If you’re wondering how much water you should drink while taking creatine, you’re not alone. I’ve wondered the same.
All of the information out there is so generic and doesn’t seem backed by any sort of scientific evidence. How much is enough water? Do I need more water?
I set out with the LiftNLive team to find the truth myself.
We wanted to build the ultimate guide on creatine and went deep into answering all of the most asked questions related to the topic, including creatine taken with water, alcohol and with caffeinated drinks. Here’s what we found:
- There is actually no scientific recommendation for how much water you should drink on creatine.
- It will depend on many variables (discussed in the article).
- Our practical recommendation is to drink the recommended amount of water for your weight and add 1L. Then adjust accordingly (see table in article).
- Ultimately, use your thirst as a guideline.
How Much Water Should You Drink While Taking Creatine?
Exactly how much water intake is appropriate while taking creatine can be difficult to answer.
There were no studies that we could find exploring creatine and its affects on hydration (or dehydration) with a set-in-stone recommended water intake.
There are also many variables that may change the recommended amount, including:
- body weight
- training duration
- training intensity
- how well an individual responds to creatine
- the climate you live in
- your creatine dose
But let’s discuss what we do know before providing recommendations;
Creatine supplementation increases total body water volume through increased water retention by an average of 4.86% of starting body weight in 28 days (1).
One outlier in the study even saw a huge 4.8kg increase in body mass during the first week of supplementation!
The average person’s recommended water intake without creatine, would be around 1/2 to 3/4 gallons a day (2-3 litres) or approximately 8-12 glasses a day.
The top end of that range for men, and the bottom range for women. (2) but in reality, a more accurate measure would be to calculate water intake by bodyweight.
For this, a recommendation of around 35ml per kg of bodyweight is recommended daily for men. Though we were unable to find recommendations for women here (3).
The amount of water you need to consume can also increase with how long and intense your exercise is.
150ml to 300ml every 20 minutes of exercise is a practical recommendation according to one study (4).
RECOMMENDATION: We recommend you start by drinking an extra litre of water for every serving of creatine powder (3-5 grams) as a practical guide, but the reality is, the amount of water you will need to drink with creatine depend on all of the above variables.
Practical Recommendations for Drinking Water While Taking Creatine
|Body Weight in KG (lbs)||Daily Water Intake (no creatine)||Water to Drink on Creatine (Regular intake + 1L)|
|50kg (110lbs)||1.75 litres / (59 fl oz)||2.75 litres|
|60kg (132lbs)||2.1 litres / (71 fl oz)||3.1 litres|
|70kg (154lbs)||2.45 litres (83 fl oz)||3.45 litres|
|80kg (176lbs)||2.8 litres (94.5 fl oz)||3.8 litres|
|90kg (198lbs)||3.15 litres (106.5 fl oz)||4.15 litres|
|100kg (220lbs)||3.5 litres (118 fl oz)||4.5 litres|
|110kg (242lbs)||3.85 litres (130 fl oz)||4.85 litres|
NOTE: Should you feel any form of indigestion or bloating, we recommend you try to mix your creatine mixture with hot water or a warm beverage.
Why Does Creatine Make Me Thirsty?
As creatine draws water from your body into your muscles, you may need to drink more water to compensate. This can lead to thirst until you find the right water consumption for you.
During your initial intake of creatine, especially if you’re doing a loading phase, you may initially gain 4-7 pounds of water weight due to water being pulled from your bloodstream.
Pay attention to your thirst and try to sip water regularly before your thirst kicks in.
If this is happening more regularly than normal, I’d typically drink water more frequently, leading to more overall consumption during the day.
It’s important to stay hydrated whether you’re taking creatine daily or not, in order to build muscle optimally.
If you find yourself getting thirsty on creatine. Drink more water.
Is It Possible to Drink Too Much Water While Taking Creatine?
Yes, although it’s difficult to drink to the point where it is potentially harmful, it is possible.
Even when ensuring proper hydration, be mindful of how much water you ingest.
Overconsumption of water can lead to diluting the sodium levels in your bloodstream.
