I had this posted on BB.com a while ago, so I decided to post it here for those who need it...
If you're interested in bodybuilding and fitness, then you've no doubt heard of creatine before. It's the supplement industry's silver bullet; one of few products that actually works and has been proved time and time again in numerous studies. Although creatine has millions of users, most of them have no idea what they're consuming, and many of them have questions. That's the purpose of this thread, to answer all the questions, dispel some of the myths and to educate everyone on the great supplement known as creatine.
First let's start out with an article written by str8flexed (aka Layne Norton) for bodybuilding.com. This article is very well written and will tell you exactly what creatine is and will answer a few of the questions surrounding it.
Creatine Fact & Fiction by Layne Norton
I don't usually like to write whole articles about supplements because I believe diet and training to be far more important than any combination of supplements. However there are a few supplements that work, creatine being the most notable of all of them. It is the best selling supplement ever, period. Creatine sales totaled over 100 million dollars in last year alone! These sales were to everyone from middle scholars to the elderly. With this recent rush of creatine madness there has also been a wave of misinformation. I cannot believe the things I hear people say about creatine's effectiveness, about how it works, and about it's safety. There is some information floating around out there that is just untrue, well never fear, I am here to misinformation so here it goes.
What is it?
Creatine is a combination of three different amino acids, glycine, arginine, and methionine. That's it, it is nothing more than a combination of amino acids. I don't know how many people I hear talk about creatine and call it a steroid! I almost flip my lid when I hear it. Steroid? If that were the case it there would be a lot more 200+ pound people out there.
No creatine is not a steroid, it is totally different and works in a different manner. Creatine is also produced by the body and found in high protein sources of meat such as fish and red meat. It is NOT a lab synthesized compound, it is natural.
How Does it Work?
After creatine enters the body (or after it is produced by the body) it firsts binds with a phosphate molecule to form Creatine phosphate. Now here is where I'm going to lay a bit of biochemistry on you so I'll do my best to keep it simple. ATP (Adenine Tri-Phosphate) IS the body's energy source. When your body oxidizes carbs, protein, or fat it is doing this process in order to produce ATP. ATP is responsible for driving almost every body process there is. Hell ATP is even involved in creating ATP. ATP works like this... Energy is needed to drive bodily process. ATP provides this energy by hydrolyzing a phosphate group.
When a phosphate group is hydrolyzed, energy in the form of heat is given off and this energy is used to drive whatever process is being performed, for example muscle contraction. Because one phosphate has been lost from the ATP it is now called ADP (adenine Di-phosphate). The reaction is as follows ATP (hydrolysis)=ADP + Energy. Now you have free ADP as a product from the ATP hydrolysis. ADP is pretty much useless in the body unless it is converted back into ATP. Now this is where creatine comes into play. The phosphate bound creatine donates it's phosphate group to the ADP to re-form ATP! I assume you see where this is going now. By allowing you to return ADP to ATP creatine will increase your ATP stores, thus allowing you to train harder and longer.Creatine is a combination of three different amino acids, glycine, arginine, and methionine.
Another benefit of creatine is that creatine itself is a fuel source. In fact your body's first choice of energy when performing anaerobic activity (such as weightlifting) is your creatine phosphate stores. By supplementing with creatine phosphate you will increase these stores, thus giving you more energy for your workouts. There is another anabolic property that creatine holds and this is it's ability to hydrate muscle cells.1 When muscle cells are hydrated a few things happen. The most notable being an increase in protein synthesis.
The second being an increase of ions into the cell. Since the cell is holding more water, it can also hold more ions since the ions will follow water into the cell in order to keep the concentration the same. When more ions are present in muscle cells (the most important being nitrogen) muscle protein synthesis also increases.
How Safe is Creatine?
Since creatine has only been recently introduced to the market it is hard to determine whether or not there will be long term health effects from it's use. However it must be noted that to date there is not one, I repeat not one reputable study that shows creatine has any dangerous side-effects. 2 After eight years with no severe side effects I believe that one can begin to assume that creatine is relatively safe. I find it funny that most people I meet that are concerned about creatine's safety are also people who like to go out and drink and smoke on weekends...try to find the irony in that.
Is it Necessary to Load on Creatine?
No it is not necessary to load but it can help you see results faster. You see to get the full benefit of creating you must saturate your muscle cells with it. Using a small dose (5g), this will take up to thirty days depending on the individual's lean body mass. However using a loading dosage of 15-25g per day for 5 days, one can quickly saturate the muscle cells in this time period and then use a maintenance dosage (3-5g) for the remainder of their time taking creatine. (Recent research shows that a loading phase longer than 3 days is useless - Icex999)
Is it Necessary to Cycle Creatine?
