|By Big Jeff Pearce|
The first instance of sports supplements can be traced back as early as the 1940’s. While there have been many amazing products to hit the market over the years, the consumer has also been victim to more scams than you could shake a shaker cup at. There are a lot of companies out there that don’t push proven products, they simply push the next big gimmick and jump on the bandwagon. Here’s the thing you should know: no matter what fads come and go there will always be the tried, tested and true supplements on store shelves. One of those supplements is Creatine.
Okay, get ready. I am about to drop some knowledge on you that you may have never heard before. Hold onto your protein shakes, your world is going to crumble.
A lot of supplement companies are guilty of overhyping supplements.
I know, earth-shattering, right? Okay, enough sarcasm. Creatine is one of the supplements out there that has been overhyped to the point where people think that dosing with Creatine is akin to dosing Steroids. Ridiculous. It turns out that irresponsible marketing strategies do have an effect on the Zeitgeist surrounding sports supplements.
There are many different types of Creatine. You’ve got Kre-Alkalyn Creatine, Creatine Esters, Creatine Phosphate, Creatine Citrate and the list goes on. The only form that we are going to concern ourselves with in this article is Creatine Monohydrate.
Why Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine Monohydrate has literally hundreds of studies supporting its effectiveness and the other forms don’t. Creatine Monohydrate is clinically proven many times over. That is not to say that other forms aren’t good or that they don’t work, they just don’t have the steadfast reputation for effectiveness that Creatine Monohydrate does.
Creatine Monohydrate is a naturally occurring substance which is made up of three amino acids, l-methionine, l-arginine and l-glycine. When we dose Creatine, the body (liver, kidney and pancreas) takes it and converts it into Phosphocreatine. Ultimately, blood transports it to your muscles at which point it is used to replenish Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) stores. This is important because ATP is what you use to make your muscles contract when you are crushing your workouts like Conan the Barbarian (or Red Sonja the Barbarianette) crushes skulls.
Creatine also has other benefits for athletes. Creatine has been shown in several studies to increase aerobic performance and even cognitive (hmmm… Creatine brains) function. That means that it isn’t just for hardcore iron monkeys; it is great for endurance athletes too. When it is stored within the muscle cell, it attracts water. This attraction causes a state of super hydration, thereby creating a gorged look to the muscle and, more importantly, an increase in strength.
To sum it up in a few points, here are the benefits:
- Increases strength
- Creates a fuller look to the muscle
- Increases ATP
- Increases anaerobic capacity and aerobic performance
- Safe & effective to use (always consult your physician in case of any interactions/pre-existing medical conditions)
How Much Should I Take?
There is a standard protocol that many people use, but frankly, it is not accurate. Here is the final strong scoop on Creatine dosage:
Loading Phase (5-7 Days)
- Post-Workout Dosage = 0.3 grams x Bodyweight in Kilograms
- Before Bed = 0.03 x Bodyweight in Kilograms
Maintenance Phase (Remainder of Cycle)
- Post-Workout/Before Bed Dosage = 0.03 x Bodyweight in Kilograms
- If you feel that you would benefit by increasing your maintenance dosage, increase it by a few grams. Only you know your body
- If you are a vegetarian, you will benefit by increasing your dosages from these formulas by a few grams since it will not be as prevalent in your diet
Final Scoop on Safety:
There are a number of studies supporting the safety of Creatine Monohydrate. The duration of these studies has varied from several weeks up to five years. These studies showed that Creatine supplementation was indeed safe. Other studies have looked at how the liver, pancreas and kidneys handle Creatine; they found it to be safe as well. All of these studies were performed with pharmaceutical grade products, free of contaminants. To ensure your own health, make sure your Creatine Monohydrate source is high quality and clean.
It should be noted that although Creatine Monohydrate is largely innocuous, if you have any medical conditions that impair the use of your pancreas, liver or kidneys, it should be avoided. Also, adequate hydration is a must to avoid stressing these vital organs.
A Final Note:
Creatine Monohydrate only does what it does when it is consumed appropriately. If you look in some pre-workout supplements, they may contain small amounts of some form or another of Creatine. Don’t be fooled. These substitutions or inclusions may be just to increase a supplement’s appeal to a buyer. So, buyers beware: stick with the legitimate, proven stuff – such as Creatine Monohydrate. You know what you’re getting and you know it will work.
Big Jeffrey Pearce, is a physical culture writer, editor, personal trainer, and a lifetime natural bodybuilder from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been bodybuilding and strength training since he was 16 years old and remains a dedicated gym rat to this day. Big Jeff is one of the strongest athletes you will ever meet, routinely bench pressing 500lbs and tossing up 150lb dumbbells for reps in a typical workout. An honors graduate from the University of Toronto, Jeff’s brains also match his brawn. Jeff will be joining the Strong-Athlete family as our new editor-in-chief and we look forward to more great work from him in the future.