The effects of creatine in bodybuilding

Who hasn’t heard of creatine? It is one of the most popular supplements among athletes in many disciplines. And for good reason, it helps improve physical performance in sports that require short and intense efforts.

It is also one of the most studied supplements since the early 90s, not only for its effects on muscles but also for its medical applications.

This article, which is based on numerous scientific studies , provides an update on this substance and is intended to be a complete guide for anyone wishing to supplement themselves.

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What is creatine?

Creatine is not a protein but an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in the body and in muscles . Every day, our body synthesizes creatine from amino acids to supplement what is provided by the diet. It is found in meat, fish and even in certain plants, and this represents about 1 gram of pure food creatine. For example, a kilo of red meat contains about 5 grams of creatine! Our body takes care of manufacturing the rest, about 2 grams per day.

Creatine is stored in the muscles and is used for energy . When you exercise for short, hard, muscles use energy from a series of chemical reactions that involve ATP (adenosine triphosphate). And creatine is a precursor to ATP!

Taking creatine in supplement form will increase the creatine stored in the muscles, which nevertheless remains limited. There will be more ATP to fuel the muscles, and this will delay muscle fatigue. Taking a creatine supplement will therefore help you to fill the stocks to the maximum and to saturate the muscle.

In practice, you will be able to train harder by extending the exercise a little bit , and that will translate into better performance. But we will see later that that is not all, and that creatine also acts indirectly on both muscle gains and strength .

Where can I find creatine in food?

As you have seen, creatine can come from our diet . There are foods that contain a high amount of creatine, but it is not found in isolated form except in supplements.

For example, meat contains around 5 grams of creatine per pound. In fact, the name “Creatine” comes from the Greek word “kreas” which means meat or flesh. The beef provides 4.5g and the pork 5g. The fish are not left out with the herring which peaks at 6.5g / kg, the salmon 4.5g, the tuna 4g and the cod 3g.

Traces of creatine are also found in milk (0.1g / kg) and in certain plants.

Why take creatine powder?

If you want to boost your creatine levels through food, then you will need to swallow a hell of a lot of meat or fish , and the protein and fat that goes with it. Difficult to take a dose of 5 grams of creatine equal to 1 kilo of meat or 500g of herring! The easiest and most convenient is to use creatine-based food supplements.

If you practice strength sport – or bodybuilding – and your protein intake reaches 1 to 2g / Kg / Day, count on a daily intake of 0.25 and 1 gram of dietary creatine. So it’s difficult to do a charging phase … And if you are vegetarians or vegans, the intake will be almost zero.

Once again, supplementation with creatine makes perfect sense when you read these figures.

Creatine Creapure®

Creatine Creapure®

  • check Creapure®, the benchmark creatine – 100% pure
  • check Creatine builds muscle strength
  • check Packaging: 180 capsules, 150g and 1kg
  • check Dosage: in powder (3.4g / day) or in capsules (5 capsules or 3.4g / day)

What are the effects of creatine on muscle mass?

Creatine is mainly used to boost the performance and strength of athletes . But be aware that it also acts on body composition by increasing muscle mass . You will gain muscle volume.

Studies report gains of 0.5 to 1.6 pounds in the first two weeks of a creatine treatment, mainly water retention in muscle tissue. A small weight gain therefore, variable depending on the size. Then, past those initial gains, you will actually gain muscle. Creatine will allow you to do more intense workouts , which will build your muscles as long as your nutrition is adequate.

Studies also show that it raises growth hormone levels, which helps build muscle. She plays, in a way, on several tables!

The picture is idyllic, but not perfect either. Note that some of the users do not seem to react to taking creatine. Genetic reasons, reserves too full, naturally high rate, low retention, the “non-respondents” will obtain little or no results at least “on the surface”.

What is creatine used for in bodybuilding?

