How and When To Take Creatine – Simple guide for Muscle Gain
What to Know About Creatine Supplementation, A Popular Natural Supplement Used to Boost Athletic Performance in the Gym
Supplement taking is a common practice to support your health. Creatine is one of the best that you can take to increase strength and muscle mass.
This chemical occurs in your body, in the muscles and in the brain. In most cases, it is not sufficient enough to help you grow muscles. Foods rich in creatine include red meat and seafood. But it can also be created in labs. Because of that, you can find creatine supplements that help you grow muscles without sourcing it from different foods.
Many take supplements after exercise or in the morning to ensure their bodies have desired energy levels. Creatine is one such supplement, and the question in most athletes’ minds is how and when to take creatine?
Just like with pretty much anything fitness or bodybuilding related, if you ask 10 guys at your local gym for tips on proper creatine supplementation and how to take creatine effectively for maximum muscle gains, you’re bound to get 10 different answers, with many (most? all?) being totally off the mark. That’s understandable though, as it’s not like supplement companies or mainstream fitness magazines/blogs value straight-up truth, objective facts, and thoroughly educating the reader as a primary focus. It’s likely they’d rather you stay a little silly and out of the loop so you can rely on them and gobble up whatever over-hyped (and oftentimes overpriced or straight-up useless/harmful) products that their advertisers shove down your throats.
If you must know, I started using creatine supplements to break through a strength training plateau as an intermediate after my initial skinny to muscular transformation which took place over a few months using whey protein supplements to help reach my daily protein intake goal. I did see a little extra boost in strength from the creatine supplementation, but then I stopped using creatine after a while once I had significantly built-up my physique to a level I was happy with because I never wanted to take it long-term (only short term as a little helper).
But even though I don’t take creatine these days, I still do recommend it to beginners and intermediate trainers who already have all the basics covered, already are making gains with a good bodybuilding program that you either designed carefully yourself or are following from a proven expert, and you’re looking for a little extra natural 1-3% helping hand to fully max your strength in the gym (and therefore your muscle gains). Or to break a plateau of strength that you just cannot seem to break.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is 100% natural molecule that’s actually produced by the human body, so everyone has at least some creatine within their system. It is known as a popular performance supplement in the market. Creatine is a compound mostly found in muscles and the brain. It can be naturally obtained from seafood and red meat.
The chemical element naturally stays in your muscles to boost energy levels. People who engage in rigorous exercises will need to take additional creatine supplements to ensure their bodies get the needed energy levels.
Although scientific research reveals, people have varying levels of creatine in their bodies because of their lifestyle and diet. Vegetarians and vegans tend to have a lower level of the compound in their bodies which can inhibit their physical activity or training.
Research has proven the supplement can effectively increase muscle mass gains and performance in sports/fitness activities that require short bursts of explosive energy, such as weight training. It has stood the test of time as being one of the best, proven muscle building supplements out there. When used properly it can really maximize your gains in the gym by increasing your strength. But like any supplement, remember it’s not going to build you muscle on its own so you need to have the basics of a good training program and a solid nutrition plan in place first. Using creatine with an average diet and training routine is a waste of time and money.
Creatine is a peptide molecule manufactured by our bodies to supply our muscles with energy. It’s derived from 3 non essential amino acids: glycine, methionine and arginine. It is found naturally in red meat, but in very small amounts. As an example of how small, there is approximately 7 grams of creatine in 12oz of red meat. It comes in various forms, with Creatine Monohydrate being the most popular, cheapest, and most effective. No other form has been scientifically proven to be more effective than Creatine Monohydrate, so that’s what you should ideally use, especially if you want to save the most money too (see my current top recommended monohydrate creatine supplement later in the guide).
Creatine is used by the body to increase muscular anaerobic endurance and power, which in turn leads to an increase in muscle gain. Scientific studies prove that supplementing with extra creatine helps your body to build lean muscle mass, increase endurance, speed up recovery, and increase athletic performance. Such supplements are primarily used by bodybuilders and fitness/sports professionals, but there is growing evidence that creatine supplementation may be worth considering even as a normal person (as in, not someone who exercises rigorously).
