Creatine


     Having finally resolved to work out at the gym, you sweat and toil for weeks on
end only to look in the mirror and see little to show for it. It's the paradox
of the New Year's resolution exerciser. Seeing physical results can help
exercisers stay true to their fitness programs, yet for many it takes months to
achieve noticeable muscle changes. Creatine Monohydrate has become the most
popular supplement in the world among individuals interested in body-building
and fitness. As you probably know creatine (usually in the form of creatine
monohydrate) is a supplement taken to enhance anaerobic performance. Creatine

Monohydrate is a white, odorless crystalline powder, clear and colorless in
solution. With its popularity, you may find creatine at any health or sport
product retailer. It sells for roughly $35 a bottle, and is distributed by many
manufacturers. Creatine serves as an energy reserve in muscle cells. Muscular
contraction is powered by the breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to ADP (adenosinediphosphate).

When all the ATP is broken down, creatine phosphate in the muscle donates a
phosphate group to ADP, and further energy reactions can occur. Creatine
monohydrate is a precursor to creatine phosphate. By supplementing with CM, CP
levels in muscle apparently are maximized, and more muscular work can occur,
since there are greater energy reserves to use. Approximately 95% of the body's
creatine supply is found in the skeletal muscles. The remaining 5% are scattered
throughout the rest of the body, with the highest concentrations in the heart,
brain and testes. A skeletal muscle itself does not produce creatine, but
utilizes the creatine originating in the liver and kidneys. The human body gets
most of the creatine it needs from food or dietary supplements. Creatine is
easily absorbed from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. Rich dietary
sources of creatine include red muscle meats (beef) as well as fish. Creatine,
however, is sensitive to heat and cooking, and the full amounts available in
these food sources may be reduced during normal preparation. When dietary
consumption is inadequate to meet the body's needs, a limited supply can be
synthesized from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. This creatine
production occurs in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. The bottom line is that
your ability to regenerate ATP depends on your supply of creatine. More creatine,
more ATP remade, and more ability to train your muscles to their maximum
potential. It's that simple. This greater ATP synthesis also keeps your body
from relying on another energy system called glycolysis, which has lactic acid
as a byproduct. This lactic acid creates the burning sensation you feel during
intense exercise. If the amount of acid becomes too great, muscle movement
stops. But if you keep on using ATP because of all the creatine you have, you
can minimize the amount of lactic acid produced and actually exercise longer and
harder. This helps you gain strength, power and muscle size; and you won't get
fatigued as easily. Creatine has also been thought to enhance your body's
ability to make proteins, although there is yet no definite proof of this.

Creatine, though, is believed to help absorb intracellular water in muscle cells
by bloating the muscle with creatine rich fluid. This allows for greater
leverage and requires the muscle to move less and lift more weight. While this
may seem kind of trivial, some researchers today think that one of the
stimulating factors of steroid use is water retention. Anabolic steroids may
actually work in part because of cellular fluid retention in the muscles. The
swelling action and the related stretching of the cells may in and of itself
cause a reaction which stimulates the muscle cells to grow. So in some respects
creatine might be as good as steroids. Whether you're an accomplished athlete or
you've just started an exercise program, you need to know about creatine. Many
supplements touted over the years as muscle builders have come and gone, but
creatine is here to stay. Creatine has many benefits, but also has its
shortcomings. You must be well-informed before using this nutrient. Nausea,
upset stomach, dizziness or weakness, loose stools or diarrhea are the most
common side effects, and generally occur with dosages greater than 5 g a day.

Muscle cramping is also commonly reported. Sprains and strains can occur when
individuals overenthusiastically and rapidly increase their workout regimen
before their tendons and ligaments are adapted to the increase in muscle size.