Once again it is not necessary to do so but it can help. Your body has an internal equilibrium which you can swing in your favor for a duration of time, but over time that equilibrium will eventually swing back.
Meaning taking excess creatine for a short period of time (4-8 weeks) may temporarily increase your creatine phosphate stores but after awhile your body's feedback mechanisms will likely place some time of control on creatine phosphate storage to bring the levels back down to normal. This mechanism may be to decrease your body's own production of creatine or to downgrade the number receptors that admit creatine into the cell. Taking time off from creatine can help bring your body's equilibrium back into a state where in taking excess creatine will be beneficial again. I would like to make clear at this point that I know of no studies to back this theory up with, it could be right or wrong, I am just merely applying my knowledge of biochemistry to a frequently asked question to which there is no good answer to yet.
What is the Best Time to Take Creatine?
There has been much discussion on this but I believe taking creatine post workout is the most beneficial time for several reasons. Insulin helps drive more creatine into muscle cells, if you are a smart bodybuilder then in your post workout meal you should be eating foods that help spike your insulin, if this is the case, then taking creatine with this meal will help it's uptake into muscle cells. The body absorbs many nutrients better after a workout. Creatine will help refuel your body's low creatine phosphate stores.
Will Taking Creatine Before a Workout Give Me More Energy?
No, not exactly. Once again for creatine to work your muscle cells must be saturated with it. This takes at least a week to do, so doing it once before a workout will not make a difference. Now if your cells are already saturated with creatine then it will still not make a difference if you take it before you workout. Your body must process it first and that takes time. The creatine your body will use in the upcoming workout will come from the creatine phosphate stores already in the cells, not from the creatine you just ingested.
Does Liquid Creatine Work?
Most certainly not. Creatine degrades over time in water into it's waste product creatinine which is useless in the body and will simply be excreted. Companies who claim that they have stabilized creatine in a liquid are flat out lying to you. One of these companies (I believe Muscle Marketing USA) had a lab assay done on their liquid creatine and the assay found that it only contained 15% of the creatine on the label claim. I would like to further de-credify these companies by noting that one of the reasons they claim their product is so good is because their creatine does not make your retain water. WHAT? As I have stated earlier, this is one of the biggest benefits of creatine, this clearly shows their eagerness to prey upon the ignorance of the public.
What is the Best Type of Creatine?
Well if you want the most bang for your buck do not buy the creatine transports! These are enormously overpriced and you can make them yourself at half the price by buying your own online! A little tip... a mix of 50g whey protein and 50g dextrose has been shown to elicit the same insulin spike as a serving of Cell-Tech, and it is much cheaper I might add.
1. Stoll B, Gerok W, Lang F., Haussings. Liver Cell Damage and Protein Synthesis.
Biochemical Journal 287 (Pt 1) 217-222, 1992.
2. Kreider et. al. Perceived Fatigue Associated With Creatine Supplementation During the
Fall Collegiate Baseball Series of Division I Players. Journal of Athletic Training.
April-June 2001 v31 i2 pS 83.
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Moving on, I did a search for 'creatine' using the search function on the forum and went over most of the threads that were found (A search for 'creatine' yields 4,376 results). After reading most of the threads I assembled the following FAQ, covering questions that weren't answered by Layne in his article.
Creatine FAQ by Icex999
"I know that creatine with dextrose is good as a part of an after workout shake, but how about on rest days when you are just trying to keep the creatine level up in the blood. Ya still have to mix it with dextrose or whatever? Seems like some unnessesary calories if ya don't need it." - gbat
Yes, you're right it is indeed unneccesary calories. As a general rule of thumb, creatine should only be mixed with dextrose post-workout. Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones produced by the body, but it is also one of the most fattening hormones produced by the body. After a workout, the insulin spike drives more creatine into the muscles and most of the sugar (dextrose in this case) is shunted towards muscle + liver glycogen resynthesis. However, when not taken post-workout, all that extra sugar will probably end up in your adipose cells, unless you're in a fasted state. So to sum things up, on rest days, just take creatine by itself
"I am a creatine non responder. I heard that swole and V12 might work. Be4 I try one, has any non responder of regular creatine powder tried swole or V12? Which did you try and did you respond to it?" - asianlifter
Although the jury is still out on which of these products is the best of the two, so far lots of positive feedback has been coming in on both products. Many creatine non-responders say that these products worked great for them, so either one is recommended. A recent article in Flex magazine stated that this may be because of the glycocyamine content of each of these products. If you can find glycocyamine by itself, adding 3 grams of it to 5 grams of a plain, micronized creatine would actually be the best thing to do.