How Creatine Works to Increase Strength and Gains
When creatine is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and travels to our muscles to be stored as a substance called creatine phosphate. What is creatine phosphate? It’s a substance that is stored in your muscle cells to be used for power and energy when your body needs it. During intense activities such as heavy weight lifting and other sports that require short bursts of high-intense effort, your body produces a substance called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to perform these bursts of power. The thing is though, your body’s supply of ATP runs out quite quickly, and that’s where your creatine phosphate supply comes into play. When out of ATP your body will turn to its stores of creatine phosphate to convert into more ATP.
I’ll give you an example to explain how this works. When you’re performing a rep of a really heavy weight your body will start off by using ATP to power your muscles for the movement. If the rep takes longer than about 5-10 seconds, your body will most likely run out of ATP and will start converting creatine phosphate into ATP for continued power. Think of creatine phosphate as like a back-up power generator for your muscles, allowing you to continue with high intensity power and energy after your first power generator runs out of power.
Depending on how much creatine phosphate your muscle cells have stored, you may get an added 20 seconds or so of energy during short bursts of explosive energy movements. If you are supplementing with creatine, then you will obviously have more creatine phosphate stored in your muscles. Therefore, you will get more energy and power, and for longer periods of time. This is how creatine helps to build more muscle, by allowing your body to give more power in times of need. Creatine will increase your strength and the amount of work your muscles can do, but of course it’s no magic pill and it should only be a SUPPLEMENT to an already solid base of basics.
Supplements Taking Timing
Determining the best time to take nutrient capsules is the meeting place of wishful thinking and science—creatine leading as one of the most researched supplements of our time. Studies focus on memory support, muscle building, anti-aging properties, and cell protection properties.
Some nutritional experts recommend everyone should be taking supplements, especially those above the age of 50. However, determining if creatine before and after workouts among athletes is the hot topic under consideration.
Research indicates timing when to take carbohydrates is crucial in determining muscle growth and recovery. For instance, taking glycogen after exercises helps to a certain degree in muscle protein synthesis.
For athletes, time is important as it helps in optimizing the nutritional values of a supplement. Hence, determining the best time to take creatine for athletes is important for the supplement’s effectiveness. Seasoned sports personalities who have remained loyal to a specific regimen of supplements boast of better energy levels and consequent performance.
Taking creatine can be generally categorized into three camps.
Camp1: Before Exercises
Many people often argue that taking creatine before workouts is the most effective way of taking supplements. The argument is backed by the presumption of boosting cellular energy levels before engaging in rigorous activities. More power before exercises is believed to activate muscle fibers for more weight lifting and rigorous activities.
Camp2: After Workouts
On the other side, many athletes argue taking creatine after workouts help in replenishing muscled with nutrients. Thus, taking the supplements after exercises helps in replenishing and repairing muscle cells with nutrients. Hence, many people argue that swallowing creatine with carbs and protein supplements helps the body benefit from all the nutritional values of the supplements.
Camp3: Whatever Time You Desire
The third argument is taking creatine whenever you want, founded on the premise; the two former arguments are based on superstition. Hence, the third premise argues that you should not get stressed with timing but take the supplement whenever your body is running low on energy.
What Does Research Say
The second camp that says take creatine after workouts often tend to be more popular. The journal of the international society of sports nutrition published in 2013 further supports the premise. Bodybuilders were randomly selected in research and given creatine capsules after workouts.
The exercise sessions were fairly standard, and observations were made on the weightlifters. The study became very popular as the results indicated athletes who take supplements after workouts have better energy levels. Bodybuilders who take the supplement after a workout have low energy levels and lower stamina.
What is recommended for creatine doses?
Moreover, the recommended creatine dosage is between 3-5g creatine intake three times per day or 36-75g per week.