Taking creatine has been shown to be effective in improving performance in various sports, particularly those requiring repetitive, brief and intense efforts. For example, in one study creatine improved potency and peak strength by 5-15% ! So, along with protein like whey, it is an ideal supplement for those who build muscle.

Concretely, during a weight training exercise, you will be able to do more repetitions than usual if your creatine stocks are at their highest. As explained above, the initial water retention will give you more muscle volume in the short term, and taking it continuously will promote long term gains.

What is creatine monohydrate used for?

Creatine monohydrate is the classic form of creatine. It has been proven for over 30 years and most studies have been done on this form of creatine. We have seen new forms appear that are supposed to exceed the previous ones, but it is not known whether these are real scientific advances or unjustified marketing arguments.

The easiest way for those who want to test creatine is to use classic creatine monohydrate. This will ideally be labeled Creapure. Creapure comes from a German pharmaceutical laboratory (AlzChem), the world leader. Low-end creatines can contain impurities that can be harmful to your health. The creapure label guarantees you creatine of maximum purity.

When to take creatine monohydrate?

When is the best time to take creatine monohydrate? Before or after training? But also how much to take? What is the optimum dosage? Let’s see it point by point.

How much creatine per day?

For a long time, it was recommended to do a loading phase which consisted of taking 20 grams of creatine distributed over 4 intakes for 5 days. Then you had to do a longer maintenance phase where you took 5 grams of creatine in a single dose every day.

Nothing very scientific behind these recommendations put in place mainly to save time during the studies in question. The definite advantage was that muscle saturation was achieved quite quickly, and the effects of creatine were felt very quickly.

Nowadays, it is recommended to take smaller doses , 3 to 5 grams, and not to do a loading phase. A study shows that taking 3 grams of creatine over 28 days gives the same results. In short, it only takes a little patience to achieve the same result.

The advantage is that you avoid taking large doses of creatine, most of which will have to be eliminated by the body, which puts extra work on your organs. Large doses of creatine can also cause digestive problems in some people. All the more reason to wait a little longer for the benefits of creatine.

Of course, if you have a competition coming up and you have little time left, the charging phase makes perfect sense.

Creatine: before or after workouts?

This is a question that comes up often. Should I take creatine before or after exercise? Research shows that creatine taken immediately after exercise gives better results. Lean mass gain is almost doubled in young, trained men.

If you are weight training, you can mix creatine with your post workout snack or meal . In general, practitioners take proteins like whey with more or less carbohydrates according to their needs. Just add your dose of creatine to their post-exercise shake, especially as these nutrients promote absorption. Be careful, however, not to prepare your shake hours in advance, since creatine tends to degrade on contact with water .

Other authors suggest that you take creatine as little as possible to improve absorption. It is then sufficient to distribute the intake over several meals throughout the day.

Why take creatine breaks?

Is it better to cycle creatine or take it continuously? Previously, athletes would cycle for two months of creatine followed by a one-month break. This is for the purpose of avoiding stagnation. But in fact, it is quite possible to take creatine on a continuous basis.

If you exercise intensely for several months, stay on creatine. If you’re not working out or the period is less intense, take a break. It all depends on your activity and your schedule.

Some people argue that it is nevertheless necessary to cycle the creatine intake to prevent muscle receptors from getting used to and to restart endogenous synthesis (the one the body makes). Indeed, after several months of taking the progress tends to stagnate. Take a month’s break, and resume later. Your strength and muscle gains will exceed those obtained in the previous cycle. But don’t worry: we don’t lose the strength and muscle volume acquired thanks to creatine during the previous months.

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What to take creatine with?

As discussed earlier in the article, you can take creatine with your meals as small as possible. On workout days, mix creatine into your post-exercise snack.

Creatine and whey

Whey and creatine are two interesting supplements for athletes because they promote muscle gain and boost performance.

Muscles need protein after intense training. It is essential for gaining muscle. Creatine allows you to train with more intensity , but in order to reap the benefits of these stronger sessions it is necessary to consume enough protein, not forgetting carbohydrates to meet your calorie needs.

