Creatine is one of the most effective supplement on the market today. Believe it or not, it was surrounded by a ton of controversy when it first came out.
Does it really work? When it comes to its effectiveness there are 2 categories of people: responders and non-responders.
From my personal perspective (which is why I am writing this article) I can tell you it does work.
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
My experience with Creatine
I was first introduced to the creatine craze at the turn of the millennium. I remember I was still in the army reading about it in a bodybuilding magazine. Claims such as “huge gains”, “amazing performance”, “works as good as steroids” were very common.
As soon as I got out of the army, I wanted to give this a try. It was still expensive (at the time) and it required the user to do a loading protocol, a practice that is unnecessary and (pricey). However, the results were definitely worth it as I gained 5 kilos in the first month of use.
I have been using creatine for close to 15 years with almost no side effects. The only time I did experience something negative (some sort of allergic reaction on my neck) was when I used creatine with a phosphagen delivery system (phosphagen nitrates). I stopped taking that supplement on the same day and threw it out the window. The rash left the next day and I took 3 months off creatine before using it again.
It has been a decade ever since that incident and I have only used Creatine Monohydrate with no problems whatsoever.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a chemical produced in the liver and normally found in the muscles of the body (95% skeletal muscles and 5% brain muscle). It is also found in certain foods such as fish and meats. It is used to help supply energy to the cells of the body and it is made of 3 amino acids: Glycine, L-arginine and L-methionine.
It was originally created for improving exercise performance and muscle mass gains in athletes and is currently available in various forms, pills and powder. Skeletal muscle can only hold a specific amount of creatine. This ‘saturation point’ is what established the practice with the loading phase, which is still popular with a lot of the users.
Creatine is currently allowed by the Olympic Committee and the NCAA.
Creatine benefits include:
- Improved athletic performance when used in brief high-intensity exercise (such as weightlifting or sprinting). Also it can increase muscle mass due to its anti-catabolic properties.
- Improving living conditions in people with Parkinson’s disease as it can slow down some of the disease’s symptoms (in early stages) due to its neuroprotective properties.
- Increasing strength and endurance in athletes as well as people with heart failure or muscle diseases (such as McArdle’s or muscular dystrophy)
- Improving cognitive abilities such as memory and can also help with bipolar conditions or even depression. (The brain can also store creatine but the mechanism as to how it can help against depression is not clear yet).
- Can support bone health as it promotes osteoblasts by increasing ATP availability.
- Can increase DHT and Growth Hormone production in men and can increase testosterone levels by 15%.
When and how to take it
Most nutrition coaches suggest loading Creatine. To load up with Creatine monohydrate you would need to take 0.3g/kg body weight for 5-7 days, then continue with a minimum daily 0.03g/kg dose indefinitely.
The simplest way is to just take a dose before and after your workout. No loading, no fuss.
It comes in many different forms and delivery systems but the most famous form is creatine monohydrate (due to its low price). The most convenient form to use is micronized creatine as it is easier to dissolve in water.
To take creatine, either put it in your mouth and wash it down with water or juice (grape juice is recommended as it helps absorption by the muscles) or add it to your pre/post workout shakes.
Safety and side effects
With low or recommended doses, creatine is considered to be possibly safe.
- There are claims that high doses can potentially harm the liver and kidneys especially if not enough water is consumed but there is no substantial evidence.
- Usual side effects include nausea, cramping, and diarrhea usually after a very high dose. In this case, lowering the dose is advised.
- Other anecdotal side effects include alertness, aggression and even skin conditions such as pigmented purpuric dermatosis.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Since no studies can indicate the full safety of this supplement during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is best to avoid using creatine if you belong in this category.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Consult with your doctor before using this supplement especially if you have any of the following conditions or take the following medication/substances:
- Patients with kidney disease should completely avoid using creatine as it can be very stressful for the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure.
- Avoid using creatine along with medications that can harm the kidneys as there is a high chance of kidney failure. Check with your doctor for clearance.
- Caution is advised for diabetics and people taking blood sugar medication as creatine can interact with them. Check with your doctor for clearance.
Consult with your doctor before using this supplement and if you have any of the above conditions or take any of the above medication/substances.
Do I need to cycle off?
Some suggest that loading and cycling is required. Most of the time I do not suggest loading but there have been times when I used certain loading protocols with equally great results.
I do recommend however taking 1 month off, every 3-6 months of use.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
Creatine is a supplement that works. Even the non-responders admit that it works! Until this stay it remains the best supplement for strength and brain health as well as raising testosterone, DHT and Growth Hormone levels. It is also one of the most researched supplements in the industry in the last 30 years.
What is your experience with creatine? Are you a responder or non-responder? If yes, do you follow a loading protocol or not? Let me know in the comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Don’t forget to click on the Share button below and show your support to this blog. Until next time live your life: strong, healthy and free!
by Nick Sigma SHF
C.W.C, E.H, 200YRT
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