No matter if your a newbie or an experienced lifter there is going to come a point when you need to cut to shed some excess fat and create more muscle definition. A lot of people ask me if they should stop taking creatine when they start cutting or should they continue the same as they did when they were bulking. In this article we’re going to do a quick overview of what creatine is, the benefits, dosage amounts and why you should definitely take it while cutting.
What Is Creatine
Creatine is a substance that is naturally made within your muscle cells, it allocates energy to your muscles during bouts of stressful heavy lifting and high intensity exercise.
It’s very similar to amino acids and in fact your body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
The vast majority of your body’s creatine will be found in your muscles with a very small percentage being stored in your liver, brain and kidneys.
You would naturally affect the amount of creatine in you by how much meat is in your diet, how often you exercise, the percentage of muscle on your body and the amount of hormones like testosterone you have.
Is Creatine Safe
Creatine is the number one fitness supplement sold and has been put through more testing than any other product, some people will tell you that it is unsafe but there is not one scientific test or study to back this claim.
There has been studies that last 4 to 5 years and have never shown any short or long term negative side effects.
The Manova study had a subject take creatine daily for 21 months and then did a blood test on this individual and measured over 50 blood markers and didn’t observe a single adverse effect.
When all is said and done creatine is one of the safest products on the market and should be included in your supplement regimen.
What Should You Expect When Taking Creatine
- Increased workload- It allows you to perform longer in the gym which will obviously help your long term muscle growth.
- Will help individual cell performance- This is important when it comes to muscle repair and growth.
- Hormone levels increase- Studies have shown testosterone and IGF-1 increase with creatine use
- Hydrates the cell within your muscles- This likely plays a large role in muscle growth and fatigue.
- Helps your body limit protein breakdown- This means that your muscles also won’t breakdown as fast.
The end result from all of the above factors is an increase in overall strength throughout the body.
This review showed an 8% increase in strength alone, 14% weightlifting performance and an increase in an individuals one rep max bench press by 43%.
It has been shown to increase muscle fiber growth 2 times more than just training alone.
I want to preference all this by saying that just like everything else in life, individual results are going to vary dramatically from one person to the next.
- Your genes
- Workout intensity
- Nutrition plan
Will all play a major role in the results you get from any supplement or fitness routine.
Should You Take Creatine While Cutting
I could conclude this entire paragraph by just saying HELL YES but since we’re here we mind as well discuss why creatine is so beneficial during a cutting phase.
You just spent months in the gym putting in all the hard work needed to build the body of a greek god and now you’re ready to burn off the excess fat that comes with being on a calorie surplus.
What is the one thing you fear at this point.
That’s right, losing any of the gains you just made during your bulking cycle.
In order for you to burn the fat away you need to put yourself into a calorie deficit, when not done properly this can be a major threat to keeping all the muscle you just gained.
Your sole focus when it comes to a cutting phase should be creating a diet, cardio, supplement program with the sole focus of preserving the muscle you have.
This means not being on to deep of a calorie deficit, being mindful of how much cardio you do and taking creatine to help protect your muscles during this phase.
When you take creatine it draws water into your muscle fibers which will act as a protective barrier and help support muscle repair and limit damage done during a cutting phase.
Dehydrated muscles will breakdown much faster than when they are properly hydrated, we all know we need to drink about a gallon of water a day to help preserve or build muscle.
Creatine will act as an insurance by acting as an aid in muscle hydration.
So, just in case you didn’t catch it the first time the answer is HELL YES.
Best Creatine To Take While Cutting
There are many different types of creatine out there, I’m saving the specific details of each of them for a different post but for the sake of this post the simple answer is Creatine Monohydrate.
Why I’m saying this is quite simple.
- It is the most tested creatine on the market
- There is no doubt about its effectiveness and safety reputation
- The cost per serving is cheap especially when compared to other supplements that don’t have nearly the the same amount of positive effects.
It is the king of creatine supplements and has no threat of being dethroned anytime soon.
One tip, if creatine monohydrate upsets your stomach try using demicronized creatine instead.
How To Take Creatine
Dosage- If you’ve never taken creatine before you will want to start with a loading phase which consists of you taking 1 well rounded scoop before breakfast, lunch and dinner and then one last scoop before bed and do this for 5 to 7 days.
That makes a total of 4 scoops a day with each scoop being 5 grams for a total of 20 grams.
This will increase your creatine stores 10 to 40%
After the initial loading phase all you need to do is take one well rounded scoop once a day.
When to take creatine
Some people will say you need to take it right after you workout, personally I don’t believe or have ever seen any difference in taking it at any set point in the day.
Everyone will have a different opinion or take on this subject so in the end do what you think is right.
What Should You Mix with Creatine
I know people that take it with water and I can’t say they are wrong, I tend to agree with the studies that show if you take it with any type of juice that the sugar in the juice will cause an insulin spike helping more of the creatine to be absorbed into your muscles.
Is it okay to mix with my protein shake
Some people also like to combine it with there protein shake to make it more convenient, this is perfectly fine also.
Creatine and protein will be absorbed by your body by a (on need basis) so in the end this won’t have any negative effects.
How to avoid bloating
Simply put you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water when supplementing with creatine, When creatine draws water into your muscles it is obviously pulling water from your body which will make you dehydrated.
Dehydration will lead to your body becoming bloated.
Constantly check the color and scent of your urine to make sure you’re not dehydrated, if you’re noticing a yellow tinge or dark yellow color to your urine or if you notice that your urine smells these are direct signs telling you that you need to drink more water.
I constantly talk about there not being any magic pills or wonder drugs in the fitness world but if I had to pick one product to compare to a wonder drug it would be creatine.
When used properly along side a well planned nutrition and fitness regimen it can definitely help you reach your goals.