Creatine 101

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What Is Creatine? 

Creatine is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions. The body produces some of the creatine it uses. It also comes from protein-rich foods such as meat or fish.

How creatine works in the body

Creatine helps to regenerate a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s main source of energy. When creatine stores in your muscles are depleted, the production of ATP comes to a screeching halt and your energy is dramatically decreased. Supplementing with creatine increases the available fuel to power ATP, which can increase muscle strength, size, and power output.

Benefits of creatine

Age-related muscle loss. 

Creatine seems to improve muscle strength in older adults who are also performing resistance training compared to resistance training alone. But it doesn't seem to be beneficial when taken as a single dose or when used without resistance training.

Athletic performance. 

Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in the test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.

Syndromes caused by problems metabolizing creatine. 

Some people have a disorder that prevents their body from making creatine. This can lead to low levels of creatine in the brain. Low levels of creatine in the brain can lead to decreased mental function, seizures, autism, and movement problems. Taking creatine by mouth daily for up to 3 years can increase creatine levels in the brain in children and young adults with a disorder of creatine production called guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT).

Muscle strength. 

There is a lot of mixed research on creatine's ability to improve muscle strength. However, analyses of this research show that creatine seems to modestly improve upper body strength and lower body strength in both younger and older adults.

Image result for creatine strength chart

Creatine Fact or fiction 

Is Creatine Bad for You?

Creatine is an amino acid occurring naturally in normal foods and is even produced by your own body. This on its own is normally a good indication of the safety of an ingredient. To be fair it is not yet possible to know the long-term side effects but we can at least say that to date there are no reputable studies that show that creatine has any dangerous side effects.

Will Creatine Make Me Bloated?

The short answer is no. It will increase water retention within your muscle cells but this has nothing to do with a bloated stomach feeling. Creatine is beneficial for anyone exercising or training but for some reason historically it has been used most predominately by people wanting to “bulk up”. When you buy your Creatine and start a high-calorie weight gain diet with lots of carbs, sodium, and water, you will become bloated, but it won’t be from the Creatine.

Do I Need to Load Creatine?

No, but it can be beneficial. Creatine works most effectively when your muscles have reached a full saturation point. You can reach this full saturation point by taking just 5g every day but it might take as long as 3-4 weeks. You can shortcut this time frame to just 1 week when you take 15-25g for the first week then reduce your dosage to 5g/day.

Do I Need to Cycle Creatine?

Not necessarily but you can benefit from it. The best way to think about this is how your body responds to caffeine. If you take it every day it still works but your body will increase its tolerance. A good guideline for Creatine would be to take it for about 8 weeks and then have a 1-2 week break.

Can I Use Creatine While Burning Fat?

Yes. The association of Creatine with bulking up is false. Creatine will not interrupt any of your body’s processes involved in burning fat. In fact, if anything it will assist this process by increasing your energy levels during training. To put it simply, Creatine = energy, nothing to do with fat gain or loss.

Will Taking Creatine Before Training Increase My Energy?

Technically no. Creatine is not instant, it works by reaching a saturation point in your muscles and you can help your body attain this point by consuming Creatine at any time. In fact, the best time to take Creatine is directly after a workout because this is when your body is most receptive to absorbing nutrients.

What is the Best Type of Creatine?

There are many different types of Creatine and many different products that contain Creatine mixed with other extra ingredients. While some types of creatine may require a smaller dose and the added ingredients mixed into other Creatine products may be beneficial, the actual effectiveness of the Creatine itself will be very similar. It’s hard to go past pure Creatine Monohydrate for value but the extra ingredients in other Creatine products can make for an overall better supplement.

Creatine dosing for Specific Goals

Age-related muscle loss: Many different dosing regimens have been used; however, most use a short-term “loading dose” followed by a long-term maintenance dose. Loading doses are typically 20 grams daily for 4-7 days. Maintenance doses are typically 2-10 grams daily. Older adults seem to only experience benefits from creatine supplementation when it is combined with resistance training.

For athletic performance: Many different dosing regimens have been used; however, most use a short-term "loading dose" followed by a long-term maintenance dose. Loading doses are typically 20 grams daily for 4-7 days. Maintenance doses are typically 5-10 grams daily.

For muscle strength: Many different dosing regimens have been used; however, most use a short-term "loading dose" followed by a long-term maintenance dose. The most common loading doses are typically around 20 grams daily for 5-7 days. Maintenance doses ranging from 5 to 27 grams daily have also been used.

