The exciting world of bodybuilding is rich in dietary supplements that claim to enhance athletic performance, help you to build lean muscle mass and promote weight loss by burning body fat. In this matter, one of the most popular supplements is Creatine, second, perhaps, only to protein supplements like Whey Protein. But it’s a matter of fact that not everybody taking Creatine knows about its effects or proper way of usage in order to achieve the best results. That’s especially true if you’re still a beginner in bodybuilding.
So, what is Creatine?
Creatine is an organic acid that takes part in numerous processes in your body which aim to ultimately supply your muscles with additional energy. Creatine is widely used in athletics and bodybuilding for its ability to increase muscular strength, mass and short-term anaerobic durability – everything in an absolutely safe manner.
Creatine is naturally present in the human body. Synthesized in the liver, pancreas and kidneys, it is then transported into the skeletal musculature in order to supply it with necessary energy. Around 95% of creatine is stored in your muscles, ready to be used in case of a sudden increase in energy demand – for example, during intensive workouts.
How does creatine provide you with energy?
Ultimately, your body uses energy in form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), but the trick is that the amount of ATP present in your muscles would last only for about 2-5 seconds of contraction. When used up, ATPs turn into ADPs (adenosine diphosphate), which cannot be used effectively as a source of energy.
That’s when creatine gloriously enters the stage. Present in your body usually in the form of creatine phosphate (rather that free creatine), it donates a phosphate molecule back to the ADPs and turns them back into ATPs, replenishing the energy pool ready to be used for further work. In other words, creatine in the form of creatine phosphate is a transporter of phosphate in your body, which is crucial for your energy supplies.
Are there any natural sources of Creatine?
Just as we said, Creatine is present mainly in your muscles – but not only yours. Actually, any kind of meat can be a source of natural creatine. People who consume meat on a regular basis generally do not need any extra creatine for the general needs of everyday life.
Things are a little more complicated for vegetarians, because there isn’t a single vegetable or fruit that contains creatine naturally. Therefore, vegetarians should consider taking creatine supplements in case they want to start working out, build muscles and increase strength.
The same goes for professional athletes and bodybuilders. While the amount of creatine gained through eating meat may be enough for moderate exercises, it surely won’t be enough for high-intensity exercise sessions with heavy weights.
How can creatine help you to lose weight?
Indirectly. Though creatine does not have any fat-burning properties, by increasing your overall strength and durability, creatine helps you to endure much more physical exercises, thus ultimately burning more calories as you go. Moreover, by giving you extra energy, creatine basically makes you more inclined to lead an active lifestyle. And this results in losing weight, one way or another.
But, in any case, creatine should not be taken as your primary source for weight loss, due to its indirect effect. In order to lose weight effectively with creatine, it is recommended to combine it with an effective and safe weight loss program – like HCG drops, for example.
What is the proper way to take Creatine?
There are several different approaches regarding Creatine intake, and they largely depend on the specific Creatine product you plan to use. Be sure to check on the instructions provided by the official manufacturer.
In any case, we’ll outline the general principles that were proven effective in matters of Creatine proper usage:
The dose of Creatine you should take depends on your weight:
This is explained by the fact that creatine is housed and used up by your muscles, and their amount depends on your general weight.
There are two phases of Creatine intake course: Loading and Maintenance:
The point of the first phase is to replenish and saturate the amount of creatine in your muscles in order to achieve better endurance, performance and strength. It lasts about 5-6 days, depending on multiple factors. The daily dose of creatine in the loading stage will be around 20-25 grams split up in 4-5 servings throughout the day. The second phase is meant to refill the amount of creatine you’ll use up during your exercises.
During this phase, you’ll take about 5-10 grams of creatine daily, also split up throughout the day into 4-5 servings. This is important because a large dose of creatine taken at once may cause gastrointestinal distress, while little (yet regular) doses are safe to go.
Follow up a cycling creatine routine:
There’s no solid evidence that a cycling approach is necessary, but most of athletes and bodybuilders prefer to take creatine this way. Some of them affirm that if your creatine is not of the top quality, the incidental impurities present in the product may do you harm if taken regularly for an extended period of time.
Therefore, they suggest going by the 8-weeks creatine cycling scheme: 1 week of creatine loading and 7 weeks of creatine maintenance, followed up by a month free of creatine. After that, you can repeat the cycle at will.
Take your creatine with a portion of fast carbohydrates
Multiple studies indicate that this enhances its flow into the cells – and that’s our primary goal when taking creatine, isn’t it? Some believe that grape juice works best, but that’s a myth. Any sweet liquid will have just the same level of effectiveness in this matter. You can go with grape juice if you want to, but taste won’t make much difference here, as long as it’s something sweet.
And that pretty much sums it up. In any case, you should always remember that creatine does not have any anabolic properties – meaning that it won’t directly build you lean muscle mass. Also, it does not have any direct fat-burning properties. The principal point of taking creatine as a dietary supplement is to improve your overall athletic performance – including muscle strength and endurance. In its turn, this may motivate you to exercise even harder – thus achieving better results in terms of performance, weight loss and muscle building.
Good luck in your exercises and don’t forget to read the instructions carefully!
Gracy, a dedicated and qualified nutritionist with over six years of experience in the Indian food industry. She has done MSc Degree in Human Nutrition at Chinmaya degree College(BHEL) in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. You can reach her anytime if you have any questions regarding this guest post.