Now that you know what creatine does, why you should take it, and when you should take it, the question remains: how much creatine should you take? Now for this part, I do have a thing or two to say.
When to take creatine is a heavily debated question among people with the fitness goal of bulking up muscles. Factors that can determine how much you need to take include an individual’s body weight, muscle composition, and fitness goals.
What are the side effects of creatine?
For the most part, creatine is considered generally safe. However, it is possible to take too much creatine, especially if you’re not expending enough indirect calories from creatine into your workout. Some common side effects of creatine overdose include:
• Mild Muscle Cramps Caused By Dehydration
• Weight gain
How taking creatine before and after your workout changes you for the better
When should you take creatine? Proper hydration is just as much a priority as timing supplement ingestion based on your workout. Depending on the intensity of your workout, you may need to replenish water or electrolytes before taking the supplement.
It’s is great for supporting muscle development but should be used with caution. Though creatine has many benefits, some potential side effects are related to muscle cramping and hydrated balancing needs. It’s important for every athlete taking the supplement to always consult a doctor to ensure their muscle health is checked.
What you can do to use creatine in a healthy, safe manner
With creatine monohydrate, you should take it before your workout for immediate impact. Mix the powdered creatine monohydrate with water for quick digestion and availability before a workout.
When should you take creatine? It’s a good idea to take a post-workout recovery shake in which you can add creatine. Moreover, when taken daily, this supplement has been proven to maximize muscles and have potential long-term benefits for your health.
Nonetheless, athletes should consult their nutritionist to get the right dosage. Taking the supplement at the right time and the correct dosage will lead to creatine’s more effectiveness.
Do You Need a Creatine Loading Phase?
A popular way of creatine use that has been proven to work is that of „creatine loading”. For the first few days of supplementing with creatine you „load up” with a very high dosage to saturate your muscles with creatine. The point of this loading phase is to get a lot of creatine to your muscles quickly so that your body can start using it faster. For loading you should be taking 20-25 grams per day split up into 2-4 servings, for the first 4-7 days of using a creatine supplement. For example if you choose to take 20 grams a day for your loading, you could take 4 servings of creatine throughout the day consisting of 5 grams.
But is loading with creatine really necessary? It’s a constantly debated topic amongst bodybuilders. Some say you need to load up, and some say it won’t help you. The good thing to know is that it doesn’t really matter either way, as studies over the years have proved that both a loading and non-loading approach to taking creatine is effective. Creatine loading will speed up your body’s ability to use that creatine, meaning faster results. However studies have shown that over a longer period of time such as a month or two, if you simply take a small creatine dosage daily and eliminate the loading phase you will get the same results.
So whether you load or not doesn’t really matter in the end. You can save some bucks by not loading, but you won’t experience results as fast. Take your pick. If you decide on doing a creatine loading phase, you’ll need to eventually stop taking so much and then enter what’s known as the creatine maintenance phase which is simply to lower the daily dosage to maintain the level of creatine in the body. If you decide against loading, then you would simply start your creatine supplementation with the maintenance phase. The typical recommended amount of creatine to take per day is 5-10 grams. 5 grams would be a good place to start if you have never supplemented with it before. Through trail and error you will eventually find out what creatine dosage works best for you, as everyone’s body is different.
Some people will need more creatine than others, but you can’t find this out without trying it out for yourself. Your weight should also play a part in deciding how much creatine to supplement with. Another popular debate is whether to split your daily dose into multiple servings throughout the day, or to just take your whole dose at one point in the day. Again, you should see what works best for you. One way to go about it is this: If you’re taking 5g a day then just take it in one go, but if you’re daily dosage is higher such as 10g then divide it up into 2 servings of 5g.
How to take creatine for Muscle Growth
Read on for tips about taking creatine:
• Drink water
You don’t need to increase the normal intake of water recommended in a day. Some people, who are not sure on how to take creatine, take up to three gallons of water in a day. But if you choose to use pre-workout creatine, you should increase your water intake slightly. Be careful not to take too much water as it can dilute sodium levels in the blood, which can be fatal.
