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Creatine vs Glutamine - How Much Should I Take and When?

<< Part 5 - Side Effects and Cons <<

Alright, so it's decided, you want to try supplementing with creatine or glutamine but have no idea where to start.

How much should you take?

When should you take it?

All products should give you guidelines on how to get the best results with their supplement, but I can give you a few common dosages and instructions. These aren't strict guidelines, we all vary in size and shape, but you don't want to overdo it on the dosages. If you're over 225lbs, you'll probably want to use the higher-end dosages.

You can take these whenever you want really; it's just more efficient to take them at certain times.


Creatine Dosage Guidelines

It has been generally recommended that you go through a "loading phase" when starting to take creatine. You don't have to do this and there are actually studies that show there's not a huge benefit from loading up, and may put some extra stress on your kidneys. The argument for the need to use a loading phase is that you'll quickly make a lot of gains. The problem is that these gains usually level out to the same pace you'd be at if you started out with a "maintenance dosage", instead of loading.

It's really up to you but, if you want to "load up", in the first week you'll want to take around 5 grams, 4 times a day (20g/day). This is supposed to fill you up with creatine so that it's always readily available as you're supplementing. After the initial week you can take something like 5 to 10 grams a day and it'll sustain those higher levels of creatine for you. Just make sure to see what the supplement label recommends. I've taken creatine with and without the loading phase and still made great gains either way.

It's recommended to take creatine with high glycemic index carbs like fruit, fruit juices or starch. This will spike your insulin levels and give you a more enhanced uptake of the creatine. Just don't use citrus juice; it's supposed to break creatine down into creatinine, which is useless. Use at least 16 ounces ounces of whatever you choose to mix it with. You also shouldn't leave your creatine powder mixed up in your water or juice. Creatine is unstable in liquid and will eventually degrade down to.... you guessed it, creatinine. So I wouldn't leave it dissolved in liquid longer than a few hours.

So when should you take it?

I've heard it recommended for both before and after your workout, but which is better?

The argument for taking it prior to your workout is that you'll have it readily available as your muscles are looking for energy. But, your muscles may already be saturated enough with creatine to not need a dosage before your workout. If you're going to take it before your weight training workout, take 3 - 5 grams a half hour to 45 minutes before you exercise so your body has time to absorb it.

It's also said that your insulin levels are the highest after you workout, so that would make creatine absorption more efficient. This is why it's recommended to take your creatine after you lift. If you're going to take it after your weight training workout, take 3 - 5 grams a half hour to an hour after your workout to help restore reserves and limit muscle damage. If you want to take creatine after your cardio workout, take 5 grams an hour afterwards to enhance recovery.

If you choose to do the loading phase, you can take your creatine before and after your workout and take advantage of both sides of the argument. I usually took it after my workout though.

There's also talk of cycling your usage of creatine, so that your body doesn't get use to it. There are claims that after a while you won't see the same gains as you did when you first started taking creatine. So, it's been recommended that you take creatine for a month on and then a month off of it (or even two months on, two months off). Now, you don't have to do this but it can be a beneficial shock to your body, and it'll save you some money.

Now let's take a look at glutamine.

Glutamine Dosage Guidelines

It's often recommended that you take anywhere from 5 - 15 grams of glutamine a day. Five grams or more will support muscle growth and it will ensure that enough gets past your digestive system.

Now, if you're really stressing your body (bodybuilders), you can take more but you shouldn't go over 25 grams in a day. Taking much more than that would just make you feel sick to your stomach.

When should you take it?

The best time to take glutamine is right after your workout, so you can replenish your body stores and keep your body from becoming catabolic (breaking down muscle). Taking it right after your workout will speed up your recovery and increase protein synthesis.

You can take it an hour before your workout too, if you feel the need. It's also good to take it right before you go to bed; your body does most of its repairing as you sleep.

Each time you take glutamine you should take about 5 grams per dose. So, if you take it 3 times a day, you'll get 15 grams daily. And, if you feel the need, you can take a larger dose after your workout.

But make sure to keep your powder dry so that you don't run the risk of it turning into ammonia. So, just like with creatine, I wouldn't keep it mixed up in a drink; store it in a nice, dry place and mix it up as you need it. And there's no need to cycle your usage of glutamine; you can take it nonstop if you'd like, and can afford it.

Alright, so now you know:

Now let's get into the real comparison.

Which one is better?

Which supplement is more worth your time and money?

Now, you don't have to trust my choice, but let's do a point-by-point comparison based on the facts.

>> Part 7 - Final Comparison >>

© 2007 Ben Guinter

How Do You Take YOUR Creatine and/or Glutamine?

dorianLA on September 30, 2014:

The poweders always mess up my stomach. I use the Dr Max Powers Creatine Supplements and its so much easier than making a shake everytime you need some creatine. You can pop them in a case and take them at work or even while you workout. The main thing is that this stuff works and you will see gains in strength and size but also some water retention.

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 03, 2014:

Glad I could be of help, Paul!

Paul Silk on July 03, 2014:

Great Work Thanks All.