Types of creatine

Creatine Monohydrate

The original - this version requires sugar be ingested with it in order for it to be properly absorbed, a loading phase of 5-7 days (20g) followed by 5-10g maintenance every day.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

Requires less total grams to be effective, no sugar needed and no loading. This version, as is the case with most new versions, eliminates the monohydrate effects. Available as a pill or powder, you usually take one serving (usually 2-3 grams) twice a day.

Tri-Creatine Malate

Tri-creatine malate is a compound made from creatine monohydrate and malic acid. It's made from three creatine molecules attached to one molecule of malic acid. Malic acid is involved in the Krebs energy cycle as an intermediate substance and helps to provide energy to the body.

When malic acid and creatine monohydrate form Tri-creatine malate, it becomes more water-soluble than regular creatine monohydrate, deals with the side effect of gastric discomfort, and is more efficient at impacting the ATP cycle. Tri-creatine malate is also believed to offer greater bioavailability over regular creatine monohydrate.

Buffered Creatine Monohydrate

Here's a current hot one, also known as Kre-Alkalyn. This version actually has a patent on it; #6,399,631. The research on this ties into creatine's speed to convert to creatinine. Creatinine is a waste by-product of creatine; it's usually produced at a fairly constant rate, gets filtered through the kidneys and passes out in the urine.

The research behind this product indicates that as the pH of creatine rises, conversion to creatinine slows. At a pH of 12, it stops altogether. So, this version solves that problem, requires less total creatine per serving, and removes any potential gastric discomfort. With this product, you use 1-2 grams in the morning and again before training.

Micronized Creatine

This version produces smaller particles than regular creatine powder; the primary purpose is improved absorption and more complete mixing of the product. A serving size is 5 grams; you mix one heaping teaspoon into 8oz of juice or water and drink right away. To maximize results, you should drink 8 to 10 glasses (8oz) of water a day.

Creatine Hydrochloride

Creatine hydrochloride (HCL) is made by attaching a hydrochloride (HCL) group to creatine to enhance its stability. Creatine HCl has been shown to have superior properties to other forms of creatine, specifically Creatine Monohydrate, due to its superior solubility and pH alignment with the human digestive tract. Creatine HCL is usually dosed at 2-3g daily.

Taking Creatine Post-Workout

It is often recommended to consume some high glycemic carbs (Watermelon/grape juice) when taking creatine because the carbs promote the release of insulin, which facilitates cellular uptake of amino acid compounds like creatine. When you take Creatine with a high glycemic carb source post-workout, the insulin your body produces helps to transport that creatine right into the muscle cells where it is needed.

Once you finish at the gym and are ready to have your post-workout shake, consider having your protein shake first then followed by a high glycemic drink with creatine. The two supplements seem to complement each other nicely. A 2001 study published in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” found that consuming whey protein and creatine together produced better results than consuming whey protein alone. Participants who consumed a whey protein/creatine mixture experienced the greatest gain in lean muscle tissue and max bench press abilities over a period of six weeks. By adding high glycemic carbs to the mix you are helping to raise your insulin levels so your muscles cells are able to absorb all of that protein, creating and carbohydrates.

Here is a list of high glycemic carb sources you can try adding to your post-workout routine. 

  • White rice
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Fruit and fruit juices (High GI such as watermelon or Grape)
  • Cornflakes
  • Baked Potato
  • White bread
  • Waxy Maize
  • Dextrose
  • Maltodextrin
  • White pasta

Is creatine right for you?

Creatine has different effects on every individual. Some people will respond better to creatine than others because certain meats and seafood have high levels of creatine, people who don’t eat those creatine-rich foods on a regular basis usually see a greater response as compared to those whose diets are highly carnivorous.

If you are on the fence about trying creatine or not let's review the facts; Creating increases ATP, which in turn generates more energy output for your muscles, it helps aid in strength gains and increased athletic performance, and also helps aid in age-related muscle loss. These all sound like benefits if you are looking to increase muscle, increase strength and increase athletic performance.

Once you start taking creatine you should notice the effects in about a week (if you followed a loading phase for the type of creating you are taking). Creatine is the most widely used supplement across all sports; anyone who’s looking to get faster stronger or have more energy output will benefit taking Creatine.

When shopping at Platinum Supplements, we will evaluate each individual client to their specific goals. Once the evaluation has been done we will pick the accurate supplements solely based on your goals. This allows us to not waste your money or time by picking the right products for the individual.

For more information about Creatine, Nutrition, Training, and Supplementation visit us in-store or contact us via Facebook, Instagram or give us a call! 

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