The usage of creatine as a supplement is now widely spread throughout the fitness and bodybuilding industry. Historical data indicate that the first creatine users were the Swedish and Eastern German athletes in the 1960s. Other “Eastern Europeans” followed, as well as Italians whose football player used it during the 1982 World Cup. Since then, creatine has been extended to football teams as well as to many other sports.
In this article, I will introduce you to the most common questions about the correct use of creatine monohydrate, which is also the most popular creatine.
Notable forms of creatine
There are many forms and brands in the market, but let’S overview the most important ones:
- Ethyl Ester (CEE)
- Ethyl Ester Malate
- Tri and Di Malate
- Magnesium Chelate
- AKG (Alpha-Ketoglutarate)
Have in mind that every type of creatine is different! First of all, the difference is in the solubility. When a specific form is well soluble it’s also very effective. Actually, all the creatine forms are doing the same thing:
- Increasing Recovery
- Improving Strength
- Enlarging Muscles
- Recycles ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate)
Creatine can be found in foods like beef, fish and chicken. In our body, it is naturally produced by the liver. The ATP has three bounds of phosphates. When one bound break produces energy. Here comes the help of creatine. It’s “job” is to replenish the broken phosphate in order to keep ATP running. By supplementing with creatine, you are increasing the fuel availability to power ATP. Sometimes people are surprised by the variety that exists. Different forms are available in supplements. Always read the label before buying any product, especially if you have an allergy. It should be noted here that the use of nutritional supplements is recommended only to healthy individuals over 18 years of age.
1. Should I Get Creatine Cyclically Or Continuous?
If you decide to “cycle” it, then you should use it for 6-8 weeks by consuming 5-10 g per day. Then stop the supplementation for 4 weeks until the next cycle. A slightly smaller dose will work perfectly. Have in mind that the amount depends on your bodyweight. Of course, you can take it continuously without any problems.
2. What Should I do When I am Using Creatine?
You need to drink plenty of water, at least 3 litres per day. Water is a big part of the muscles. The creatine works by retaining the liquids. So, it is very important to drink plenty of water during the day. To get the most out of it, creatine needs to be assimilated right. Completely dissolving it in warm (not hot) water is extremely important so that it is properly absorbed by the body.
3. Do I Need to Make a Load?
It is not necessary but you can make a proper loading. What do I mean by loading? I mean to take a larger dose in the first 5 days so that you can benefit sooner. The final result, of course, will be the same whether you are loading or not. The only difference is that with loading, muscle saturation occurs much faster. With regular dosing, it takes about 30 days. So, if you get the recommended amount of 5 grams a day and you do not have fast results – be patient.
4. What Results Should I Expect?
A slight weight gain due to fluid retention and, of course, a slight increase in strength. The result is intense workouts. The first 2 weeks you may gain 1 to 2 kilos with the results always depending on the intensity of training and proper nutrition.
5. If I Stop What’s Going On?
You will surely lose the fluids (a small weight loss) that the muscles will hold and your strength will decrease. With proper diet and exercise, however, you will have better performance than before you started taking creatine.
6. Will I Have Side Effects?
The side effects are a rare phenomenon. Occasionally, people experience some gastrointestinal discomfort or muscle cramps. These symptoms can be reduced by dissolving creatine completely before swallowing. Pay attention to be properly diluted! We can also dissolve it into warm coffee or tea. Always try to get it along with one of your meals.
7. I Use Creatine And I Do Not Have Results, Why?
The most common reason is that either you didn’t properly dissolve it in the water or the amount is insufficient for your weight. Start with 5g/day and if you don’t have strong effects or weight change after 1 or 2 weeks, increase the dosage to 7 grammes. Make sure that the powder is dissolved in warm water before swallowing. You can also “break” the dose into 2 doses for even better absorption, the first with the breakfast and the second after your training.
