Creatine – The Secret to Building Muscle

This Guide covers following topics

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally made substance found in our body’s vertebrates and assists in providing our body with energy. Creatine was originally derived from the Greek word Kreas, meaning flesh, during 1836. It is said to be play an extremely important role in the body’s nervous system by supplying the required energy for neuronal functioning and also helps for healing trauma and disease.

Creatine is an amino acid that can increase the amount of energy available during a workout. Your body utilizes this amino acid that it has produced naturally in the liver and kidneys, and also synthesizes it from some foods, such as fish and other meats, in order to increase the bioavailability of water molecules to your muscle cells. More specifically, it helps your body produce ATP (short for adenosine triphosphate), a chemical compound that is produced by your liver and then stored mainly in your skeletal muscles for energy. After your body is done using the creatine, it is converted to creatine and then expelled from the body.

Creatine comprises of three amino acids – Arginine, Glycine and Methionine. The body’s liver has the capability to unite these three acids to generate creatine. However, creatine can also be generated from our day to day diet. Creatine gets stored up in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys and circulated to the body muscles through blood. As soon as it arrives in the body muscles, it becomes creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine) – a metabolite that regenerates ATP.

Virtually 90-95% of the body’s creatine supply is available within skeletal muscle, where the movement fuels. One can obtain creatine requirements by dietary means that is by consuming sources of skeletal muscle, fish and meats and by way of dietary supplementation with synthetic creatine salts that augments physical performance. In fact, creatine added to your diet also improves your muscle growth, which can lead to gains of 3 or 4 pounds in less than a week. Below are the four basic advantages offered by creatine:

  • It offers required and additional energy to your muscles
  • It maintains the muscles
  • It prevents lactic acid upsurge
  • It improves protein synthesis

Creatine can also be taken as a supplement. The actual idea behind taking a creatine supplement is simple to gain more energy. Any average person would carry only 3 to 4 grams of creatine per kilogram of muscles. Whereas, recent studies have proved that an average body can have 5 grams of creatine per kilogram. So, it is wise for a bodybuilder to take a supplement to raise the level of creatine.

Using the best creatine supplement for you can significantly boost the results of your strength training and fitness routine.

What it is NOT:

  • It is not a synthetic substance. Because it is produced naturally by your liver and kidneys for storage in your muscles , the addition of creatine supplements to your diet is no different from any other nutritional supplements.
  • It is definitely not a steroid. That should be repeated: This is not a steroid! It does not have any crazy muscle creating properties, any hulk-like rage-inducing agents, nor has it ever been shown to give anyone cancer. Just because it’s a supplement does not mean that you don’t still have to work hard when you are lifting weights. If you take creatine supplements, but don’t take advantage of the extra energy boost and work out harder and longer, you’ll just be adding water weight.
  • It is not considered an illegal substance, either by law enforcement, or any major athletic association. From WebMD’s:

“Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports.”

It is hard to imagine the International Olympic Committee allowing any type of steroid or unnatural enhancement.

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The Main Benefits and How It Works:

Creatine has been scientifically studied over and over and over again, and has consistently been shown to increase an athlete’s ability to workout harder and for longer sessions. Taking it in supplement form can:

  • Boost your energy during lifting
  • Help you sustain this power for extra reps
  • Help you build muscle faster

This is because creatine makes it easier for your body to supply muscles with ATP, that magic little nucleotide jam packed with chemical energy. When water is introduced to the ATP, a chemical reaction occurs, and that huge amount of energy is then released and becomes available for your muscles to use. In other words, this supplement makes it easier for you to lift more weights for a longer amount of time by bringing water straight to the ATP. The more your muscles are worked during each workout session, the faster your muscles will gain strength and bulk. Adding this type of supplement will make you feel more energized during your lifts and help you get fit faster.

The Different Types Available:

Supplements are not all created equal, and each one has its pros and cons. There is nothing like best product. Here are the main types of creatine-containing products on the market:

  • Ethyl Ester: Otherwise known as CEE, this form of supplementation is often preferred due to its touted ability to be absorbed more readily by the body. Many people believe that, because of its faster absorption, CEE also results in less water retention than other creatine supplements. Faster absorption would mean that you would need to take less of the supplement for the same effects gained from other forms, and taking less of any type of dietary enhancement reduces the risk of side effects.
  • Monohydrate: This is simply pure in powder form, and is often the most budget friendly. Most scientific studies examining the effects of creatine are referring to creatine monohydrate, and therefore significantly more hard evidence is available to support its efficacy. Absorption by the body is generally less effective than that of the CEE form, however, and this type of supplement is known to cause more digestive side effects.
  • Liquid or Serum: The serum form is generally less stable and has a tendency to break down somewhat before making it to your muscles. Liquid form, however, is a much more convenient way to take this supplement, and often include electrolytes and sugars believed to further enhance the “oomph” factor.

