Creatine is one of the most utilized supplements in strength and power sports. However, if you’re a beginner, it may be unclear whether creatine is something you should start taking right away or if it is only for those with more training experience.
Should beginners take creatine? Yes, most beginners should consider taking creatine because it is scientifically proven to improve your performance in and out of the gym. It’s also the most well-researched supplement on the market and has no harmful side effects (if taken correctly with the proper dosage).
To get the maximum benefit from creatine supplementation as a beginner, it’s important to know how creatine can improve your performance, which type to take, and how to take it.
After reading this article, you’ll learn:
- What creatine is
- Why beginners should take creatine
- Who should not take creatine
- What type of creatine is best for beginners
What Is Creatine? A Simple Explanation
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your body that plays an important role in energy production, with 95% of it stored in your muscles and the remaining 5% stored in your brain.
Creatine supplementation has become an area of interest because there is only so much creatine that your body produces naturally, and when your body’s stores are depleted during exercise, you become fatigued and unable to sustain the same amount of effort.
Fatigue at higher intensity efforts is primarily due to creatine stores being depleted because creatine plays a role in the phosphocreatine system, which is the energy system responsible for high-intensity short-duration activities like sprinting, lifting, and throwing.
By supplementing creatine and increasing your body’s stores, you can increase the amount of time that you can spend at higher intensity efforts by delaying the time to fatigue.
This is significant because if your natural creatine stores only allowed you to do 3 reps at a certain weight before becoming fatigued, creatine supplementation could enable you to complete 5 or 6 repetitions at the same weight without fatigue setting in.
Over time these additional reps would add up to produce better results than if you were training without creatine.
- To make sure you have enough energy for your workouts, you should also consider taking creatine with pre-workout.
10 Reasons Why Beginners Should Take Creatine
The 10 reasons why beginners should consider taking creatine are:
- Creatine is the most well-researched supplement
- Creatine helps to build muscle mass
- Creatine helps to increase strength
- Creatine delays the time to fatigue
- Creatine can improve cognitive function
- Creatine has no harmful side-effects
- Creatine can improve recovery from training
- Creatine gives you the best value for the price
- Creatine could decrease the risk of injury
- Creatine may reduce the risk of diabetes
1. Creatine Is the Most Well-Researched Supplement
Creatine is a great option for beginners because it is one of the most well-researched supplements on the market, and therefore there is extensive evidence that it’s proven to work when taken correctly and at the recommended dosage of 3-5g per day.
Many supplements on the market these days have limited scientific evidence that supports their claims, so I understand that beginners may feel hesitant about taking supplements.
However, with creatine, you can be sure that it will produce results as long as you’re choosing creatine monohydrate and ensuring that the brand of creatine you choose is third-party tested for quality control and label accuracy.
- If you want to know exactly how much creatine to take for your bodyweight and goals, use our Creatine Calculator
2. Creatine Helps To Build Muscle Mass
Creatine has been proven to help build muscle mass more effectively when combined with a structured training plan compared to training alone.
The reason for this is that when your creatine stores are saturated, you can sustain higher force outputs for longer periods, allowing you to perform more total work during a training session.
If more work is performed to present an adequate stimulus for muscles to continue to adapt, your body is more likely to build muscle mass because it will need to increase its force-generating capabilities to meet the demands being placed upon it.
- With that said, you can still build muscle without creatine supplementation. Learn more in Can You Build Muscle Without Creatine? (What Science Says).
3. Creatine Helps To Increase Muscular Strength
Creatine supplementation is also appropriate for beginners because it helps to increase strength, which is likely the goal for most beginners.
Creatine helps to produce strength gains at a faster rate when combined with training than training without creatine supplementation. This is also due to an increased ability to sustain higher efforts and delay the time to fatigue.
As you gain more strength you will be able to lift heavier weights, improve your body composition, improve other lifestyle factors, and likely improve your confidence as well.
