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Raza 30 day creatine transformation journey

A Beginner's 30-Day Creatine Transformation (And Exactly What He Did To Avoid Side Effects)

by Jeremy Ethier - August 8, 2023

Check out Raza's 30-day creatine transformation. We also cover common creatine side effects (Stomach pain? Hair loss?) — and the specific strategies we used to help Raza sidestep them.

Creatine is often described as the “legal version” of steroids.

Supposedly, at the end of your creatine transformation, you'll be bigger. Stronger. And more athletic. But ... here's the thing. Does the same thing apply to beginners? Or, put another way, just how big of a difference can it make for the average Joe?

And are there any harmful creatine side effects you should know about?

Meet Raza, our guinea pig.

Raza creatine transformation

A beginner who's never taken creatine. In the next 30 days, we're going to measure his strength, weight, and muscle size — and witness his creatine transformation. Let's see just how much this supplement helps or hurts him.

Raza's Expectations And Goals Before His Creatine Transformation

Here's what Raza had to say before embarking on his (extremely exciting) 30-day creatine transformation:

"My name is Raza Khataw. I'm 26, and I work at Built With Science. I'm actually getting married in 3 days, right after this challenge ends, and I want to look thick and juicy in my suits. I want to be looking built like my boss and my co-workers, so let's see how this turns out."

Now, it's unrealistic to expect an immediate creatine transformation.

When you first start taking creatine, it won’t work right away. You actually won’t experience any benefit until you reach what’s known as full saturation. This is the point when the creatine stores in your muscles are completely full. 

Typically, if you take one 5-gram scoop of creatine a day, you can reach full saturation in about 3 weeks.

But you can experience creatine's benefits faster, in as little as a week, if you use what’s known as a loading protocol. This involves taking 20 grams of creatine every day for a week.

However, for some individuals, ingesting this much at once can cause one of creatine's most notorious side effects: stomach discomfort. 

In fact, I'll let Raza describe his first week of hell taking the creatine himself:

"My stomach hurts. My bowel movements are really messed up. The first 3 days of taking creatine were absolutely hell. I went out for dinner with my fiance where we were chilling and relaxing, and the creatine really started kicking in and I told my fiance if I don't go home in the next 20 minutes, I'd shit myself. I got a speeding ticket because I went through a red light because I could not stop. I had to quickly get home to use the restroom. It was so bad. Day 2, I had stomach pains up the wazoo. It was bad. I was in bed, and just agony and pain. Felt like something was stabbing me in the stomach and, like, bloated. Like, my face felt fat and it was just a nightmare."

Raza creatine transformation stomach discomfort

Stomach pains. Having to call in sick from work. Laying in bed. And praying on the toilet. Safe to say, Raza's creatine transformation journey didn't start out all too well — in fact, he ran right into lots of adversity and problems.

Tips To Avoid Creatine Stomach Pain

But no worries, because Raza knew he could potentially avoid all that gastrointestinal upset by spacing out his creatine intake. So, he tried taking the creatine twice a day instead of all at once.

Only ... he made a deadly mistake: he decided to mix the creatine with his pre-workout, and that made all of his problems even worse.

To soothe Raza’s stomach pains, we spaced out his servings throughout the day and also fully dissolved each dose with water instead of dry scooping it. We also made sure he stopped taking it with his pre-workout or any caffeine.

There is not only some evidence suggesting that taking caffeine with creatine may make it less effective, but it also seems to greatly increase the odds of stomach discomfort.

Making these fixes seemed to do the trick.  

Signs That You're A Creatine Responder

Alright, so after the 7 days of loading, by now, the creatine should be fully saturated in your muscles, and that is when it’ll start working.

This is when you should scale back your dose to just 5 grams per day to simply maintain your elevated creatine stores. However, not everyone responds to creatine. In fact, it’s estimated that about 20-30% of people are non-responders.

So once you do reach full saturation, there are a few benefits and side effects you’ll want to look out for to tell if you're on track for an impressive creatine transformation.

Weight Gain

Raza was actually dieting (for his wedding!), so he was confused when he saw the numbers on the scale going up:

"I gained roughly around 1 and a half pounds in the first week. It was a big oh sh*t moment because I had these suits that were tailored to my body. If I don't fit into my suits, my fiance will not be happy."

So, when creatine is initially taken into a muscle cell, it also draws water into that cell and often causes a slight spike in your body weight as a result.

