Creatine is one of the most popular supplements among bodybuilders and athletes. It’s popularity has increased due to its ability to increase strength, power, speed, endurance and lean mass. Creatine supplementation has been shown to improve athletic performance and recovery from training sessions.
When Should You Take Creatine?
The answer depends on your goals:
If you want quick gains then taking creatine daily would be ideal since it will provide fast results. However, if you are looking for longer term benefits then taking creatine once per week might be better.
If you want to get stronger then taking creatine every other day would be optimal. If you are trying to build muscle mass, then taking creatine twice per week is recommended since it provides a steady supply of energy and helps with fat loss.
In any case, there is no right or wrong way to take creatine; all that matters is what works best for your needs.
How Long Does Creatine Last?
Creatine lasts up to 12 hours, but only if taken within 24 hours after consumption. If you take creatine before then, it won’t last very long. The reason why creatine doesn’t last too long is because it requires the liver to convert L-Carnitine into Acetyl-CoA which is converted back into L-Carnitine.
Is it Better to Take Creatine with Glutamine, Beta-Alanine, Taurine, Caffeine, or a Pre Workout?
This is another question that has no “right” answer since it comes down to personal preferences. However, most people will agree that creatine should be taken with a pre-workout. This is because creatine and a pre-workout have synergistic qualities that provide an overall improvement in performance. Caffeine also helps improve explosive energy which is perfect for weight lifting and other high-intensity exercises.
Does Loading Creatine Work?
Yes, but it’s not necessary for most people. There are two types of creatine users: those who “load” creatine, and those who don’t load creatine at all. “Loading” creatine simply means taking double the recommended daily intake every day for one week. For example, if the recommended daily intake is 5g per day, then the loading method would entail 10g of creatine taken per day for seven days.
Since most people don’t want to spend more money on a product that they’re not sure about, it’s understandable that some people don’t load. However, there are benefits to loading creatine. For one, loading creatine provides faster saturation of the muscles. It also provides faster results on a day-to-day basis since more creatine is available for the muscles (essentially you’re getting a jump start).
Creatine and Pregnancy
There is no evidence to suggest that creatine supplementation is harmful during pregnancy or detrimental to the fetus. Pregnant women who take creatine see great improvements in their strength and endurance. Contrary to popular belief, creatine supplementation does not increase the risk of miscarriages or other adverse events in expectant mothers. In fact, studies suggest that expectant mothers with higher creatine levels give birth to infants with higher APGAR scores and experience fewer complications during labor.
Side Effects of Creatine
Creatine is one of the safest supplements available on the market. It has been taken by athletes for many years with no side effects. In a survey involving 5,000 athletes, only 5 reported minor complaints. This is less than 1% of all athletes who take creatine.
The most common complaint is weight gain. This complaint is somewhat true since creatine does cause weight gain but not in the way most people think. Creatine pulls water into the muscles and this increases the weight of the muscles (a good thing). However, the increase in muscle means the scale weighs more too (a little bad).
The second most common complaint is stomach pain. This is actually a “truth” complaint because creatine can cause stomach pain if you don’t drink enough water. When creatine pulls water into the muscles, it also pulls water into the digestive tract. Since the digestive tract is made of mucosa and cells, it needs to be hydrated.
The third most common complaint is diarrhea. This happens when creatine hinders the absorption of glucose from the small intestine. For this reason, it’s recommended that you do not take creatine with sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
The other common complaint is weight gain. Actually, this complaint isn’t common at all since most athletes who take creatine report weight gain. This weight gain is entirely dependent on the person and how his or her body reacts to creatine.
It should be noted that people with certain muscle myopathies should avoid creatine supplementation. Muscle myopathies are diseases that cause muscle weakness. Some of these myopathies such as McArdle and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy interfere with creatine’s ability to pull water into the muscles. Since creatine has no effect in these people, there is no need for them to supplement it.
Other muscle myopathies such as dermatomyositis and polymyositis are caused by muscle inflammation. Since creatine enhances the building of muscles and muscle strength, it should be avoided by people with these conditions.
When you stack a supplement, it means that you take two or more supplements at the same time. Most people who take creatine stack it with carbohydrates or protein. The theory behind this is that since creatine pulls water into the muscles, you need extra carbs to replace the glycogen lost during workouts.
Another common stack combines creatine with protein since the additional carbs increase insulin production and protein builds muscle.
These are just the most common stacks; there are many other combinations that can be taken with creatine. Your best bet is to research different stacks and find which ones are right for you.
When Creatine Doesn’t Work
Despite the numerous benefits of creatine supplementation, some people still don’t experience any results at all. This could be for one of two reasons: the person doesn’t respond to creatine supplementation or the person is taking a fake or counterfeit form of creatine.
There is no surefire way to tell if you’ll respond to creatine supplements.