If you have recently spent some time at the gym or around fitness enthusiasts, this product is likely to have come up at least a couple of times.
Creatine is an organic acid that has the amazing ability to pump up your energy levels by increasing ATP production.
Increased energy translates to improved performance, longer reps and sets, more cardio, more strength training, more resistance training, more everything!
Creatine is naturally produced in the human body by the pancreas, liver and kidneys. Higher levels of creatine can basically make you superhuman in the gym.
It can keep you going for longer than you ever have while reducing lactic acid buildup and consequent soreness.
In essence, creatine is one supplement that is great for everything from body building to weightlifting to weight loss. It helps you double your effort and ultimately doubles your results.
Types of Creatine
There are several types of creatine in the market. These types include; Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Ethyl Ester, Creatine Hcl, Creatine Citrate, Micronized Creatine, Creapure®, Creatine tartrate, Magnesium creatine, Creatine glutamine taurine, Creatine HMB, Effervescent creatine, Creatine titrate, Liquid creatine, Creatine gum, Time released creatine, etc.
Several new types of creatine are being made everywhere you turn. In the midst of all these confusing names, the thing to keep in mind is how effective these types of creatine are, how much they cost and whether or not they can help you achieve your fitness goals.
Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of all the different types of creatine. All of them have some advantages and disadvantages including solubility, taste, texture, effectiveness, etc.
In spite of all this, creatine monohydrate is still the most effective type confirmed so far.
When buying creatine, forget about all the fanciful titles and just go for creatine monohydrate or some other trusted form. It’s basic but it is still the most effective.
Another good option is micronized creatine which is easier to dissolve in drinks and easier to drink.
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Forms in Which Creatine Supplements are sold
Producers of this supplement offer it in several different forms and packages. These include; Pills, Powders, Capsules, Blends, Mixes, etc.
Different people have different tastes so while it might be convenient for me to drink my creatine powder with juice, the pills may be a better option for you.
It is important you decide your preferences and consider your lifestyle before you choose which form of creatine to use.
Choosing the right from of creatine can be the determining factor in whether or not you will stick to using it in the long run.
How to Use These Supplements
There are several ways to use creatine supplements. Some people recommend loading, others state that it is okay just to stick to a normal dose of the supplement from the beginning of using the supplement.
Some physical trainers and nutritionists recommend that you should start creatine usage with a loading dose. This is simply to help you see results faster. If you choose to go the normal route, you will still get results, it will just take longer.
A rapid loading dose of creatine starts from about 20g/day. This should not be maintained for longer than six days though.
In this period, athletes have been shown to gain as much as a 20% increase in muscle mass. The loading dose is usually spread across 4 servings of 5 grams each throughout the day.
After six days, you can continue to use creatine at about 2 to 3 grams per day to maintain the muscle mass gained in the six days.
Another option is a slow loading dose is done at 3g/day for 28 days and then the user continues on a maintenance dose of about 2g/day.
Another way to use creatine is by cycling through periods of six weeks of supplementing at 5g/day and then switching to a period off the supplements for three weeks.
Cycling creatine can help with the water retention that is a part of creatine supplementation.
In addition to this, several people believe that it is best to cycle through different creatine product to increase its effectiveness. There is no study yet to back this claim.
Creatine Maintenance Dose:
For most individuals a maintenance dose between 3 and 5g/day is sufficient to maintain muscle mass after loading. The dose is dependent on the person’s size and lean body mass and the amount of creatine in their diets.
For example, vegetarians will need more creatine supplements than others.
Taking with Carbohydrates:
It has been proven that creatine is absorbed into the body faster when it is taken with simple sugars.
Sugar stimulates the release of insulin; one of the hormones responsible for the uptake of carbohydrates.
The presence of insulin and the uptake it mediates will cause an increase in the volume of creatine deposited into your tissues during supplementation.
Taking creatine supplements with water is not even half as effective as taking them with a sugary drink.
A great option is to mix your creatine powder with juice. If you’re using pills, powders or blends, you can take them with juice.Alternatively, you can use fruit juice if you like to eat clean.
Just make sure you don’t make this an opportunity to cheat on your diet.
When to use
Creatine supplements are best used as pre workout or work out supplements. This is so that your body can benefit from the burst of energy they give you and work out for longer.
Some trainers recommend taking creatine before and after working out.
You should ideally take creatine 30 minutes to 1 hour before your workout and immediately after working out.
Taking creatine at least 30 minutes before working out gives your body enough time to digest and start uptake of the supplement and have it readily available for your workout.
Taking creatine after working out can help to aid recovery and muscle gain. Using creatine as a post workout is not very common but actually makes perfect sense.
The buffer effect of this supplement is much stronger when it is used as a post workout supplement. It will help prevent soreness and lactic acid buildup.
Alternatively, you can share your daily recommendation of creatine into morning and evening doses if you work out more than once a day.
It is important you drink a lot of water when using creatine. Drinking at least three-quarters of a gallon a day is recommended.
Note that using creatine causes water to be retained in your muscles and can cause weight gain of a few pounds in the first weeks of use.
However, the extra energy that creatine provides you will help you burn weight off in no time. Gains after the second week are usually pure muscle mass. (Read good and bad creatine here.)
Where to Buy Creatine Supplements
There are several brands of creatine supplements at health and fitness stores nationwide. If you are in doubt, try to read some customer opinions before buying a product and keep in mind all the criteria you should be considering.
Alternatively, you can shop online if the brand you want is not available in store. Just make sure you purchase from a trustworthy merchant.
Benefits of Using…
- Increased Energy:
The best benefit of creatine is its ability to raise energy levels and provide energy to muscle tissue.
When exercising, creatine allows you to go further for longer by boosting your energy levels and basically kicking fatigue to the curb.
- Increased Muscle Mass:
Creatine has the ability to increase muscle mass by pulling water into the muscle cells. It acts as an osmotic agent.
The water that enters into muscle cells can help to increase muscle mass and keep your muscles hydrated reducing pain and soreness.
- Reduced Soreness and Recovery Time:
Muscle hydration has one great benefit. Hydrated muscles are buffered against the effects of (soreness inducing) lactic acid.
Buildup of Lactic acid in muscle tissues can cause our muscles to become sore after working out. Your muscle cells will be protected by the buffering effect of the water pulled into them.
- Increased Protein Synthesis:
This is an indirect benefit of using creatine. Creatine does not directly cause your protein synthesis to increase.
Instead, it provides you with more energy to improve your workout. This in turn causes an increase in protein synthesis and muscle mass and strength.
- Improved Performance:
Several studies have shown that using creatine supplements can help professional athletes become faster and stronger when performing high intensity sporting activities.
Creatine use has also been shown to be beneficial to people who partake in regular exercise and high intensity activities.
In conclusion, creatine is an effective supplement when combined with diet and exercise and has the amazing ability to make your workouts ascend to almost superhuman levels.
Using creatine as part of your pre and post workout supplements can be beneficial to gaining muscle mass, speed, weight loss, improved performance and better recovery times.