Creatine Monohydrate Guide

A Practical Guide To Using Creatine

One of the few bodybuilding supplements which I can recommend using is creatine monohydrate. Most supplements have no scientific research showing if they work or how safely they work. Creatine is an example of a nutritional supplement with sufficient scientific research to show its safety.

What Are The Benefits of Creatine?

Anyone who wants to develop muscular strength or would like a significant increase in body weight should consider taking creatine supplements. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance which is produced in the human body. This is what makes it a safe supplement. If you take too much creatine then is required, your body will simply convert the substance in to creatinine and excrete it. No known research exists that lead scientists to believe that creatine supplementation would harm the liver or any other bodily organ over a prolonged period of time. That being said, it’s best to urge on the side of caution when using creatine, less is always more.

What Does Creatine Do?

Production of creatine in the body aids in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP fuels short-term energy output. This is very beneficial when you start lifting weights to build muscle mass. ATP is your body’s source of explosive energy. The increased energy will allow you to lift heavier which will result in greater gains in lean muscle mass. And no! Creatine is not a form of anabolic steroids.

Foods which contain creatine include red meat and fish. However, the creatine concentrations in food such as these food items tend to be small. One kilogram of beef contains only one gram of creatine. So, getting the recommended daily dose of creatine through whole foods proves unpractical. Therefore, taking creatine supplements is an easier way to consume optimal levels of dietary creatine.

Why You Need To Cycle Creatine Monohydrate

Muscles can hold only a finite amount of creatine. Research has shown up to a 50% increase in skeletal muscle creatine content following 5 days of supplementation. It is not known if this is the limit. In fact we know very little about different creatine dosing regimes. Creatine requires a receptor on the surface of the muscle cell to carry it into the cell. As soon as a person starts taking creatine, the body begins to get rid of some of these receptors. Also, the body stops producing its own creatine. This is the body’s way to try to maintain the status quo.

Therefore in the first few days your body will absorb about half of the ingested dose. After a week or so, however, it is likely that most of the creatine you ingest is not absorbed at all. That is why after an initial 5 day loading phase, very little creatine is required to maintain muscle levels. That is why cycling creatine monohydrate might be a good idea. After 6-8 weeks of supplementation you might take 2-3 weeks off and then begin with the loading phase followed by a maintenance dose for another 6-8 weeks. This time off will allow the body to begin to increase the number of creatine receptors and perhaps increase the body’s ability to absorb creatine.

How To Dose Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is available in tablet, gel capsule and powder forms. The tablets and capsules are perhaps more convenient because determining exact doses is easier. The creatine monohydrate powder, however, is typically cheaper and has no taste. The recommended dose is 15-25 grams (depending on body weight) per day for 5 days followed by 3-5 grams per day for 6-8 weeks. This seems to produce pretty good results in most people. Since creatine monohydrate is virtually tasteless it should be palatable in water.

If the initial loading phase and maintenance dose is not working for you, you can try a new way of taking creatine monohydrate suggested on Muscle Hack, which involves loading and abstinence of creatine every 3 days to help maximize muscle creatine concentrations. There is reason to suggest that a small maintenance dose of about 5 grams per day is next to useless for maintaining high creatine concentrations, so you may want to try this method.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine?

When a person takes steroids (which are actually synthetic forms of the hormone testosterone) the body begins to get rid of steroid receptors and stops producing its own testosterone. Because of this when a person stops taking steroids he may experience unusually low testosterone levels. In addition the receptor downregulation makes his body less responsive to the testosterone his body is producing. This may result in muscle loss. There is no equivalent process for creatine. Although creatine supplementation does cause creatine receptor downregulation, there is no decrease in skeletal muscle creatine content to below normal levels when a person stops supplementation.

Creatine Supplements Are Not The Only Answer

There are no magic bullets or guarantees when taking creatine monohydrate. No supplement will produce good results if you have a poor workout or diet plan. Perhaps you should begin by reevaluating your weight gain program. Supplements such as creatine and whey protein should never be the cornerstone of your overall plan. At best, even a very good “natural” supplement will make only a 20-30% difference in your rate of progress. Also, as with any supplement, individual results may vary.