Creatine is a wonder supplement and can be the best investment a young (or old) bodybuilder can make…if you find the right form of it! No other sports supplement is as well studied and back up by research as creatine. Find out what creatine is right for you and what dose is the best!
Creatine is a phosphate doner, which means it contributes a phosphate turning ADP to ATP. This process is how cells energize themselves. The mitochondria split off a phosphate from ATP and the energy released is used to power the cell. The left over ADP and AMP are recharged when a phosphate is taken from creatine monophosphate to regenerate the cell. Creatine phosphate was once sold as a supplement but it was found to be no better than creatine monohydrate back in the day. Phosphates are available in the diet and it appears that the numerous benefits of creatine may be in a pathway additional to this phosphate donation.
In addition to being a energy “battery” for the cells, creatine has many other ergogenic effects (health benefits). It can reduce myostatin (a protein that tears down muscle mass) which is a hue benefit to anyone lifting weights. This along with other myostatin blockers could really make you much bigger for life!
Creatine also can buffer acid build up in the muscles, which helps with endurance. Additionally, it increases brain power, reduces muscle aging and helps with glucose tolerance (type 2 diabetes). This make creatine an amazing health supplement for aging and general health.
Finally, creatine has a muscle volumizing effect (pulling water into the muscle). This is why it is so wildly popular among young people. Nothing feels better than the creatine “bloat” if you are a young person who is a hard gainer. This bloating effect wears off quickly as your body adjusts, but the first time you use creatine it can feel like you have just done a course of steroids!
- Creatine Monohydrate – the original form of creatine on the market in 1994. This form of creatine is very well studied, has a 99% bioavailability. It causes a bloating effect and all of the above mentioned effects.
- Creatine Phosphate – the second form of creatine introduced. CP has major energy enhancing benefits and may be better than creatine monohydrate for energy and endurance.
- Creatine Malate – creatine bonded to malate, which makes creatine more stable in solution and also could help increase energy due to the malate shuttle in the Kreb’s cycle. Does not have the bloating effect of creatine monohydrate.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester – a form of creatine that combines creatine with a fat soluble ester on the molecule. The claims were that it is more soluble than creatine monohydrate (not sure how you get better than 99%) and makes absolutely no sense. It may in fact be more slowly metabolized and might be a good compliment to standard creatine.
- Creatine Nitrate – creatine with a nitrate molecule attached. Nitrates open up the blood vessels allowing for more blood flow. There is not a ton of evidence that creatine nitrate has this effect however. Nitrates can be good for you but it remains to be seen whether creatine nitrate has any unique benefits.
- Creatine HCL – a creatine combined with hydrochloric acid. Supposedly this dissolves better in water but that simply shouldn’t matter. Sadly, most creatine HCL is “micro dosed” which means you are taking a very small amount of creatine, which likely does no good.
- Creatine Anhydrous – simply creatine monohydrate without the water molecule attached to it. This is “pure” creatine and requires a bit more processing than creatine monohydrate. It’s pretty much the same thing…
The old school way of taking creatine was to “front load” creatine into the cells by taking a large dose for 1 week and then backing down to a more normal maintenance dose. A typical “loading” dose of creatine would be 8-15g of creatine monohydrate per day for the first week and then backing down to 4-6g per day for another 6-8 weeks. This increased the bloating effect and supposedly loaded the muscle with creatine and water. More modernly people don’t “load” with creatine and take it with their preworkout.
The best dose of creatine is 4-8g per day with water or juice. It is found in red meat primarily but isn’t as well used as standard creatine supplements when taken via food. No matter what creatine you use, it’s best to take this dose to see the maximum effects. Be careful though because creatine HCL and creatine nitrate can have side effects at this level.
WRAPPING UP CREATINE
Creatine can be the best staple supplement you can use as long as you use the proper form and the right amount. Our suggestion is to use Creatine Monohydrate or a preworkout that contains enough of this nutrient. You can use APS Pure Creatine Monohydrate if you want simple creatine or use Wyked 3.0 from Liquid Labs if you want a preworkout with ample amounts of creatine.