Creatine is far and away the most researched muscle building supplement on the market today.There have been countless studies done on it and tons of scientific research proving its effectiveness. But does creatine really work as well as well as the supplement companies claim? What is the most effective type of Creatine? How much Creatine should you take? How fast does creatine really work? This article will answer all of these questions.
What type of results should I expect from taking Creatine?
Creatine works by helping to quickly replenish ATP in your muscle cells. ATP is what your muscles use for quick energy during short, intense bouts of physical activity. These ATP molecules get broken down fairly quickly, and if enough Creatine phosphate is not available to replenish the ATP, your muscles will fail. So more Creatine= faster ATP replenishment = your muscles being able to contract harder and longer than normal.
Ok… So it makes you stronger… But exactly how much stronger?
In a review of 22 studies, the group supplementing with Creatine monohydrate showed an average 8% gain in maximum strength and a 14% increase in the reps able to be done. Another review reported an average gain in strength and reps to failure of 5-15%, And an increase in sprint performance of 1-5%
So basically, if you had a max bench press of 225 pounds, and you then did a loading phase of Creatine and saturated your muscle cells, it would not be unreasonable to expect your max to increase to 245 pounds!! That’s an increase of 20 pounds on your max bench press in less than 2 weeks simply from supplementing with Creatine!
Increased Muscle Size
Countless studies have shown Creatine monohydrate to increase lean body mass. And although this is initially due to increased water storage inside the muscle cells, it is reasonable to assume that the increase in strength and recovery will lead to increases in muscle mass over time.
A typical amount of weight a new user of Creatine might experience is around 6 pounds in the first week of supplementation. This can be attributed to more water being pulled from the blood stream and into the muscle cells, causing them to look bigger and fuller.
In 2004, a study was done to measure the recovery effects of Creatine. Elite marathon runners were given Creatine before a long race. After the race was over, markers of muscle damage were recorded on both the Creatine supplemented runners, and the non supplemented runners. Muscle damage markers were far less in the group of runners who supplemented with Creatine.
Researchers concluded that Creatine somehow reduced muscle cell damage and inflammation during exhaustive exercise.
How Fast Does Creatine Really Work?
While some of its effects will be felt immediately after the first dose, creatine’s most powerful effects are seen once the muscle cells have been completely saturated. How quickly this occurs, depends on the route you take.
The first option is to complete a short loading phase. This is done by ingesting 20 grams of creatine per day (spread over 3 or 4 doses of 5-7 grams) for 6 days. This is the fastest option and effects will be felt sooner.
The second option is complete a longer loading phase, by ingesting 3 grams per day for 28 days.
Neither option has been shown to be more effective than the other over the long term. But there are some people who may experience GI issues, such as diarrhea, when they ingest too much creatine at one time. These people should opt for the longer loading phase. There have also been studies that show that ingesting Creatine with protein and carbs may increase its uptake, allowing you to saturate the muscle cells sooner.
After the loading phase,
simply ingesting 2-3 grams per day will keep the muscle cells saturated and continue the effects.
What type of Creatine should you take?
There are many different forms of creatine out there, made by hundreds of different companies. So figuring out which creatine to buy can be a daunting task. Creatine monohydrate has been studied far more than any other Creatine on the market. In fact, almost all studies done to test the benefits of creatine, were done with creatine monohydrate. And while many supplement companies may claim otherwise, there are very few, if any, studies that prove any other form of creatine is more effective. It is also the cheapest form of creatine.
So save yourself some money and go with Creatine Monohydrate.