Drink 8 ounces of water with 3-5 grams of creatine for best results. You need to drink between 3-4 liters of water (about 15 8oz glasses of water) every day while taking creatine to maintain optimal hydration.
Without drinking enough water with your creatine, you might miss out on the full benefits creatine offers.
I did not drink enough fluids when I first started taking creatine, so continue reading on to learn the scientifically-backed specifics of how much water to drink while taking creatine.
How Much Water Should You Drink With Creatine?
So, how much water should you drink on creatine? Here is a good guide to follow:
- 8 ounces of water with 3-5 grams of creatine
Overall, to optimize creatine supplementation and total hydration, it's recommended that men drink at least 3-4 liters of water and women drink at least 2-3 liters of water daily.
When you start taking creatine, you'll take boosted doses for 5-7 days of 20-25 grams daily. You should drink 32-40 ounces (8-10 cups) of water daily while loading.
Then, you'll move into a maintenance phase and only take 3-5 grams of creatine daily, requiring 8 ounces.
I tell my clients that it might seem like they drink too much water, but their body needs that much if they are creatine-loading, especially paired with high-intensity exercise.
Water loss from sweat during a workout plus supplementing with creatine will cause you to increase water intake.
Taking pre-workout with high levels of caffeine may act as a diuretic, contributing to water loss from the body. However many ounces of liquid are in your pre-workout, I recommend replacing that with water throughout the day.
Wondering how long it actually takes to see the benefits of creatine? Check out our article How Long Does Creatine Take to Work.
What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water With Creatine?
If you don’t drink enough water (with creatine and throughout the day), you may experience signs of dehydration, which include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased fatigue
- Dry mouth
It’s also important to check your urine color to maintain proper hydration levels. Your urine should be pale yellow, similar to a lemonade color. If it’s much darker than that, you may be dehydrated.
As water leaves the body, salts, minerals, and other electrolytes are left behind in higher concentrations than before. This throws off the electrolyte balance in the body which can be detrimental to the cellular functions of our bodies.
Sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon Natasha Trentacosta, MD
While this doesn’t qualify as medical advice, you may want to boost your water intake if you’re experiencing any side effects of dehydration on a creatine dosage.
Previous research has proposed creatine to cause other effects like stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle cramping. The current position statement on creatine published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has since said that creatine does not increase the incidence of these side effects.
Curious if you can take creatine even on rest days? Read our article Should I Take Creatine on Rest Days to find out.
How Does Water Affect the Effectiveness of Creatine?
Creatine draws in more water into muscle cells when its concentrations are increased, so if there is not enough water around the muscle cells, the effectiveness of creatine is diminished.
The more it's dissolved in water, the faster it can get transported into the bloodstream. The faster creatine enters the bloodstream, the more available it is to aid muscle protein synthesis.
Muscle cells need energy to contract so you can lift and train hard. This energy is known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As you train, that energy is used up, which causes your muscles to fatigue.
Creatine is an amino acid which replenishes the energy stores. Supplementation increases the availability of creatine, which can lead to an increase in exercise capacity.
Wondering if creatine is good to take when trying to lose weight? Check out Should I Take Creatine When Cutting?
How Much Water Weight Can You Put On With Creatine?
You may gain anywhere from 2-6 pounds or 1-3 kilograms after about a week of taking creatine. The initial weight gain results from water being pulled from the bloodstream to the muscles.
A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that subjects gained between 1-8.5 pounds in body mass following 28 days of creatine supplementation.
Research shows that creatine could add body weight due to water retention. Since creatine monohydrate is osmotically active, it draws in more water as concentrations increase.
During the initial loading phase of 20 grams of creatine daily, a study found an increase in total body water. However, increasing weight is only a short-term adaptation from creatine loading.
Those early stages of water weight do not last for the long term. The water levels in the cells are more likely to change based on sodium and potassium intake, which are unlikely to be altered by taking creatine. Over the long term, that early-stage water weight is likely to subside.
In one study, athletes took about 20 grams per day for seven days and then five grams per day for 28 days. Ultimately, there was no significant change in intracellular, extracellular, or total body water.
So, the answer to the question, “How much water weight can you put on with creatine?” is it could be between 1-8 pounds. Some people will gain more water weight than others. Some people will not gain as much water weight compared to others.
Are you a powerlifter who needs to do a water cut for an upcoming meet? Follow our step-by-step guide on how to do a water cut for a meet.
Best Creatine Options for Lifters
Creatine and creatine monohydrate (the most popular form of creatine) can be found in both powder and pill forms. I recommend a powder, as it's easy to mix and drink. You want to search for known and reputable brands and double-check the dosage for each brand, as it can vary. This will help ensure you’re taking the right amount of creatine.
Here are my top three recommendations:
Optimum Nutrition is one of the top supplement brands in the world, so it’s no surprise that its creatine would make my list. It’s been tested and verified to be free of banned substances, so you won’t get in trouble for taking it if you participate in a drug-tested sport. With each serving, you’ll get 5 grams of creatine.
For more creatine options, check out MuscleTech's selection of supplements on iHerb. The Unflavored Platinum Series is the most popular, yet they have various flavors and types.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Creatine Cause Dehydration and Muscle Cramps?
No, taking creatine won’t cause dehydration and muscle cramps. This a myth caused by speculation that since creatine is osmotically active, it would alter the distribution of water in the body. However, the latest research has dispelled this myth.
How Much Water Weight Can You Put On With Creatine?
In the initial loading phase of taking creatine, which is usually 20 grams per day for 5-7 days, there could be a 2-6 lb or 1-3 kg increase in weight primarily due to water. In the long term, you could see an increase of up to 6 pounds in muscle mass, but those results will be affected by training intensity and diet.
If you skip the loading phase, you can see the same benefits, but it could take longer than 5-7 days.
Does Caffeine Affect Creatine Negatively?
There is some evidence that caffeine can lessen or blunt the performance-enhancing aspects of creatine. Additionally, taking the two at the same time can cause stomach issues in some people.
About The Author
Chris Cooper is a certified personal trainer through the NSCA and a massage therapist in New York. He has over 17 years experience blending the two worlds to work with clients in their pursuit to get stronger and move pain-free as they return from injury. He runs his coaching services through CoachChrisCooper.com.