Is a creatine loading phase necessary? Can I take it with Apple juice or orange juice? Can I have it in my protein shake post workout? If I have it in water do I have it cold or warm?
The so-called loading phase (around 20g a day for 5–7 days) is an approach popularly thought to optimise getting to a saturation level in a hurry. Then this saturation state is maintained by small daily (3–5g) doses.
Is it necessary?
Not very. It’s assumed that how you store creatine, how efficiently and how much you can store it is a genetic characteristic. So taking smaller doses over a presumably longer period of time, you (again…presumably) will achieve the same fully saturated state.
Apple juice or a protein shake are excellent delivery devices. Apple juice will probably invoke a faster blood-insulin rise which might assist in a slightly more efficient carrier mechanism.
Warm water would not be my beverage of choice as pure creatine already tastes like chalk…and drinking sludgy warm chalk is not necessary, unless you’re a little masochistic.