in our muscles.

Its main gig?

Donating a phosphate group to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to whip up some adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Now, ATP is kind of a big deal. It's often called the "energy currency of life," powering most of our cellular processes.

When a cell has a job to do, it breaks down ATP, releasing energy and turning ATP back into ADP. And so, the cycle continues.

But here's the thing. When we're pumping iron or sprinting, our muscles are hungry for energy, and they want it fast.

Our natural ATP stores can only fuel a few seconds of this high-intensity action. Enter phosphocreatine.

This speedy helper quickly donates its phosphate group to ADP, regenerating ATP and providing a rapid energy source for our working muscles.

This means we can keep up the high-intensity performance just a little bit longer.

And the benefits don't stop there. Supplementing with creatine can boost your phosphocreatine stores in the muscles, helping to improve your high-intensity performance and leading to increased muscle strength and growth over time.

But creatine isn't just about energy production.

It also promotes muscle growth by pulling water into your muscle cells, increasing their volume.

This process, known as cell volumization, can kickstart processes that lead to muscle growth.

Plus, creatine has been shown to boost levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in muscles, a key hormone for muscle growth.

It can even reduce protein breakdown, giving muscle growth an extra boost.

So, what's the takeaway?

Creatine works its magic in the body by boosting energy production during high-intensity exercise, promoting muscle growth, and enhancing muscle recovery.

It's a valuable ally for athletes and anyone looking to improve their physical performance and muscle strength.

But let's not forget, most of the creatine in our bodies is tucked away in skeletal muscle, with a small 5 percent in the brain.

The liver, kidneys, and pancreas hold onto about 1.5-2% of the creatine storage.

It's this creatine that's used to fuel high-intensity exercises like weight training, cardio, and plyometrics [1, 2, 3].

This is how creatine powers up your physical performance:

  1. The body produces ATP when it oxidizes carbs, protein, or fat.
  2. ATP is the body's main energy source, powering most of your daily activities.
  3. When a process like muscle contractions during activity uses a phosphate group, it's powered by energy in the form of heat.
  4. Once a phosphate has been used from the ATP, it's now turned into ADP (adenosine diphosphate).
  5. ADP is a byproduct of ATP hydrolysis and can't do much unless it's converted back into ATP.
  6. This is where creatine steps in. It donates its phosphate group to the ADP to recreate ATP.
  7. The cycle repeats, producing more energy.

That's the power of creatine. It not only improves performance but also plays a huge role in increasing muscle mass by increasing water retention [4, 5, 6].

Does Creatine Cause Water Retention?

Creatine can lead to increased water retention. 

Consuming 20 grams of creatine monohydrate increases total body water, extracellular water, and intracellular water. 

Creatine is shuttled into muscle cells through a sodium-dependant creatine transporter. 

However, some research does show that water retention is either short-lived or doesn't happen at all from creatine. [7]

If water retention does occur, it's beneficial for muscle protein synthesis which is what happens when muscle cells have more intracellular water.

If you want to avoid water retention, then avoid using a creatine-loading phase where you consume anywhere from 20-30 grams of creatine per day for a week.

Creatine loading can also cause gastrointestinal distress or other side effects and it's not necessary to load up on creatine to make the most out of its benefits. 

How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?

Hydration is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, irrespective of whether you're supplementing with creatine.

Water is vital in numerous bodily functions, including digestion, nutrient absorption, temperature regulation, and cognitive function.

Therefore, understanding how much water to drink daily is essential for optimal health and performance.

The Importance of Hydration

Water makes up more than 50% of the human body, and this percentage is even higher in our muscles, where creatine does its work. Therefore, staying well-hydrated is not just about quenching your thirst; it's about ensuring your body and muscles function optimally.

Dehydration can negatively impact both your mental and physical performance. Symptoms of dehydration can include dry mouth, fatigue, dry eyes, and even a decrease in urine output or dark yellow urine. Therefore, drinking enough water throughout the day is crucial to avoid these issues.

Calculating Your Water Intake

The amount of water you should drink can depend on various factors, including your body weight, the climate you live in, and your level of physical activity.

However, a general guideline is to aim for at least 3-4 liters of water daily.

This equates to around 8-10 glasses of water, since one glass is typically around 400ml.

For those more physically active or live in hotter climates, this amount may need to be increased to compensate for the additional water loss through sweat.

Hydration and Creatine

When supplementing with creatine, it's important to maintain good hydration habits.

Creatine works by pulling water into your muscle cells, increasing their volume and aiding in muscle growth and recovery.

Therefore, staying well-hydrated can help maximize the benefits of creatine supplementation.

However, it's important to note that there's no scientific evidence to suggest that you need to increase your water intake when taking creatine drastically.

As long as you're maintaining good hydration habits and drinking enough water to meet your body's needs, you should be able to safely and effectively use creatine.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

For both men and women, water makes up more than 50% of their bodies. 

It's important to stay hydrated whether you're using creatine or not. 

Being dehydrated can impact your mental and physical performance which is why it's important to drink plenty of water. 