In turn, low blood sodium levels can lead to muscle cramps, delirium, coma, and death as the worst-case scenario.
You’d have to be doing some crazy ish’ to reach the worst case scenario, though. For example, drinking 6 liters of water in 3 hours has caused the death of a human before (5).
A much more common scenario is drinking too little water while taking creatine (and even when people aren’t on it).
Creatine and Water Retention: Myth? No, Kinda.
Creatine monohydrate has many myths attached to it. Some of the muscle building myths are typically:
- The weight gain is purely subcutaneous water or bloat
- It’s not “real” muscle or lean body mass
However, these are untrue; the truth is that creatine draws water from the body into your muscles, making them look fuller. Exactly where you want it (rather than subcutaneously under the skin).
Creatine being osmotic, means that it attracts and holds water wherever it is stored, and almost all creatine is stored in skeletal muscle. 95% of it, in fact.
So, although yes, creatine does “retain water” by default, this fear of water retention under the skin caused by creatine is unfounded.
Water makes up a large part of your lean body mass. Heck, 76% of your muscle mass is water. Retention within the muscle is nothing to be fearful of and should be welcomed.
Water being stored in your muscle helps:
- enhance your exercise performance
- makes your muscles appear fuller
- may help increase muscle protein synthesis to help repair and build new muscle tissue
This is the kind of water weight you absolutely want.
Can Taking Creatine Help Muscle HyperHydration?
Supplementing with creatine and glycerol together can be an effective hyperhydration strategy for athletes for intense exercises in hot and humid environments with minimal risks (6).
The same study showed that this supplement combo can also help increase how much total water your body can hold for better thermoregulating in extreme temperatures and exertions, but this extra water had no effect in enhancing exercise performance.
What Happens if I Don’t Drink Enough Water While Taking Creatine?
While taking creatine, and when you’re not, you must avoid dehydration to keep your body functioning optimally.
This is especially important for optimal muscle growth and muscle protein syntesis (growth and repair).
Remember, human bodies are mostly made up of water, 60% for adult men and 55% for adult women.
Being able to replace the water lost from sweat enables the proper functioning of your body’s organs and tissues.
Look for the following signs of dehydration and as a sign to increase your water intake;
- Dry mouth, skin, lips, and eyes
- Recurring headaches
- Increased thirst
- Constant fatigue
- Stomach discomfort
- Muscle cramps
Do You need to Take Creatine with Water?
Yes and no. There should always be some form of liquid involved when consuming creatine powder, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be water.
You can take creatine in the following ways;
- Mixing with Water or Other Liquid: Mix 3-5 grams of creatine with 8 oz of water or juice using a spoon or a shaker until dissolved.
- Direct into the Mouth: People can also place creatine into their mouth and then drink water afterwards to prevent leaving residue and wash any excess down. This is called dry-scooping and you can read our guide answering the question “can you dry-scoop creatine” to understand this process better.
Either way, you’ll need to take creatine with some form of liquid. Whether it’s directly mixed or whether you chase it with a liquid afterwards.
Personally, I take creatine in a cup of water with some sugar free dilute added. Some people don’t mind the unflavored “chalkiness” of creatine monohydrate in pure water. It’s really not that bad.
NOTE: Creatine tends to dissolve easier in warm water than in cold water.
Can I Mix Creatine in Caffeinated Drinks?
Yes, you can take creatine and caffeine together.
There isn’t any detrimental effect to combining creatine and caffeine.
In fact, a systematic review found that both creatine and caffeine taken together provided additional benefits to exercise performance (7)
Caffeine is wrongly thought to cause dehydration as it is a known diuretic (a substance that encourages urination), but this insignificant effect is usually countered by the liquid which the caffeine is consumed in.
One study did find that the combination may cause additional GI discomfort.
So, if you suffer from stomach aches or if creatine makes you poop, then this is something to consider (8).
Strangely, ingesting caffeine in the form of coffee, seemed to negate this unwanted side effect. Good news for coffee connoisseurs.
Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Creatine?
Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking creatine.
Surprised? Well, you’ve probably seen the same bog-standard (false!) advice parroted around the internet but we like to do it a little differently here.
