Get the Scoop... Creatine ViTL Nutrition
What is creatine?
Creatine is a compound synthesized by our bodies from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. You consume creatine when you eat meat. Its phosphorylated form, phosphocreatine, serves as a buffer for intracellular ATP (energy) stores. ATP is not stored in cells in significant amounts so when we exercise, creatine phosphate is an important energy reserve for ATP.
All the way back in the early 1900s, scientists discovered that ingesting creatine in larger than normal amounts could increase muscular stores and physical performance. But, it wasn't until after the '92 olympics that creatine began its ascent to supplement stardom. Since then, creatine has become the most studied supplement in history with hundreds of studies exploring its effects.
Been to the gym recently? The supplement store? Training with teammates? Then you've heard about creatine. But, while this supplement has gained near-legendary status among elite athletes and daily gym-goers alike, many are still unfamiliar with what it has to offer. Get the scoop on creatine below. What is it? Why supplement with it? What kind of creatine is best? How is it taken for maximum results? What are the risks?
Why supplement with creatine?
Increasing creatine stores in the body can improve power performance for activities like sprinting, swinging, or lifting. There is also emerging evidence to suggest that creatine may improve endurance performance by enhancing ATP shuttling to working muscle fibers as well as improving the body’s ability to store carbohydrate (also known as carbohydrate loading).
Being able to work harder means faster muscle gains and fat loss. With the right training methods and supplementation protocols, creatine supplementation can increase power and strength gains by 5-15% and increase muscle mass by 2-4 pounds.
Contrary to popular opinion, creatine does not appear to enhance muscle recovery after workouts or prevent muscle loss immediately following surgery. Creatine supplementation must be combined with the proper training programs to be effective.
What kind of creatine is best?
Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied form of creatine and has substantial evidence backing its effectiveness.
Always speak to a qualified, knowledgeable healthcare provider for guidance before starting any supplement regimen. A nutritionist can help you better understand if creatine supplementation is right for you.
Two well-substantiated protocols exist for supplementing with creatine. Both are highly effective and a nutritionist can help you determine which protocol is best.
The first protocol consists of what is called a loading phase for the first 2-7 days to saturate the muscle tissue: 15-20
How is creatine taken for maximum results?
Creatine supplements should only be purchased from reputable suppliers and after you fully understand all of the other ingredients that may be included. A nutritionist can help you determine the best brand and formulation for your needs.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate is emerging as a new supplemental form of creatine. It is likely as effective as the monohydrate form at increasing intramuscular creatine stores. The benefits of chelating magnesium with creatine include potentially more efficient absorption and functioning.
grams of creatine (0.3 grams per kilogram body weight or 0.6 grams per pound body weight) is taken throughout the day in 5 gram portions. Then the maintenance phase is initiated. During the maintenance phase 3-5 grams creatine is taken each day.
The second protocol consists of simply taking 3-6 grams of creatine each day for the duration of the supplementation protocol. This method provides a more gradual increase in muscle-creatine levels.
Cycling off of creatine when not training, or discontinuing use for at least one week after every 4-6 weeks of use, may be beneficial. A nutritionist can help you determine optimal timing for supplementation initiation and cessation.
Creatine is best absorbed when taken with carbohydrate around workouts. Mixing it with 3-6oz of 100% fruit juice, 15-30 minutes before a workout can optimize absorption and results. Taking creatine after a workout, for example with chocolate milk, is also highly effective. Studies show that taking creatine before versus after a workout yields similar results and one is not necessarily better.
A balanced diet is essential for realizing the benefits of creatine supplementation.
What are the risks associated with taking creatine?
There are few risks when creatine is taken in proper amounts as directed by a qualified, knowledgeable healthcare provider. But, as with any supplement or drug, risks do exist. Choosing a reputable brand is one way to reduce some of these risks.
Old theory suggests that taking creatine may increase the risk of dehydration and muscle cramps, especially in hot environments. However, newer research has shown that this is not the case, and creatine ingestion may actually be associated with a lower risk of cramps and injuries. Sufficient hydration is still necessary when taking creatine for maximum results and safety.
Creatine is not indicated for those with certain health conditions, especially certain kidney- and liver-related conditions due to the possibility of increased stress on those organs. Excessive doses of creatine can cause stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
Incidences exist in which adolescents and adults may have reacted negatively to, and even been hospitalized after creatine ingestion. However, studies have consistently shown that when creatine is used in the proper way, the only clinically significant side effect is weight gain from increases in muscle mass.
Less is known about the effects of creatine on adolescents before or in the early stages of puberty. Therefore, other strategies to improve performance are indicated for this group.
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Creatine Monohydrate by Jarrow Formulas
ATP Evolution by NutraBio