Creatine can be a gymgoer's best friend or nemesis. When supplementing with creatine, you must ensure proper hydration to combat side effects. So how much water should you drink while taking creatine?
This guide will discuss how much water you should drink in a day while taking creatine, the importance of proper hydration, and the side effects if you don't drink sufficient water throughout the day.
- How Much Water Should You Take With Creatine?
- Why Drinking More Water With Creatine Is Important
- What Happens If You Don't Drink Enough Water While Taking Creatine?
- Other Liquids You Can Mix With Creatine
- Frequently Asked Creatine And Water Intake Questions
How Much Water Should You Take With Creatine?
Creatine is one of the most common fitness supplements, especially in the bodybuilding community.
This isn’t a surprise, given that this supplement has been proven to help improve muscle growth.
However, like any other researched supplements, it can be potentially harmful if not consumed properly.
Generally, a normal dosage of creatine monohydrate is 3 to 5 grams and should be mixed with 6 to 8 ounces of water.
Learn more - How Much Creatine Should I Take? | Garage Gym Pro
You should also increase your total daily water intake from 8 glasses of water or around 2 liters to around a gallon or 3 to 4 liters of water to supplement your creatine intake.
Creatine Loading Phase
Your water needs will increase if you’re practicing a creatine loading phase.
If you plan on taking more than the recommended amount of 5 grams of creatine powder, you should add 100 ml of water per gram.
For example, if you’re on a loading phase and plan on doubling your dose to 10 grams of creatine powder, you need to add 500 ml of water to your daily water intake. (The average loading phase is 20 grams of creatine per day.)
One important note: this general creatine-to-water ratio can vary depending on the individual consuming creatine monohydrate.
Some individuals can drink less than the recommended daily water intake, while others need more.
Determining How Much Water To Drink For Your Needs
The amount of water you need to drink on creatine supplementation depends on your body weight, your exercise regimen's intensity, and how much you sweat.
Being properly hydrated is crucial for your performance, recovery, and overall health, whether you take creatine supplements or not.
So, when you’re starting to take a creatine supplement, we recommend you monitor how your body reacts to the supplement--and we’re not talking about muscle gain.
To check your hydration status, you can weigh yourself before and after training to see how much water you need to add.
Generally, for each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 ounces of fluid.
Another way to check your hydration status is by checking the color of your urine. When you're hydrated enough, the color is light to pale yellow.
If it's darker yellow, it could signify that you're dehydrated and need to drink water more frequently.
You should also consume a good amount of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus) on top of what you typically drink in a day.
This can help replenish what you've lost through sweating and urination.
If you're still unsure how much water to drink, use your calculator and follow this simple formula. This takes into account your body weight and exercise regimen.
Before factoring in physical activity, the formula for your daily water intake in ounces is weight (lbs) x 0.5.
To find out how much more water you need to add based on your activity, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends you add 12 ounces of water to your daily intake for every 30 minutes you work out.
So, the formula to get the additional water you need to drink is based on your workout time: (amount of exercise time/30 minutes) x 12.
Then, add the result of both to find out the exact amount of water you need to take each.
If you're not a fan of water, one trick that can help you stay hydrated is to drink juices or milk throughout the day.
This can give more variety to your day as these drinks usually have 80 to 90% water content.
Lastly, don't overhydrate. Many people think that overhydration doesn't have any negative effects, but this can lead to creatine water retention.
In addition, overconsumption of water can over-dilute the sodium levels in your bloodstream.
If you have low blood sodium levels, you can experience muscle cramping, delirium, coma, heat stroke, and in worse cases, death.
So, be sure to only drink the recommended amount of water, depending on your body weight and activity levels.
Why Drinking More Water With Creatine Is Important
To understand the importance of water when taking creatine monohydrate, you need to understand what this supplement is and how it works with your body.
Your Body Already Produces Creatine
Creatine is a popular pre-workout drink known to help in muscle mass growth, strength, and exercise performance.
Creatinine is an organic amino acid-like compound that your body produces naturally. Your body can produce creatine from the amino acids L-arginine, L-glycine, and L-methionine.
Since it shares similarities with three amino acids, it is known to help build protein.