We know alcohol is a feature in many people’s lives and in the interests of Lifting N Living, we dove a bit deeper into the research beyond “alcohol is bad, m’kay!”..
The common thinking is that alcohol dehydrates you, so it’s bad to combine this with creatine. Makes logical sense, I guess.
The issue is, alcohol isn’t very dehydrating at all. Read that again. Alcohol isn’t really dehydrating.
Studies dating back to the 40’s even found that alcohol, while being a diuretic, doesn’t cause any more urine output (besides your first trip to the bathroom i.e. “breaking the seal”) than if drinking the same amount of water (9).
Another study found that the dreaded “next-day hangover” wasn’t caused by dehydration at all and there was only a 200-300ml water deficit the next morning; 1 cup of water (10).
Now look, we’re not saying go all out every night, as this absolutely would be detrimental to both your health and your muscle building or fat loss efforts.
What we are saying, is that you shouldn’t worry about letting your hair down one night if you’re on creatine. You’re not losing gains or the effectiveness of creatine.
While you are acutely (temporarily) reducing creatine’s muscle building, recovery, and its other benefits at the time of alcohol consumption (alcohol is a toxin and the body will prioritize removing it over repairing muscle and burning fat), long-term, there aren’t any detrimental effects as long as you’re not hitting the bars a few times a week and getting wasted.
If you are drinking copious amounts of alcohol every week, then that’s a different story and you’ll likely experience detrimental health effects to your liver and creatine effectiveness will be the least of your worries.
What Are the Best Methods of Consuming Creatine?
Here are the most popular schedules and methods to take creatine.
Loading Phase and Maintenance
In the loading phase, you initially intake larger grams of creatine to saturate your muscle cells with more creatine.
20-25 grams in 4-5 doses daily for a week or less is the quickest way to prepare your body before going through the maintenance phase with gradually decreasing dosages.
During the maintenance phase, your creatine intake can vary from 3-5 grams of creatine for most people, with some even taking 7-10 grams depending on their size and weight.
I prefer this method because it achieves muscle saturation much faster than not doing this phase. (7 days vs 28 days – why not load if you’ll see the benefits 3 times faster?)
Some folks even add 4-7 pounds in body weight within the first few days of using creatine!
Daily Low-Dose Supplementation
The other method is to take a lower dose approach of 3-5 grams of creatine every day and still achieve saturation, similar to the loading-maintenance method, but in 28 days vs 7.
Both methods are valid and effective.
Frequently Asked Questions
We already answered the question, “How much water should you drink?” when taking creatine.
However, we still find other closely related questions, so let’s go over them.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine occurs naturally in the body as an amino acid found in all vertebrates as they are synthesized from your pancreas and 95% of it is stored within your skeletal muscles, and the rest within your brain.
Creatine, the amino acid in the human body and other living things, can also be found in high-protein foods such as fish, eggs, and beef.
Creatine monohydrate is the synthesized supplement form and is a very effective supplement for athletes and regular trainees. It’s one of the most studied supplements in the world.
How Does Creatine Work?
How creatine supplementation works is by helping your muscles recover their energy stores faster via replenishing its Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) storage.
ATP is a molecule that acts as the power source for the human body.
Our bodies naturally use ATP whenever we go through an exercise regimen as our muscles contract.
Fatigue naturally happens as you exert your muscles closer to maximal intensity, but creatine can help your muscle’s natural stores of energy recover faster with rapid replenishment of ATP.
Creatine works by improving the storage of creatine phosphate (CP) in muscle cells, as CP can produce more energy to allow for rapid bursts of intense, but brief exercise performance.
Taking creatine supplements are popular among the fitness community s sought out by those who perform high-intensity interval training routines or sports and weight training at high intensities.
What Are Some Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is the best form of creatine produced by supplement companies.
This claim is supported by the International Society of Sports Nutrition and the hundreds of other scientific studies, since creatine’s inception (11).
Despite the negative connotation, water within the muscles is actually something you WANT from creatine, as we discussed earlier.
