Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in history, if not THE most studied. And what do all of these studies tell us? They tell us the creatine works, and that is something you should definitely consider taking. In this article I will explain what creatine is, how it is effective, the different types of creatine, how much you should take of each type and when you should take it.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a compound that naturally occurs in meats and fish. Now you may be thinking that you eat plenty of these foods, but studies point to supplementation providing additional muscle building effects. Creatine is not a new compound either, it was discovered in 1835 by a French scientist by the name of Chevreul, but it didn’t start being used in supplements until 1993. Ever since then, creatine has exploded in the supplement world and many studies point to its effectiveness.
Why is creatine effective?
ATP is what your body uses in high and low intensity situations for energy. That being said, it can take only one second for your body to burn of your muscles ATP reserves. This is where supplementing creatine comes in. Creatine is stored as creatine phosphate in your muscles, which can easily be converted to ATP by your body, giving you an extra boost of energy during high intensity weight training. More energy means that you are likely to complete more reps of a given exercise. More reps means that you will be breaking down the muscle fibers more, leading to more muscle gains after you rest. It’s actually a lot simpler than you think. Creatine can also help you get to a much better start when it comes to sports such as track because of that extra jolt of energy. So creatine is effective both in and out of the gym.
Creatine is also a water soluble compound, meaning it draws in water. The more creatine you have in your muscle tissue, the more water your muscle cells will hold. This will make you look bigger and fuller while you are taking creatine.
There have also been studies that show that taking creatine can increase your testosterone levels. A 10 week New Jersey study found that participants that were taking creatine greatly increased their resting testosterone levels. Since testosterone is the main hormone responsible for building and maintaining muscle, this only adds to the many benefits of supplementing creatine into your diet.
Types of Creatine and How Much You Should Take
There are many different forms of creatine that are effective. I am only going to cover the two most effective forms, creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL. Creatine monohydrate was the original form used in supplementation and the user must take it with sugar for it to be absorbed properly. Creatine monohydrate is very effective, but needs to be taken in larger doses due to its low solubility (your stomach acid burns much of it off before it is even absorbed into your bloodstream). People who take creatine monohydrate usually do a loading phase, where they take 20-25 grams per day for the first week. After the loading phase, a dose of 4-5 grams per day is recommended.
Creatine HCL is another common form of creatine. Creatine HCL is creatine attached to Hydrochloric Acid, making the creatine much more soluble. The hydrochloric acid makes the creatine more acidic, meaning your stomach acid does not burn near as much off, allowing more creatine to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Because of this, a smaller dose of creatine HCL is recommended. 1-2 grams of creatine HCL per day is recommended, and no loading phase is required.
When Should You Take Creatine?
There have been many studies done to figure out when it is better to take creatine, before or after your workout? Some say before is better and some say after is better. But my take on it is this; take it both before AND after your workout. While it makes perfect sense to take creatine before your workout so your muscles have plenty of creatine phosphate to use for your lifts, it also makes sense to take creatine after your workout as well. After you finish your workout, your muscles are starving for nutrients. So why not take creatine after as well to provide your muscle cells with the creatine that you just depleted through lifting? Creatine will help your muscles recover and will also draw water in to your muscle cells to hydrate them and make you appear larger. If you need a source of pre-workout creatine, try my pre-workout Pre-XL, which has 2 grams of creatine HCL per serving.
If you are not already using a creatine supplement and want to make some extra gains, I would highly recommend using some sort of creatine supplement. The studies and personal stories of millions of creatine users cannot be ignored. As always, no supplements are needed to build a great physique, but they definitely help you out on your journey. If you want a pre-workout that includes all of your needed creatine and BCAAs, check out Pre-XL at https://tenaciousnutrition.com/products/pre-xl.