Kevin W from Texas on February 05, 2014:

Very helpful information for the people who are inexperienced in taking sports supplements Bendo. Thumbs up on your hub.

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 05, 2014:

Rich, I wouldn't stop training during the loading phase... In fact, as you go through the loading phase, you should be able to notice a difference in your training, and be able to compare and contrast your progress (from the supplement) as you load up. I never stopped training during the loading phase, and I don't see a reason why you'd need to.

rich on January 30, 2014:

Im unsure weather I should stop training while loading up on creatine for 5 days?

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 27, 2012:

That should definitely be enough for you, Duranzo.

Duranzo on February 27, 2012:

I see now, makes sense. I'm doing whatever i can to hit my goal Sexy By Summer, I've never followed such a strict regimen before, I really hope it pays off. I'll report back if all of this works, cause up till now I've only read this and that, no 1st-hand results yet. Also, I tried the Now Creatine and it makes my protein shakes I drink after lifting really chalky and doesn't breakdown well, and I heard that ON Micronized Creatine doesn't have that chalky texture or taste to it, so I'm just gonna pay a little extra and grab that (yea i'm a weenie). Hopefully ON works the same, and just isn't overpriced crap. At my weight 133lb, goal of 145, is 5g of creatine enough per day?

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 27, 2012:

Yeah Duranzo, I initially said that because it had some of the other stuff you planned on taking, or already do, but then I saw how little of BCAAs and Glutamine were in there and couldn't go back and edit my reply.

You might be better off just going with the NowSports, or even a generic bulk creatine monohydrate and glutamine. Once people add it into a mix of other things and slap a fancy name on it, they usually jack up the price too.

It looks like the NOW Creatine Monohydrate is only $18.49 for 1,000 grams (200 servings) over at bodybuilding.com and you can get NOW L-Glutamine Powder for $36.99 in a 2.2 pound container (200 servings) at the same place.

Glad I could help you though... hope you see some great results!

Duranzo on February 27, 2012:

Oh yea about reply, what makes you say that the ON Creatine Complex could save me money? NowSports Creatine Monohydrate could potentially cost me only $20 (about 200 servings), where as ON Creatine Complex (about 38 Servings for $20; so will it save me money because of the other stuff in the ON Creatine complex?

Duranzo on February 27, 2012:

Thanks so much for your help Bendo, I've been scouring the web for some solid clear-cut information on both supplements and your page gave me all I needed in more. There's just so much material and bro-science out there, I was tired of filtering through the crap. Again, I really thank you.

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 25, 2012:

Hey Duranzo,

I usually would take creatine after my workout, because your body is looking refill its reserves, and stock back up on ATP, and will suck up anything you give it. Your best bet would be to wait that 30-45, but I've honestly taken it right after or within 10-15 minutes after my workout was over and still saw great results with it.

Yeah 10g of glutamine should do you good and that creatine complex looks like it might save you a little money... it's got creatine, BCAAs (not quite enough) and a little glutamine. All you'd probably want to do is get a generic glutamine to be sure you get that 10g and you're good to go.

Duranzo on February 25, 2012:

To add to above, should i just take ON Pre-load Creatine Complex before workout instead of supplementing with Creatine Monohydrate?

Duranzo on February 25, 2012:

4 years ago I was all fat, 0 muscle 5'6 175 lb. I then started lifting and gymming and dropped to 130 lb after a year and half. Shortly after that life happened and i neglected the gym completely for the next 2 years losing all the hard earned muscle I worked for (at the time 220-235 benchpress). Now starting over completely and working from a totally opposite end, trying to gain weight this time.

@Start 3 months ago - 122 lb

Now - 133 lb

Goal by June - 145 lb

Current supps:

ON Protein 25g, Morning

Xtend BCAA, Before/During Workout

ON Protein 25g, Right-After Workout

After 3 months, I've managed to get to 133, but it's been a very slow and arduous process, struggling to get to 3k calories a day. Note, I do eat very healthy, mostly lean meats and brown rice so that may be the issue with calorie intake.

This article has been a great read for me, I'd like to add in Creatine and Glutamine someway, but I'm unsure where in my regimen would it be the best. In some of your comments Bendo I see you say before workout, and other you say after for creatine (so i really wonder about what your real reccom. is). Do I take the Creatine before I workout with my BCAA? In my Right-After Workout Protein shake? or do I take it 30-45mins after my "R-A Workout shake"?

For glutamine, it appears that the reccomendation is in my "Right-After Workout protein shake" & before bed. So for my weight total of 10g Glutamine/day is proper?

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 26, 2011:

In a way it is, Macadder... MSG is sodium salt of glutamic acid. But glutamic acid isn't glutamine; it's what glutamine is converted into after it releases ammonia. Glutamic acid consists of anywhere from 50% to 80% glutamine. So you can see it's distantly related but in no way is supplementing with glutamine like taking doses of MSG.

Macadder on May 26, 2011:

Is Glutamine related to Monosodium Glutamate at all?