This effect of creatine monohydrate is beneficial to your training goals in the following ways:
Increased Muscle Protein Synthesis
Muscle cells can increase their volume via an anabolic proliferative signal to increase muscle protein production.
Creatine increases this via water retention, thus increasing muscle strength, endurance and maximal training intensities, and overall performance.
Combined with an effective resistance training program, you will gain increased muscle size as a direct and indirect benefit of creatine use.
Stay hydrated to make maximum use of this benefit.
Increased Speed of ATP Replenishment
As we explained earlier, creatine supplementation works is by helping your muscles recover their energy stores faster via replenishing its Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) storage.
Our bodies naturally use ATP whenever we go through our workouts as our muscles contract.
Fatigue occurs as you exert your muscles closer to maximum intensity, but creatine helps your muscle’s rapidly replenish ATP and contract.
Other general health benefits from undergoing creatine supplementation include:
- Improve Brain Functionality
- May Help Fight Parkinson’s Disease
- May Help Fight Diabetes
How Much Creatine Should I Take?
3-5 grams daily is plenty for most people.
Since creatine doesn’t impart an acute (temporary and short-term) effect and reaches a level over time to saturate the muscles, it’s fine to also take 7-10 grams every other day. (I used to take 10 grams every workout day)
Can Creatine Cause Kidney Problems?
Both long-term and short-term creatine usage at varying doses does not cause kidney damage.
Higher doses can show increased creatinine levels but these are a “false positive” (this happened to me and the doctor was concerned until I told him I was supplementing with creatine).
Creatine Vs. Pre-Workout
Pre-workouts are popular supplements and the name is self-explanatory.
Caffeine is usually the main ingredient of pre-workouts, and sometimes even creatine is among the ingredients list, as well as others.
You take the supplement 15-20 minutes before your workout, mixed with water until dissolved, similarly to creatine.
That’s where the similarities stop, though.
They both have different mechanisms of operation, with creatine replenishing your muscles ATP stores helping them contract under near-maximal intensities.
Where as pre-workouts tend to enhance your athletic performance by providing more energy and focus but can leave you jittery, and with insomnia in some cases if taken too late in the day.
Don’t take pre-workout in the evenings to avoid these adverse effects.
They can work synergistically together and won’t cause added dehydration as is the common misconception. They don’t exert the same effects, but are complimentary.
There is no exact amount of water you should drink while taking creatine, as there are no real studies focussed on pinpointing the perfect amount or range, but we have offered some guidelines which we hope have been helpful.
A practical rule of thumb would be to add a liter on top of your regular recommended daily intake and adjust from there to ensure you’re getting enough water.
Remembering to add more water during bouts of exercise too and keeping all of the variables we’ve mentioned in this article in mind, like the climate in which you live.
Now you know how much water to drink, we hope creatine helps in your fitness journey and may you be one of the strong responders to this popular supplement and experience enhanced muscle growth!
(1) J Athl Train. 2003 Jan-Mar; 38(1): 44–50. PMCID: PMC155510
Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution
(2) INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/10925.
(3) California State University – Calculation of Fluid Needs
(4) Clin Sports Med. 1999 Jul;18(3):513-24. doi: 10.1016/s0278-5919(05)70165-4.
Water and electrolyte requirements for exercise
(6) Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007 Feb;17(1):70-91. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.17.1.70.
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(7) Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021 Nov 30;1-14. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2021.2007470.
Effects of creatine and caffeine ingestion in combination on exercise performance: A systematic review
(8) J Strength Cond Res. 2016 May; 30(5): 1438–1446. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001223
Effects of coffee and caffeine anhydrous intake during creatine loading
(9) J Physiol. 1942 Aug 18; 101(2): 172–191. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1942.sp003973
The diuretic action of alcohol in man
(10) Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1982 Dec 18; 285(6357): 1770–1773.
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(11) J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33.
Published online 2012 Jul 20. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-33
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(12) Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Jun;39(6):1093-6. doi: 10.1345/aph.1E628. Epub 2005 May 10.
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(13) Kidney Int. 2004 Dec;66(6):2422-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1755.2004.66019.x.
Creatine supplementation does not decrease total plasma homocysteine in chronic hemodialysis patients