"I have been takin creatine for about 2 months now and have seen great gains in both stregth and also musclemass...When i stop this cycle in about a week, will i start to lose eitha the muscle or the stregth..I heard there has been debate about this. My friend says as soon as i go off it the water will be released and i will lose mass and stregth......" -
Although this topic hasn't been researched yet, here is the general agreement between those 'in the know'. Your strength will decrease, but nothing to worry about. You will still probably be able to lift heavier weights that what you were lifting when you started creatine. You will also lose a little bit of size, all of it water retention, nothing significant enough to be worried about it.
"I dont have any grape juice, is it ok to load it with water?" -dixie945466
Yes, it's fine to take creatine with water. Actually, as stated in the first question, I believe that the only time you should take creatine with sugar is post-workout.
"Is it possible to sniff creatine and get the same effects as drinking it? just wondering. im not really thinking of doing but im curious." - tre14
Yes, you COULD snort creatine, but the effects wouldn't be the same as drinking it. Most particles of creatine dust are just too big to make it through the nasal cavity into the blood stream. Even micronized creatine might be too large. This subject has never been researched, and I doubt it ever will be so I can't give you a solid answer. All I can say is, if you decide to snort it, it's a stupid idea, but best of luck! Keep 911 on speed dial just in case you congested to the point of suffocation....
"If dextrose is like table sugar then would it be ok to take my creating in my coffee?"
Dextrose isn't like table sugar. Dextrose has higher glycemic index than table sugar, which means it spikes your blood sugar faster and higher which in turn leads to more insulin being released, which will drive the creatine into your muscles. The coffee leads us to our next question....
"Will consuming caffeine while on creatine affect my results?"
The answer to this one is yes and no. Recent research on the topic has shown that caffeine affects the performance enhancing benefits of creatine. Therefore if you're taking creatine to get stronger or faster, then limit your caffeine intake while on creatine. However, consuming caffeine while on creatine does not affect the cell-volumizing aspect of the supplement. So if you're taking it to get bigger, taking it with caffeine is fine.
"Will creatine make my balls shrink/give me gynecomastia (man breasts)?" - Countless
No. The only things that do these dastardly deeds are things that act as external sources of testosterone, such as steroids and pro-hormones.
"ok i know that when you are taking creatine you need to drink alot of water but i was wondering that if i was just to drink about a gallon of water at night and only a little during the day would that be the same as spreading 2 gallons out throughout the whole day?"
Taking your water this way wouldn't affect your creatine results at all. However, I'd recommend drinking the water throughout the day as a constant water consumption throughout the day provides optimal hydration.
"Is superior to non-german creatine?"
Yes, but this is mainly because german creatine is micronized. Any kind of micronized creatine would do just fine.
"Which supplements brands use german creatine?" -Thi@go.
Anything that is labelled as creapure contains German creatine. Some companies may also state that their creatine is german, which is an obvious giveaway.
"How long is it ok for creatine to be in water?" - TranceNRG
If the water is pure (ph=7) and 4 degrees C, then 30 days. In pure water at 25 degrees C, 3 days. Even at a water pH of 3.5, it is 97.5% stable after 3 hours. (Answer courtesy of K(same))
Does anyone know how long you can be off of creatine without having to do another loading phase? -coconut
"I want to take creatine, but I have heard that once you start taking creating for an extended period of time that your body doesn't produce its own creatine after a while and your weak during that period. Is this true or can I start loading?" - BigBryan1
Your body will continue to produce its own creatine. Go ahead and start your creatine.
"Ok, I have read articles that advocate taking Creatine with juice, and some articles that Juice works against the Creatine.
So the question is, is either side correct, or is it even known how to take the Creatine?"
The side that advocated taking creatine with juice is right (grape is best). Although this isn't the best way to take creatine, it won't 'work against the creatine'.
"I've started taking it for the first time. It's not easy to take though. It makes me feel sick and 15 minutes after taking it I **** like an elephant. Is this normal? I am taking doses of 15-30g as recommended by the manufacturer as a loading phase." -itch
It is not normal to have to have gastrointestinal problems with creatine. Your stomach obviously isn't agreeing with such a huge dose of creatine. The loading phase isn't even necessary, so just drop down to a 'maintenance level' of 3-5 grams of creatine per day.
"Well, I just started bulking about 14 weeks ago and I've gained about 25 lbs with the help of creatine. Though I'd like to gain more, I'm starting to outgrow my pants, so I've decided to start cutting.
Should continue taking creatine? " - Gravity
Taking creatine while cutting is fine, and I'd actually reccommend it if you saw positive results from it while bulking.
Well that's all for now folks. Any more questions??? Post away...