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3 + 1 Awesome Reasons to Supplement with Creatine

Posted by | October 01, 2014 | Featured | 9 Comments
Creatine-featured

I have recently started incorporating supplemental creatine into my fitness routine with positive results. As someone who eats plenty of red meats, fish, and pork I have a decent creatine level to begin with… but by amping up my creatine intake in short bursts, I’ve been able to increase muscle mass and pump up my high-intensity interval workouts.

WHAT IS CREATINE?

Creatine is an amino acid that your body produces naturally to some extent, but it can also be consumed in meat products—especially red meat, pork, and fish (high creatine foods). This amino acid is manufactured mainly in the liver and stored primarily as creatine phosphate in the muscle tissues.

When you make a mad dash to grab the leash of your runaway dog before he jumps into rush hour traffic, you can in part thank creatine for that incredible burst of energy. You see, creatine is converted into energy when you engage in any high intensity activity.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

The nervous system sends a signal to your muscle to contract. That signal is “read” by your adenosine triphosphate molecules (ATP)—the “molecular unit of currency” used to exchange energy between cells.

What ATP does is essentially hook and unhook phosphates. Since creatine is stored in the muscle fibers as creatine phosphate, the more creatine-loaded you are, the bigger store the ATP has to draw from, and the bigger the burst of energy you can have when you get that message from the brain.

There are some concrete reasons to take creatine supplements, but keep in mind that you should be looking for creatine monohydrate. There are other chemical compositions of creatine on the market, but monohydrate is the one used in the clinical testing and scientific research—it’s the one that gets results. So, before you get started, make sure you know what you’re buying!

3 AWESOME REASONS TO TAKE CREATINE

What does all this mean, though? What are the end results? That’s what we all really want to know. Well, when used in combination with a balanced healthy diet and exercise, creatine supplements are beneficial for several reasons.

BOOST STRENGTH TRAINING

Have you hit a plateau in your high-intensity weight-training workouts? If so, creatine supplementation might give you the boost you need to jack you up to the next level. Why? Because of that whole phosphate transfer thing I mentioned earlier: more creatine phosphate in the muscle tissue = more phosphates for the ATP to grab = greater burst of energy. And that all translates to an amped-up workout!

GAIN MUSCLE MASS

The creatine itself doesn’t actually build muscle, but it does directly affect muscle mass by increasing the level of bioavailable energy during strength training and reducing muscle fatigue after an intense workout. This allows you to train harder and feel better afterward.

Just to be on the level, here’s a word of caution: Creatine supplementation can also cause water retention in the muscles. This can lead to the appearance of larger muscles and look like weight gain on the scales. However, when you stop supplementing, the water weight will drop away… and so will the water-induced muscle appearance. To avoid this, and to avoid the associated dehydration, drink at least 64 ounces of water a day while supplementing with creatine.

SHARPEN YOUR MIND

Australian researchers recently discovered that increased creatine levels actually have a huge impact on mental sharpness. In the study, not only did the use of creatine decrease mental fatigue when doing long, monotonous (boring) tasks, it also increased recognition memory and brain plasticity. I can confirm that result, as well. Creatine seems to have helped me stay focused in a world that is sometimes more hectic than I’d like it to be.

PLUS, 1 REASON SOME MEN SHOULD TAKE CREATINE

Creatine happens to be a player in the production of testosterone. While many men don’t want to admit it, it’s simply a fact that testosterone levels can start to drop after they pass their thirties. This natural hormonal shift can have a negative effect on:
• Athletic ability
• (eh, hem) sexual performance
• sleep patterns
• muscle mass
• body fat
• and can even cause depression

Don’t worry, the good news is that supplementing with creatine can significantly increase your resting testosterone levels… helping turn around some of the physical and mental results of testosterone depletion.

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT WITH CREATINE

The typical way to go about supplementing with creatine is to “load and maintain.” This generally consists of a five-day load of creatine monohydrate and then a long-term maintenance dose. To build muscle mass, increase focus, and boost your workout, follow this supplementation routine:
• 5 days= 20 grams per day (5 grams 4 x per day)
• 3-4 weeks= 2 grams per day (maintenance)
• 1 week = none (reboot)
• Repeat cycle

Of course, precise dosage will depend on your specific body. Consult the Creatine Information Center or your physician for more precise dosage.

