Supplement Focus on Creatine: Who is it for?


What is it?
Creatine is not a steroid or a drug. Creatine is actually a naturally occurring compound found in small quantities within organs such as the brain & liver but 95% of creatine stores are found in skeletal muscle. Creatine’s vital importance in cell function has been confirmed in scientific investigations as far back as 1914. Creatine supplements are synthesized from plant materials such as corn.

What does it do?
Creatine plays a vital role in all cellular energy (ATP) production pathways. Dietary supplementation increases muscle creatine stores which improves the energy production dynamics within cells. Muscles contract more efficiently, are more resistant to fatigue, energy transfer and work capacity are also increased. Supplementation also works at the genetic level to switch-on the genes responsible for strength hypertrophy.

Who does it help?
With every passing decade, we're all losing muscle, which underlines ageing and a host of unwanted conditions including heart disease and diabetes. Therefore, creatine appears to be of enormous benefit to most adult populations. Aside from athletic people, creatine will help those living with muscular dystrophies, chronic fatigue, diabetes, wasting diseases such as HIV and Cancers and those recovering from injury including brain trauma. For any medical condition, best to clear with your medical specialist.

Love to workout? Creatine will probably help you do it better!

Best to take when?
For such a widely researched supplement relatively few studies have examined this topic. The research I published some years ago showed that taking this supplement close to resistance exercise is important for effective uptake by muscle. A dose before and/or after intense workouts mixed with lots of liquid carbohydrates or protein seems to really help increase muscle creatine stores.

Pro Tip:
Want to lift a lagging body part? Take creatine before and after working that muscle group! Some work suggests that in response to supplementation, the muscle(s) involved will uptake the most creatine! For example, want to maximize calves or shoulders? Make sure you take your creatine before and after workouts using those muscles.

How much?
That depends on your goals. Creatine works by drawing water into the cell. Its initial benefit is cellular hydration which can add a few kilos of lean mass. If you’re paranoid about gaining weight, do everyone around you a favour and don’t use this supplement.

Once you’ve come to terms that weight gain is probably from the chips, chocolate, chardonnay and the other stuff you may not tell your trainer about, then one-quarter of a teaspoon of creatine mixed in your post workout drink a few times a week will definitely create some nice changes in body composition. 

If you’re more hard core and after maxim muscle gains, creatine loading does wonders, see my Special Report on Creatine Cycling.

Want to build a little muscle? Creatine will definitely help!

Who Creatine isn't for
Athletes and physique competitors that need to make weight classes should be aware of the initial gain in lean mass creatine supplementation provides. However, any increase in body weight from supplementation is easily corrected by dietary manipulation to improve body composition.

One reason people who compete in weight-restricted classes shy away from this supplement is they don't know how to eat to stay within comfortable range. Therefore a lot of coaches and athletes go to starvation  diet and other extreme practices, rather than learning how to eat for longevity and success in their sport.

For best results
• Creatine Monohydrate is the most research-proven form of creatine. It’s the one most supplement marketing is leveraged from. A one kilogram jar of pure creatine monohydrate will last you probably a year and cost around $40-$60 – what a bargain.

• Don't mix and let it sit. Creatine Monohydrate degrades rapidly in moisture (to a harmless by-product). It's always best to mix and consume right away.

• If you're new to the supplementation thing, start with small doses, quarter of a teaspoon mixed in at least 300 ml of liquid after your workout. If you're getting a queezy feeling, you're taking too much into a dehydrated body.

Something else?
Creatine supplementation is shown to improve brain health – supplementation with 5-grams a day is shown to make you smarter! I put the milk back in the pantry this morning (again) so I’m off to get a double dose!

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