We’ve covered creatine several times on the site already, including our beginners guide to creatine and the benefits of creatine for women, but like most other supplements there are a lot of questions around their use. One of the most common questions asked is around the use of creatine and the effect it has on hydration levels, with many wondering how much water they should drink while taking the supplement.
To understand the importance of proper hydration we’ll have a look at how creatine works, why you need to drink enough water and how much is optimal for you.
Creatine and Dehydration
Creatine is a widely used supplement which helps to promote muscle growth and increase strength when combined with regular weight training. One of the effects of creatine use is that it can draw water from the plasma in your blood stream and it stores additional water within your muscles.
While this can increase muscle size and firmness, it can also draw water away from other parts of the body and may cause dehydration, which has a negative impact on the way your body functions.
Common side effects of dehydration, coupled with creatine use, include additional stress on the kidneys and the renal system, a reduction in the production of dopamine and serotonin which can affect your mood and ability to think clearly, as well as the other common effects of dehydration which include:
- dizziness or light-headedness
- dry mouth, lips and eyes
Obviously you’d want to avoid these side effects, so you’ll want to consume more than you’d typically drink in a normal day. A surprisingly high proportion of people suffer from chronic dehydration as it is, so getting more water should be a priority for most people before the amount of water you need when on creatine is even considered.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
The general recommendation for getting enough water is to halve your weight in pounds and drink that many ounces per day (or multiply half your weight in pounds by 3 to find out how many litres you should drink). So if you weigh 200lbs you should be aiming for 3 litres of water a day when you’re not supplementing with creatine.
If you’re supplementing with creatine, look to add 16-18 ounces (0.5 litres) on top of your recommended daily intake for every 5g of creatine you take per day. Most people will be taking 5-10g per day, so look to add an additional litre of water to your daily intake to ensure optimal hydration.
You’ll probably find you spend a little more time peeing each day, but it’s more than worth it when you consider the alternative side effects of poor hydration!