Creatine is a made up of 3 amino acids that our bodies produce naturally and which we can consume from foods such as meat and fish.
Our liver, pancreas and kidney produce it and sends it to our muscles. It is a natural component of skeletal muscle.
When it reaches the muscles, it is converted into phosphocreatine which is used to regenerate the muscles’ ultimate energy source – ATP. Around 95-98% of our body’s creatine is stored in muscle tissues.
It has been estimated that ceatine supplements can boost your overall strength by 10-15%, and help you gain 10 pounds in lean muscle mass.
Myths Of Creatine
1. Creatine is a steriod (it’s not)
2. Creatine stunts your growth (it doesn’t)
3. Creatine makes you gain fats (creatine helps you add on muscle weight)
4. Taking creatine long time will cause your body to lose its function to produce creatine
5. A higher consumption of creatine will lead to more growth
Functions Of Creatine
1. Provides More Energy For High Intensity Workouts
During weight training, the dominant source of energy for our bodies is ATP, which is rapidly used up. Creatine serves to recharge the ATP through scientific processes which can get rather technical so I’ve decided not to describe the processes here.
Your body actually have other energy sources to choose from, such as carbohydrates, but it takes much longer to convert them and so your body will always turn to ATP energy sources first.
2. Enhances Protein Synthesis
Increased protein synthesis is brought about by having more energy to do more intensive work (point 1) and the more volumnized a muscle is, the more it will enhance protein synthesis (point 3) as well as deter the breakdown of protein.
3. Increases Cell Volume -> Increased Strength And Power
With proper use of creatine, you can expect to put on a few pounds within 1 to 2 weeks. This is because creatine increases the amount of water in your muscles. This is also known as “water weight”, which can go away when you stop using creatine.
However, the point is to use the extra mass and strength gains from this “water weight” to do a more intensive weight lifting workout which will then stimulate real muscle hypertrophy.
4. Lactic Acid Buffer
5. Anabolic Effects
There have also been studies indicating that creatine can spur the release of growth hormones (anabolic/muscle building hormones) under the stimulus of exercising.
What Studies Of Creatine Have Shown
Click here for the is list of studies of creatine showing positive results.
Types Of Creatine
There are many different types of creatine, but micronized creatine monohydrate is still the best and most popular form of creatine.
Why? Because it is the most value for money, easy to consume and easily absorbed by the body.
The most important point, is that most scientific studies that have shown creatine to work use creatine monohydrate as their test samples – in other words creatine monohydrate has been studied exhaustively.
Micronized basically means smaller, so it will easier for the body to absorb the creatine.
The different types of creatine include:
- creatine monohydrate
- creatine ethyl ester
- creatine anhydrous
- creatine citrate
- creatine phosphate
- creatine malate
- creatine tartrate
- magnesium creatine
- creatine glutamine taurine
- creatine HMB
- effervescent creatine
- creatine titrate
- liquid creatine
- creatine gum
- time released creatine
The different forms: powder, capsules, liquid and blends. Powder is the most popular, and avoid liquid ones.
Possible Side Effects Of Creatine
It is important to hydrate yourself well because water follows creatine into our skeletal muscles.
2. Gastrointestinal Distress
This is brought about when you overload too much on creatine leading to an excess of in that is unabsorbed in your body. See below for dosage.
One advantage of micronized creatine monohydrates is that it is easily absorbed into the blood stream and hence, have less tendency to collect within the intestinal compartment.
Other Essential Information Of Creatine
1. Vegetarians can use creatine, and I highly recommend they do. This is because creatine comes mainly from meat and fish and thus, vegetarians tend to have deficient levels of creatine in their bodies. It becomes more of a necessity than a need in such a situation
2. Creatine does not make you fat.
How To Use Creatine
There are 2 ways.
1. Loading And Maintenance Phase
In the loading phase, you consume 20g of creatine for 5 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5g each day for 2-3 months. Then, take 1 whole month off creatine consumption as a precaution to overdosage of creatine and to allow our body to rebalance its internal equilibrium.
*DO NOT load for more than 5 days consecutively, as by the 5th day, your muscle stores should already be fully loaded
*DO NOT consume the full load of creatine at once during the loading phase, i.e DO NOT consume all 20g of creatine at one shot, because the body won’t be able to use all creatine immediately and it will be excreted as urine.
Furthermore, this will cause undue stress on your kidneys and liver.
2. Same Amount Of Creatine Daily
For this method, consume 3-10g of creatine daily for 2-3 months, and then take 1 whole month off creatine consumption for similar reasons shared above.
NOTE: It has been shown that a loading phase is not necessary. Conventional wisdom has it that method 1 (loading) will bring about “volumnizing” of your cells faster, but method 2 will bring about less stress on your kidneys and liver and still work similarly well.
When To Use Creatine
Creatine is best consumed right after your workout. Right after your workout, your body absorbs many nutrients more efficiently and creatine can refuel your body’s low creatine phosphate stores.
Some people believe that you should consume creatine before your workout to get more energy, however, I beg to differ.
This is because for creatine to really work, i.e to provide more energy for you, you have to saturate your muscle cells with it, which takes at least a week of loading to do.
If your cells are already saturated, then it doesn’t matter if you consume creatine before your workout.
I personally used and highly recommend the Optimum Micronized Creatine Powder. It is extremely cost effective and I used it quite a lot during my bulking up phase.
If I were to describe its effectiveness, I would call it my “cheat code” to muscle mass gains. Take note though that a balanced diet is important too!
Click here to see my review of the Optimum Micronized Creatine Powder.