Creatine on an Empty Stomach: What You Need to Know

Creatine is often hailed as a cornerstone in the supplement stacks of gym enthusiasts and athletes worldwide. Known for its powerful impact on muscle mass and exercise performance, creatine has become one of the most extensively studied and popular supplements in the fitness industry. 

But while the benefits of creatine are widely recognized, the specifics of its use, such as whether to take it on an empty stomach, remain topics of discussion and debate. Taking creatine on an empty stomach is believed to enhance its absorption, allowing athletes to maximize the supplement's potential benefits. However, the drawback is that this method can also lead to some challenges, like stomach discomfort. 

In this article, we'll dive into the effects of consuming creatine without food, exploring both the scientific perspectives and anecdotal experiences to offer a comprehensive guide on this common practice. Whether you're a seasoned lifter or just starting your fitness journey, understanding how to effectively integrate creatine into your regimen can significantly impact your training results and overall health.

A white tub of creatine from RAW


A Closer Look at Creatine and Its Forms & Types

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in muscle cells, primarily aiding in the production of energy during high-intensity exercise and heavy lifting. It is synthesized from amino acids in the liver and can also be obtained through dietary supplements. The primary function of creatine is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles, which are used to produce additional adenosine triphosphate (or just ATP), a central component to creating energy in a cell. This boost of energy is critical for athletes of all types, from classic bodybuilders like 5x Mr. Olympia Chris Bumstead to ultramarathoners looking to improve their strength, endurance, or general performance level. 

The most common type of creatine found in supplements is creatine monohydrate. Renowned for its efficiency and affordability, creatine monohydrate is the gold standard against which other forms are compared. 

However, several other types of creatine are also available, such as:

  • Micronized creatine: This type of creatine monohydrate has smaller particles, which some believe improves its solubility and absorption.
  • Creatine ethyl ester: Touted for its superior absorption rate, this variant is often marketed as a more effective supplement that can be taken in lower doses.
  • Buffered creatine: Known as Kre-Alkalyn, this type claims to be free from conversion into creatinine before it is absorbed, potentially reducing the waste product and enhancing effectiveness.

Each type of creatine offers unique benefits and may suit different dietary preferences or digestive sensitivities. Choosing the right form depends on individual goals, budget, and how well one tolerates creatine, particularly on an empty stomach. Having a clear grasp of the differences in each option will also help you make the right decision, not only for your performance goals but for your general health.

A man lifting a kettlebell above his head


Common Forms of Creatine

  • Powder form: The most common and typically the most economical option, creatine powder can be easily mixed with water or juice. It's also the form used in most scientific studies validating creatine's benefits.
  • Capsule form: For those who prefer convenience or have difficulty with the taste or texture of powdered supplements, capsules offer an easy alternative, though they may be more expensive.

Pros and Cons

Pros of taking creatine on an empty stomach

Taking creatine on an empty stomach is believed to enhance its absorption into the bloodstream, potentially leading to more immediate effects on muscle energy stores. This method is favored by many fitness enthusiasts who seek to maximize the efficiency of their supplementation. With faster absorption, creatine can rapidly increase the concentration of creatine within the muscles, helping to boost ATP production more quickly. This is particularly beneficial during workouts where immediate energy bursts are crucial, such as during sprinting or heavy lifting.

Not only that but consuming creatine without other foods might prevent it from competing with other nutrients for absorption, ensuring that a higher percentage of the ingested creatine is utilized by the body. This could lead to more pronounced performance benefits, such as increased muscle strength and a noticeable improvement in high-intensity exercise capacity. For those looking to optimize their athletic performance and gain an edge in their training routines, taking creatine on an empty stomach can be a strategic choice.

Cons of taking creatine on an empty stomach

Those benefits may sound substantial, but remember there are always potential drawbacks. The most common issue reported is stomach discomfort, including feelings of bloating and an upset stomach. These symptoms can be particularly disruptive for athletes, affecting their ability to perform at their best or adhere to their regular training and supplement schedules. The discomfort may stem from creatine drawing water into the intestines, which, without other food to aid digestion and absorption, can lead to gastrointestinal distress.

Also, the more rapid absorption of creatine due to an empty stomach may lead to a more rapid depletion of its levels in the body, potentially necessitating more frequent supplementation to maintain optimal creatine stores. As a result, this may raise the daily management burden for the user, as well as potentially raise the cost of supplementation over time, both of which are less-than-attractive possibilities. 

