A deep dive explaining everything you need to know about Creatine.
Creatine is often misunderstood by the general public, with many people believing the supplement to cause some nasty side effects such as hair loss and gyno. Some even going as far as to think it’s a steroid and very dangerous. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, creatine is actually a great legal supplement that can help you put on some serious muscle mass and some awesome strength. We are going to be explaining the best way to use this supplement, breaking down the do’s and don’ts of creatine so you can make sure to get the most out of your supplement.
Let’s break it down.
What is Creatine?
Believe it or not, this is a naturally occurring substance within the human body. Yes, you can get it in supplement as well, but things are a bit more involved than that. It can turn into creatine phosphate within the body, which in turn helps create a substance called adenosine triphosphate or ATP, and ATP can provide energy to the muscles to promote muscle contractions.
While creatine may be naturally occurring in the body, it can also be obtained in other ways, through diet as well. Some of the best creatine products you can consume come from protein filled foods such as meat or fish. That being said, before you rush out and buy a ton of creatine powdered supplements, understand that the best creatine comes from sources you’re more than likely consuming already, but you may not be consuming enough creatine. That is why many people will turn to supplements to make sure they are getting enough.
How Long Have Creatine Supplements Been Around?
Creatine supplements have been popular since the 1970s, when scientists were researching the effects of it on the human body, they discovered that consumption of the substance in supplement form could in fact enhance physical performance. It seems that studies concluded that this supplement can enhance the human body in a number of ways (no, it is still not a performance enhancing drug). Creatine has been shown to improve strength, increase muscle mass, as well as aid with quick recovery during a training session.
The muscular boost experienced by the user can make them more explosive and allow them to perform movements with large bursts of energy, particularly during high intensity activities like sprinting or weightlifting. But here is the tricky thing about this, even though there is evidence to suggest that the supplement has some great performance effects in some athletes, other users have found little to know difference in their performance after taking creatine, particularly in endurance related sports. In a video by Jeff Nippard, he brings up the study that suggests this supplement has actually only been shown to affect 25% of users.
That being said, you are going to want to maximize the effects of the supplement when taking it, as not everyone’s muscles respond to creatine which can make the product a hit or miss for some individuals.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Creatine
All if that being said, let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of this highly effective bodybuilding supplement.
DO: Start With the Loading Phase
Creatine works to boost your training when your muscles are fully saturated with it. So what happens if they are not saturated? Well, you can’t expect optimal results then. That being said, there are two popular strategies for fully saturating your muscles with creatine:
- The loading strategy (5 days of 25 grams per day)
- The daily low-dose strategy (28 days of 3 grams per day)
Which one is better? Well, most researchers agree that loading creatine is an effective way to get the most from right off the bat, and who doesn’t want that? To maximize the gains from your creatine supplement quickly, it’s recommended to follow a loading phase initially, where higher doses are taken for a short period to saturate the muscles with this supplement.
Regardless of what method you choose, you need to take right around 3 to 5 grams per day to maintain full muscle cell capacity, once your body is fully saturated with the supplement.
DON’T: Take as Much as You Want
Many people believe that you can treat creatine as a monohydrate drink because it can give you lean muscles in much less time, or you should be taking it like protein where you have a set amount per pound of bodyweight. These claims are false, and taking more than the recommended dosage of 3-5 grams won’t provide additional benefits, you are just wasting your money and can even risk some side effects. Once your muscles are saturated with the supplement, you only need to take 3 to 5 grams each day to maintain it.
DO: Stay Hydrated
Creatine monohydrate works by drawing water into your muscles, so it is absolutely essential to stay properly hydrated while taking this supplement. It is optimal to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day to maintain the ideal hydration levels.
DON’T: Neglect a Good Diet
Creatine is not a replacement for hard work, like any supplement. It must be used side by side with an intense and well-rounded training program, as well as a high-quality diet if you really want to achieve optimal results. If you’re a newbie, know that a balanced diet means eating for your goals and that means high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that fuel muscle growth and recovery.
DO: Mix Your Creatine
Don’t dry scoop your creatine, as dry scooping anything is pointless and can be bad. Instead, mix your creatine fully in your shaker cup or whatever you are drinking out of. Use enough water with your creatine so that it’s fully dissolved and consume it immediately, you can even use an unflavored option and mix it with other supplements, like your BCAAs. Another thing to note is you should avoid leaving your mixed supplement out for hours, as over time, because it is in water, it will break down in a by-product called creatinine, which is a waste.
DON’T: Cycle Creatine
Despite what you may think, the body does not get used to creatine intake, meaning your body will not build a tolerance to creatine. That being said, there is no case to be made for cycling it, it is not an anabolic steroid. You can reap the benefits of this well-researched and widely used supplement year-round, with no days off.
DO: Take Your Creatine Every Day
As stated above, you don’t need to cycle creatine, you can use it every day, year round. That being said, you want to take it every day, just as you would with other supplements. You don’t want to take it one day then miss several others.
What is a Good Creatine Supplement?
A good creatine supplement is Nutricost Creatine.
Nutricost Creatine is a pure creatine monohydrate supplement that aims to provide users with a convenient and high-quality source of this essential compound for a great price. It is lab tested for purity, so you know that you are getting straight creatine monohydrate, unflavored so you can mix it with other supplements, and is only $21.15 for 100 servings. This is a creatine supplement that truly cannot be beat.
With that price and the ingredients that are in this, you cannot go wrong with this option to add to your supplement shelf. Check out our full review on Nutricost Creatine here!
Overall, creatine is a great supplement when it comes to progressing in the gym and really making some gains. There are a few do’s and don’ts though, so be sure to check them out.