All information about the famous Creatine
In this guide you will find out not only what Creatine is, but also what it does, how it is done, which are the different types (and the best ones), how to take it and much more.
We also answer some common questions about this supplement and at the end you also have the comments area in case you have any specific questions.
So let's get started.
Note. If you simply want to know which are the best Creatine supplements on the market, see the article The best Creatine supplements (and the worst too).
What is Creatine?
When you hear this name, you probably immediately associate it with your supplement, however, it is present in the meat and fish you consume, and your own body is capable of producing it through some amino acids.
As you may have already noticed, it is not a poison produced in a laboratory, but a natural compound that occurs naturally in the human body.
Is it a non-essential organic compound? Why is the body capable of producing it? with a very important role in energy supply.
It began to gain a lot of popularity in the 90s, when more and more studies began to come out proving its effectiveness, and more and more athletes began to use it.
What does Creatine do and what is it for?
After ingestion, creatine is stored in the muscles as creatine (Cr) and phosphocreatine (CP).
And what is phosphocreatine?
Phosphocreatine is creatine with a phosphate group, and this can provide energy, participating in the ADP-ATP cycle.
First of all, ATP is our immediate source of energy, and once used, it turns into ADP.
What will phosphocreatine do?
Phosphocreatine will donate a phosphate group to ADP, and thus, we quickly have ATP again to do more repetitions.
ATP-CP depends on creatine phosphate reserves, which are very low, hence the short duration of this energy system.
By using a Cr supplement, you will increase your creatine phosphate reserves, and thus, you will be able to produce ATP for longer.
This is the great benefit of supplementation.
More creatine = More ATP = More repetitions = More results
Another benefit is the increase in water within the muscles.
This will not only give your muscles greater volume, but will also help with muscle growth. (ref)
So, but does it really work?
Let's see what the studies tell us.
Five days of Cr supplementation increased body weight and fat-free body mass in resistance-training men who were classified as responders.
Maximal strength, and total strength during an isometric bench press maximum repetition test were also significantly greater in the responders compared to the placebo group.
Cr supplementation during arm strength training leads to greater increases in muscle strength of the arm flexors, arm muscle area, and fat-free mass than strength training alone.
Of the 22 studies analyzed, the average increase in muscle strength (1, 3, 10 or repetition maximum [RM]) after Cr supplementation plus resistance training was 8% greater than the average increase in muscle strength after ingestion of placebo during resistance training (20 vs 12%).
Similarly, the average increase in weightlifting performance (maximum repetitions at a given percentage of maximum strength) after Cr supplementation plus resistance training was 14% greater than the average increase in weightlifting performance after placebo ingestion during resistance training (26 vs. 12%).
The increase in bench press 1RM ranged from 3 to 45%, and the improvement in bench press weightlifting performance ranged from 16 to 43%.
Well, it seems so.
Different types of creatine
This is the most common form of creatine, and also the one that serves as a basis for comparison in terms of quality and effectiveness.
Most studies carried out regarding the benefits of this supplement use the monohydrate form.
CM is composed of 88% creatine (12% is monohydrate), and can also be micronized, thus reducing particle size and increasing solubility in water.
There is also the Creapure form, which although it is just CM, is a patented form with strict quality standards, and is often chosen in scientific studies.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
The EEC was an attempt to develop a superior alternative to the monohydrate form, and it is probably the biggest disappointment of all the alternatives.
This type is not only not superior to CM, but the different studies that ended up being published in relation to this formula show that it is much inferior. (ref)
CEE is easily converted into creatinine, not creatine, and is therefore a formula to avoid.(ref)
This is yet another form of creatine supplementation, and fortunately, it is not very popular.
The liquid version suffers from the same problem as CEE, that is, it is easily converted into creatinine, but in a different way.
Creatine, when in a liquid state for several days, is converted into creatinine and thus loses the benefits that would be expected with this supplementation.
Kre-Alkalyn is a patented form of CM, where the difference is the pH, which in this case is higher.
This formula was promoted (and still is) for some time due to its supposed greater absorption, greater increase in creatine in the muscle and fewer side effects, in addition to the fact that a lower dose would be needed to obtain these results.
Unfortunately this is not true and This one study shows that there is no advantage in using the Kre-Alkalyn form over normal CM.
Creatine citrate is more soluble in water than monohydrate, however, this does not have a major impact on the effectiveness of the supplement.
This one study shows that there is no significant difference between supplementation with creatine citrate and creatine monohydrate.
It is practically equivalent in results to CM.
Like the citrate form, the malate version is more soluble in water than CM, however, there are no studies that show that this formula is superior to the classic monohydrate.
It is most likely similar, just like the citrate variant.
This is a form that has been promoted recently, as being supposedly superior (as always) compared to CM, due to its supposed greater bioavailability.
Theoretically, the only advantage this form could have would be the need for a lower dose compared to CM, however, there are no studies to prove this supposed advantage.
What is the best creatine?
Not only is it the most studied, with its effectiveness more than proven, it is also extremely cheap.
You find it easily here.
