Will creatine monohydrate turn you into a shredded superhero?
No. Probably not.
But can it help you amplify and accelerate your currently gym results? It absolutely can!
Do you want to put on mass faster?
Are you looking for an athletic “edge” that is both safe and legal?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then read every word of this article because I will share the truth about creatine monohydrate and exactly how it can help you achieve a stronger, better body.
Researchers Otto Folin and Willey Glover Denis first played around with creatine supplementation back in 1912 and they found that consuming it orally had the ability to substantially increase your body’s natural creatine stores.
A little later on, it was also reported that 400-meter hurdle champion Sally Gunnell had also been supplementing with creatine.
Again, it is all about creating an “edge”.
Does this mean that it was the primary supplement responsible for these victories and countless others of those taking it? Hell no! But the benefits of creatine are undeniable and this is why reading this article is going to help you take full advantage of one of the single most potent “legal” supplements on the market to enhance your body and fitness ability
The Truth About Creatine
Most people don’t know that creatine is naturally found in your blood. In fact, your body actually produces it and you also get it from the food you consume! It is there right now… this second. Coursing through your veins. It is in your kidneys (approximately .01%), in your brain (approximately .14%) and in the cellular fibers of your muscles.
Did you realize that?
Here’s the truly eye-opening thing…
Even vegans and other non-meat eaters have creatine coursing through their veins. Sure, it is to a much lesser extent than those of us who consume a solid protein rich diet as much of the creatine you get is from consuming animal protein, but regardless… it is there.
So to fear it is absolutely naive and completely unnecessary.
Having a lower circulatory creatine level is one of the reasons why vegans are not naturally able to put on as much solid muscle mass as meat eaters. And while they claim to have way more energy… it is usually (not always though) a “hyped-up” disguise for the low-energy they are experiencing on a daily basis some of which is stemming from those low creatine levels.
Creatine is actually a natural energy enhancer that helps supply energy to the cells of your body.
Without going into too much detail, essentially creatine works by increasing the formation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – the human body’s natural chemical “energy” transporter within cells.
In fact, those with lower creatine levels have shown marked improvement in everything from energy to mental capacity after supplementation.
One study published in Medicine and Science and titled “Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians” examined the impacts of creatine supplementation on 18 vegetarians and 24 non-vegetarians. Researchers found that creatine was substantially lower in the vegetarian group before supplementation.
After creatine supplementation was administered, the levels radically rose in the non-meat eaters to match those of the meat eaters.
Here’s some additional amazing facts about creatine if you are still skeptical…
Research has demonstrated that the blood of the average human is made up of 1% creatine.
If you have not been able to put on solid muscle and/or if you just can’t seem to gain any strength, I am here to tell you that creatine can help. Again, it is not going to turn you into a superhuman! But it can certainly significantly enhance your fitness and even your health in many ways.
One study involving short-term creatine supplementation in young men found that creatine monohydrate supplementation significantly up-regulated (by as much as 5 fold!) DNA replication and repair and cell survival!
And supplementing with creatine does not differentiate between male or female, as it has been shown to have significant impacts in both sexes.
The bottom line is simple, more “better looking” muscle and superior strength and power will make you far more impressive in appearance. That is the name of the game when it comes to lifting weights and training. “Gains” make this whole thing fun and exhilarating. It is what creates the addiction of going to the gym.
And this is why creatine can be a valuable asset in your supplement toolbox.
My Experience with Creatine
I first took creatine when I was a sophomore in high school.
I wanted to gain size and strength.
I believe it helped.
I went on to college to play division 1 football and I put on about 30 pounds of solid mass in just over a summer stint of training. I was taking a few main supplements… the primary of which was creatine monohydrate.
What I’ve learned is simple, much of that initial weight gain was certainly do to water…. as supplementing with creatine can indeed cause water retention. However, after that the impact of the supplement was evident in its ability to help me gain mass.
I’m telling you that steroids can make the male body look like a superhero and the female body look like a goddess if they are used correctly. BUT – you sure as hell don’t need them nor the negative health side-effects! Truth is, wisdom can utilize “natural” and “legal” substances in amazing ways.
Creatine And Increased Mass
You probably have a never-ending gnawing desire to increase size.
I’m telling you right now that nothing on planet earth that is legal is going to make up for your crap diet though.
Bottom line, to look like a king (or goddess) you need to eat like one.
Want to gain muscle mass, eat more! With that said though, supplementing with creatine can certainly assist you.
One study took 16 men and 16 women in their early 20’s who were involved in regular weight training and put them through a simple overnight fast after which the participants were randomly placed into two groups:
- Group A: Supplemented with creatine.
- Group B: Supplemented with a placebo.
Group A supplemented with 25 grams of creatine per day for 7 days (the typical loading phase) and then just a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day for the remaining 21 days of the study.
Group B supplemented with the placebo using the exact same protocol as Group A.
Researchers took measurements and found that Group A experienced significant increases in muscle creatine concentration, body mass and total body water.
Again, there are many studies that demonstrate creatine increases mass.
Many people will argue that much of that is “water” mass, however what they fail to realize is that the weight of the average adult human is approximately 80% water already! The gains in water weight are probably a healthy thing for many people do to the prevalence of dehydration through much of the population.
Creatine and Increased Power
Are you skinny and weak?
Or do you have “sticking-points” that you just can’t seam to bust through in the gym?
Some of you just want to pack on some size. Men and women alike.
Listen. Hark unto me – a focus on POWER will naturally take care of all of these other goals. Especially explosive power! The single greatest way to increase your explosive power is to lift heavier weight.
From a logical standpoint, more weight forces your body to increase power to push the weight and to do that, it must build muscle.
And this is where creatine really shines.
It acts as a anaerobic enhancer. Anaerobic exercise consists of activities like lifting weights.