WHO SHOULD TAKE CREATINE?

The broad answer is that anyone can take creatine. Because creatine is simply an energy source within the muscle fibers, it is fine for most anyone.

However, creatine supplementation works better for some demographics than others. Specifically, creatine has shown the best results in young men. Middle aged men show some positive reaction to creatine supplementation while men over seventy have varied to no positive results.

Women can also take creatine, but shouldn’t necessarily be looking at creatine as a weight-loss aid. In fact, creatine can make you feel like you’ve gained weight due to water retention. Creatine loading is better geared toward building muscle, and only when paired with nutrition and exercise.

You should avoid creatine use if you have a kidney disease or diabetes (which can be a precursor to kidney disease). If you are taking prescription medications or have major health issues, always consult your physician before adding a supplement to your wellness routine. Not enough research has been done on creatine supplementing for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it’s probably best to avoid it and simply add a bit more red meat and fish to your diet!

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS

While side effects of creatine usage are rare, they are possible and include: irregular heartbeat, enlarged prostate, and dehydration (most common). Consult your physician immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms of side effects.

The addition of creatine can really bump up your game, especially if you are pushing yourself to reach that next level, but just can’t seem to climb over that plateau.
If you try it out and it works for you, awesome! Make sure to share this information with the people in your life who might benefit from a boost themselves—your partner, mom, dad, uncle, mail carrier, coworker, boss. The more you share your healthy lifestyle, the stronger team you build around you, and the better YOU you become!

RESOURCES

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/873.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12485548
http://www.healthline.com/health/side-effects-of-low-testosterone#1
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17136944
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/pdf/14561278.pdf
http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-gut-brain-connection

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9 Comments

  • Jon says:

    When should we take it? In what form, pill or powder?

    • Tim says:

      Hi Jon
      You should take it about an hour after you take your fatty coffee made of upgraded coffee and grass fed butter and super MCT oil. Make sure you do not take the Creatine with the Paleo Brownies as they may clash. It is best taken with a slab of lard.
      Always ask your nutrtitionist Chiropractor Doctor of Chinese herbs and your internet superfood specialist before taking it and make sure the Creatine is from one source and one source only – the same place that sells Deer Antler Velvet and Colustrum (the Colstrum has to be 3rd party verified and collected within 3 hours of calf birth,)
      Cheers

    • Tyler says:

      Hey Jon, with Creatine, especially during the initial 5 days, it is best to take it throughout the day. One strategy I have seen is to fill up a gallon jug with the correct ratio of creatine to water and just drink throughout the day.

      I personally throw a bit in my morning smoothie and then have about 4 glasses of water with the remaining daily dose mixed in over the rest of the day. The key is to spread it out over the entire day. I generally have the last glass right before bed.

      During the maintenance phase I just add it to my morning smoothie.

      I take the powder, simply because it is more convenient for me and I try to use as few capsules as possible. But, while it is not horrible mixed with water, it isn’t exactly pleasant. Hope that helps!

  • DaveR says:

    Can you recommend any brands of monohydrate and give reasons why? or is all monohydrate the same?

  • Sarah says:

    Can you recommend a brand of creatine? Also, in what form is it best taken?

  • Jan Koch says:

    Hey Abel,
    I’m taking creatine for a few weeks now and I’m become stronger than I would without creatine. I’m doing Freeletics (HIIT) and without creatine I have longer regeneration and see less gains in strengths (i.e. becoming faster in the workouts).

    When I do take creatine however, I see that I can workout two days in a row and even excell my best times in the workouts.

    Thanks for clarifying the intake of creatine!

    Best,
    Jan

  • storm5 says:

    The Dr Max Powers Creatine 3X Elite is insane lol. You can feel it activate in your body. Your muscles start naturally blowing up / twitching and that’s when you know it’s time to start lifting. Perfect weight lifting supplement. . .

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