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on October 17, 2010:

Gaby, glutamine can stimulate your brain and mess with your REM sleep, especially if you take a lot. I've taken it before bed and didn't really have problems sleeping but it's different for everyone.

The best time for you to take glutamine would be right after your workout because your body is going to need to replenish what you used up while exercising and to reduce muscle breakdown. I usually take 10 grams after my workout.

You don't need to cycle your intake of glutamine, you can take it for months on end. If you get an upset stomach from it then just use smaller dosages.

Gaby on October 17, 2010:

is it true that Glutamine decrease your night sleep? i used to take it before bed and i always wake up at night.

does Glutamine speed up the body and causes it to repair faster, therefore we don't need that much sleep?

or does it just messes up your sleeping mechanism?

now i am taking it first thing early morning with my protein supplement, and one hour before my workout.

plus can we take it for months non-stop?

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on August 16, 2010:

There's no reason to load glutamine like you do creatine... so you can take it just as you would if you weren't taking creatine, Jack.

Definitely take 5 grams after your workout, but you can include more dosages as outlined above... like 5 grams before bed, since your body will be healing while you sleep.

Jack on August 16, 2010:

I was just wondering how and when you take glutamine while loading with creatine?

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on August 03, 2010:

It's true, Pete... you don't NEED supplements and I don't recommend GH or steroids at all ever... but some people want quicker results or don't get enough nutrients from their food so they need supplements to "supplement" for what they don't get from food.

It's sad that the healthiest food is the most expensive... so you can see why some people opt for supplements to fill in those gaps. Whether it's money or speed of results.

Some work very well and are quite safe.. but you shouldn't use supplements forever and when you can afford it and are satisfied with your body whole foods are the way to go.

Pete on August 03, 2010:

The great Warriors of our time didn't have supplements, so how did they get there physics?

Easy, Natural Organic whole foods. They were pateint people. Rome wasn't built in a day, so do you think your muscles will?

Supplement companies are taking every body builder to the cleaners. Forget you Arnolds etc they used steriods / or GH.

To gain muscle, you need to eat right, and lift with great form!

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 19, 2010:

Yeah I stopped doing loading phases with creatine after a while, didn't see much of a difference, optimus grimlock... Thanks for reading!

optimus grimlock on May 19, 2010:

The loading phase has pretty much been disproven but it is up to debate. if your protein intake is high it wont matter when you take your aminos because you'll have a constant intake of them. nice hubs!

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 18, 2010:

Thanks for the extra information joecseko!

I'm glad you enjoy my writing too!

Joe Cseko jr from New York, USA, Earth on February 18, 2010:

One consideration with glutamine. Glutamine is not always well assimilated. Glutamine peptides have been shown in multiple clinical studies to be better absorbed than free form L glutamine. While glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue-- glutamine is most important in the retention of a positive nitrogen balance. It surely does have muscle volumizing properties.

Kre alkalyn, as well as creatine gluconate are seemingly the most stable form of creatine. Kre alkalyn is more stable because acid tends to convert creatine to creatinine. This is a waste product of protein, not desirable.

What I will say, Bendo is a well read, intelligent man. I'm a fan of his for good reason.

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on January 07, 2010:

I've heard arguments for both sides but if you fear it will be an issue or have noticed slower gains when you take them together.. then just take them about 2 hours apart. Take your creatine before, workout, come home and shower and then have your glutamine with your post workout meal a half hour to an hour after you workout.

I really haven't looked into Kre-alkalyn too much, but if it really doesn't convert into creatinine then that could be really beneficial because you wouldn't have to worry about it breaking down in liquids.

It looks to get pretty good reviews and some places offer a free trial. If I were you, I'd get the free trial and try it out and see if it affects you any differently than regular creatine.

Dom on January 07, 2010:

Curious as to your take on absorption of creatine and glutamine in terms of post training/workouts. Don't they both compete for the same receptors? Wouldn't this make it inefficient to take them both after working out? Just curious. Personal experience has had me taking creatine before and glutamine after workouts. Also, what is your take on kre-alkalyn? Thanks and keep it up!

Mark Martinez on December 29, 2009:

Great explanation about taking creatine before vs. after your workout. I used to split it 1/2 before 1/2 after, now I just have it before. Think another factor that's ignored often is the 'mental' effect. In other words: I tend to get a mental kick knowing I just got my creatine, then go into the gym and pump iron harder. Plus, on the argument of absorption, whenever possible I try to have a day off the gym right after training... so that'll set in creatine replenishment time.

Mark Martinez

your creatine powder test lab

Ben Guinter (author) from Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 01, 2009:

Hey Linda,

Whenever your body naturally turns glutamic acid into glutamine it does need B6 as well as B3. But that's whenever your body is naturally creating it itself. It's different when you supplement with it but, by also supplementing with B3 &amp; B6, you can help your body out by being more efficient in terms of producing glutamine.

Linda A. on June 01, 2009:

Is it true without B6, glutamine can not be absorbed, metabolism &amp; transformations in the body?

jp on February 23, 2009:

very helpful site...