After protein powder, Creatine is easily the most talked about bodybuilding supplement. It comes highly recommended in most magazines, and many incredible athletes swear by in in their performance. So what exactly is Creatine? And how should you use it?
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is something that is used in your body every single day. It is currently being produced by your liver. It is used to help your nerves, your muscles and your heart to function. It is a compound of three things, L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine. So it isn’t an unnatural substance you are taking in to your body.
What Does It Do?
Without getting too technical, creatine is used to help regenerate the molecule adenosine triphosphate, (otherwise known as ATP). This molecule essentially transports energy to your cells. So to illustrate, your cells are a factory that needs materials (energy) to produce things, the ATP is the truck that takes the materials to the cells, and the creatine creates the trucks. Got it? good, let’s move on.
Is It Bad To Supplement Creatine?
There are plenty of horror stories out there regarding different supplements. Many of the stories surrounding creatine have over time been disproven. There are some side effects, but if you are careful with the dosage that you use, you should be ok. These side effects include bloating, and some muscle cramps, however, these are rare and usually only occur when too much is taken.
What Does Supplementing Creatine Do?
So we don’t really care about how it works in normal people, we care about how it can effect our gym performance, and our physiques. The answers will please you. Studies have shown that supplementing creatine can have an increase in your anaerobic work activity by 15%. It has also been shown to increase growth hormone IGF-1 by 20-30% too. These are encouraging numbers. A third way that creatine supplementation has been seen to effect your body is by increased recovery capabilities.
So to summarize:
• Better gym performance
• Higher growth hormone release
• Faster recovery
Who Should Not Use It?
If you are an athlete who focuses mainly on aerobic work. This can mean joggers, crosstrainer addicts and the like. Creatine doesn’t seem to show much benefit to people who do this kind of training. If you eat titanic amounts of fish and meat, then you may not need to supplement either. It will mean that your body is maxed out on creatine already. This is a rare case, but in the situation of some huge eaters, it can happen.The recommended amount is in the 3-5 grams per day mark. If someone is telling you to put down 10 or 20 grams per day then stay away from that person. This is down to simple physiology. The human body can only hold a limited amount of creatine, if there is too much of it swimming around, then it will just get rid of it.
Should You Cycle It?
There is no real need for creatine to be cycled. Also, there is no great justification for the need to load up in the first week or two either. Loading essentially means that you would be taking 15 or 20 grams per day for a week or so. The reason for doing that is your body reaches its maximum creatine amount quicker than if you didn’t load. During this time, the vast majority of the creatine is being flushed out.
After the “loading” you would then drop down to a lower 3-5 grams dosage. Whilst it is true that you can become more quickly adapted to it during a load, it also means you are more susceptible to any side effects like bloating or cramps. It is your call, but the differences might be marginal.
When And How?
Many people use the logic that creatine should be consumed as a pre-workout, saying that it will effect that same workout. This isn’t backed up by the data, since it appears that for creatine to fully enter your system takes more than just an hour or so. However, the opposite logic does work.
After a workout your creatine will be largely depleted, and thus then is the time to supplement yourself with it. This is seen as more effective than using as a pre-workout. Use a powdered creatine, and fully dissolve it into water. Don’t ingest it while it is partly or wholly still in powdered form. If it is fully dissolved, your body can do more with it. And another note, drink plenty of water when you are using creatine. You should be drinking loads of it anyway.
Which Type Of Creatine Should I Use
There are always new and wonderful supplements being released to the market, but this isn’t always a good thing. The new slew of creatines that are available haven’t really been shown to do anything better than good old creatine monohydrate. These new creatines are also usually triple the price. Sticking to a good quality creatine monohydrate will bring you all the benefits that are outlined above, and will keep the price reasonable. So that is the low down on creatine. To Recap
• Creatine can boost anaerobic work capacity by 15%
• It can increase the release of IGH-1 by 30%
• Improves recovery
• Have it after training
• Stick to 3-5 grams a day. Don’t worry about loading and cycling
• Get a good creatine monohydrate, avoid the gimmicks.
• Train your ass off