Creatine: To Take or Not to Take?
Creatine is the most researched supplement on the market. Despite this, there are still a lot of misconceptions about it. I believe, without a doubt, that every competitive athlete should be supplementing with creatine. Let’s look at some facts and hopefully debunk some of the more popular stereotypes when discussing creatine.
What is creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid produced in the body that stores high-energy phosphate groups. Simply put, creatine molecules store and release energy to aid in anaerobic activity and recovery. There has been research that suggests creatine can also aid in brain, bone, and liver health.
Will i gain weight?
Yes, you will more than likely gain a couple pounds of water weight. This is a variable that depends on your loading protocol and overall activity levels. If you prescribe to a loading phase of 25g/day when you start supplementation, you will certainly put on some weight.
Evidence shows that a higher concentration of creatine molecules in the body directly causes an increase in water stored in the muscles. This increases protein synthesis in the muscles and will also cause a gain in water weight, but this also increases lean muscle mass as muscles grow from supplementation. If you are competing in a weight class sport this fact must be considered. However, an increase of water in the muscles and higher lean muscle mass makes it easier to cut weight for competition.
I find that a consistent supplementation throughout the week of 5g/day is perfect. You might have a slight gain in weight at first, but more than likely this will not be a big spike. As a weight class competitor, I never had any issues with creatine supplementation and weight cutting.
When should you take creatine?
There is no solid evidence showing what time of day is best to consume creatine. It really makes no difference if you take creatine pre-, intra-, or post workout. I prefer to sip on a mixture of creatine and branched chain amino acids (BCAA) during my workouts. It makes it easier for me to make sure I am getting the proper supplementation while keeping my hydration and energy levels high during training sessions.
What kind of creatine should i be using?
Besides the obvious physical benefits of creatine, another consideration is the price. A lot of the brands are relatively similar. You can purchase creatine pretty much anywhere and it is very cost effective. Buy creatine monohydrate, as this is the most effective and easily dissolved form of creatine. Make sure the creatine you are buying mixes well and doesn’t leave any residue on the bottom of your glass or shaker. If it is not mixing well try a different company.
Creatine is most effective when consumed with increased insulin levels. You can do this by taking creatine with fruit juice or a sports drink. This is why I like to take my creatine during bouts of activity. You want about 70g of sugar per 5g of creatine for optimum intake.
If you are doing a two-a-day or are have a really strenuous training session, I would suggest taking more than 5g of creatine that day. You have to see what amount works best for you and your program. With creatine being so inexpensive, you can do this without wasting away your money.
As a retired professional fighter who is still very active and competes regularly, I recommend creatine very highly to anyone who trains regularly and is looking for an increase in lean muscle mass. Your strength will go up, you will have more energy training, and your recovery is better! What is not to like?