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Creatine & Bodybuilding

Creatine has been extensively researched, with over 500 studies conducted to date, confirming it is an important natural fuel enhancing supplement. Unlike a lot of supplements, these experiments showed that creatine produces significant improvements in sports requiring high levels of strength and power. Gains in body mass averaging 0.5 – 1 kg, as well as decreases in body fat were demonstrated. It was once thought this increase was water weight, but now it has been confirmed that a significant amount of the gain is pure muscle with only a small portion being water.

How Can Creatine Help me?

Creatine’s ingestion provides immediate, significant performance improvement to athletes involved in explosive sports. Creatine, when used properly, will help you develop greater strength and improved muscularity. Normally, creatine is produced in the liver and kidneys at a rate of about 2 grams a day from the non-essential amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Most of the body’s creatine travels by the blood to be stored in the muscles, heart and other body cells. Inside muscle cells, it is turned into creatine, a compound that serves as a tiny energy supply, enough for several seconds of action. Creatine works best over the short haul in activities, such as strength training that require short, fast bursts of activity. Creatine also replenishes cellular reserves of ATP, the fuel that provides the power for muscular contractions. More ATP means more work from your muscles.

Creatine, Carbs & Protein Metabolism For Bodybuilders

As a bodybuilder, you load creatine into your muscles just as endurance athletes do with carbohydrates. Consequently, you can push harder and longer in your workouts because creatine boosts the pace of energy production directly. But it does have an indirect effect: you can work out more intensely and this translates into muscle gains. Once in the muscles, creatine appears to induce swelling which in turn may influence carbohydrate and protein metabolism. By supplementing with creatine, lacto-ovo vegetarians (who typically have lower levels of creatine in their bodies) can increase their muscular stores of creatine to levels similar to those people who eat red meat and experience better synthesis of ATP.

What do Creatine Supplements do?

Creatine supplements swell the creatine in your muscles, giving the working muscles another fuel source in addition to glycogen from carbohydrate. Creatine is derived from food, at the rate of approximately 1 gram a day, but that is not enough to enhance strength training performance. Creatine usually comes in powdered form. Scientific research shows that taking four 5 gram doses a day for five days is sufficient, (or 0.3 grams per kilo of body weight per day). This is called a loading phase. During the maintenance phase, 2 to 5 grams (or 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight) a day will keep your muscle saturated with enough extra creatine.

How Should I Take Creatine?

Creatine works best in combination with carbohydrate. This combination boosts the amount of creatine accumulated in muscles as much as 60 per cent. With more creatine and carbohydrate in your muscles, you have more power to train. The creatine-carbohydrate combination increases insulin which increases the uptake of glucose, which is ultimately stored as glycogen in the liver, and muscles for fuel. The more glycogen you can stockpile, the more energy you will have.1

Which Creatine Supplement Should I Choose?

Creatine have been marketed as candy, bars, liquid creatine, creatine gum, creatine citrate and effervescent creatine. No data indicates that these are any better than creatine monohydrate. The best sources of Creatine are the United States and Germany.

Stacking Creatine With Other Supplements

Ingesting carbohydrate and protein or essential amino acids after intense exercise may accelerate glycogen resynthesis as well as promote protein synthesis. This primary mechanism seems to be related to a carbohydrate and protein simulated increase in insulin as well as stimulation of protein synthesis by essential amino acids. Because insulin levels enhance creatine uptake, ingestion of creatine after exercise with a carbohydrate and/or protein supplement is an effective way to increase and/or maintain muscle creatine stores.

Is Creatine Proven?

Creatine is one of the most extensively studied supplements. The consensus is that increasing muscle creatine stores through supplementation will improve muscle creatine content and exercise and training adaptations. Creatine represents one of the most effective and popular nutritional ergogenic aids available for athletes. Creatine has proved itself to be one for the most effective supplements to increase strength, muscle, and performance.2 New Creatine formulas blend fact-based science and nutritional technology. As a result, these supplements offer new alternatives to add muscle size and power you throughout your workouts. In this writer’s opinion, these new products yield superior results compared to creatine monohydrate. So should you take Creatine? The answer lies with you the reader, but you now are far better informed to make this decision.

1 Power Eating by Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, p. 162
2
Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements, Jose Antonio, PhD, Douglas Kalman, Phd, RD, Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, Mike Greenwood, PhD, Darryn S. Willoughby, PhD, G. Gregory Haff PhD., p. 424

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