Creatine For MMA: Should You Take It?

November 15, 2021

Don’t believe all the myths about creatine. It is the most extensively studied supplement with a mountain of evidence supporting its efficacy in sports performance. Specifically physical attributes that will enhance your MMA performance.

Creatine will enhance your MMA performance by improving your muscular strength, ability to perform more reps with the same load, and enhancing anaerobic power. This means you’ll be able to strike and grapple harder for longer.

But how does creatine allow you to do this? Is it some magical supplement that has slipped under the radar of anti-doping?

Creatine For MMA – Is It Good Or Bad?

Creatine is essential for MMA. MMA is what is known as a mixed sport. Meaning it highly taxes all three energy systems. The a-lactic, anaerobic lactisc, and aerobic energy systems. Importantly, the a-lactic energy system is what allows for quick explosive bursts.

Think of shooting a double leg or throwing a flurry of strikes. Why does this matter? Creatine is a quick and easy way to enhance the a-lactic energy system. You could even call this a training hack since you can enhance this energy system without training just by taking creatine.

In fact, research has shown that those who take creatine in conjunction with lifting weights see an 8% greater increase in strength compared to those who take a placebo and a 14% greater number of reps performed at a given load [1].

Further, creatine improves anaerobic power in a 30-second all-out cycling sprint test indicating creatine can help you sustain higher intensities for longer [2]. This supports the American College of Sports Medicine's position stand that “exercise performance involving short periods of extremely powerful activity can be enhanced, especially during repeated bouts by creatine supplementation [3].”

So, how is it that creatine can make you a beast in the cage? This is going to be a quick science lesson made easy. Creatine is a molecule that is stored within the muscle. It binds to another molecule called phosphate. This now makes it phosphocreatine or PCr for short.

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You may have heard the a-lactic energy system named the PCr energy system. This is why. Taking creatine increases the amount of creatine stored within your muscles as they bind to more phosphates.

These phosphates come in handy when it comes to replenishing energy for the muscles. ATP is the primary molecule used as energy for the muscles to contract. It stands for adenosine triphosphate meaning three phosphates. When ATP is used, it turns into adenosine diphosphate or ADP meaning two phosphates.

To replenish ADP back to ATP quickly, the stored PCr is used. That is how the increases in muscular strength and the ability to do more reps at a given load works. Further, PCr consumes hydrogen ions which are responsible for acidifying the muscle during high-intensity anaerobic exercise [3].

As a muscle’s environment acidifies, it inhibits its ability to contract reducing force output and therefore, causing you to fatigue and gas out. 

Since PCr buffers these hydrogen ions, you delay the time to fatigue and therefore, can produce more power for longer during high-intensity bursts.

When you stack on top of these mechanisms the ability for creatine to replenish glycogen, your carbohydrate fuel source that gets broken down to create more ATP, you have a very potent supplement [4].

All of this suggests that creatine is great for MMA fighters looking to maximize their performance and if you are not taking creatine, you should be.

How Much Creatine To Take For MMA?

Creatine For MMA

There are two strategies when it comes to taking creatine. One is the loading strategy and the non-loading strategy. Whichever you use will depend on whether you need performance changes quickly or not.

The loading strategy involves taking 20 g a day for 6 days. This can be split into 3-4 smaller doses each day to make it easier to stomach. After this, taking 2-5 g maintains creatine muscle saturation [5].

The non-loading strategy involves taking 3-5 g every day. It takes up to 28 days to increase muscle creatine saturation [5]. I would recommend not loading and just taking 3-5 g per day and making it a habit.

When Should You Take Creatine For MMA?

There is very little evidence to suggest that taking creatine at a certain time is more beneficial than another. The little research done suggests that taking creatine after exercise may be better for muscle growth but not strength [6].

However, we don’t know how quickly creatine is taken to the muscle and we know that creatine does not have a stimulatory effect so from a practical standpoint, take it whenever you are going to remember each day.

For me, I have a protein smoothie every day so I put my creatine in there. That way, I always know I’m drinking it.

Should You Take Creatine When Cutting Weight?

Should You Take Creatine For MMA

Taking creatine when you are cutting weight is going to depend on how you respond. There is such thing as a creatine responder and non-responder when it comes to increases in body weight. One way to determine this is to record your body weight before and after a creatine loading phase and again after a maintenance phase [7].

Typically, a 1.2% increase in body weight is seen after supplementing with creatine mostly due to the increase in water weight [8].

If you are a non-responder, you will see no body weight change or very minimal. If you are a responder, you may see a 1% or greater increase in body weight.

Personally, I'm a non-responder and have successfully cut weight many times while taking creatine to weigh in. You can see below how lean I got even while taking creatine.

Best Creatine For An MMA Fighter

As a responder, you may want to gradually reduce your creatine intake as you cut weight for a fight. Since it takes 4-6 weeks for creatine stores to return to baseline, you won't lose the performance benefits of creatine if fully tapered off 1-3 weeks before the fight.

Best Creatine For An MMA Fighter

There are so many different types of creatine supplement companies are trying to sell you. Creatine monohydrate is the best and the most common. It is the most studied and no other form of creatine has shown any greater benefit.

You can buy creatine monohydrate at your local supplement store or online. I prefer buying my creatine in bulk at cheap prices since you’re going to be using 5 g every day forever.

I recommend this one by Gold BJJ.

Gold BJJ Creatine Monohydrate

Best Creatine For MMA

Should You Take Creatine For MMA?

Taking creatine for MMA should be a staple in your supplement routine and diet. The benefits of taking creatine are unmatched compared to any other legal sports supplement with very little to no side effects. Take 5 g a day every day. It’s as simple as that.


1. Rawson, E. S., & Volek, J. S. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 17(4), 822-831.

2. Mielgo-Ayuso, J., Calleja-Gonzalez, J., Marqués-Jiménez, D., Caballero-García, A., Córdova, A., & Fernández-Lázaro, D. (2019). Effects of creatine supplementation on athletic performance in soccer players: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients, 11(4), 757.

3. Terjung, R. L., Clarkson, P., Eichner, E. R., Greenhaff, P. L., Hespel, P. J., Israel, R. G., ... & Williams, M. H. (2000). American College of Sports Medicine roundtable. The physiological and health effects of oral creatine supplementation. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32(3), 706-717.

4. LOON, L. J. V., Murphy, R., Oosterlaar, A. M., Cameron-Smith, D., Hargreaves, M., Wagenmakers, A. J., & Snow, R. (2004). Creatine supplementation increases glycogen storage but not GLUT-4 expression in human skeletal muscle. Clinical science, 106(1), 99-106.

5. Hultman, E., Soderlund, K., Timmons, J. A., Cederblad, G., & Greenhaff, P. L. (1996). Muscle creatine loading in men. Journal of applied physiology, 81(1), 232-237.

6. Forbes, S. C., & Candow, D. G. (2018). Timing of creatine supplementation and resistance training: A brief review. Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, 1(5).

7. Ricci, T., Forbes, S. C., & Candow, D. G. (2020). Creatine supplementation: practical strategies and considerations for mixed martial arts. Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, 3(1).

8. Branch, J. D. (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 13(2), 198-226.

About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


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