8. Do The Quality and Company Play Great Role?
It is crucial. I Prefer Creapure powders. I would recommend to chose micronised creatin by well-known companies from the area you trust. Before buying the product, search the internet for reviews.
9. Do I need to use it at a specific time?
No! Creatine is not like the caffeine that we need to consume before the training for energy. It acts through muscle saturation, so the timing does not matter. Whether taken in the morning or in the afternoon, the result will be the same. There may be a little better absorption if taken post workout, but again the difference will be small. In general, as mentioned above, creatine is best taken with your meals.
Now I would like to answer the great Myths that have been made all these years around creatine.
MYTH #1: You can get enough creatine from your diet
TRUTH: The average person receives about 1g per day from the diet. When you cook your meal, you are also destroying much of the creatine found in foods such as beef, cod, salmon and herring.
MYTH #2: It can damage the kidneys and the liver
TRUTH: If you do not have a pre-existing medical condition and will not overdose, it will not harm your kidneys or liver. In a study followed by healthy athletes over a five-year period, rugby players who used creatine up to 15.75g/day did not show any effect on kidney markers. In another study conducted by Dr Kerry Kuehl of Oregon, Department of Health Sciences in Portland, which was presented at the ACSM Annual Meeting in 2000, the kidney function of 36 healthy male and female athletes who consumed 10 grams of creatine per day. After twelve weeks, Dr Kuehl found that creatine did not adversely affect kidney function.
MYTH #3: Creatine is ideal for all athletes
TRUTH: Some athletes will greatly benefit, others very little. Athletes who require immediate, high strength and endurance are ideal candidates for it. These athletes can be powerlifters, bodybuilders, sprinters, footballers, baseball players, basketball players and similar sports players. Endurance athletes or those involved in sports requiring stable aerobic production can not benefit from its use.
MYTH #4: It can cause cramps
TRUTH: The view that creatine use causes muscle cramps is based on unrealistic and non-investigative evidence. Two studies conducted at the State University of Arkansas at Jonesboro, where 61 athletes of Division 1 are creatine enthusiasts, during supplementation had no effect on muscle cramps, injuries or illnesses. These athletes use 15-25 g of creatine per day for the loading phase and another 5g/day for maintenance.
MYTH #5: All types of creatine are the same
TRUTH: Just as there is a difference between the wine of £200 and £20 so there is a difference between high-quality and low-quality creatine. Chinese production is the inferior quality with more byproducts, such as creatinine, dihydrotriazine, dicyandiamide, and sodium. Now, German production is among the best in the world. Always buy wisely.
MYTH #6: New forms are working better
TRUTH: Base of research publications no form has been proven to work better than the classic old monohydrate. If you spend extra money on effervescent, liquid or chewed products, the most important thing is creatine itself. If you decide to make a figure and buy creatine citrate or phosphate remember one thing: the large clinical studies that have been done with simple classic monohydrate. Numerous studies have also shown that monohydrate powder is readily absorbed by the body. So unless you have money to throw away, it is best to stay on monohydrate. Products such as effervescent or chewable just offer convenience. If we think about value for money then there is no better choice than simple dust.
MYTH #7: Creatine “cycles” will bring better results
TRUTH: Wrong! There is no scientific study indicating that creatine “cycles” are more effective than when there is continuous intake.
I think creatine is one of the most misunderstood supplements. A lot of studies has been made and still, people are scared and complain about it. While smoking and drinking alcohol is a better option. My opinion is that it should be an irreplaceable supplement for any athlete at any level. The ketogenic diet is inextricably linked with creatine. Keto athletes with low body fat percentage (11% or less) will have great benefits from it. The benefits of strength and lean mass gain are for everybody. But because creatine has the property to retain water that makes the muscles look fuller. So, the athlete will seem bigger.
Creatine is another great tool which can help us to build a better physique through our supreme keto nutrition. As I said, it will accompany and help everybody in their keto journey regardless of their level. Use it always according to the recommended dosage and dissolve it as I suggested. Results will surprisingly good.