Although this article is about creatine in general, from here on we will focus on the monohydrate form, as it is the most studied form and probably the best choice.
How to take creatine
The so-called loading phase is often used in creatine supplementation.
What is this charging phase?
This loading phase consists of using a high dose of this supplement during the first 5 days, to ?fill up? the reserves in the muscle more quickly, and thus begin to obtain results more quickly.
The charging phase is not mandatory, it just means you start to notice the effects more quickly.
To carry out the loading phase, you must use a dose of 20g during the first 5 days of supplementation, separated into 4 doses. In other words, you will take 5g of creatine four times throughout the day, for 5 days.
After that, you move on to the maintenance phase.
What dose should I take?
After the 5 days of the loading phase, in which you use 20 grams per day, the dose increases to 3-6g, once a day.
If you do not intend to do a loading phase, start with this dose.
The most common number is usually 5gHowever, if you are very thin, 3g to 4g is enough to get good results, while if you are heavier, you can use 6g.
It is important to highlight that supplementation is done every day, that is, nothing to take only on training days.
When should I take creatine?
Creatine after training is the best time to use it, preferably with a milkshake whey protein and simple carbohydrates such as dextrose or maltodextrin.
This is the time when you will achieve the best results, due to the action of insulin. (ref)
A good post-workout would be a shake with whey protein, maltodextrin/dextrose and creatine.
On a non-training day, you can take it with any meal, preferably with carbohydrates and proteins.
How long do I take it?
There are several protocols for using this supplement, however, There is no ideal protocol, and no perfect duration.
The most common is to see cycles of 4 to 8 weeks, however, It is not mandatory to stop creatine supplementation after 8 weeks.
It is possible to continue for longer, as long as you respect the recommended doses.
In other words, if you like the results, you can continue supplementation for more than 8 weeks.
Creatine side effects?
Creatine is considered a safe supplement in healthy people, and according to This one study, Even after 21 months of taking this substance continuously, no problems arose.
The side effects that may arise usually occur when the dose is too high or water consumption is too low.
These side effects usually include nausea and diarrhea.
Ah, but I was told it's bad for your kidneys, is that true?
No, according This one study, after 12 weeks of supplementation, there were no problems with the kidneys.
And the liver, is it going to ruin my liver?
Neither, according to This one study, there were no problems with either the kidneys or the liver in the long term.
Important: This applies to healthy people, people with existing problems should consult their doctor before trying this supplement.
Water, fluid retention
Creatine is an osmotically active substance, and when it is stored within the muscles, it ?drags? water with you.
This means two things:
- It is important to consume a high amount of water when taking this type of supplementation, to achieve better results.
- This is where the volumizing effect of creatine comes from, dragging more water into the cells than would be normal, and thus the muscle increases.
It is normal for you to gain 1-2kg at the beginning due to water retention within the muscle. (ref)
Consume at least 2 liters of water per day.
What to expect from creatine?
If you've never used this supplement, you're probably curious about what it can do for you in practice.
What to expect:
- Strength increase
It will make you lift more weight and do more repetitions.
- Short and medium term weight gain
Get ready to gain 1 to 2kg at the beginning of supplementation, it's normal, it's not muscle, it's water.
After that, thanks to the increases in strength, you will also gain weight in muscle mass, if you follow it with a good diet.
Important: Creatine is not an anabolic steroid, so don't expect similar results.
And when to stop taking it?
First of all, when you stop taking it you continue to have high reserves for 30 days or more, that is, during that period you continue to benefit from this supplementation.(ref)
What will eventually happen when reserves return to normal is:
- You will probably lose 1 or 2kg, this is the weight you gained at the beginning, it's not muscle, it's water. Remember that this supplement increases the amount of water inside the muscle.
- You will probably lose some strength, but nothing substantial.
When your creatine levels return to normal, you will end up losing the great benefit of this supplement on the ADP-ATP cycle.
However, it is likely that the strength you will have at the end of the supplement cycle will be greater than what you had at the beginning.
And finally, The muscle mass gains you make during supplementation will not disappear when you finish.
You only lose some muscle volume due to the increase in water in the muscle caused by this supplement.
Creatine before training?
There is no problem with taking this supplement before training, just don't expect immediate action, because it doesn't work that way.
Unlike caffeine, which has an immediate effect and you take advantage of that effect during the day's training, creatine works cumulatively.
It's like you're filling a swimming pool with water.
It fills up slowly, and when it's full, then you can dive in and swim, that is, take advantage of the pool.
With this supplement, you fill your creatine and phosphocreatine reserves slowly, and when they are full, you get all the benefits.
Don't expect to fill your reserves in a day or two.
How long until you notice effects?
The benefits begin to appear after 1 to 2 weeks.
It is also important to highlight that there are people who do not react to creatine supplementation.
Creatine is probably the most effective supplement on the market for those looking to increase muscle mass.
In addition to being the most effective, it is also cheap and combines well with other supplements, such as whey for example.
If your goal is to increase muscle mass, supplementing with Creatine is undoubtedly a good bet.
What is the best creatine? See the article The best Creatine supplements (and the worst too).
If you have any questions, use the comments area below.