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Creatine is possibly my favourite ergogenic supplement aid and is probably the most researched supplement available that actually works.
Creatine is a molecule produced in the body. It stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine, which releases energy to aid cellular function during stress.
Creatine’s biggest ergogenic effect is in repeated high intensity efforts with short recovery, such as resistance training and sprinting. Increased training quality = increases in strength and load = increased hypertrophy. Research has shown an increase in recovery ability, anabolic signalling and satellite proliferation all amplifies training induced adaptations.
We are also seeing benefits to endurance athletes with increased muscular endurance, lactate threshold occurring at a higher intensity, increased time to exhaustion, increased glycogen storage, and the fall of blood glucose is reduced during exercise.
As research evolves and comes in, we are seeing benefits in both cognitive health and cardio health, as it has neuroprotective and cardioprotective properties. Creatine has benefits to muscle, the brain, bones and even the liver. For these reasons I have been suggesting creatine supplementation not only to my male and female athletes, but to all my clients, both young and old, in order to help prevent Sarcopenia or muscle loss associated with age, and to help protect the brain against degeneration that comes with age. As little as 5g of creatine per day has a significant increase on both working memory and intelligence. In another study the creatine group had a significantly less decline in performance after a period of sleep deprivation.
I mean really, who shouldn’t be taking creatine?
I only use creatine monohydrate as it has the most research behind it. Beware of other newer forms with wild claims (Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE), Krealkalyn, Tricreatine malate) - “it doesn’t cause any water retention” - well that’s the point of creatine? It was then found in some of these ‘new’ forms that the creatine wasn’t being absorbed. When creatine gets absorbed it will draw some water into the muscles and cause some minor weight gain, THIS IS A GOOD THING, this is different to being “bloated” like some claim. I have found those who experience bloating and feel “puffy“ do so when taking creatine with some sort of carbohydrate loading mix. Yes, you’re going to bloat with 75g-80g of carbs in a serving x 4 servings a day during the “loading” phase - of course you’re going to end up bloated and puffy. The water associated with creatine is intracellular water and you should look leaner actually despite the initial 1-2kg weight gain in some individuals.
Non-responders do exist, this may be due to an already high creatine intake (meat/eggs etc.). Vegans get a massive increase from creatine supplementation due to very low levels consumed in their natural diet.
Loading creatine will result in the biggest initial weight gain, so be careful suddenly adding creatine before a powerlifting meet and you are trying to make weight.
Creatine does not cause muscle cramps, kidney damage, dehydration nor cancer, the evidence is clear on this. It is ideally taken with food or carbohydrates after training which tends to be the best time.
To increase muscle size, you may consider loading the first 5-7 days at 20g per day spread over 4 x 5g doses. Although loading is not essential and can lead to a greater short-term increase in weight where you may experience some stomach discomfort.
5g per day seems to be a good maintenance dose for most people, 7g may be considered for vegans.
That’s it folks, till next time, train hard, eat well and be consistent.
Further reading and study references:
Creatine Monohydrate is by far the most researched and time-tested sports supplement in the world today and has been shown to increase strength and endurance in short-burst/interval sports. Creatine is also known for its muscle building effects due to its ability to draw water and nutrients into the muscle cell which results in a noticeable increase in muscle size and power in a very short period.
Each serving supplies a full 5 grams (5000 mg) of 99.9% pure Creatine Monohydrate. The patented production method used to produce this Creatine yields a tasteless, odourless powder that mixes easily into water or juice and does not readily settle to the bottom. As a result, the gritty taste or texture you may have experienced with other creatine powders is not associated with this product.
Studies have demonstrated that creatine supplementation can help to maintain existing muscle tissue, support the growth and development of lean mass, and promote optimal performance during short bouts of intense exercise. NOW Creatine Monohydrate has no additives or preservatives.