1.) You don’t have to load creatine
You will hear different opinions on the protocol for creatine loading depending on where you go, some say you should load whilst some think there is no need. Truth is, both would be right to an extent, you see creatine has to reach a point of saturation in order for it to exert its best effects on muscle power and size. Original theories suggest that you need to consume enough creatine to break a saturation threshold, otherwise you end up excreting a lot of the creatine and never fully reach muscle saturation.
However, new evidence states that creatine saturation is more of a cumulative process i.e. you can reach muscle creatine saturation whilst consuming small doses at a time… it just takes you twice as long. Consuming creatine at or around 0.1g per kg bodyweight will therefore work, it’ll just take you considerably longer to feel creatines full potential. Conversely, try consuming around 0.3g per kg bodyweight for a week or so and you will reach saturation faster, and feel creatines full benefits much faster.
It’s your call.
2.) Creatine doesn’t make you 'smooth out' or lose definition
The composition of creatine means it is highly soluble in water (particularly micronized creatine), this is a good thing in terms of absorption from the gut to the muscles. However, one of the side-effects of this is ‘where creatine goes, water will follow’, which has led a lot of people to believe that this will lead to a ‘smooth’, less defined look due to a layer of subcutaneous water (water beneath the skin).
Good news is that this is rarely the case, your bodies renin angiotensin system is too efficient (in otherwise healthy individuals) for this to happen. Consequently most of the fluid retention that happens as a result of creatine consumption is intrinsic to the muscle cell, in other words it gets stored in the muscle.
This is also pretty cool because the fluid shift into the muscle draws nutrients in too which encourage growth and recovery, as well as giving the muscles a larger, fuller look.
3.) There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ dosage for creatine
Many nutrition and fitness experts (to use the term loosely) will say that you need to have 10g of creatine for the loading phase and 5g for the maintenance phase. This is all very well except it doesn’t account for total body mass, it’s quite simple, the larger you are (lean mass that is, not fat) the more creatine you need to have an ergogenic (performance enhancing) effect.
According to the current body of research creatine is body weight dependant, and the current recommendations actually have specific multiple factors similar to that of protein e.g. 1.5-2g protein per kg bodyweight is your daily protein requirement. NOTE: These are only estimates and NOT exact figures, consequently you should always trial your body on any supplement/ dosage and see how you respond.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) note several studies that used creatine dosages of 0.3g creatine per kg bodyweight for the loading phase (should you wish to follow a loading phase) and 0.1g per kg bodyweight for the maintenance phase.