What is it?
Creatine is a natural substance found in, and produced by the body. An average male would have about 120 grams of creatine stored primarily (95%) in their muscles. The body produces about 50% of this from amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine, while the rest comes naturally from the diet.
What does it do?
Creatine is found primarily as Creatine Phosphate in our muscles. Its role is to regenerate ADP back to the bodies primary energy molecule, ATP. As local ATP is only able to fuel intense muscular contraction for about 2 seconds, creatine provides the immediate back-up energy to continue intense muscular contraction for up to 15 seconds or so. After that, carbohydrates are required. Clearly then, creatine has a very direct impact on high intensity activity such as weight training.
But creatines’ application to weight training only begins there. By loading the muscles with Creatine, the body is forced to dilute the intra-muscular Creatine Phosphate concentration by sucking in water. The result is that the muscles swell up – typically this amounts to a lean mass gain of around 2-5kg in the first week with 20g+/day of quality Creatine Monohydrate! This weight gain is maintained so long as the creatine is.
But by diluting the concentration of creatine in the muscle, the body has also diluted the local stores of amino acids, enzymes and other growth factors. As a result the muscle brings the concentrations back into balance by sucking in additional nutrients – nutrients now available for the synthesis of new tissue.
Creatines effect on real, permanent muscular growth and performance is remarkably complete. It:
supplies energy leading to immediate strength gains enabling more intense and productive workouts
swells the muscle cells with fluid and nutrients which is a powerful growth stimulus in of itself (forces local production and release of Mechano Growth Factor, Insulin-like Growth Factor and others)
expedites recovery and growth with the increased local supply of intra-cellular growth factors and nutrients
creatine also increases the proliferation of muscle satellite cells that become new cells or add to existing cells
All in all, creatine is an amazing product; probably the only hyped up natural supplement that REALLY provides visible and significantly measurable gains, fast.
How is it taken?
It is often recommended that creatine be ‘loaded’ at a rate of 30g/day for 7 days and then ‘maintained’ with only 5-10g/day thereafter. Our experience is that 20g/day, everyday, is a dumb, sledge-hammer approach but still far more effective method for most people. Dosages should be divided into 5g servings ideally taken with carbohydrate meals.
As muscular creatine uptake is massively improved by insulin it is recommended to consume creatine with a carbohydrate meal. There are times when non-insulin dependent uptake can occur but usually, without elevated insulin levels, creatine uptake tops out at around 30% and will not achieve the level of intracellular creatine concentration possible with insulin.
When to take
One misconception about creatine is that, being an energy source, it can give an immediate boost to workouts. This is not true. Like carbohydrate, Creatine needs to be stored in the muscle as Creatine Phosphate at the time of the workout. This takes more than a few minutes. To ‘load’ the muscles, Creatine needs to be taken with meals throughout the day. As insulin sensitivity is highest earlier in the day, best uptake would theoretically occur earlier in the day. The reality is that it makes no noticeable difference.
In relation to exercise, creatine is best taken before AND after training along with your post-workout recovery meal. Your ‘pumped’, insulin sensitive muscle will show improved transport and uptake of creatine and therefore amplify the benefits described above. But, because it takes 90minutes after ingestion for creatine to reach peak blood concentration, you need to take it before your workout so that it will be in the blood after.
Creatine transport products began with EAS Phosphagen. In what was a stroke of marketing genius, EAS recognized that they could make ridiculous profits by loading a product with cheap glucose and selling it as the most scientifically advanced, revolutionary insulin potentiating blah blah blah. Other manufacturers quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Strangely, no legitimate company has brought the price down to realistic levels yet? Maybe they are all just milking it for as long as they can?
The thing is, Creatine Transporters do work; but they ARE mainly cheap sugar so the question of ‘value’ becomes blurred. You can freely buy the same quantity of ingredients for around 90% less BUT in terms of results per dollar, few other products come close. Also, many people take creatine with insufficient dietary carbohydrate and then wonder why it doesn’t do anything. Creatine transporters solve their problems.
Bottom line is that the choice is yours. Creatine Transporters should be a totally unnecessary waste of money. A very little bit of diligence and commitment will save you a lot of dosh! But if you cant commit to doing it properly, Creatine transporters will blow your mind (and your wallet) – they really do work!
Buffered Creatine (Kre-Alkalyn)
The latest creatine ‘technology’ is buffered creatine. The marketing claims that creatine converts to creatinine in far less acidic environments than previously realised. They say that even water, with its PH of 7 is too low. As such, the water retention and stomach cramps people sometimes complain of is due to too much creatinine in the stomach.
Buffered creatine is highly alkaline and as such resists conversion to creatinine, apparently. Our experience is that, while Kre-Alkalyn is far superior to most creatines – good weight and strength gains with no bloating – it is no better than GenTecs. GenTecs creatine does not seem to have the same negative feedback of many other creatines either and it isn’t buffered. GenTecs creatine is also far cheaper than Kre-Alkalyn – like 1/10th the price – but you do use more. We’d definitely recommend Kre-Alkalyn over most other creatines (when it becomes available in Australia). But for the time being, you aren’t missing anything using GenTecs.
Some brands offer liquid creatine with the promise of better absorption. Unfortunately, creatine is not stable in solution and quickly converts to the creatine byproduct – creatinine. Creatinine offers none of the performance benefits attributed to creatine so these products are best avoided. Even if creatine was somehow able to maintain its form in solution, liquid creatines are typically in low dose, 100ml bottles with well under 1g of creatine per ml. This makes liquid creatines (aside from being all but worthless anyway) more horrifically priced that even the worst creatine transporters.
Myths & Other Stupidity
Coffee does not appreciably affect creatine uptake any more than chromium assists it. The Coffee/caffeine myth arose due to a totally retarded study done in 1996. From this study, it was postulated that the negative affect of caffeine on both insulin output and sensitivity could be responsible. In truth, the study was so daft that it really concluded nothing and the effect of caffeine on insulin is not even remotely significant enough to affect creatines uptake. Maybe it is a big issue when looking at a muscle cell soaking in coffee in a petri dish but in the real world it is insignificant.
Another myth – and a personal pet peeve – from the medical community is that creatine MIGHT have health risks because we don’t yet know if it doesn’t. Of course nothing suggests that it should have any risks but the medical community has no time for common sense.
The fact is creatine is a substance produced by the body and found naturally in the diet. Supplementing with a bit more is not going to make you sick. You cannot ‘overdose’ on it. The body is plenty able to do what it has to do with it unless you are already one very, very unwell person!
Creatine seriously is the greatest supplement available. It delivers ‘drug like’ effects without risk of adverse side effects (other than mild stomach bloating in a small percentage of people). It comes with our highest recommendation.
Source by Damon Hayhow