• No water retention
There are myths and rumors that creatine causes water retention in the body. Muscle transformation that you notice within a few weeks of creatine before and after using creatine is not from water retention. Some true facts show that creatine makes the body retain some fluids, but it’s too little to cause any effect on the body. It actually helps the body gain lean muscles.
• Provides strength and increases performance
Creatine supplement enhances body health in various ways. The creatine monohydrate enables athletes to gain muscles, increase endurance and gives them strength to perform better. This chemical is important for athletes and bodybuilders as it gives them explosive power and also quickens recovery.
• Safe to use
People have used this supplement for a long time with no side effects. Research done on this supplement has revealed that it’s safe to use. As long you do not have underlying health issues, this supplement is one of the safest.
• Prevents injuries
People who like training and exercise can use creatine to prevent injuries on muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments. It also reduces dehydration and muscle cramping, which are common problems for athletes and bodybuilders.
• Good for the brain
Creatine enhances performance in different cognitive tasks. It is especially effective for the aged who experience memory lapses.
• Readily available
Creatine is readily available. This stand-alone ingredient supplement can be bought over the counter to help support muscular strength and development.
• Good for the skin and bones
Creatine is available in form of a lotion. It is mixed with other ingredients to reduce wrinkles on the skin. It also is combined with folic to prevent sunburns. Besides, it prevents loss of minerals in the bones and the skeletal muscle.
What Happens To Your Muscles When You Take Creatine?
Creatine supplements help the body to store the available creatine by providing increased muscle strength, explosive power and fast post workout recovery. Creatine monohydrate has proven to be more potent the liquid form of ethyl ester for muscle growth and endurance enhancement in athletic people.
When to take creatine??
• Before and after a workout
Morning hours are the best times to take creatine because you will be preparing to do some jogging. Taking creatine before workouts boosts blood circulation, which is good for your health. When you consistently take creatine in the morning and night, your muscle mass will develop. Unfortunately, muscle development is more when taking creatine before workouts than after workouts.
• After workouts
Contrary to taking it in the morning and at night, your muscles’ mass and development will be higher. Your muscles not only depend on workouts. Besides taking supplements like creatine, consider taking a lot of water and foods rich in vitamins. On most occasions, use creatine after doing activities that require higher energy consumption. For instance, you can take cr4eatine after leaving a gym or doing some athletics exercises.
• On resting days
You can also take creatine during days when you do not intend to workout. However, you do not have to focus on specific times because your body is relaxed. Taking creatine while resting helps to keep its levels high in the muscles.
Creatine will have detrimental effects when consumed during pregnancy, and taking it during or after pregnancy might lead to some complications. In short, do not take creatine when pregnant.
How to take creatine??
• During the long-term phase
When using creatine, there are two main phases: the long-term and maintenance phase. When taking creatine for a long-term phase, you will only require 20grams for a minimum of 5 days. Your progression and performance will soon increase as long as you take it consistently. Depending on your creatine levels in the body, you might take more or less than 20grams.
• During the maintenance phase
You can take it 2 times within 24 hours during the maintenance phase. The side effects like stomach cramps and water retention will go down. However, you might not see immediate results because creatine will take longer to start working during this phase. Typically, you will need to consume between 3 to 6 grams daily, and taking more might be considered an overdose.
Sometimes it takes more than just working out and eating the right food to gain muscles. Your body may be lacking essential nutrients to help it build lean muscles. Creatine is one of the supplements you should have when working hard to grow muscles. You can consume it either before or after your workout session.
You also should skip your resting days and combine it with a balanced diet, especially vitamins and plenty of water daily. However, while this supplement is full of goodness, there are some precautions that you should observe. If you have a kidney or liver disease, you should talk to your doctor before using creatine. Pregnant mothers are also not recommended to use it.
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