4. Creatine Delays the Time To Fatigue
Creatine is a great option for beginners because it helps to increase the amount of work that you can do before becoming fatigued.
Creatine is an important part of your fastest energy system, the phosphocreatine system.
Once creatine stores are depleted, your body will have to shift more towards its glycolytic system (which relies on carbohydrates for fuel) and eventually the aerobic system (which uses carbs and fats for fuel and supplies enough energy for your body to sustain long periods of activity).
Shifting towards those systems to supply the majority of the energy you need isn’t ideal for strength training because those systems provide energy more slowly than the phosphocreatine system and deliver less force output.
But when you supplement with creatine, you can increase the amount of work that you’re able to do at higher intensities before becoming fatigued because there is more creatine available to be used by the phosphocreatine system for energy.
- Related Article: Creatine vs Mass Gainer: Do You Need Both To Gain Weight?
5. Creatine Can Improve Cognitive Function
Creatine supplementation is also beneficial for beginners because it has been shown to enhance cognitive function.
Research shows that when creatine is supplemented, there are significant improvements in the speed of processing and memory stores.
For these reasons, it has been suggested that creatine supplementation could help prevent neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. However, more research is needed before this can be recommended as an option for prevention.
6. Creatine Has No Harmful Side Effects
Creatine supplementation is appropriate for beginners because research suggests that it has no harmful side effects when taken appropriately in the correct dosage.
Some will argue that beginners shouldn’t take creatine until they’ve maximized their capabilities without creatine and progress has slowed, but because there is no downside in supplementing creatine, there is no reason to delay creatine supplementation.
If you start supplementing with creatine right off the bat, you will gain muscle and strength more efficiently than if you had waited.
Creatine is safe for the majority of people. However, if you have suspected renal (kidney) issues or you’re nervous about taking creatine, you should always talk to your doctor.
- Some people do report side effects from creatine such as feeling tired or getting dizzy, but these are not likely due to the creatine itself. Learn more in Creatine Makes Me Tired: Causes & How To Fix and Creatine Makes Me Feel Dizzy: Why & How To Fix.
7. Creatine Can Improve Recovery From Training
Creatine supplementation can help beginners because it could enhance your ability to recover from training, which helps to improve your performance by allowing you to bounce back more quickly following an intense training session or perhaps even from a minor injury.
The better you can recover, the better your results will be long-term because of a consistent training stimulus. Creatine’s potential to improve recovery is exciting because, unfortunately, it’s very common for beginners to sustain an injury from doing too much too soon that delays their progress in the gym.
8. Creatine Gives You The Best Value For The Price
Another reason why beginners should start taking creatine is that it gives you the best value for the price compared to all other supplements on the market.
Creatine monohydrate in particular is the cheapest form of creatine while also being the most effective.
Even compared to protein powder, which is widely used by those who strength train, creatine is a better choice because you can get the necessary amount of protein from food but you cannot consume enough creatine from food to get the full benefit.
- If you do want to experience all of the benefits of creatine but have trouble meeting your daily protein targets, you can mix creatine with protein powder.
9. Creatine Could Decrease the Risk of Injury
Another reason that creatine supplementation should be considered by beginners is that it could decrease the risk of injury, which is always a concern for those new to strength training.
Research has shown that those who supplement with creatine may have fewer injuries overall compared to those who train and don’t take creatine.
In a similar study, it was reported that those who supplemented with creatine had fewer muscle cramps, strains, sprains, and total injuries than those who did not take creatine.
More research is needed before we can conclusively say that creatine supplementation decreases the risk of injury. However, the results seem promising so far.
10. Creatine May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Creatine supplementation can also be beneficial for beginners who are struggling to control their blood sugar and have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
There have been studies on creatine supplementation and blood sugar that suggest that creatine supplementation can help reduce the risk of diabetes, especially when combined with exercise interventions.
- Related Article: Is Creatine And Pre Workout The Same
When Should Beginners NOT Use Creatine?