The ideal is to combine your whey intake with that of creatine after exercise. But also don’t forget carbohydrates for recovery . These can be consumed throughout the day and not necessarily after exercise in your shake.

You should know that muscles retain more creatine when it is consumed with sugars and proteins. So forget about creatine on an empty stomach before exercise! Bad idea…

Creatine and BCAA

In general, BCAAs are used around training, before, during and after exercise. You can combine creatine and BCAAs without any problem . But as noted above, whey and carbohydrate management are still the foundation for building muscle.

Creatine or glutamine

Glutamine is a fairly popular food supplement among athletes. We attribute many virtues to it. It improves protein and glycogen synthesis, increases the rate of growth hormones after exercise and strengthens the immune system. In contrast, there are few studies that show it improves performance. If you have to choose between creatine and glutamine, and your goal is strength, muscle gain, or performance in your sport, go for creatine.

Our opinion on creatine

Creatine is a supplement that has lasted and won. Frowned upon and almost taboo in French sport in the 2000s, often associated with doping cases, it took almost 15 years to rehabilitate it, while mentalities change.

In fact, you should know that creatine is used extensively by high level athletes but also by amateurs. Indeed, it is not a dopant and it does not really present any risks. Why deprive yourself of it? The media have also changed the way they treat the subject and no longer cry foul. This thanks to athletes like Florent Manaudou who had the courage to burst the abscess and make people realize that it is a banal supplement.

Not found in big sports store chains back then, creatine can be found everywhere nowadays even in successful discount stores!

So much for the form!

Basically, don’t see creatine as such a potent magic drug as anabolic steroids. It will not explode your athletic performance and give you an exceptional physique. You can expect a small improvement in your strength, performance and gains of 1 to 3 pounds in muscle size . This is still honorable, because in practice, many supplements have little visible effect.

Creatine Creapure®

Creatine Creapure®

  • check Creapure®, the benchmark creatine – 100% pure
  • check Creatine builds muscle strength
  • check Packaging: 180 capsules, 150g and 1kg
  • check Dosage: in powder (3.4g / day) or in capsules (5 capsules or 3.4g / day)

Dosage and dosage

In France, the maximum recommended dosage of creatine is 3 grams per day. A dose to be distributed over the day, during meals, for better absorption.

It is advisable to place take it after training , and avoid taking it before training because it has a mild hypoglycaemic effect . Avoid preparing it in advance by mixing it with water as it can degrade.

It is recommended to drink enough water, at least 2 liters of water per day as it could worsen dehydration in the event of high heat.

As a precaution, people with diabetes, those with kidney problems, pregnant women should avoid taking creatine.

Side effects

Creatine is an effective and healthy aid to improve the performance of athletes. There is no reason not to supplement creatine if you are healthy. Most studies have not found strong evidence linking creatine intake to deterioration of digestive, cardiovascular, muscle, kidney or liver function.

In a minority of people certain side effects are possible such as cramps, headaches, digestive bloating (especially with high doses) and a risk of hypoglycemia for advanced practitioners if it is taken before the effort. Also, taking creatine can increase creatinine levels naturally but without harmful effects on the kidney.

The only restriction to this recommendation remains in the limit of knowledge of one’s own health. Indeed, some people have a reduced kidney function to a certain extent without knowing it, patients who ignore themselves in a way. But the problem remains the same as with a conventional diet, or even high protein in the case of a weight loss or muscle gain diet. Few people consult before buying a pot of whey! For the more far-sighted, a few analyzes can reassure you. For people with health problems or weaknesses (liver, kidneys) it is imperative to consult before supplementing.

Most people are unaware that creatine can have beneficial and protective effects. The scientific community is not only interested in athletes and is also looking at medical applications of taking creatine as the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Studies show that it improves memory as well as general intelligence . If you want to boost your IQ test, creatine might help by increasing the energy capacity of the brain. Good to know!

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