95% of your body’s creatine is found in your skeletal muscles, primarily in the form of phosphocreatine or creatine phosphate. The remaining 5% can be found in your brain and testes.
Because it helps build protein, it is one of the most effective pre-workouts to help increase the energy levels needed for an effective resistance training program.
It can also provide rapid bursts of energy required in various workouts like high-intensity interval training and weight lifting. So, how does creatine work?
How Creatine Works
Taking creatine doesn’t just magically increase muscle mass growth. Creatine users should also complement it with an active and healthy lifestyle to enjoy its maximum potential.
The human body oxidizes carbohydrates, protein, and fat to produce a high-energy molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
Basically, ATP is the body's energy currency and is responsible for powering your body’s daily functioning.
When you do high-intensity workouts while creatine loading, the compound helps increase phosphocreatine stores in your muscles.
These additional stores create more ATP in your body. This additional ATP can give you more energy for heavy lifting and muscle protein synthesis.
Creatine’s Relationship With Water
On top of that, creatine helps muscle cells to absorb more water than usual. This is the main reason why it's recommended to hydrate more than usual.
When creatine draws water into your muscle cells, it can cause dehydration.
Although technically the water is still in your body, the increased "thirst" from your muscle tissue makes creatine draw water from your blood. This also results in dehydration.
The same reason that can potentially cause dehydration is also the reason for an obvious weight gain after a few days of taking creatine.
Many creatine users can see a slightly bigger and fuller lean muscle mass only a few days after starting a normal creatine intake--no wonder it is an effective supplement popular in the sports nutrition industry.
What Happens If You Don't Drink Enough Water While Taking Creatine?
If you're not drinking adequate water while on creatine, your body will be left with a very tiny amount of water since your muscles absorb most of it.
This will deprive your other organs of getting enough water. On top of that, when you work out and sweat, you don't just lose water.
You also lose electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which are critical for proper body functioning. Losing electrolytes can also lead to muscle cramps.
So, apart from water deficiency and dehydration, here are other things that may happen if you’re not conscious about what you drink with creatine:
Fatigue (Counter Effect)
This may sound ironic, but if you don't drink much water with creatine, you'll end up feeling exhausted instead of energized.
This is also due to dehydration, as your muscle cells are getting all the water in your body.
As dehydration sets in, your blood pressure drops. This can lead to poor circulation and reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to feel fatigued.
No one likes being bloated, especially if you're working towards losing weight. With creatine, your muscles retain more water.
If you don't have enough water in your body, your stomach will have very little water, resulting in gastrointestinal problems like bloating.
For the kidneys to function, they need sufficient water. If they don't have enough water, it may cause kidney stones and other problems.
Therefore, you must drink the appropriate amount of water while on creatine. This allows for healthy kidney function, allowing the proper functioning of your body.
Other Liquids You Can Mix With Creatine
If you're supplementing with creatine, you're probably wondering what other liquids you can mix with creatine.
Apart from water, you can mix it with your favorite juice, hot chocolate, tea, or any other liquids.
Related Article - What To Mix Creatine With (Guide For Liquids & Supplements)
It's recommended to mix it with hot water or room-temperature liquids as creatine dissolves slower in cold temperatures.
Many people are claiming that you should avoid mixing creatine with other pre-workouts that contain caffeine as they believe it will counteract creatine.
But this isn't true. According to a study, the only side effect you'll get from combining these two compounds is stomach discomfort.
However, too much caffeine throughout the day may be bad for you. Caffeine is diuretic and may cause dehydration. So, be sure not to take a lot if you’re on creatine supplements.
Frequently Asked Creatine And Water Intake Questions
For every 3 to 5 grams of creatine, you need 6 to 8 ounces of water. For every additional gram of creatine, add 100 ml of water.
In the first week, you can gain about 2 to 4.5 pounds of water weight gain. However, this will disappear after a few weeks.
There’s no benefit to adding sugar with creatine, but you are free to add some if you want your drink to taste sweet.
Whether you're a bodybuilder or just someone planning to bulk up, creatine supplementation can help grow your muscle.
Creatine is one of the most popular pre-workouts, thanks to all the benefits it provides.
Remember, when taking this supplement, you must be aware of your creatine water intake. This can help you make the most out of your supplement.