Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates. It is found most abundantly in beef, salmon, and tuna. You can also consume creatine as a supplement which you can pretty much find everywhere. The creatine that’s found in supplements is a white powder. It can be mixed with any liquid and drank quite easily too. Creatine is cell volumizer. This means your muscle membrane is able to retain more water and this allows your muscles to repair and grow more effectively.
Cell Volume helps facilitate the process of getting amino acids inside of your muscle cells. This turns on protein synthesis and suppresses protein breakdown, especially during the very important workout windows of pre-workout, during workout, and post-workout. Basically, creatine allows your muscles to do more work and ultimately allows them to repair and grow faster.
How Much Creatine Should You Take?
It’s important to note that the average human body naturally produces about 1 gram of creatine per day. The production of creatine is reduced with aging. Therefore, it’s advisable to consume between 3 - 5 grams of creatine daily. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more creatine you should consume. If you’re over 200 pounds and below 20% body fat, then 5 grams would be better for you. On the other hand, if you’re under 150 pounds, and under 20% body fat, then 3 grams would be all you need.
However, it’s not advisable to always be taking creatine. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that if you’re taking creatine all of the time, it just becomes less and less effective as time goes on. Your kidneys and liver might also be stressed, so you should only use creatine for 2-3 months at a time, followed by a 2-3 months break from creatine. So, simply cycle on and off creatine to reap the benefits!
If you want to load on creatine during your creatine intake phase, make sure that you check with your medical care provider first for professional advice, as the general rule might not apply to everyone. Loading on creatine ensures that there’s ample creatine in your bloodstream for your “cycling on” phase. There are quite a few different suggestions of how much and how long you should load on creatine, but the general rule for front-loading creatine is:
- 20 grams a day
- for 7 days
Types of Creatine
Creatine Monohydrate (CM)
CM is hands-down one of the most widely used creatines today. You can find it in almost any and every workout-boosting formula around too. Taking CM by itself is also extremely easy because this white powder mixes very easily with any liquid you want. CM supplementation will provide you with the following benefits:
- increased protein synthesis (increased muscle growth)
- increased power and strength
- increased cognitive functioning ability
- better sleep
Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL)
Creatine hydrochloride is a form of creatine that has a hydrochloride acid salt added to its chemical make-up. This means that HCL is a more potent and more soluble form of creatine. It will also keep you from bloating and holding onto unwanted water. This is because the body will only need a fraction of the water it normally uses to transport the creatine. Therefore, Creatine hydrochloride is a very effective form of creatine.
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
Creatine ethyl ester is simply creatine monohydrate with an “ester” attached. Esters are biological compounds that are formed through esterification. Esterification is the chemical reaction in which an alcohol and an acid form a reaction product called “ester”. There’s a lot of marketing done by supplement companies stating that CEE is a better form of creatine.
They usually say that CEE bypasses the creatine transporter more effectively, thereby increasing the skeletal muscle uptake of creatine, which leads to an increased ability to regenerate ATP. Unfortunately, the research shows us that CEE does not increase muscle strength or performance any more than creatine monohydrate does.
All creatine supplements will increase the volume of water in your muscles. That’s why creatine is referred to as a muscle cell volumizer. This means that the chances of adding a little extra water weight are a real possibility while you’re taking creatine. That’s why cycling on creatine for 1-3 months, while you add some muscle size, power, and strength is a good idea. Then you can cycle off of creatine and really focus on getting lean while you train to keep as much of the muscle size, power, and strength as you can.
Make sure you speak to a medical care provider before you decide to load on creatine because they will give you professional advice based on your own personal needs. Everybody is different, so the general rule for front-loading creatine might not apply to you. Make sure you ask for a professional recommendation since most brands like to slap the “proprietary formula” label on their creatine supplements. This way you ensure that you get the best type of creatine that will help you reap the benefits of creatine supplementation!