Today I am going to answer a question sent in by one of my readers regarding supplements and more specifically creatine. Here it is:
I know you have written in the past that you are not a fan of supplements but what are your thoughts on creatine? Mainly, is it safe and is it worth it? Thanks.
Creatine is actually one of the most heavily debated supplements in history. Just google creatine and performance and you will get well over a million results. Like taking any supplement it depends on your goals, diet, and habits. Yes, habits because if you are going to take a supplement it is best to do so properly and safely.
Personally, I believe that the best supplement to training is a proper diet and take a minimalist approach to everything else. Without proper training and a healthy diet you won’t get any results. Period. And in that case I wouldn’t recommend supplements at all. But besides a healthy diet the only supplements I recommend would be protein powder, fish oil, BCAA (branch chain amino acids), a multi-vitamin, and of course creatine.
Before I get into what creatine is and what it does I want to clear up some of the myths.
- No, it will not make your liver explode.
- It will not make you look like a roided-out juice monkey. (unless you already are)
- With that said, it is NOT a steroid.
- It is legal.
- It is highly researched and safe.
- It doesn’t just fill your muscles with water.
Actually, thousands of studies have been done on the effects of creatine and over 70% have shown positive results in athletes and none have shown any side effects. Creatine has been proven to enhance strength, endurance, and work capacity in MOST individuals. Like anything else, some things work for some people and not for others.
What it is:
Creatine is NOT a damn steroid like many have been led to believe. It is actually an amino acid that is produced in small amounts by your liver and kidneys and stored in the skeletal muscle. It is also found in red meat and fish like tuna and herring.
What it does:
Supplementing with creatine has been proven to increase strength and endurance in the muscle by providing it with more energy. It is true that extra water is held in the muscles cells as this aids in protein synthesis and other helpful biological processes.
Who should take it:
If you are strength training, play sports, are trying to burn fat (result of building muscle), are weak as hell and need to build muscle, partake in endurance type activities then you should take creatine. This is pretty much almost anyone that works out and I am surprised that more people don’t. (Yes ladies, you too.)
There are many different types and brands of creatine which to most can be extremely overwhelming. I prefer the cheap stuff from GNC which goes for about $20 for 100 servings. Many of the new “forms” of creatine are just clever marketing. Stick with monohydrate, as it is the one that is the most researched.
How to take it:
To load, or not to load. That is the question. If you choose to load then take 10-15 grams per day for 10 days. This will load the muscle to it’s maximum capacity. After that you only need between 3-5grams per day to maintain. I take about 5 grams of creatine per day AFTER my workout with quick digesting carbohydrates. Juice, a banana, fruit, gatorade, pretty much anything will be good post workout.
Here is an article by Cassandra Forsythe on the benefits of creatine for women. Truly inspiring stuff ladies so please check it out.
For more information on creatine monohydrate check out creatinemonohydrate.net. (catchy name huh?)
Happy supplementing everyone!