How Much Water Should I Drink While Taking Creatine?

In this article I share the sports science research I could scrape up in order to answer a common question about creatine:

 

How much water per day are we supposed to drink when we’re taking creatine daily?

For a creatine user there is NO specific amount of water agreed upon by medical & sports science experts as being THE right amount you should drink.

Creatine fills your muscles by drawing water from your body, so it is often recommended that you simply “drink plenty of water” to “stay well hydrated”. (1)

 

Creatine makes me thirstier than normal

Though they’re (intentionally) vague I do get that advice from the health experts:

“drink a little more than normal & stay well hydrated”.

I get it because I can tell my body wants me to drink more than I would if I wasn’t taking creatine every day.

 

My 2¢ of creatine & water drinking experience

Long before I even started poking around for any available sports science recommendations on this topic…

For quite some time, my gut feeling on this drinking water while taking creatine issue has been sort of the same as what we just heard:

 

“Drink more than you would normally if you weren’t taking creatine.”

 

I say that because when I’m downing 5g of creatine a day or more for a few months in a row a couple of times a year — like I’ve been doing for awhile now — I am definitely thirstier throughout the day compared to when I am not taking it.

I’m big on listening to my body when it comes to how hungry or thirsty I am, and I get more signals from it throughout the day to knock down some water when creatine’s in the daily supplement mix.

 

Up ahead

Here’s what I’ll be touching on in this article.

 

All “creatine/water” advice is similar, but…

Since the experts weighing in on our “How much water…” question aren’t all saying exactly the same thing, a variety of opinions exist.

I gathered some of their suggestions, guidelines, etc., and will share it with you here.

With it all in one place you’ll see that all of the sports science advice is pretty similar, meaning that everyone is vague as heck. 😜

Don’t hold it against them though.

 

No water drinking advice is specific

Even our normal daily water needs without creatine isn’t agreed upon in the medical community.

Their answers to that question come with similarly vague recommendations when it comes to simply how much water does anybody need to drink.

Creatine or not.

 

What’s with creatine & water anyway

Tagging onto that I’ll briefly get into how creatine works so you understand why it is that your daily water intake is an important thing to be on top of.

 

The truth shall set you free

And…I also want to devote a little time to debunk some of the (too common, unfortunately) B.S. myths & memes that uninformed people still spew regarding creatine.

“Ignorance is bliss.” (Hmm…are you sure?)

 

 

test tubes green - heydayDo icon

Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science and medical resources, clinical studies, & nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

Next:

How much water we need with creatine starts with knowing how much water we need without creatine.

Unfortunately, not only is it one of those “it depends” kind of deals, but experts differ in what they’re saying about it too.

 

Our normal daily fluid needs

As we learned at the beginning, there’s no specific one size fits all solution for how much water you, I, or anybody ought to drink when on the daily creatine train.

 

No exact number here either

This variety of opinion is no surprise when you learn that there’s no exact number for how much water a person should drink per day period, without creatine.

Here are several medical experts giving advice that’s all over the map:

“…an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15 ½ cups for men, and 11 ½ cups for women…this includes fluids from water, other beverages, & food.”

Mayo Clinic

 

“For men, the Institute of Medicine recommends a total of 13 cups of fluid each day…for women, they suggest 9 cups of fluid each day.”

WebMD

 

“The daily four-to-six cup rule is for generally healthy people.”

Harvard Medical

 

Bodybuilding dot com poster of water requirements - heydayDo image

“125 oz. for men & 96 oz. for women.”

Bodybuilding.com

 

“You may have heard that you should drink eight 8oz. glasses of water a day. That’s the wrong answer…there is no scientific evidence to back it up.

Live Science

 

“…it depends on a number of variables. Your size, activity, metabolism, location, diet, physical activity and health all factor into how much water you need.”

Cleveland Clinic

 

“At the end of the day, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need. This depends on the individual.”

Healthline

 

 

Woman confused by inconsistent online medical advice about water needs - heydayDo image

Well, that didn’t help us narrow it down.

Thank all of you prominent medical experts for not agreeing with each other at all…

…we feel so much better now. 😄

 

And for a really loose recommendation, here’s a link to a quick & easy How Much Water Should I Drink calculator, courtesy of Bodybuilding.com:

Water per day calculator

 

Here’s what it looks like after I filled in the two details it asked of me, weight & workout time:

Bodybuilding dot com water needs calculator my readings - heydayDo image

 

Bottom line: our daily water need isn’t exact

So you see, all that varying opinion on simply drinking water is where the vagueness comes from in the “how much water should I drink when I’m on creatine” recommendations we hear.

 

 

Daily water needs when taking creatine

There’s a reason we can’t find an exact answer to the creatine+water question:

An exact answer doesn’t exist.

I think we all get that now.

 

And as a result, there are very few medical or sports science experts on record publicly giving advice on how much water you need per day while you’re taking creatine.

Here’s what I found, and I dug around all over the place.

Note how few of them provide us with a specific per day answer.