If you have a dry mouth throughout the day, dry lips and eyes and constantly feel tired, then you may be dehydrated. 

And another sure tell sign that you're not drinking enough water is if your urine is yellow and not white. 

So you should make sure you drink around 3-4 liters per day to stay hydrated. 

What Do The Experts Say?

You heard it from the horse's mouth - no, make that horse's mouths.

Four of them.

Each an expert in their own right, striding the fields of exercise science and sports nutrition.

And they're all singing the same tune.

Ready for a recap?

First up is Dr. Jeff Volek from The Ohio State University. Jeff is not just a guy with a fancy title.

He's a heavyweight when it comes to human sciences. And here's his bottom line: creatine rocks.

Period. But hey, don't get carried away. You need to keep up the H2O.

It's not that creatine is a hydration hog.

Nope.

It's because your body needs water for just about everything it does.

That includes letting creatine work its magic.

Next, meet Dr. Eric Rawson.

This professor of Exercise Science at Bloomsburg University is another top dog in the world of creatine.

His take? Your body might hold on to a bit more water when you're on creatine.

But it doesn't mean you're on a fast track to Dehydrationville.

Quite the opposite. Staying hydrated, creatine or not, is your ticket to performance and safety.

Enter Dr. Jose Antonio, the head honcho at the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

For him, creatine isn't just safe, it's got a bucket load of health benefits.

Brain health? Check. Exercise performance? Double check. But hold on.

While Jose is a fan of hydration like our other experts, he's quick to point out that there's no hard and fast rule to guzzle extra water with creatine.

Lastly, but by no means least, there's Nancy Clark.

A sports dietitian par excellence, she's a go-to guru when it comes to fueling your body right.

For Nancy, hydration isn't just about downing extra water with your creatine.

It's a 24/7 gig.

Her advice? Remember that you're 60% water.

And your muscles, where creatine does its thing, need their fair share.

Alright, you've heard what the experts have to say.

But remember, this isn't one-size-fits-all advice. Everyone's body is unique. So, before you dive headfirst into the world of creatine and hydration, have a chat with your healthcare provider. It's the smart thing to do.

Side Effects of Creatine

While creatine is generally considered safe for use, especially in healthy individuals, it's important to note that everyone's body responds differently to supplements.

Some people may experience side effects, although they are usually mild and temporary. Here are some potential side effects associated with creatine supplementation:

  1. Water Retention or Bloating: Creatine draws water into your muscle cells. While this can help increase muscle size, it can also lead to water retention, causing a feeling of bloating or puffiness in your body, particularly in the muscles.

  2. Stomach Discomfort: Some people may experience stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or nausea when taking creatine, especially if taken in large doses or on an empty stomach. It's often recommended to take creatine with a meal to help mitigate these potential side effects.

  3. Muscle Cramps: There have been some reports of muscle cramps or strains associated with creatine use. This could be due to dehydration, as creatine pulls water into your muscles. It's important to stay well-hydrated when taking creatine.

  4. Kidney Damage (Rare): There's some concern that taking high doses of creatine for a long period could harm the kidneys. While most research shows that creatine is safe for use, individuals with existing kidney issues should avoid creatine supplementation.

  5. Heat Intolerance: There have been reports of people experiencing heat intolerance and an increased risk of heat-related illnesses (like heat stroke) when taking creatine. This is likely due to the water retention effect of creatine, which can affect the body's ability to regulate temperature.

It's important to note that most of these side effects can be managed by adjusting the dosage or timing of creatine intake.

However, everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

As with any supplement, it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting to take creatine.

They can provide guidance based on your individual health needs and circumstances.

Common Creatine Myths

There's plenty of misinformation and questions about creatine supplementation.

Answering and addressing these concerns is key to understanding creatine and its safety. 

Creatine causes dehydration and cramps

There was one study performed in the early 2000s where they concluded that those exercising in a hot environment should avoid using creatine. [8]

Later on, studies found no evidence that supported this, and actually, those who used creatine are less likely to have cramps and dehydration issues.

Creatine can only improve athletic performance

Creatine has a wide range of benefits from brain health to muscle growth as well as strength gains. 

There are plenty of benefits to the use of creatine. 

Creatine causes kidney problems

This is probably what scares people away the most from creatine but this is one of the oldest myths. 

Creatine has no effect on kidney function, from both long and short term use.

How Much Water Should I Mix With 3-5g Creatine?

Okay, let's dive into the meat of the matter: how much water should you be drinking with creatine?

As our panel of experts agreed, hydration is important - no two ways about it.

But when it comes to the exact amount of water you should drink when taking creatine, things get a bit more... fluid.

See, here's the thing: there's no one-size-fits-all number.

Like a bespoke suit or a custom guitar, it depends on you - your body, your lifestyle, your workout regimen.

Consider this. Say, you're the type that's already guzzling the recommended 8 glasses of water a day.

You're ticking off the hydration boxes pretty well.

Taking creatine isn't an automatic sign for you to start flooding your system with even more water.

