5 Grams of Creatine a Day Is All You Need!
We've known for a long time that creatine monohydrate works. It is the most researched supplement. Fair enough, but there have been a lot of misconceptions about how to take creatine, even in our previous, popular article.
Let's make everything clear.
How does creatine work?
Creatine makes you stronger. If you respond to it well (more about this later), you can use heavier loads in the gym, and therefore you will be able to pack more muscle on your frame. This is how creatine can make your physique better.
Simply put, while exercising, the body uses ATP as it is the main energy source of the muscles. Just like glycogen (the carbohydrate stored in muscles), stored ATP can be depleted during a strenous workout, actually, the body runs out of ATP faster than anything. The result is fatigued muscles, and you will not be able to train anymore with the same intensity and weights.
After resting, ATP is created once again, the stores are filling up slowly. Creatine accelerates this rate of regeneration.
That means you will gain back your strength faster when using creatine, and you will also be able to do more reps without decreasing the number of weights.
Other benefits of creatine:
- increases the levels of various anabolic hormones in the body (IGF-1)1, which can lead to a more muscular body
- hydrates muscle cells (aka cell volumization), science proved that this also increases muscle mass2
- can decrease the degree of protein catabolism
Studies have also shown that not everybody responds to creatine the same. But that's nature: we were all born a little bit different.
The easiest way to find out how you react to creatine is to try it out. If your weight got a little bit heavier, you got stronger, after one month of taking, then obviously creatine works for you. If not, the cause could be that your body is already full of creatine because of your genetics and/or you have less type-II muscle fibers.
Even if you belong to the so-called non-responder group, you should still consider taking creatine. Besides making you stronger, creatine offers various health benefits (more about this later in an upcoming article).
Bye-bye loading phase, all hail to 5 grams a day!
In our previous 2014 article about creatine (Creatine supplementation: the Builder way) we advised taking 10 grams of creatine every day even in the maintenance phase. Since, studies showed that it is enough to take 5 grams of creatine (half the amount we advised before) to maximize its effect.
While the popular loading phase (20 grams of creatine for 5-7 days, then the maintenance phase, then pause) works also, we are still saying that you don't need it, since it is much more complicated. You will reach the same results with the concept of maintenance and with the concept of loading. So why not walk the simpler path which is just as effective? Just take 5 grams a day, every day, and that's it. This ain't rocket science.
There is another good, relatively new study to look for: you don't have to pause creatine supplementation at all. Creatine has no side effects in healthy individuals, and if you take it continuously throughout the year, your strength stemming from creatine will suffer no drawbacks along the way.
When to take creatine?
Our previous article is still correct in this regard: take creatine before or during carb-rich meals, and according to science3, when protein is present on your plate amongst carbohydrates or in a shaker, that is the best. That means that it's best to take creatine mixed in your post-workout shake, or before a meal with 5 dl of room temperature water.
Any side effects of creatine?
If you are healthy, then no. Creatine might increase hair loss if you have a family history of hair loss, but if that's not the case, the supplement won't affect your hair at all.
The only side effect of creatine is the slight increase of body weight, but that is normal because creatine increases the water content within the muscle cells. There are some registered stomach upsets and diarrheas, but only when subjects took creatine in excessive amounts (as much as 50 grams a day), or didn't drink enough water to it, or during the day.
You need 1 dl of water for every gram of creatine. If you follow this simple rule, creatine won't cause any problems for you. Don't worry about the slight increase in body weight, because that extra weight is not fat, it is just more water in your muscle cells. And this won't change the look of your physique.
To sum up the most important things:
- take 5 grams of creatine a day, nobody needs more, doesn't matter if you are 50kg or 100kg, male or female.
- take creatine before big meals or with your post-workout shake
- the loading phase is not necessary, but it also works
- creatine is safe, it has no side effects if you take it correctly and you don't have a family history of hair loss
- you do not have to pause taking creatine, you can take it year-round
- not everybody responds to creatine the same, you have to try it out to see how it performs in your body
1: Increased IGF mRNA in human skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation
2: Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease.
3: EFFECTS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION DURING OFF-SEASON COLLEGE FOOTBALL TRAINING ON BODY COMPOSITION AND STRENGTH
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