On average, research seems to show around a 1-3 lb increase in body weight before it stabilizes.

Although this may sound like a bad thing, especially if you’re on a diet, this water retention can make your muscles look and feel a lot fuller and is a sign that the supplement is working — and that you're right on track to wowing others with your creatine transformation.

Hair Loss (?)

Hair loss is a common concern when it comes to creatine supplementation. So, it's only understandable when Raza shared his fears on day 7 of his creatine transformation journey:

"One thing I'm really worried about is losing my hair. It's already thinning, and apparently, creatine can make it worse."

So, why is hair loss a popular concern when it comes to creatine?

Well, this goes back to a study published back in 2010. Researchers took 20 rugby players and split them into a placebo group or a creatine group where they followed the loading phase for 7 days and then dropped down to maintenance afterwards.

Throughout this period, researchers measured what’s known as DHT, a hormone known to contribute to male pattern baldness and hair loss in those who are genetically predisposed to it.

So what happened?

Well, the creatine group actually experienced a significant increase in their DHT levels by about 56% after the loading phase, which then reduced down to a 40% increase during the maintenance phase. 

What does this mean?

Well, first of all, the creatine group had lower than average DHT levels, to begin with, and the increase they experienced was still within normal levels. Also, no other study has yet to replicate the results.

So I honestly think it’s not a concern, but we will keep an eye on Raza’s head of hair during and after Raza's 30-day creatine transformation — and see if we notice any difference.

Increased Strength

On day 10 of his creatine transformation journey, Raza noticed that he was getting in more pull-ups than before:

"Before taking creatine, I could do about 9 (set 1), 5 (set 2), then 5 (set 3) pull-ups. After taking creatine, I was able to push out 12, 11, then 11. That was a huge indicator for me that something is going on in my body."

Psst: want to get better at (or get started on) your pull-up journey, just like Raza did? Consider stacking creatine supplementation with this free pull-up progression program that'll quickly get you from 0 to 10+ pull-ups.

So if you’re a responder to creatine, you should notice a slight strength boost across most of your exercises.

In fact, a meta-analysis reviewing 22 creatine studies found that, on average, trained lifters can expect roughly an 8% boost in strength and a 14% boost in the number of reps performed.

Less experienced lifters like Raza, however, seem to reap larger benefits, with one study showing an average strength increase of 30% in untrained individuals. Now, Raza’s been able to increase almost all his exercises by 5 lbs or so, as well as do a couple more reps, which seems to align with the research.

The point where Raza felt a difference in his creatine transformation

Faster Recovery

But in addition to the strength benefits, one study surveying 52 NCAA athletes found that 81% of them reported faster recovery from their training after taking creatine.

So once you reach full saturation, pay attention to how fast you recover between your workouts, as that’s another indicator that it’s working. 

Raza's 30-Day Creatine Transformation Check-In

And ... here's Raza taking his shirt off on day 30 of his creatine transformation for measurements and a weigh-in.

Raza check in at the end of his creatine transformation 30 day journey

Here's a breakdown of his day 1 vs day 30 stats:

  • Flexed arm: 36 cm → 38 cm (2 cm increase!)
  • Chest/shoulders: 120 cm → 125 cm (5 cm increase!)

Now, let's hear Raza's thoughts on his creatine transformation journey and whether he thinks creatine is worth it:

"Taking creatine is not a magic pill. I still had to watch my nutrition, and I still had to train hard, but it gave me that little boost being a beginner, and I'm definitely going to keep taking it."

Hooked on his creatine transformation results

Honestly, guys, 95% of supplements are junk. But there are exceptions. Namely, creatine — as evident from Raza's own 4 weeks "before and after creatine results" (he took creatine monohydrate, FYI).

It’s natural, safe, and, as you saw with Raza, can make a noticeable difference if you’re a responder to it. And here's a picture of Raza, happily married (congrats, man!):

Raza marriage pictures

But, just always keep in mind proper nutrition and hard training will do a lot more than taking any supplement will.

And here’s an article you can read next that’ll show you how to tweak your workouts to speed up your growth potentially even more than creatine will.

But if you’re looking for a step-by-step plan to transform your body as efficiently as possible, just take my quiz below to find the best program for you and your body:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

Thanks for sticking till the end, and I'll see ya next time!

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

Beginner Takes CREATINE for 30 Days (RESULTS & SIDE EFFECTS)

A Beginner's 30-Day Creatine Transformation (And Exactly What He Did To Avoid Side Effects)