It amplifies your ability to explosively push through a heavy rep. If I can throw more weight on the bar and push through those reps, then I can naturally build more muscle and strength faster.
This is not “rocket” science. It is just a natural, logical progression.
One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research titled “Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance” examined 22 previous studies on creatine supplementation accompanied by a strength training regimen and found that on average, those supplementing with creatine increased strength by 8% over those supplementing with a placebo when doing 1, 3 and 10 rep maximums.
On top of that, the same study found that creatine supplementation increased maximum repetitions by an average of 14%.
Again, if you are able to lift more weight for more reps, it is only natural that you will be able to put on more muscle.
Is Creatine Safe?
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most thoroughly researched supplements on the market.
Does this mean it doesn’t possibly have any negative side-effects?
Any supplement taken in extreme dosages is probably going to have negative side effects. Same things goes with many foods though too… even if they are healthy.
Many people falsely state that creatine is bad for your kidneys… but this has been disproven over and over again. In fact, research cited in Sports Medicine talks extensively on how all the media’s attempts to draw broad conclusions from isolated events of creatine supplementation have been proven false. Research has been done on athletes who supplemented from 5 days to 5 years with creatine, and no adverse kidney function was reported.
But this does not mean if you take it in extreme non-recommended dosages, that it would not cause damage. Again, the key is to be smart.
Those who get themselves into trouble are almost always trying to gain an advantage by overdosing. This happens all the time with supplements.
As creatine expert Nikhil Rao wisely points out in his article for T-Nation titled “Catching Up On Creatine”:
“The first step in avoiding these side effects is simple and economical: Don’t take more than you need.”
In other words, use common sense dumb dumb!
Most guys taking in upwards of 10 grams per day after the “loading” phase are taking in way too much. A couple grams per day is all you probably need to get noticeable results. And honestly, you probably don’t even need to take a loading phase to get results. I’ll talk about that shortely.
Nikhil goes on to point out two other areas where people get themselves into trouble when supplementing with creatine:
“The second step is to avoid drinking creatine before you work out. The hygroscopic effects will predominate in either your gut (creating bloat and diarrhea) or your bloodstream (leaving you with dried-out muscles, tendons, and ligaments).”
I have to admit, that I personally have no issue taking creatine both pre and post-workout. But one thing that is noteworthy is that research has demonstrated that supplementing with creatine is most effective post workout in gaining muscle mass and bench strength.
And finally Nikhil points out:
“The third and probably most important step is to mix your creatine fully. Most of us, myself included, drink our creatine with some of the powder still visibly floating around in the water. At this point, even though you candrink it down, it hasn’t fully dissolved. That means it’s going to suck water from the places where water is supposed to be.”
It is really quite simple, if you respect the supplement and take it as directed, you will probably never even notice so much as a cramp.
It is also important to note that you need to drink plenty of water when supplementing with creatine as it can cause dehydration if you do not.
Creatine Monohydrate Vs. All Other Forms Of Creatine
I won’t get into a long discussion here.
There are many other forms of creatine besides monohydrate, but it is worth nothing that creatine monohydrate is the form used in most of the studies to date.
To name a few:
- Creaine Citrate: Bound to citric acid. Might be faster absorbing, but no more effective.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester: More soluble than monohydrate, but not proven better.
- Micronized Creatine: Just creatine that has been processed more to reduce particle size.
- Buffered Creatine: Supposed to outperform monohydrate due to higher PH-level, but study has shown otherwise.
- Creatine Malate: Bound to malic acid. The idea is that because malic acid has been shown to increase performance that binding it to creatine would improve the creatine.
When it comes down to it, monohydrate is the “gold-standard” when it comes to creatine as far as I’m concerned.
It is by far the most heavily researched and also by far the cheapest!
The only thing I will warn you about is that you want to make sure you go with a reputable company. This should be common sense when supplementing, but I still see guys going with bottom rack products in order to save a couple bucks.
Just not worth the risk in my book, especially considering monohydrate is so damn cheap.
How To Take?
Ok. So look. Most of the creatine monohydrate supplements you buy are going to recommend a “loading” phase followed by a “maintenance” phase.
The standard loading phase is usually 20 grams of creatine for the first 5 days to get it “loaded” into your muscles and then a reduced intake of around 5 grams per day.
- Loading phase: 20 grams per day (days 1-5)
- Maintenance phase: 5 grams per day (days 6 and beyond)
Here’s the thing though, you don’t actually need a “loading” phase to get the benefits of creatine.
What a loading phase does is allow the creatine to build up within your muscle cells faster so you can notice faster results. As Jeremey Duvall points out in his article for Muscle and Fitness “Do I Need To Load Creatine?”:
“You could not load but it would take a lot longer to reap the maximum effectiveness of creatine.”
This does not mean that you wouldn’t get results though. So if you are concerned about dosages over 5 grams, don’t feel like you have no choice but to load.
Actually, I prefer to take my creatine in smaller doses of 5 grams or less per day (after my workout) because I realize that over the course of a couple of weeks to a month it will build up in my system just fine.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t use a loading phase?
It just means you should test and see how your body responds and make adjustments.
The point is that you don’t need to take a lot of creatine to get benefits. Sure, the more you take up-front the faster the results will probably be, but it isn’t necessary.
Can creatine monohydrate help you get better results?
You bet it can.
It is both a cheap and highly researched supplement that can help you push through sticking points and pack on some needed mass as well.
One of the biggest things I’ve personally noticed is the extra strength I get from taking the supplement. Especially when it comes down to pushing through a last rep on super heavy sets. It just seems to give me an extra energy boost.
If you did not read this article in full, go back and do that so you understand the research behind it and more importantly, how to take it.
If you have any questions, drop them in the box below, I will answer quickly.