Finally, there’s also a risk that the benefits experienced by the faster absorption may not be enough to outweigh the discomfort. This could lead to users abandoning the empty-stomach method in favor of taking creatine with meals. 

A man lifting weights in the gym, while on a bench


Effects on Muscle Cells and Athletic Performance

Creatine has a well-documented impact on muscle cells that is pivotal for athletes seeking to enhance their physical performance. By increasing the reserves of phosphocreatine in muscle tissue, creatine supplementation allows for the rapid regeneration of ATP during short bursts of high-intensity activity.

This mechanism is crucial for sports and exercises that require quick, explosive movements, such as weightlifting, sprinting, or jumping. As a result, regular creatine use can lead to significant improvements in muscle strength, endurance, and overall power output.

The enhanced ATP production also supports greater training volume and intensity, which are key factors in muscle hypertrophy—increasing muscle size and mass. 

This effect is further augmented by creatine’s role in water retention within muscle cells, which contributes to a fuller, more robust appearance of muscles and possibly aids in their recovery and growth by improving nutrient delivery and waste product removal.

Creatine has also been shown to facilitate faster recovery between training sessions with its ability to reduce muscle damage and inflammation following intense exercise. This allows athletes to sustain frequent high-intensity workouts with reduced risk of injury or prolonged fatigue.

A woman holding a weight in each hand, doing lunges

Recommended Dosage and Timing

Anytime you change your fitness and supplement regimen, you want to ensure you’re using optimal dosage and timing to give you the best shot at peak performance with minimal side effects. 

Daily dose

For most individuals, a daily intake of 5 grams of creatine is sufficient to maintain saturated creatine levels in the muscle cells. Some protocols suggest a higher intake during an initial loading phase, or about 20 grams per day, divided into four servings of 5 grams each, for 5-7 days. This rapid saturation method can quickly maximize creatine stores, leading to faster initial results.


Taking creatine immediately post-workout is often recommended due to the increased muscle receptivity to nutrients at this time, which can help with faster recovery and growth. Alternatively, on non-training days, creatine can be taken at any time but may offer peak benefits when consumed with a meal that includes carbohydrates and protein.

The Creatine Loading Phase

You’ll often hear of a “loading phase” when it comes to creatine supplementation, which is designed to rapidly maximize muscle creatine stores. This phase typically involves taking a higher dose of creatine over a short period to quickly saturate the muscles with creatine, followed by a lower "maintenance" dose to keep these levels high.

Implementing your loading phase

During the loading phase, you might consume about 20 grams of creatine divided into four servings of 5 grams each, spread throughout the day for about 5 to 7 days. After loading, the daily intake drops to 3-5 grams per day to maintain elevated levels. 

Creatine on Rest Days

Even on days when the gym isn't part of the schedule, maintaining a consistent intake of creatine can play a crucial role in achieving long-term fitness and performance goals. Creatine levels in the muscles do not deplete overnight but maintaining a steady supply helps ensure that these levels remain optimal, and continuing to take creatine on rest days prevents any decline in muscle stores.

A woman holding two dumbbells in the gym

Final Thoughts

Having a clear understanding of how to properly use creatine, including the timing and conditions of its intake, can significantly enhance its benefits, from boosting muscle strength to speeding up recovery, and hopefully, that’s what we’ve helped you get today. 

While taking creatine on an empty stomach may increase absorption speed for some, it's crucial to balance this with potential digestive discomfort. Always consider personal tolerance and experiment with different timings and combinations to find what works best for you. 

In addition to creatine, RAW Nutrition also has a variety of other supplements, including protein, pre-workout, pump, and fat burners. As always, the key to effective supplementation lies in consistency and alignment with one's overall fitness goals and dietary needs. Be authentic in what you want out of your fitness regimen, and you’ll make the right choice for your needs. 


The information being presented in this blog is intended to be used as educational or resource information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from your healthcare provider. This content should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider. You should call 911 for all medical emergencies. Raw Nutrition is not liable for any advice or information provided on this blog, which advice or information is provided on an “as-is” basis, and assumes no liability for diagnosis, treatment, decisions, or actions made in reliance upon any advice or information contained on this blog. No warranties, express or implied, are made on the information that is provided.

July 10, 2024 — Briana Gonzalez
Tags: creatine