Creatine is the supplement that has received the most publicity in the past years, you can get it anywhere from gyms, health food shops through to supermarkets. A range of athletes use it from the top professionals to amateurs. So what is it? How does it work and who should use it?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid, and is synthesised by a 2 step process involving 3 amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. It provides the initial energy source when your muscles start to contract, it is primarily produced in the liver, where it is released in to the blood and then stored in the muscles.
I could get really technical about how creatine works but I am just going to tell you here the relevant information to help you build muscle.
Basically creatine will help you recover quicker in between sets, and help with an increased volume of work, i.e pushing the last rep out.
It does this by increasing the body’s natural ability to produce ATP (adenosine tri phosphate). We produce energy by breaking the phosphate bond on ATP in the same way the bond on creatine phosphate could be broken to release energy.
There has been numerous scientific studies that show creatine supplementation can increase muscular strength and lead to weight gain.
How much to take different loading regimes have shown to work and it depends on what event or sport you undertake to which regime to take, but for us who are trying to put on weight we should be taking
Creatine comes if different forms, powder and tablets.
If you go for powdered creatineit will mention on the packaging a ‘loading phase’. A loading phase is when you load your body up for a number of days (usually 5) taking a higher dosage of creatine. After the loading phase you will then drop the dose of creatine down for six to eight weeks to maintain the level of creatine in your body.
You may see different loading phases on different makes of creatine, however, these can be geared towards different people trying to gain different results than bodybuilders, such as athletes.
The loading phase below has been proven to be the most effective for bodybuilding. Any creatine taken over this amount has been shown to have no benefit. So I would advise you not to fall for the hype and take too much as you will simply be wasting your money.
20 grams of creatine per day(take 4.. 5 gram doses) for 5 days then after this reduce it to 2 grams per day as a maintain creatine levels, you should see a weight gain of about 1-2kg or 2.2-4.4 pounds.
You should only take creatine for six to eight weeks, then have a break for around 4 weeks. You can then being the cycle again with another loading phase.
If you go for creatine tabletsyour life is made a bit simpler. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions you only need to take three tablets before your workout and three after. There is no loading phase or maintenance phase. But you do need to take a break after 6 – 8 weeks as above.
Don’t forgot to drink plenty of water while on creatine to allow for the extra water being absorbed with the creatine.
Also do not forgot that when you are taking creatine you have to work extremely hard down the gym if you want to achieve strength and size then you have to put the work in, some studies have shown that when subjects have not increased their training load while on creatine no size or strength gains where achieved.
Creatine will help you but you have to help yourself as well. There is no complete substitute for hard work.