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fitness guide

Supplements - Creatine

Creatine is a legal steriodal type supplement which has been used by athletes and body builders for the past twenty or so years. However it has become a real buzz supplement in the last five or so years in the amateur bodybuilding world. A few words of advice before taking Creatine, I have found that I needed to drink an enormous amount of water after using it and it often made me a little light headed and nauseous for about half an hour. But I did get more energy and saw some interesting results while using it.

The following is an article which I have read a few times on different sites so have a look at it to understand what it is and how to use it.

How Creatine Works

Surprisingly, Creatine was discovered way back in 1892, but it wasn't until the late 1980's that the sports nutrition industry discovered how this powerful nitrogenous combination of amino acids could revolutionize sports nutrition. The media attention that followed the initial reports, detailing just how powerful this new supplement was, triggered literally hundreds of studies and tests to verify whether or not the amazing claims being made by marketers of this incredible nutrient were true. The end result of most of this testing came down to one blatant fact: Creatine Monohydrate worked wonders at increasing strength, muscle endurance and, of course, weight by way of initial fluid retention within the muscle cell.

This is the simple way of describing what is occurring. What's actually happening is that the body is converting Creatine Monohydrate to phosphocreatine within the muscle. Phosphocreatine serves as a source of energy for muscle contractions.

Fluid is the carrier for phosphocreatine and, as a result of this, the muscles become loaded with fluid and phosphocreatine. Cell volumization is the sports nutrition-coined phrase for this phenomenon. It should be noted that the initial fluid weight gain looks pretty much like a lean muscle gain. The reaction you can expect is a swelling of the muscle bellies which causes the skin to tighten and can often increase vascularity, especially during an intense workout. Most people notice this reaction within the first 3 days of using Creatine, providing they are taking an adequate dose.

The initial fluid weight gains can be quickly converted to lean muscle mass by way of weight training and proper diet. These gains come more quickly than normal because of the simple fact that instead of doing 8 reps with 200 pounds, you will probably be doing 10 reps with 220 pounds. There is also some evidence that indicates type II muscle fibers are actually increasing in size. Better breakdown combined with proper nutrition will lead to lean muscle gains.

What the studies say

Creatine has passed the test of some of the harshest critics. Our industry has embraced Creatine since the early 90's. The medical community is finally swallowing some crow and is agreeing that this stuff really works.

We've recently seen a barrage of media coverage as a result of a study conducted by Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, Ph.D., of McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (Tarnopolsky, along with his sometime partner Peter Lemon, Ph.D., are the most often quoted and referred to researchers in protein utilization.) His most current study, using patients with neuromuscular disease (in this case, muscular dystrophy), showed a 10-to-15% increase in their ability to perform high intensity exercises after ingesting only 5 to 10 grams of creatine for just 10 days. "Their strength went up on every measurement," Tarnopolsky said.

Participants also gained weight during the study. Studies with healthy people taking creatine have shown that weight gains come from muscle, rather than fat. "This could be a great benefit for patients with neuromuscular diseases, where muscle atrophy is common," added Tarnopolsky. Creatine-phosphate stores chemical energy in muscles and is broken down in the first stage of exercise. That allows muscles to rebuild their supplies of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the main energy source for short-term, high-intensity exercise. "Basically, creatine gives you a bridge between one energy source and another," Tarnopolsky observed. "It allows for higher energy output for a longer period of time."

These results are truly amazing, and once again proves creatine works wonders, even for patients with muscular diseases. The results also prove that relatively inexpensive creatine out-performed the expensive drug Riluzole which costs some patients $600 to $1000 per month. The medical community is being forced to embrace creatine, after trying to discredit it for the better part of a decade. Note that all of the studies testing creatine I reviewed used Creatine Monohydrate powder, rather than effervescent or liquid forms.

I can't even begin to mention how many other positive studies have been conducted proving Creatine Monohydrate is the best sports nutrition product on the market for increasing strength and endurance. I will refer to some of these studies in a moment as I explain how much creatine you should consume for best results.


Everybody is asking these questions: How much should I take? When should I take it? I've checked out at least 10 different studies regarding Creatine Monohydrate dosages. 2 studies showed significant increases in phosphocreatine stores within the muscle by way of biopsy samples, and indicated that the optimal dose is between 20 and 30 grams per day, divided into 4 daily doses. I would recommend that if you are over 200 pounds, lean towards the higher dose and if you are under 200 pounds, lean towards the lower dose. Most studies were short-term and therefore did not indicate a loading dose versus a maintenance dose. While the popular theory has been to cut the loading dose in half, I recommend that you maintain at least a 20-gram dose at all times. All the studies I reviewed that showed substantial stores of phosphocreatine within the muscles were conducted using at least a 20-gram dose throughout the study.

When creatine was first introduced it was relatively expensive, which may have been the inspiration for lowering the initial dose. Now it is available for under $40 per kilo. Even at the higher dose, this is more than a 30 day supply. I think the hardest part of maintaining this dosage is the 4 times per day suggestion. If this is convenient, then do it. But if this presents a problem, then take the recommended dose in at least 2 daily doses.

Side effects

Aside from a couple of baseball players saying it caused muscle cramps, there has been virtually no known side effects from Creatine Monohydrate. It is theorized the cramping is due to the fact that muscles begin absorbing body fluids and there may not be enough fluid intake to accommodate this, thereby leaving some muscles without enough fluid to perform sufficiently. Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid this problem &emdash;- at least a gallon a day during intense training and creatine supplementation.

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