Long-term consequences of daily creatine ingestion, especially in high dosages,
are currently unknown. There is a strong possibility that excess creatine can
put stress on the kidneys. Individuals with kidney disease should not use
creatine. The most benefit will likely be noticed by body builders or anyone who
wishes to have more muscle mass. It is still unclear whether athletes involved
in endurance activities such as marathon running or long-distance bicycling will
benefit from creatine supplementation. There have been anecdotal reports that
people in these sports may benefit, although other studies show that creatine
either does not help or may actually hurt. The difficulty in these situations
appears to center on the increased muscle mass which creatine provides. While
that's great if you're a bodybuilder or wrestler, it can be a detriment if you
have to carry all that weight around during a marathon or triathlon. It becomes
a tradeoff between the increased strength you get from creatine and the
increased muscle mass. Further research will provide us with more definitive
answers as to what role creatine supplementation can play in endurance-type
sports. Creatine seems to be well-studied in scientific research. Scientific
evidence supporting creatine is there, but while some very good results have
been reported, like 20 pounds body weight gain in 6 weeks and increase in
stength, others have reported no significant gains whatsoever while taking the
supplement. Like all supplements, supplementing creatine is useless if your body
already has enough of it. Further supplementation is then not needed and just a
waste of money. If however, you do not have the optimal levels of creatine in
your muscle cells, then supplementation is a good idea which can really enhance
your training. Some people get minimal or no effect from creatine. This is
probably due to their already high creatine levels due to dietary intake or
perhaps the efficiency/inefficiency that they produce ATP. If you take creatine
monohydrate and don't notice any results in about 2 weeks it's a good bet that
you're one of these people. Once you plateau, your muscle cells will probably be
saturated with creatine and since the body loses about 1-2% creatine a day you
should be able to get away with cycling on and off creatine to lengthen your
results. Once you stop creatine supplementation and your body clears it 100%
(about a 2 month process) you'll probably be back at your old strength and
muscle mass levels. Of course the gains in mental ability (I've done this before

I can do it now) and tendon/skeletal strength increase resulting from these
heavier workouts will remain. You must also be aware of the proper usage of
creatine. Usually, the use of creatine is split into a loading and maintenance
phase. During the loading phase, large quantities of creatine monohydrate are
taken. Because the creatine only slowly disappears from the body, a maintenance
phase in which less creatine is taken will still provide the body with adequate
levels of creatine. For suggested duration of the phases and quantities see
below. Creatine (creatine monohydrate) dosage derived from works by Pierre Dahl
(nutritionist at NSTC in Stockholm, Sweden) and professor Hultman (at Huddinge

Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden) Recommendations: Bodyweight Phase 1 (loading)

Phase 2 (maintenance) days 1-4 days 5 and on 65-74kg 143-163lbs 10g per day
(2x5g per day) 3g per day 75-84kg 165-185lbs 15g per day (2x7.5g per day) 4g per
day 85-95kg 187-209lbs 20g per day (2x10 per day) 5g per day [NSTC mentioned
above is an abbreviation for Nutrition and Soft Tissue Center.] Note: it is
discouraged to use caffeine while on creatine; while creatine makes your muscles
hold water, caffeine will do the opposite, thereby reducing the effects of the
creatine intake. * Don't mix creatine with citrus juice. Orange, grapefruit,
cranberry, in fact, most fruit juices have been most recently found to
neutralize the activity of creatine monohydrate. The reason is the waste product
creatine develops. A lot of you put creatine on your tongue and drink it down
with grapefruit juice. If you have taken creatine this way in the past, stop it
now! You are not getting creatine, you're getting waste product. * Do mix
creatine monohydrate with warm water--in a glass. This is the only way to ensure
you're getting the full benefits of creatine in its dry form. Creatine does not
have to dissolve to be effective. * Do be sure to drink a full eight ounce glass
of good water 8 times a day. Creatine pulls water from other parts of the body
to perform its work in cell volumization of the muscle. This is what makes the
muscle larger and firmer. Replenish your H2O! My opinion is you should not waste
your money on creatine or any other supplement product. Your body is the product
of millions of years of evolution and everything you need to make it strong and
healthy has been provided for you by God and nature in so-called healthy
"regular food". There truly is no need to take supplements of any
kind. If you really think creatine is going to give your workouts an extra
boost, eat a serving of lean meat every once in a while. You will be getting all
the creatine your body needs at 1/100 the price of a jug of powder! There are
studies that say all the creatine is destroyed when the manufacturer makes it
into a powdered form. Why would anyone pay $35 for a supplement when it might
not even be physically there anymore? And tell me the truth, can you afford to
pay $35 on a regular basis? Even if the powdered form of creatine were better
than the creatine in meat, which it isn't, you would go broke buying the stuff
every week? My advice to you is to take that $35 and buy bananas, potatoes,
chicken, fish, rice, pasta, etc. You will be surprised how many bags of
groceries $35 will buy you. If you want to get big, stay big and healthy for
life, and not go broke buying useless supplements, here is how to do it: get
enough sleep every night, make a habit of eating nutritiously, exercise
regularly, donít drink alcohol or smoke, and finally be consistent.