Remember what Dr. Jose Antonio pointed out?

There's no hard and fast rule to consume extra H2O while supplementing with creatine1.

But, and this is a big but, if you're one of those people who rarely reaches for a water bottle, then stepping up your hydration game could be a good move.

It's not just about the creatine, it's about overall health and wellbeing.

Nancy Clark puts it best when she says our bodies are 60% water2. And, trust me, you want that water to be working for you.

Now, let's talk grams. If you're wondering how much water to drink with 3-5g creatine, we're back to square one.

Again, there's no set-in-stone rule. Most creatine instructions will tell you to take it with at least 8 ounces (roughly a cup) of water.

But remember, that's just to make sure you're not trying to swallow a dry supplement.

It's not a hydration directive.

So, bottom line:

Keep yourself hydrated, always. It's good for you.

It's good for your muscles.

And it's good for making the most of your creatine.

FAQ

What is creatine?
Creatine is a substance that naturally occurs in muscle cells.

It plays a crucial role in helping your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.

Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts due to its ability to improve performance and muscle gain.

Apart from supplementation, creatine can also be obtained from certain foods, predominantly meat and fish.

Can creatine cause dehydration?
There is a common myth that creatine supplementation can lead to dehydration. However, this is not supported by scientific evidence.

Proper hydration is always essential, especially when engaging in regular exercise, but creatine itself doesn't cause dehydration.

Nonetheless, to maximize the effects of creatine and to stay on the safe side, keeping well-hydrated is recommended.

What is the recommended amount of water to drink with creatine?
The amount of water intake recommended when taking creatine isn't drastically different from general hydration guidelines.

Following the "8x8 rule" – drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day – can be a good starting point.

However, this should be adjusted based on personal needs, considering factors such as body weight, level of physical activity, and the climate of your residence.

Is it safe to take creatine?
Yes, creatine is considered safe for use when taken as directed.

A large body of research supports the safety and effectiveness of creatine supplementation for improving performance during high-intensity, short-duration exercises.

However, as with any supplement, individuals should consult a healthcare professional before beginning a new creatine regimen, especially those with underlying health conditions.

Can drinking too much water be harmful?
While it's important to stay hydrated, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to water.

Overhydration, or water intoxication, is a condition that occurs when you consume more water than your kidneys can excrete.

This can dilute the electrolytes in your blood, leading to a condition known as hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening in severe cases.

Do I need to take creatine with a meal or on an empty stomach?
Taking creatine with a meal may aid in its absorption.

Studies have found that co-ingesting creatine with carbohydrates and proteins can significantly increase muscle creatine stores compared to taking creatine alone.

So, while it's not necessary, it might be beneficial to take your creatine supplement with a meal.

Can I mix creatine with my protein shake?
Yes, creatine can be mixed with a protein shake or any other beverage of your choice.

Mixing creatine with your protein shake does not affect the creatine's effectiveness, and it might even improve absorption if the shake contains carbohydrates.

Can I take creatine without working out?
Creatine is predominantly beneficial for those engaging in high-intensity workouts, as it helps the muscles produce energy.

However, taking creatine without exercising will not cause harm.

Even without exercise, creatine supplementation can potentially lead to an increase in muscle phosphocreatine stores, which can be beneficial during any physical exertion.

However, to see the most pronounced benefits of creatine, regular high-intensity workouts are recommended.

Final Words

Alright, folks.

You've hung in there, and now it's time for the grand finale.

The moment you've been waiting for: the bottom line on exactly how much water to drink with creatine.

So, here it is:

Keep it simple, keep it smart. Stay hydrated.

That's it. There's no magic number, no secret formula.

Your hydration needs aren't going to skyrocket simply because you're taking creatine.

Whether it's 3g or 5g, your body's need for water doesn't hinge on your creatine dosage.

What really counts is maintaining good hydration habits across the board.

Because, as Nancy Clark reminded us, our bodies are about 60% water.

That water is vital for a whole host of bodily functions, including letting creatine work its wonders in your muscles.

Remember what Dr. Jose Antonio pointed out?

There's no scientific backing to the claim that you need to guzzle extra gallons of water with creatine. 

So if you're already nailing your hydration goals, great!

Keep up the good work.

If not, now might be a good time to step it up a notch.

That said, everyone's body is unique.

There's no one-size-fits-all in the world of hydration and creatine.

So if you're unsure, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional.

They can help you fine-tune your hydration strategy to suit your individual needs.

There you have it.

Your journey into the world of creatine and hydration is complete.

Now, armed with knowledge, you're all set to make the most of your workouts.

So go on, take the plunge and dive into your next tub of creatine without worries. 

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Search This Site

About FitFrek

FitFrek operates as an independent platform, offering comprehensive workouts, programs, routines, guides, and unbiased reviews to accelerate your progress. We pride ourselves on our honesty, delivering straightforward and candid insights. FitFrek does not offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment services.

FitFrek © 2013 – 2023 All Rights Reserved
Exclusive Site of Nader Qudimat
magnifier cross menu
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram