Creatine 101

The unfortunate thing about the internet with regards to bodybuilding is that there is simply never a yes or no answer to a question, the chance are if you read 10 difference articles then you will come away more confused than when you started looking as you are now faced with 10 different answers!

What is creatine?

Creatine is a nitrogenous amino acid which your body produces in small amounts within the kidneys and liver from argininie, glycine and methionine to help supply energy to the cells in your body, this is known as ATP  (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is created typically within the body when your body oxidizes carbs, proteins or fats and provides your body with energy by hydrolyzing a phosphate group.

Naturally your body receives about half of its intake of creatine itself through foods (mainly meats and fish) and then the rest is made by itself (roughly about 1g per day from each source).

Creatine has been proven to increase strength, performance and muscle mass and is also known as an ergogenic supplement in the sense that  when you take in extra creatine (more than your body produces and you take in from your diet) it can help to produce positive effects during exercise.

Creatine has also been found to have many health benefits as well as the obvious benefits such as muscle building and increasing ATP levels, research has also shown that creatine can increase levels of HGH (human growth hormone)!

Does Creatine Require a transport system?

Creatine is transported to your blood for use by the muscles and to do so does require a delivery system, however the main part where people become confused is the fact that they assume that ALL creatines require a separate delivery system, however this is not the case.

The reason a lot of people use a delivery system with a creatine is to increase the muscles uptake of nutrients which consequently means they can absorb the creatine with more ease and to a higher degree. The way this is done is through an insulin spike, this is created by supplementing with some fast acting sugars such as dextrose to create this insulin spike.

Most people who do this protocol opt for about 30g of dextrose to compliment there 5g of creatine they are supplementing with, dextrose is also a very cheap source of carbohydrates so adding this into your protocol will not break the bank.

Some people also like to add it to a fruit (citrus) drink, this is ok however when you do do some of the creatine is broken down and converted from creatine to creatinine which is useless within the body so if you plan on using citrus drinks as your delivery/transport system then you should add in a little bit extra create (2-3g will more than suffice)

If you are dieting and do not want to add extra macros to your diet however still want to use a delivery system for your creatine then you can use an insulin sensitising agent such as ALA (alpha-lipoic acid), however you will still need to take in some dextrose to for a delivery system however you may be able to use about 15g and attain the same results asALA causes glucose receptor cell sensitization to insulin meaning even with less sugar you can transport more nutrients across the cellular membrane.

Overall for the price and ease of using a transport system with creatine monohydrate I would thoroughly recommend it, studies from this protocol have shown upto 60% more creatine in the muscle as opposed to taking creatine monohydrate on it’s own.

I don’t respond to creatine – what can i do?

Glycocyamine can help with creatine absorbsion for none responders, it can be found in products such  as SAN V12 TURBO however you can also buy it on it’s own if you would like, 3-5g per serving of creatine would suffice.

Do I need to cycle creatine?

Cycling creatine isn’t necessary but can help. When you take creatine in excess (supplementing 10g per day is still classed as excess) for a short period of time (4-8week) your bodies creatine phosphate stores are temporarily increases and this will remain the same for a short while after you stop supplementing with creatine

How much should I take?

Most people tend to take 10g of creatine per day when in the maintenance phase (2x5g) and 20g per day when in the loading phase (4x5g) however some people may opt to take more, the human body will excrete through urinination creatine when you consume more than 50mg/kg bodyweight however some like to supplement with 80mh/kg of bodyweight to be on the safe side.

Which type of creatine is best for me?

Like all things in bodybuilding there is truly no size fits all, some people respond better to other types of creatine as different forms of creatine are different in composition, solubility and effectiveness. Some creatines are more soluble than others, which, in turn, increases their effectiveness. Other creatines are also bonded with other chemicals such as minerals and/or alcohol molecules which help/increase the absorption and uptake into the muscle which also means with the advanced forms of creatine you do not need to load them or use an uptake system.

With regards to the traits of a creatine though, they all do the same thing with regards to effects such as increasing muscle gain, increasing strength and increasing ATP levels.

But what is the difference?

Here is a quick table I have designed to illustrate the effects of the main different types of creatine, listed are the top 5 most popular creatines on the market today;

 

CREATINE MONOHYDRATE

 MICRONISED CREATINE

CREATINE ETHYL ETHYL ESTER (CEE)

CREATINE KRE-ALKALYN 

CREATINE MAGNESIUM CHELATE

 EXTENSIVELY RESEARCHED

YES

YES

NO

NO

NO

COST (1 been the cheapest, 5 been the most expensive)

 1

 2

 3

5

4

 WATER SOLUBLE (5 been the worst and 1 been the best)

 5

 1

2

2

2

 CAUSES WATER RETENTION

 YES

YES

NO

NO

NO

 REQUIRES A LOADING PHASE

 YES

YES

 NO

NO

NO

 REPORTS OF STOMACH DISCOMFORT

 YES

YES

NO

NO

NO

EASY TO ABSORB (doesn't require a delivery system)

 NO

NO

YES

YES

YES

WORKS WITH NONE RESPONDERS

 NO

NO

YES

YES

YES

UNFLAVORED STATE IS PALATABLE 

 YES

YES

NO

NO

NO

AVAILABLE IN A CAPSULE?

 YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

CYCLING REQUIRED?

 YES

YES

NO

NO

NO

What about the side effects?

The reported side effects from creatine are mainly that of dehydration, cramping and headaches, this is all due to the water
retention that some creatine cause water to be pulled intracellular (into the muscle) which hence increases your daily requirements as far as water intake is concerned and when left ignored it can cause these problems, however as long as you stay well hydrated you will not have these problems. 
Some people claim that it can cause kidney and liver problems but that is a myth, unless you have a pre existing condition this isn't something to worry about as most of this talk is from anecdotal reports.
 

Is water retention bad?

As I mentioned earlier, most of the water which your body retains during a creatine cycle is intramuscular however contrary to believe, this isn't all bad.
The presence of water inside your skeletal muscle promotes a positive environment for protein synthesis (protein synthesis is the formation of new proteins and indicates a period of muscle growth)
Water retention within the muscle also slows down the rate of lactic acid buildup during exercise which allows you to exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.
Also during a creatine cycle water can be retained within connective tissue which means that there will be less pains in your joints and put less stress on your joints when you are lifting heavy.



I'm a teenager can i use creatine?

A lot of manufacturers will recommend against supplementing with creatine under the age of 18, but this is mainly because to the ill educated whenever a person becomes ill and they train, it is easy to blame it on the supplements they are taking, I had a friend who once went to the doctor complaining of bad headaches and the doctor told him it is because he supplements with protein! Needless to say, my friend continued to use his protein and the headaches went away.
But contrary to belief, creatine is perfectly fine for teenagers, it is a naturally occurring amino that we mentioned earlier your body actually produces itself, it is side effect free in the long and short term so provides no risk to the user regardless of age and will help the individual to increase his/her athletic performance with regards to strength and endurance and also aid recovery.

 

Written by Daniel Brown

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