Creatine was discovered in 1832 but wasn’t used as a performance supplement by the general public until 1993. It’s been the top-selling supplement since then for one reason, and one reason alone – it works.
However, creatine must be of the highest purity for it to function properly and to not cause gastrointestinal distress. It’s imperative to look for pharmaceutical-grade 100% pure creatine monohydrate. Make sure the company you purchase creatine from offers a third party lab result that proves it contains NO fillers, stimulants or sugar.
Do not be fooled by cheap brands. If you haven’t gotten results from creatine products in the past, it’s a good bet the quality of the product was inferior.
Creatine works by giving the muscle cell what it needs to store ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ATP is the energy source our muscles use for heavy-duty, short-term workloads (e.g., weight training, sprinting and wrestling). Creatine has been shown to increase strength by six percent with significant gains in lean mass in just 28 days taking 5 grams of creatine per day. 1 Conversely, endurance athletes will find the use of creatine to be a waste of time because it does not affect that energy system.
Creatine is perhaps the most researched supplement on the planet. It came under scrutiny in the late 90′s because of unfounded concerns with dehydration and cramping. These concerns were put to rest after many researchers found no link between creatine and dehydration among athletes. One study, in particular, found no adverse effects after 21 months of use. 2
New data on the benefits of supplementing with this incredible substance is still mounting. Canadian researchers compared the changes in insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) amounts in 2 groups of subjects. All the subjects performed at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity 3 -5 X’s per week for eight weeks. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: One supplementing with creatine, the other, an isocaloric placebo. Muscle biopsies were taken before and after the training period and analyzed for IGF-1 content. The creatine group had a 24% higher level of IGF-1. The creatine group also had a 23% higher increase in type II muscle fibers. These findings were independent of dietary guidelines. 3
What does all this mean for the average Joe? It means if you supplement with a pure micronized creatine, you’ll not only get the well known volumizing effect and the strength that comes with it, but added lean mass.
How should you cycle creatine? Here’s my recommendation:
20 grams per day for the first seven days as a rapid loading phase preferably in divided doses, e.g., 5 grams in the morning, before and after your workouts, and in the evening.
5 grams a day for five more weeks.
Take the next three to four weeks off, and start again.
Do you need to load creatine for the first week? No, but you’ll reach your saturation point quicker, which will allow you to train at a higher level for a longer period during a cycle. Findings indicate that loading with 20 grams of creatine monohydrate per day has been shown to enhance workload capacity between four and six percent. 4
1. (1999). Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13(3), Retrieved from JSCR
2. (2003). Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 244(1-2), Retrieved from MCB
3. (2008). International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 18(4). Retrieved from IJSNEM
4. (2012). Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(6), Retrieved from JSCR