What Is Creatine
Humans are always looking for an edge to outlast the competition, this is why so many people fall for the professional marketing schemes promising the next “magic pill” to give them abs of steel or a runway model body overnight.
Truth be told the majority of products out there are only a marketing ploy to make you spend your money, but if there was one product that I would say resembles a so-called “wonder drug” it would be creatine.
When you lift weights you make your muscles contract, this causes your body to use energy, this energy comes from a substance called Adenosine Triphosphate, that’s a long word so we’re going to refer to it as ATP for now on.
When your body runs out of ATP it will look for your creatine storage for extra energy, when you take creatine on a daily basis it’s stored within your muscle tissue as creatine phosphate. The problem with ATP is that it’s used up very quickly, once it is gone this is where the beauty of creatine comes into play as a secondary energy source.
Your body will tap into the creatine in your muscle fibers and will start to produce more ATP allowing you to keep working weight and making gains.
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Does Your Body Make Its Own Creatine?
Your body can produce about 2g of creatine daily through your liver and kidneys by using three amino acids (glycine, arginine, and methionine), you can also add a little bit more through your diet by eating meat and fish.
So you may ask your self, why do I need to use creatine supplements if my body already makes it, The reason is that anytime you exert yourself through exercise or daily physical activities your body will quickly use up the creatine naturally made in your body.
So by the time you get to the gym you may already be in a creatine deficit, so by supplementing with it you are giving yourself a type of creatine insurance that you’ll have it when you need it.
While it is able to store extra creatine in your muscle fibers there is a limit of how much creatine your body can store, so after the initial loading phase try to stick to the 3 to 5 grams a day rule. We’ll touch on this more later.
Creatine Dosing Instructions.
When you initially start to take creatine you’re going to administer what they call a loading phase, this is where you’re going to take a rounded or heaping scoop before breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime.
What this does is completely saturates your muscles with creatine and gets your body to store its peak limit.
After this you will take 3 to 5 grams a day to maintain your creatine levels so that you don’t ever have to worry about being in a deficit.
It is advised not to take more than the 20 grams a day due to the fact that excessive creatine will convert into formaldehyde in your urine.
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Negative Side Effects From Creatine.
Is one of the few side effects associated with creatine, a lot of people will do a lighter loading phase around 10 grams a day to limit this problem.
You can also skip the loading phase if you would like to but just know that you may not see the same results as someone that did the loading phase.
Remember to be smart, if you’re having problems don’t ignore them, make sure to do what’s best for you to maintain your health.
The way creatine is chemically structured makes it hold a large amount of water, so by default when you increase the amount of creatine in your muscles you will also increase the amount of water in your muscle fibers making them look bigger.
The best ways to avoid this is to make sure you drink a lot of water, I already explained how creatine will pull water into your muscles, well that water is coming from your body, so you have to drink enough water to make up for this in order to not become dehydrated and bloated.
Another way to avoid bloating is to take your creatine close to when you workout, the reason is because your muscles are looking for nutrients when they’re under stress and will convert more of the creatine into ATP production.
If you are having a hard time getting the bloating down try taking less everyday, take smaller doses on rest days and if you can’t get it under control stop taking all together.
When To Take Creatine?
Okay, this is why we’re all here right, to find out the perfect time of the day to take our creatine to receive the maximum results from it.
Sorry, but I’m about to piss you off because the fact is, no one knows.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people that will fight you all day saying that…
- Before your workout
- After your workout
- Before bed
Is the best time to take your supplements and if you don’t you’re an idiot. (their words not mine)
Lets look at each time of the day to see the merit in each.
1. Before your workout
We already discussed that your body depletes its ATP storage very quickly so, it only makes sense that taking creatine before your workout would be the optimal time.
I’m not saying this is wrong, the one thing I will say to this however is that by completing the loading phase and taking 5 grams daily after that, you’re going to have a sufficient amount of creatine in your body pretty much at all times.
2. After your workout
We all know that after your workout your body is looking for nutrients and is going to quickly absorb anything you give it, plus creatine helps transport nutrients into your muscles to help them repair faster which is exactly what we want.
This makes sense and is very logical,
3. Before bed
This school of thought is a lot like the post workout method because when you’re sleeping your body is absorbing the nutrients you ate before bed and repairing itself and creatine will help it do this more efficiently.
You probably noticed a common theme with the three times we just went over and that is all three methods have there own merits that can make people feel this is the best way to do it.
Personally, I like to mix it with fruit juice in the morning because the sugar in the juice help it metabolize into your muscle quicker.
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most studied supplement products on earth and no one has ever been able to identify a clear positive effect from taking it at acertain time of day.
The only time I would say this answer would change is if you’re mixing it with another supplement that you should take at a certain time of the day such as…..
Creatine And Pre-Workouts.
A lot of people buy or make their own pre-workouts and some like to mix creatine in with them, so common sense will tell you that you’ll need to take these about 30 to 45 minutes before your workout.
Sorry that paragraph wasn’t longer but to tell you the truth I didn’t even want to add it but since I’m asked it all the time for some reason, I felt I should.
Creatine And Whey Protein.
Whey protein is so important to you to reach your goals that it should be considered the 4th major macronutrient.
Just like creatine people like to fight over the best time to take your protein shake and the results are the same.
- Pre workout- Protein will help diminish muscle breakdown.
- Post workout- It will help feed your muscles and repair them.
- Bed time- Your body is looking for nutrients to help repair itself and protein will be utilized throughout the night to accomplish this.
Again, there isn’t any scientific data making any of these choices better than the next, decide what works best for you and stay consistent.
Does Creatine Affect Your Sleeping?
This rumor or accusation has caught more fire through gym conversations than it has in case studies and lab tests.
This doesn’t mean its not true but there just isn’t enough concrete evidence to say whether this is true or not.
Personally I don’t see any difference in my sleep habits or schedule when I’m on or off creatine.
There isn’t enough proof or testing done to say if creatine will definitely affect your sleep, everyone is different. For example, If I have a protein shake before bed I have weird dreams, but my wife doesn’t.
Learn what works for you and simply do it, to much emphasis is put on what other people say. When it comes down to it a lot of these decisions don’t make a difference and it’s easier just to do what is best for you.