Creatine is one of the most researched and legitimate supplements on the market. Still, there seems to be a lot of confusion as to how, when, and why to use it, and what to use along with it. Hopefully after this brief report, you will have a better understanding of creatine and if it fits in your program. You will also be able to dispel myths that you may have heard in the past about creatine. Prepare to get brain swole.
What is it and why use it?
Creatine is the coming together of the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. So it’s not an amino acid, but the production of it requires amino acids. It is already occurring naturally in the body; you can also increase it with the addition of certain foods and supplementation.
Creatine acts in many different ways and provides positives to different processes ranging from faster regeneration of ATP, which is great for short burst energy, to cell volume that can increase protein synthesis. There is evidence it helps aid in faster recovery and general training performance overall.
It is cheap, researched, and one of the best supplements you can get.
How do I get it in the body?
Creatine transport happens in your body on a daily basis. Everyday you lose and gain a certain mount of creatine. It is thought that on average your body makes roughly 1 gram per day and, if on an appropriate protein based diet, you can gain roughly 1-1.5 more grams depending on how much you stuff away. Food wise, creatine occurs in the largest amounts in red meats.
You have three main choices of creatine supplementation.
Creatine Monohydrate (CM)
Creatine Phosphate (CP)
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
CP was long thought to be best because the process of transfer for energy uses creatine phosphate. However, it can’t be taken up directly into the muscle via supplementation, so supplementing with CP is useless.
CEE is supposed to be more efficient in smaller amounts and perhaps easier on the stomach, but overall hasn’t been researched enough to say definitively. It also tastes like ass.
So the winner, by a long shot, is CM. CM is the cheapest and most researched form of creatine supplementation, and thus far nothing has been shown to provide better results.
Loading and how to do it is actually very simple. It only became complicated because people don’t understand the difference between faster, better, and needed.
First off, you don’t have to load in large amounts for creatine to work. You can take smaller doses over a period of time and increase your saturation level. However, loading it in larger amounts can cause saturation to occur in less time so it works faster. The goal of loading is to top out your levels of creatine storage so that when using your energy stores you tap out less quickly.
There are a LOT of different loading methods out there and maintenance intakes for suggestion. Some of it is based in research and some is based in BS. All you need to know are these few things before we dive into the recommendations.
-Taking large doses at one time isn’t needed and could cause you to run to the bathroom.
-You can hit solid saturation levels by just starting out at a normal dose and causing the stores to fill over time.
-If you are going to go slow at loading, it may take longer to feel/notice any effects.
-In general, the effects are not crazy or drug-like. At best, you will have a little more energy, a little more “pump,” the ability to do a few more reps, and a little better recovery. It also pulls water into the muscle so that “swole” may look a little better too. That’s about it though; it isn’t miracle juice.
Dosage and Loading Recommendations
Fast: 5g/20 days then 5g per day
Faster: 10g/10 days then 5g per day
Fastest: 20g/5 days then 5g per day
(This can be higher or lower depending on LBM and weight. For example, if female at 120 lbs and 18% bf, 15g/5 days and then 3g per day may be more than enough. Decrease excess water retention if concerned.)
When to take it?
It is best taken around workouts, specifically pre/post-workout. The amount and what to take along with it can change based on your size, training goals, and dietary program.
How to take it?
You can take it via powder or capsule. The general method is via powder mixed in a shake.
Why would I not respond to creatine?
There has been research that discusses responders versus non-responders. While it isn’t known for sure, there can be various reasons why you may not respond to creatine; these can range from caffeine usage, body fat levels, and just plain genetics.
Possible reasons for non-responders:
-Possible correlation with having more type II fibers.
-Possible correlation with a higher body fat percentage.
-Possible that people on diets already high in meat and protein don’t notice the effects because they have a higher natural level of creatine.
-Possible that caffeine usage could impede results.
Creatine draws water into the muscle. It shouldn’t really cause much of a negative effect in the aspect of look, and if anything it should help increase “swole.” However, if you have a higher body fat level, that “swole” can sometimes turn into a look of “bloat” because there is a lack of definition.
It is also going to increase your physical scale weight. This shouldn’t be a concern unless you are freaking out over the scale in general or need to make weight for class.
Man or woman?
Both men and women can benefit from creatine usage.
Is it safe?
Thus far, there have been few problems reported with creatine other than upset stomachs (from high dosing) and water retention. In short, don’t do anything stupid or that is not recommended and you will be fine.
Is it steroids?
No, not even close, not at all.
Will putting it in any liquid such as hot water or orange juice destroy its effects?
Should I use creatine if I’m on a fat loss diet?
There are no problems with doing that; and as you can see, there can only be benefits.