 

“As far as water is concerned, you should drink about one pint of water each time you take a dose of creatine.”

Exercise.com

 

“…it is advisable to take (creatine) with a glass of water and stay well hydrated throughout the day.”

Healthline

 

“When supplementing with creatine, you need to drink more water. First of all, the main purpose of taking creatine is to produce ATP more and fast. And ATP requires water to generate energy.”

Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition

 

“To prevent dehydration, experts often suggest drinking plenty of water when using creatine.”

WebMD

 

Bottom line on creatine & water drinking advice:

Vague like we knew it would be, but I can sum it up with a bullet point I bet:

*Drink enough water so you don’t get dehydrated.

(And that’s easy to do.)

I can prove it in the next section, which I think has some real encouraging words on this “how much water should I drink” issue.

 

Science says we can trust our thirst

On the good news front…

…Clinical research trials on thirst have proven that if we have water around when we get a thirsty signal, we are likely to instinctively drink some. (2)

And as a result, we’ll be hydrating ourselves long before we’ve put ourselves in what they call body fluids deficit**.

 

This is great because it means that all you need to do while you’re taking creatine is to drink some water throughout your day whenever you automatically get an “I’m thirsty” signal.

 

** body fluids deficit – A medical term for a condition that leads to dehydration, which has a whole set of problems you definitely want to stay way the heck away from. (3)

 

A few of creatine’s main benefits

Creatine molecular drawing - heydayDo image

  • Helps build muscle mass (4)
  • Increases high-intensity exercise performance (5)
  • Delays muscle fatigue (6)
  • Increases muscle strength (7)

 

How creatine works

Bottom line: 

Taking creatine creates a chain reaction that ends up with you & your muscles having more energy for short, high-intensity activities, like weightlifting, sprinting, etc.

Since you’re able to lift more or have more power in your athletics, your muscles are forced to adapt to this higher level and thus get stronger & bigger.

 

My rough version of our body’s chemical process that makes all that happen:

*The creatine you take finds & binds to phosphate molecules.

*This combo is now creatine phosphate (or phosphocreatine) which is stored in your muscles and used for energy.

*And this additional creatine phosphate enables your body to make more ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is “your body’s primary source of energy”. (8)

 

Creatine & water weight

Part of how creatine grows your muscles is by drawing water into your muscles that it gets from the rest of your body. (9)

Hence the big deal about making sure you are on top of your hydration if you’re on the daily creatine train.

So you may gain some water weight but it’s in your muscles, unlike typical water weight that gets stored in your belly area, ankles, etc. (10)

 

Creatine myth smashing

Ten to twenty-year-old creatine myths still floating around? Say it isn’t so!

Back in the day (lol)…I think they told us that the internet would come & make everybody smarter, since so much truth would be at everyone’s fingertips.

Yeah, that’s exactly how it turned out. 😜

 

Alright, I’ll grab my poop scooper and get rid of a bit of the crap still circulating amongst gym bros everywhere. Or try to.

 

Myth 1: Creatine’s a steroid

Wrong.

Creatine is what’s known as an endogenous amino acid, meaning our bodies make it, and animals’ bodies make it too. (11)

Who’s body makes steroids?

Those of us athletes and strength trainers buy creatine powder because supplementing with it has proven itself to boost our workouts better than any other supplement ever studied. (12)

 

Myth 2: Creatine is bad for your kidneys & liver

Wrong.

Multiple clinical research trials have been conducted on organ function like this five-year kidney study, which found absolutely no trace of any damage caused by creatine.

 

Myth 3: Creatine builds muscle even if you don’t work out

Wrong.

Creatine helps you work out harder, which helps you lift more, which triggers muscle protein synthesis, which builds your muscles. (13)

If you don’t work out, taking creatine won’t change how strong you are or how you look.

 

dumbbell green - heydayDo icon

 

Wrapping Up

Related creatine articles here on heydayDo

12 Natural & Supplemental Creatine Alternatives Explored

Should Women Take Creatine

Should I Cycle Creatine & 21 Other Creatine Questions Answered

When To Take Creatine For Best Results

 

I hope that my article on the relationship between creatine and our daily water intake is useful to you, and I wish you well on your fitness journey.

Let’s go.

– greg

October 2020

 

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About Me

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Surfer. Organic food & wine grower. Guitarist & music producer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

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About heydayDo

heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
(So if you’re looking for medical advice, hit up your doctor or health professional for that. I’m just shootin’ the breeze here…) 
 
heydayDo began as a daily journal I kept as I recovered from the latest of many heart operations I’ve had to deal with since birth. 
 
I have a deep interest in learning about nutrition & fitness, and applying it to improve my quality of life.
 
I believe this knowledge can help me be the healthiest & strongest version of me as I can, even in the face of inborn heart disease.
heydayDo author Greg Simon at 60 (Jan 2020) original

The 60-year-old version of me, January 2020

So when I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s hype.
 
Here on heydayDo I share what I’ve learned from my fitness, health, & nutrition research with whoever drops by.