If you usually go to the gym, you probably already know that creatine is one of those supplements that everyone talks about. But, have you ever wondered why is it so successful? Above all, it improves the sport performance and increases the muscle strength, apart from being an incredible source of energy. Keep reading to find out how, when and why you should take a supplement that will surely be of interest to you.
How to take Creatine
Why take this ergogenic supplement?
Because, even tough the body produces creatine, it has many properties and benefits for athletes and bodybuilders. For example, it can increase their resistance as well as their muscle mass and strength.
Do you know the recommended dose? Number 5 is the key!
If you know anything about this supplement, the number 5 probably rings a bell. In fact, that is exactly the standard dose of this supplement, 5g of creatine is the recommended amount before and after the workout.
However, another choice is to “customize” the dose. If you choose this last option, take this simple formula in order to find out how much creatine do you have to take:
1g of Creatine per 10 Kg of Body Weight
So, for instance, if you weigh 80 kg, you will have to take around 8 grams of creatine.
Creatine Intake Phases: Loading, maintenance and recycle
First of all, we need to clarify what is a “loading” phase, a concept that refers to taking higher doses for a specific period of time. What for? This will saturate the deposits faster, which will produce strength peaks and body weight.
Creatine Loading Phase
We have already mentioned that it is not crucial to do a loading phase. Although we cannot deny that you will experience its results faster.
If you are wondering how to do a loading phase, you just have to take several servings a day. Above all, this will help you avoid gastrointestinal problems.
4 servings of 5 grams
Creatine Maintenance Phase
You will have to take a lower dose of creatine during the maintenance phase. After loading for several days, reduce the dose. Once again, the dose will depend on your weight and individual objectives, although the general advice is:
5 to 10 grams a day distributed in 3 daily doses
Distribute the dose as shown here:
- First dose: take it early in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Second dose: before lunch.
- Third dose: after the workout, when the body absorbs nutrients more easily.
It is a period that comes immediately after the maintenance phase, when you have to stop taking creatine for 2 weeks approximately.
Should we use this supplement during Cutting Phase?
One of the most frequently asked questions that we tend to hear at the gym is: can I take creatine if I want to lose fat?
“In addition, this period tends to avoid carbohydrates in order to lose weight, which are one of the main sources of energy from our diet. This means that we will have less energy available, which is why taking creatine will be a great strategy to benefit from its ATP supply.” (Source: Sergio Espinar)
With juice or water?
Another of the most frequent questions in the world of fitness about how to take creatine is: is it good to take it with juice or products that trigger insulin peaks and improve its absorption and utilization?
Not, it is not necessary to take it with a product that produces an “insulin peak” since the absorption level of insulin in water is quite acceptable, over a 92%.
In the following graphic, you will be able to absorb that its absorption with water caused a plasma peak without external factors. Moreover, it compares the absorption of 2g of this supplement with water against with meat or placebo.
However, even though it is not necessary, taking creatine with a high glycemic index carbohydrate can somehow improve its absorption in general. If you pick up this choice, we suggest doing it with your post-workout protein shake, since protein is insulinotropic.
When is the best time to take creatine?
This is a more complex issue, because there are some studies that have concluded that the post-workout provides more benefits (read this post). However, other experts support a mixed protocol which involves taking half of it with the pre-workout and the other half with the post-workout.
Do we have to take on days of rest?
Once again, this will depend on the type of workout, as well as its intensity and duration.
If you decide to take it on days of rest, use a lower dose, around 2-5g.
Take creatine with other sport supplements
Taking creatine supplements with other supplements is a very common practice. We will tell you all about the best “pairs“. Try out creatine with…
- Protein. Perhaps, this one is the most popular combo and the best choice for a post-workout shake.
- Branched chain amino acids and a dose of creatine for an excellent pre-workout on an empty stomach. Although it also works as a post-workout combo.
- Glutamine, a conditionally essential amino acid that you can combine creatine with after the workout.
- Beta-alanine. A substance that works in synergy with creatine, improving the physical resistance while stimulating the muscle growth.
- Carbohydrates stimulate the insulin release by the pancreas (the anabolic hormone that takes the substances from the blood to the cell). That is the reason why having creatine available will improve their absorption.
- Taurine also enhances the physical performance. This amino acid is naturally available in food but you can also take it from supplementation.
- Nitric oxide. The last combination that will create a synergy when you take it with creatine for the pre-workout.
Who can benefit from this supplement?
It is no surprise that creatine is one of the most popular and widespread food supplements nowadays. Above all, it is due to the fact that it is a product that is both advised for men and women who want to enhance their sport performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
To finish off, we are going to answer three of the most frequently asked questions about this supplement:
- Can you take it without doing exercise? You can and you must if you want to benefit from its properties for the brain function and cognition.
- Is it bad to take creatine? Do not pay attention to the random statements and trust the opinion of the experts. Taking this supplement is not bad for your health as long as you follow the recommended protocols and adjust them to your circumstances.
- What happens if I stop taking it? Well, your performance will get worse, specially in terms of explosiveness and recovery.
- Contribution of creatine to protein homeostasis in athletes after endurance and sprint running. Tang FC, Chan CC, Kuo PL.
- Effects of two and five days of creatine loading on muscular strength and anaerobic power in trained athletes. Law YL1, Ong WS, GillianYap TL, Lim SC, Von Chia E.
- The effects of creatine and glycerol hyperhydration on running economy in well trained endurance runners. Beis LY1, Polyviou T, Malkova D, Pitsiladis YP.
- Absorption of creatine supplied as a drink, in meat or in solid form. Harris RC1, Nevill M, Harris DB, Fallowfield JL, Bogdanis GC, Wise JA.
- Effects of creatine supplementation on renal function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Gualano B1, Ugrinowitsch C, Novaes RB, Artioli GG, Shimizu MH,Seguro AC, Harris RC, Lancha AH Jr.
- The effects of pre ver versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Antonio J, Ciccone V.
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