I can’t tell you guys how often I get asked questions about creatine
No lie, at least 3 times a day! What is it? What does it do? Is it safe? Is it like steroids? How much should I take? How long should I take it for? What’s the best kind? Who makes the best brand? How should I take it?
Etc, etc, etc.
So I figured, why don’t I create a dedicated article to this, in my mind, “super supplement” to help clear up all the confusion and to help my guys get the most out of it?
So let me get right to it.
RULE #1: STICK TO THE PLAIN CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Don’t get confused by all the new clever marketing angles for creatine. You’ll find versions like creatine ethyl-ester, creatine alkyl, creatine (insert some super scientific sounding word here). Guys, all this is is a way for supplement companies to come out with gimmicky new ways to make you think that there is some hybrid new version of creatine out that is going to help you pack on 20 pounds of muscle in just 4 days! Forget it. It’s nonsense. The ethyl-ester version actually claims to produce it’s effects without the muscle hydrating effect of original creatine monohydrate…but that’s EXACTLY one of the benefits that you’re taking the supplement for in the first place. To hydrate your muscle cells to create a more anabolic environment long term. Not to mention, this muscle water retention is responsible for the often times dramatic lean mass weight gain that creatine users will see on the product.
RULE #2: SKIP THE LOADING PHASE FOR CREATINE
People that “load” creatine, or take 5 grams 5 times a day for 5-7 days are often the ones that experience the side effects of muscle cramping, dehydration, and GI distress. It’s no wonder. You try cramming 25 grams of any sand-like powder into your stomach and see what happens. It’s probably not going to like it too much. So what to do? Easy. Studies have shown that taking one steady 5 gram dose a day will produce the same peak creatine stores in your body after just 17 days. So what’s the tradeoff? Just a 10-12 day difference. I’m sure you can all spare the extra few days and your body will be much happier that you did.
RULE #3: THROW IT IN YOUR POST WORKOUT MEAL REPLACEMENT SHAKE FOR MAXIMUM ABSORPTION
Quite frankly, you need to be a bit of a biochemist to figure out how to get creatine to mix with water (or juice for that matter if you find you need a bit more carbs to get the supplement into the muscles) cleanly. You can stir that sucker for minutes and you’re still going to find a pile of white “sand” on the bottom of the glass. Not too appetizing and not too effective for getting the actual benefits from this supplement. Instead, mix it in the blender with your favorite meal replacement and not only will the blender do a better job than you could have done, but the protein/carb combo will also help to more readily drive up the absportion of the supplement so you have more potential benefit.
RULE #4: NO NEED TO CYCLE ON AND OFF CREATINE
Though creatine is certainly an effective supplement for adding lean muscle mass (over time), providing short term power (via it’s ATP to ADP transfer) and increasing body weight quickly (via it’s muscle hydrating effects) it’s not some synthetic or unnatural supplement that can do damage long term. Every study thus far has proven this supplement to be safe for long term use. Only those with damaged, diseased or compromised kidneys have been cautioned about taking it since your kidneys are responsible for helping to clear out the excess that is not used (as it does with all other vitamins and minerals that are delivered to the body through foods and supplements). With creatine being a natural metabolite that is already occurring in your body, you are just adding to those levels with your supplementation.
RULE #5: LOOK FOR 100% HPLC CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Again, this goes back to the whole marketing hype idea. You will benefit most (and so will your wallet) if you just stick with the basics. Make sure, whatever brand you choose, that you’re getting 100% pure HPLC Creatine Monohydrate. The HPLC part refers to the way that the supplement is cultivated and purified. It’s very specific and will produce the highest grade pure creatine. But that’s it. No more fancy science is needed. A good brand of 1000 grams of creatine should cost you no more than $30, so be wary of those that are asking for more!
So that’s it. I hope this helps to clear up the confusion that continues to surround this supplement. When taken as I advised in this article, creatine monohydrate truly is (along with Whey protein, meal replacements, glutamine, multivitamins, and fish oil) one of the best supplements that any athlete, bodybuilder, AthLEAN-Xer, fitness enthusiast or anyone else that wants to look and be lean, strong, ripped and muscular can take.
Be sure to let me know how it works for you!