What are the Side Effects?

It is possible, though unlikely, that you could experience some muscle cramping or bloating while taking this supplement. Because your body will be storing more water for your muscles to access, you can expect to need to replenish this water. Dehydration is an obvious potential problem if you are usually slack about getting enough water. What’s the bottom line here? Drink at least eight, 8oz glasses of water a day while using this supplement. You should be drinking this much water, if not significantly more, anyway, if you are engaging in regular high-intensity workouts.

It is also important to remember that the amount that is most effective for each person will vary, and therefore anyone who experiences muscle cramping, dehydration, and/or bloating can often significantly reduce these side effects by simply adjusting the amount taken.

Please also note that there is some evidence, though far from conclusive, that creatine can be harmful to those with preexisting kidney disease. You should ask your doctor before beginning your new regimen if you have kidney disease.

How and When to Take it

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This muscle building supplement is often taken in two different phases: the first is known as the “loading” phase, and the second is the maintenance phase. During the first phase, athletes load their muscles with creatine by taking a higher than usual dose. This saturates the muscles before significant weight lifting begins. The maintenance phase does exactly what its name implies: its purpose is to maintain the initial saturation with a smaller daily dose. During the loading phase, it is generally recommended that the large dose be divided evenly throughout the day to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort. For dosage, you will have to experiment until you find what works best for your body; everyone processes it a little differently. Generally speaking, a “loading” dose is a total of around 20 to 25 grams a day, whereas a maintenance dose is usually only 5 to 10 grams a day.

Though originally considered the best way to start a creatine regimen, loading is not necessarily any more effective than simply starting out with a maintenance dose. Studies have shown that loading up only makes the supplement begin to work faster, not better. So, if you have any sort of upset stomach during the high-dose loading phase, you can always try starting at a maintenance dose and still expect the same results- you just won’t notice these results quite as quickly.

Because these supplements can continue to be effective for several days after ingestion, many people choose to take them whenever it is most convenient. That being said, most athletes opt for a post-workout dose taken with their carb-loaded recovery meal, as they tend to see the best results. From an article by Ryan Haas on, when taken with a carbohydrate following a strength-training routine, creatine can increase your muscle size and capacity for glycogen storage along with stored phosphocreatine and ATP levels.

How Soon Will I See Results?

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The answer depends on plenty of different factors. Are you loading? How fast does your body respond to supplements? And, of course: How do you define “results?” Many people notice a marked increase in strength and stamina during workouts within a week or so. That does not mean that they have seen the full potential of it. By about two months into a consistent workout and diet schedule with creatine on board, you should have a pretty solid idea of how much it is doing for you. It takes a while to build muscle, so even if you notice that you are drastically increasing your reps in only two weeks, you may not see a visible change in muscle size for over a month or so. Consistency matters, not just with your diet, but also with your lifting; make sure you are lifting frequently for the fastest results.

Your body itself is a major determining factor in how quickly you begin to notice an increase in strength. Some people have low levels to begin with, and when they add an additional source to their diet, they are actually filling a gap, so to speak; people with unusually low creatine levels to begin with may actually notice results much faster than others. Other people respond to creatine well, but may not be as aware of it because of their body type or metabolism.

It’s time to find the best creatine product for you! Everyone’s body is different, and so are their metabolisms. Try different offers until you find one that works best for you. Don’t be discouraged if the first product causes stomach upset, as you will most likely find another form that not only sits well in your stomach, but also gives you the rapid increase in strength that you have been looking for.

Creatine is a great way to improve an already healthy weight lifting routine. It provides your muscles with the boost of water they need to turn ATP into energy, lots of energy, without putting your entire body at risk for dangerous side effects that often result from steroid usage. It’s literally a natural source of energy for your muscles, and you may even be helping to fill a deficiency by taking it. These products are designed to enhance what your body does naturally during strength training, and they have plenty of controlled, independent, scientific studies to back their efficacy.

Enjoy the benefits of scientific research, and enjoy lifting!