Beginners should not take creatine if:
- They’re inconsistent
- Their doctor advises them not to
1. They’re Inconsistent
Those who aren’t willing or able to be consistent with taking their creatine supplement shouldn’t waste their time with it because the best results are achieved with continued use.
If you’re unable to take your supplement regularly, there is no point in taking it as it’s unlikely that you will see results.
- Related Article: Creatine Every Other Day: Should You Do It?
2. Their Doctor Advises Them Not To
If your doctor has advised you not to take creatine, it’s best to trust that they have your best interests at heart and that creatine wouldn’t be beneficial for you.
Although creatine has been proven to be completely safe for those who are healthy, this may not be the case for those who have specific medical conditions such as kidney disease or high blood pressure. For this reason, it’s always best to consult a physician.
Which Type of Creatine Should Beginners Take?
Although there are many different types of creatine on the market, creatine monohydrate has proven to be the most effective type of creatine for strength, hypertrophy, body composition, and cognitive function.
There are claims that other types of creatine on the market are better than creatine monohydrate because they are formulated in a way that makes them more soluble. However, there isn’t enough research to support that increased solubility improves the absorption or benefits of these other types of creatine.
When looking at supplements, I always recommend looking for creatine monohydrate, whether it’s in pill form or powder form, because it is the current gold standard for creatine supplementation.
How Should Beginners Take Creatine?
Beginners can choose to take creatine in pill or powder form based on personal preference as there isn’t a significant difference between the two forms of creatine as long as the type of creatine and the dosage remain the same.
Beginners should take creatine on a daily basis for the best results, and generally 5 grams a day is a sufficient dosage.
As a beginner, you could choose to do a loading phase where you take larger doses of creatine (20 grams per day) for 5 to 7 days to saturate your creatine stores at a faster rate, but this has proven to be unnecessary.
- One thing I don’t recommend is dry scooping creatine because it can lead to choking, irritated airways, creatine waste, and dental problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Creatine Is Best For Beginners?
The best creatine for beginners is creatine monohydrate because it has the most scientific evidence to support that it’s safe and effective. Additionally, creatine monohydrate is the most affordable type of creatine.
When Do You Know It’s A Good Time To Start Creatine?
It’s a good time to start taking creatine when you feel that you’re becoming more consistent with your efforts in the gym or sports training and can also be consistent with taking your supplement.
What Kind of Results Should You Expect From Taking Creatine?
When supplementing with creatine, studies suggest that you can expect 5-15% improvements in maximal power/strength, 5-15% improvement in maximal effort muscle contractions, 1-5% improvement in single-effort sprint performance, and 5-15% improvement in repetitive sprint performance.
Should You Take Creatine Even If You Don’t Lift?
You should take creatine even if you don’t lift if you’re engaging in a sport that is very fast-paced and uses the same energy system as you would while lifting, such as one that requires a lot of jumping or throwing. You could also choose to take creatine purely for the cognitive benefits even if you’re not active.
Creatine supplementation is a great option for beginners and therefore should be strongly considered by those who want to pursue strength or aesthetic goals.
Additional Creatine Resources
- How Long For Creatine To Work (1-Week & 1-Month Results)
- Can You Take Creatine Forever? (What The Science Says)
- Can You Take Creatine Before Bed? And, Does It Affect Sleep?
- What Happens When You Stop Creatine (6 Things To Know)
- This Is Why Your Creatine Is Not Dissolving (And How To Fix)
- Creatine Shits: Is It Normal To Poop A Lot On Creatine?
- Does Creatine Make You More Hungry? (What The Science Says)
- Does Creatine Make You More Aggressive? (Science-Backed)
- Does Creatine Make You More Vascular? (What Science Says)
- Does Creatine Make You Look Bigger? 5 Things To Know
- Does Creatine Help You Lose Weight? (What Science Says)
- If You Missed a Day of Creatine Do These 3 Things
About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.